Tuesday, September 28, 2010

In Fall and Winter, We Dwell Within

In spring, summer and fall, mingling friends and neighbors engage in affable tete-a-tete. With its arrival, cinereal winter evokes a sacred privacy which no other season presents. Only during the chilly austerity of winter can one take pleasure in lengthy, hushed stretches to savor what’s truly significant to the soul and our shared planet. In winter there’s so little to do, you can permit yourself the luxury of fertile contemplation while percolating earthly lessons. As the garden peacefully slumbers, enumerable activities occur deep within the musky, sustaining soil. Just like humans, gardens use this time to process and stow away knowledge from previous seasonal experiences; a time for rebuilding, reinforcing root systems, and for restoring cosmic vitality.

Most Americans still believe we have no alternative to the food contrived by agribusinesses Raptors who care as little about our ecosystem and family’s health as they do about the health of the barn animals so tightly packed in pens and cages on factory farms that the floor is scarcely visible, and covered in wastes. If we are to survive, we must adapt and affect change. Every living thing was designed to cope with environmental factors like clean air, water, soil, light and temperature.

For emerging seekers yet to blossom, daily life goes on in complete disconnect from the adverse impacts their daily choices and activities have on the third star from the sun and the holy temple, our original home. Our collective minds harbor blind spots blocking our ability to see the fallout of contentedly suckling from the teats of Big Food and our dietary support of agribusiness eco-terrorists; a crisis of culture that has a gargantuan impact on all of the planet’s flora and fauna; beauty beyond human portrayal. Happily, many developing greenies are growing more conscious how their beige behavior impacts how people live to the far corners of the earth.

At the commencement of the twenty-first century, society lost touch with what may be the singular sensibility fundamental to our survival as a species; a green, reverent, sustainable culture. Might winter be the time to consider how ‘modern’ life has diminished our innate, heavenly skills and wisdom? As the temperature drops, the days get shorter, animals, bugs, and plants have gone to sleep, the sun appears so low in the sky it appears as though it will never return. In peace-filled darkness, we become more conscious of the wondrous unknowns of life, loss, death, rebirth, and the natural rhythms of life on Earth.

Stoke a warming fire, sit next to the summer plant you befriended and brought inside for the winter, then reflect on how our species threatens to consume and befoul the natural world at a rate far exceeding our planet's carrying capacity; scrutinize your life habits as you continue the voyage of greening your life and home. Before the Industrial Revolution, our lives were intimately tied to the seasons, and we developed traditions to express these transitional times in unique ways. Each season had its own customs represented in symbols created for the celebrations; spring was about the rebirth of life on earth, summer about cultivation and fruitfulness, autumn about harvest and spiritual attunement, and winter was about the return of light in the midst of darkness. Dig into the reserves you accumulated during the year; a perfect occasion to bask in the glow of your imagination. Grab grandmother’s afghan and curl up with your Kindle, drift off to your favorite tunes, or journal your reflections perchance to discover your soul overflowing with clarity, like stars painted onto the infinite, cobalt, frost-polished heavens.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Why it's so expensive to eat healthy

What’s the true cost of eating the typical American diet; a witch’s brew of heartrending, wallet-busting diseases, and incapacitating obesity? No one possesses the stones however, to cop to the naked fact that we support the health care crisis with our unfocused dietary choices; pure and simple. Food illiteracy simmered with our addiction to Big Food’s twaddle is the stone we should overturn. Our nation’s health care crisis is not a shortage of quality hospitals, doctors or nurses. It is a crisis of culture – a culture where it’s deemed perfectly acceptable, almost Patriotic to spend money on dead nutrition then eat it sedentarily whilst vegetating in front of computer or TV screens, foregoing any semblance of physical exertion.

Most everyone suffers from the dreaded Italian disease, Mafundsalow and descend on cheap foods like paparazzi onto Paris Hilton. Due to disproportionate costs, poor folks and the middle class struggle mightily to eat healthy. It’s mind-bending that this can happen in the greatest country on the earth. Pure, fresh food should be freely available to everyone, not just the Fat Cats. If you only have $3, you want the most for your wrinkled dead president. We’ve seen the ad for a complete meal consisting of a artery-clogging burger, fries and coke for only 2.99. Then Meijer, Marsh, and Kroger executives pat themselves on the back because they offer diabetes and obesity causing low-grade ‘white boxed’ food on the cheap. Alas, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Eating healthy can be, but doesn’t need to cost more. The problem lies in the fact that scores of folks loathe cooking and end up buying pre-made health foods, which are costly because you paid someone to cook it, package it, and then ship it hundreds of miles to your microwave. Cooking from scratch is the joyous answer. For example, you could by 2 medium sweet potatoes for the same $1 you spend on small French fries from a burger joint. Or you could procure 2 red peppers brimming with heavenly antioxidants for the same amount you pay for sugary soda pop that causes triglycerides to soar. You could enjoy a healing bowl of Steele cut oatmeal for $2 or a chow a bag of oily chips. A large bag of oatmeal is $3.50, or 4 chocolate bars. Six chicken breasts can cost $10, or what you’d pay for a sub combo from a fast food shack. Or how about $3.50 for 18 local farm fresh eggs up against a $5 dead bovine burger. Two salmon fillets can cost $15; the same as a large pizza. Consider homemade chicken or tuna fish salad verses a $3 box of cookies. It’s all about perspective; being honest with yourself.

