Posts Tagged ‘public health’

Memorial Day is just about here, and summer is peaking around the corner. BBQs, tubing trips, baseball games, sleepovers, and pool parties (Hot Child in the City) are in your near future and you need a couple summer reminders. As you already know, I think everything in our environment, and all the actions we take are interconnected and affect our health and well-being and our wallet.

I came across this Top Ten List on the benefits of local food from Fox News (omg yes Fox News, everything is ok). You can find the full list here, but here are a few of my favorites:

1. Locally grown. Items at farmer’s markets have not “travelled” far. The carbon footprint to transport from nearby farms is teeny compared to what’s consumed over hundreds and thousands of miles by sea, air or long-distance trucking. Also, local produce is stacked in wooden crates, which avoids the environmentally polluting packaging, which protects produce from bruising or extends its time before perishing in long-distance transport.

2. Cleaner and safer. Farmer’s markets produce is grown organically or with far less use of chemicals. Produce sold in regular stores is full of toxic pesticides, fungicides, and other chemical fertilizers and sprays. Similarly, breads & baked goods aren’t pumped full of unhealthy preservatives that extend shelf life.

3. Keeps our communities healthy, too. The more we support local farmers who grow food in healthy ways, the more they–and their beautiful farmland–will flourish. Buying at local markets puts money directly into the pockets of local farmers and craftspeople rather than industrial conglomerates.

4. Free exercise. We can often walk or bike to the markets, getting free exercise. Besides, simply walking in the open air is a good way to get vitamin D.

Lastly, on biking and how it does a body good (which I’m sure you’re in the know about), D.C.’s Capital Bikeshare company released the results of its recent membership survey.  I admit I have a love affair with Capital Bikeshare; although its riders may be nuts, I appreciate what the company has accomplished (remember when I posted about Capital Bikeshare last year?). Riders saved an estimated $800 on transportation costs annually!  After obtaining a membership they were 76% more likely to ride to work.  Membership is still mostly within D.C., and now the company hopes to expand to areas like the Anacostia (Northeast D.C.) so that those neighborhoods can see the health benefits as well.  All communities should have access to safe and healthy transportation options.

Here is a summary of a few of the health benefits from the bikeshare survey: “Nearly 27 percent reported improved stamina after joining the system, 31.5 percent said their stress levels diminished, and 18.4 percent reported losing weight thanks to bicycle sharing. The numbers of members who consider themselves in good or excellent condition increased, while figures for those who consider themselves in poor, average, or fair health decreased.”  You can read the full article here.

Enjoy those tasty local foods, and bike/walk/public transit more. Cheers.

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This grandma was told she should be green.

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment.

The woman apologized and explained, “We didn’t have this green thing back in my earlier days.”

The young clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.”

She was right — our generation didn’t have the green thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were truly recycled.

But we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags, that we reused for numerous things, most memorable besides household garbage bags, was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our schoolbooks. This was to ensure that public property, (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags.

But too bad we didn’t do the green thing back then.

We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.

But she was right. We didn’t have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throwaway kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts — wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But that young lady is right; we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house — not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she’s right; we didn’t have the green thing back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

But we didn’t have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.

But isn’t it sad the current generation laments how wasteful old folks were just because we didn’t have the green thing back then?

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I am going to keep this one short.

Last week, we voted for 4 more years of Barack Obama to move this country FORWARD. I love this diagram of how the top and bottom  educated states  in the nation voted. Check it out here.

This next tool just might be my favorite.  Thank you Sierra Club.

Ever been stuck in that awkward holiday family discussion of how to deal with issues of the environment and public health?

I certainly have (and I know Pam has been there too).  This diagram sets up all the scenarios, from your crazy right wing Uncle Dave to grandma who’s kind of with it, to your cousin who doesn’t want to vote, to your sibling who just needs a refresher.

Oops, I just gave you a glimpse of my family.

Enjoy it here.