As empty calories get cheaper, the healthy fruits and vegetables that protect the temple are becoming more and more expensive; become luxury goods. Calorie for calorie, junk foods not only cost less than fruits and vegetables, but junk food prices are less likely to rise as a result of inflation. The Center for Public Health Nutrition found a 2,000-calorie diet would cost $3.52 a day if it consisted of junk food, compared with $36.32 a day for a diet of ‘real’ food. Of course choosing to eat dead calories over nutritious food might save money, or “fill you up”, but the true cost ends up being repaid through bad health and shorter life expectancies. So, realistically, it’s more expensive to eat lousy disease-causing food since ultimately, you pay the medical bills.

As one who has been devising and publishing healthy recipes for years, I honestly feel if we slow down and return to the joyous act of cooking, we will most certainly overcome our plagues of illness. There’s absolutely no reason why we cannot eat in a healthy fashion just as cheaply as we can consume the chemical stodge that ultimately destroy us. Life is really not that hard; we reap what we sow.

Tag: Follow Wendell Fowler on Twitter with your questions and concerns

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Amazing Curative Apple; Forbidden Fruit?

How ‘bout them Forbidden Apples?

Eve had a devil of a time persuading Adam to eat forbidden fruit, however, since their ensuing expellation, the apple has reigned supreme. In ancient Greece and Rome, apples were a symbol of love and beauty. Cleopatra was rumored to have placed one in Caesar’s chariot lunch box before battle. Apples were so prized armies took cultivated apples with them into England and then proceeded to make applesauce out of the country. About 1629, both the seeds and trees were brought to America by John Endicott, an early governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Johnny Appleseed promoted apples as he carried seeds with him wherever he traveled, and planted then in thinly settled parts of the country; mostly for distilling strong-drink. In 2010 America, the apple remains sovereign.

Most Americans consider the white meat most delectable. Apples contain a gargantuan 30 thousand protective antioxidants; paradoxically, the skin contains bushels of the heavenly, healing nutrition. Orchards of studies prove a daily diet of real, not GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) contain .78 grams of pectin per 100 grams of edible fruit, ranking them fourth in pectin content among twenty-four common fruits and vegetables tested. This only applies when one leaves on the skin, which settles the debate, ‘to peel or not to peel’? So put on your big boy pants; the skin stays on. The apple’s soluble fiber reduces the amount of cholesterol produced in the liver, slows digestion, and the rise of blood sugar, making it ideal for diabetics. Adding two large apples to your daily diet is shown to decrease total cholesterol. Apple's insoluble bran-like fiber gloms on to LDL cholesterol giving it the bums rush.
Eating un-peeled, albeit washed apples reduces risk of colon, breast, prostate, and ovarian cancers, heart disease, type II diabetes, obesity, and tooth carries. A study on mice at Cornell University found that the quertecin in apples may protect brain cells from the kind of free radical damage leading to Alzheimer's disease, a.k.a., Mad Cow disease.

Apples that rust have the most curative powers. Have you observed how apple these days don’t brown? It’s because today’s commercial apples have no semblance to the apples our universe created. That’s because they are GMO (Genetically Altered Organism) ergo, missing original heavenly components. What happened to Winesap, McIntosh, and Rome apples we relished in our youth? Royal Gala, Fuji and the new generation of apples are man’s egotistical manipulation of God’s gifts to us. The National Cancer Institute reports the antioxidants in apples may reduce the risk of lung cancer by as much as 50%. A Cornell University study indicated apples inhibited colon cancer cells reproduction by 43%, and A Mayo Clinic study indicates the quertecin in apple’s skin prevents oxygen molecules from the damage that encourages growth of prostate cancer cells.

For your temple to absorb the biggest bang-for-your-buck, choose locally grown varieties which brown easily, such as puckery Granny Smiths. I gently encourage you not to substitute insipid, sugary apple juice for raw apples. Grocery store sugar-laden apple juice contains next to none of the beneficial pectin, potassium, antioxidants, quertecin and colon-cleansing fiber. Instead, forage seasonal, un-pasteurized apples from your local orchard. However, ask the grower if they wash, sanitize, and filter the nectar to prevent E. coli or salmonella. Some orchards make use of the fallen apples because they are sugary ripe and easy to harvest, but pathogens lurk. One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch, girl.

Apologetically, the true ‘forbidden’ ones, Caramel Apples don’t count. Add sliced apples briefly cooked in Smart Balance and cinnamon to your morning Steele cut oatmeal which you’ve cooked in apple cider, not water. Chuck in some walnuts, fibrous flax seed, and fruit, and your colon will return the a,..umm…favor.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Snacking Alternatives to Dead Food

We spend over-busy days scurrying around in cars running numerous errands or becoming one with the computer. It is here that humans continually nibble on whatever’s within reach. There are umpteen reasons why we snack: comfort, boredom, a quick energy fix, or just because of the desperate 'I want it now or I’m gonna rip someone’s face off!' feeling.

With beguiling vending machines every 10 feet, fast food and convenience stores of bar-coded death at every stop light sucking the life right out of you, it’s easy to be brought over to the dark side of American nutrition, or the lack there of. If you intend to compete with the pink Duracell bunny, it’s very important to eat foods that supply decent fuel. A new study carried out by researchers from the University of Michigan Medical School concluded that vended, prepackaged foods and sugary, faux colored beverages may be linked to diabetes, obesity, cancer, ADHD, ADD, and coronary artery disease. OMG!

Could we be squandering a golden opportunity to endow our family health equity? One way or another, everything we place into our Holy Temple affects health. As sure as I’m never going to have hair again, you’ll not find whole, restorative, socially redeeming fresh foods at a convenience store. I’ve seen freckled bananas, wrinkled oranges, and pulpy apples at the checkout of a few of them, but their existence depends on the demands of the local culture. Remember when they used to sell just gas?

May I turn you on to my fast food connection? Whenever the munchies attack, I head for the local grocery, waltz past the prepared hot food, then make a bee-line to the produce section where I grab containers of cut up fresh fruit or vegetables. You may want to cut your own the night before to avoid the MSG used to preserve them. Ack!! Then I truck to the deli for a container of humus, tabbouleh, sushi, guacamole, marinated olives, salsa, and some whole grain chips or crackers. One day I might snag a small bag of dried fruits, bulk granola, pistachios or walnuts to keep within arm’s length at work or in the car. Read labels, however, since some granolas have nefarious added fats. "All natural” fruit juice drinks and sodas, a meaningless term, can be saturated with sugar, which is a colossal contributor to the health care disaster. I’m wondering when moral authorities are going to connect the dots between chronic disease and the foods we worship.

In short time you’ll gain confidence as you note there is vastly more variety at the grocery store plus you’re getting up off your expanding, gelatinous, glutious maximus. Find strength within yourself and waddle past the potato chip, gooey thingies, cookies, and fried bits. If you take time to read labels, you’ll discover that major grocery stores carry healthful versions of your favorite treats. You’ll acquire increased energy and mental clarity. Science has deduced that eating junky, processed foods makes us ‘stoupid’.

Besides what I’ve already mentioned, my favorite snacks are raw veggies spritzed with low-calorie salad dressing, Kashi Go Lean cereal, Boca burgers instead of dead cow burgers, almonds, soy cheese and Wheat Thins, banana bits dipped in dark chocolate then frozen on a sheet pan lined with wax paper. Zip-lock them up for a sweet treat reward because you’ve been so good. God forbid you make popcorn from scratch. After all it’s so exhausting having to shake that darned pan while the colonels pop and ping against the lid.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Obesity: Public Enemy #1

Sandi and I take pleasure in entertaining out of town friends. Besides feeding them fresh, local Farmer’s Market foods, we shanghai them into the car; hold them hostage while flaunting Indy’s beauty. Straight away, they notice our conspicuous preponderance of obese men, women, and kids. “What’s with that”? I elucidate Hoosiers innate resistance to change; a mysterious reluctance to let go of macho meat and potatoes, gravy, and a god-like devotion to convenience, and rampant covetousness for deep-fried bits of meat or cheese dipped into of a vat o’ Ranch Dressing.

It’s no mystery why nearly 65 percent of Americans are corpulently porky; the American diet. The estimate, including direct medical costs only, not costs such as missed work, is higher than the annual medical bill for smoking. In other words, becoming obese is causing the same health care costs everyone’s bitching about to increase even more. Get it?

Obesity is the #2 cause of preventable death in the United States. You’d need to be buried under a pile of Little Debbie’s wrappers not to know obesity ramps-up the threat of breast cancer, coronary heart disease, low self-esteem, type II diabetes, knee-replacement, sleep apnea, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, colon cancer, and hypertension. So, why can’t Midwesterners wrap their taste buds around the simple concept? Is it predatory marketing and baffling labeling or do we just lack self control? America’s dollar-driven marketing gurus have mastered the concept that the human appetite is elastic: give them more and they’ll eat more; keep them fat, sick, and come back for more. In many ways we can also blame the obesity epidemic on the impressionable advertising footprints left on our brains.