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Do those words sound familiar?  I think I’ve been listening to the Mase Pandora station too much.  There’s something special about 90s rap, aka the Mase and Puff Daddy era.  Anyway – you should breathe, stretch, shake and let it go because today is National Relaxation Day.

It takes a lot to tame George Costanza

Now a days it seems there’s a day for everything.  I know last Thursday was National Rum day (I had Italian for dinner, so I had to take a raincheck), and yesterday was National Lemonade Day; wait, maybe that was two weeks ago (national social days are hard to track).

Johnny Depp in the Rum Diary never forgot about rum (a film I highly recommend).

Despite funny national social days, I like the idea of celebrating National Relaxation Day.  The Washingtonian clued me in on this holiday and listed 7 quick de-stressers, all of which are attainable.   Sometimes we get caught up in our electronics, jobs, families and social lives and forget that we should just stop and relax; and, you should do so for your health and the people in your life – they’ll like you better!

Yoga and massages are no longer for women only; guys, just embrace it because they’re both awesome and they feel awesome.  Men’s Health reported this week on a study which found that smiling is an instant de-stresser, even if it’s a fake one!  So, take a walk outside, breathe, stretch, and disconnect for a bit and create a healthy environment for yourself, your body will thank you.  Enjoy the rest of your week. Cheers.

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News flash – New Yorkers (NY-ers) live longer than the U.S.’ national average life span.  Men’s Health reported that the average life span of a NY-er is 80.6 years, that’s three years longer than the U.S. national average.  Most importantly, between 1989 and 2009, the NY-er life span grew by 13 years!

Recall Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed soda ban this year?

He might have been onto something.  Studies have shown that consumption of sugary beverages lead to greater risks of heart attacks (yikes!) Mayor Bloomberg also supported the calorie count display in public restaurants, so you are constantly reminded that a Big Mac and fries tally well over 1,000 calories.  The Men’s Health article also highlighted that cities with more bike lanes have more people who are likely to bike to work (if you build it they will come!).

I saw a piece a while back on NBC Nightly News that more outdoor gyms, or adult playgrounds as they’re calling them, are popping up in major cities, allowing adults to stay in shape free of charge.  Here’s the video.

Lastly, just this week the Washington Post commuter paper reported the findings of a study, first of its kind, that junk food laws can curb childhood obesity.  Some call all of these bans/proposals an intrusion in our lives; but, if we’re living longer, healthier and happier lives, and living in better communities, what’s so controversial about that? Have a great week. Cheers.

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Helloo?! Hi!

This is your Spinach team.  We’re still here, and we haven’t forgotten about you.  Excuse our appearance as we partake in the hottest summer on record.  We’re going to be better, we promise.

I have some good news to report.  The EPA Office of Environmental Justice blog reported that EPA is in the process of testing a new tool that would allow you to measure pollution in your community (take about leverage for an Erin Brockovich style lawsuit).  Communities all over the country face different types of hazards.  Whether it’s river pollution, intense storms, or nearby landfills and factories causing harm to your community, there’s no doubt that local environmental problems are diverse and have unique challenges.

EPA’s Office of Research and Development is in the process of designing the Community-Focused Exposure and Risk Screening Tool (C-FERST) to address local unique challenges. C-FERST has been developed to increase the availability and accessibility of science and data for evaluating impacts of pollutants and local conditions, ranking risks, and understanding the environmental health consequences of your community.

Springfield, MA and Portland, ME were among the first two cities that used C-FERST and they convened members of their community to review data and held town hall meetings.  They now use reports and maps from C-FERST to prioritize the community’s top issues as they undergo a community assessment. Communities already baring health impacts face even more burden when they have to prove causation that a company or practice is causing harm.  It is my hope that these tools become more accessible to communities.  Protecting and investing in our communities keesp our nation strong; I once heard that sustaining our communities is a matter of national security. Have a nice weekend. Cheers.

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