Humans have a natural proclivity for full-flavored, yet highly caloric, easy to digest foods. Just as it it’s natural for gorillas to love leaves, it’s innate for human mammals to love funnel cake. Americans eat more processed dead foods than any other country. When eating machine cuisine, the temple doesn't have to work as hard to digest the food’s energy. Add the socially acceptable sedentary work habits of Americans and people will naturally store additional pounds for energy. If Hoosiers ate rawer, harder to digest, whole, unprocessed foods and added more movement to their everyday lives, they could lose the excess chunk in their proverbial trunk.

At nearly all of my lectures, someone expresses only the affluent can afford to eat healthy, which leads me to conclude poverty causes obesity. The fact that more and more American families can't afford fresh fruits and veggies or good cuts of meat could be part; another component is sloth. Short-sighted authorities have taken PE out of schools and don't send children out to play for 15 minutes in the nurturing sun, fretting they might become victims of skin cancer. No one needs reminding of the low-grade food served in the public school system; a prescription for weight gain, diabetes, and undernourished, foggy little brains

The only home you have, the holy temple, works pretty simple. There are a certain number of calories your temple requires every day for it to maintain its current weight. If your diet is made up of fewer calories than this maintenance level, you’ll lose weight. If it's made up of more calories, you’ll gain weight. It's really simple, actually.

Remove all bar-coded foods from your house and desk at work to control junk food cravings. It works for my weaknesses if the dead, caloric food is not in sight, because you’ll be less likely to craving it. Out of sight; out of mind.

Don’t beat yourself up. You’ve had some help from Big Food. Follow any "cheat" meal with at least five healthy meals and snacks. That ensures you'll be eating right more than 80 percent of the time. If you make a mistake, remember, you are above all, human; and a groovy, worthy one at that.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The 'White' Cause of Diabetes and Obesity

How can anything white be wrong?

Our arduous eating journey and future health blueprint begins early in life deeply rooted in cultural dietary traditions. Americans are unknowingly eating an unbalanced diet high in snarky saturated fats and low in fresh fruits, vegetables, and grains, but plum full of icky processed high-carb white foods.

Growing up a preacher’s grandkid, life revolved around after-church dinners on filigree-topped dining room tables moaning under the mass of chicken fried in shimmering pork fat, macaroni and cheese, stuffing, au gratin potatoes, potato salad, mashed taters, warm cloverleaf rolls, iced cakes, cookies; a carbohydrate blitzkrieg. Salt, flour, sugar, gravy, lard, shortening, white bread, white rice, marshmallows, Alfredo sauce, full-fat ice cream, half and half, and high butterfat cheese like Brie, mayonnaise, and mayo-based salad dressings chip away at the crispy edges of your family health equity. You know why they call it shortening? It shortens your life. 911! 911! Thud!

If you have a death wish to see the ‘white light’, white foods exacerbate diabetes, obesity, cancer, and heart disease. My admonition doesn’t suggest avoiding these white foods, but a gargantuan family of foods derived from the nefarious white stuff. The Price is Right host Drew Carry recently lost 80 pounds and got his diabetes under control by eating nothing but lean protein and fresh vegetables; no carbs at all.

It’s more coo-coo than Coco-Puffs to believe we can totally dodge harmful ingredients lurking virtually everywhere in the food system. Big Food made sure of that. However, one excellent way to hedge these dead foods to remain healthy and energetic is to embrace edibles from nature, not a factory assembly line.

For decades, red meat’s been worshiped as a deity for its white marbling. Each year the average American gulps down more than 50 unctuous pounds of gushy fat. Less in this case, is more. Iconic Uncle Ben had good intentions when he ‘perverted’ his instant rice. Paradoxically, the bran and germ he removed are outstanding sources of minerals, fiber, and vitamins. Instant white rice lacks even the essential nutrients after “enrichment.” This doesn’t mean to completely avoid white rice. Try taking 15 minutes of your time and learn to cook Basmati rice.

Fizzy soft drink lovers may or may not be conscious that the fructose portion of refined sugar is a building-block for cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Also, just 10 teaspoons, the amount of sugar in one soft drink, incapacitates your immune system by an astounding 33 percent. Thirty teaspoons shut down the immune system for a day. Abundant sugar in your temple sends out chemical signals that attract bacteria like moths to an open flame. It’s been recently discovered that high fructose corn syrup is cancer cells favorite food. Charming, eh?

Salt overkill increases the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure, kidney disease, diabetes, cataracts, brittle bones, asthma, dementia, and early death. The American Heart Association says one teaspoon a day is the maximum.

Studies explain Alloxan, the chemical that makes all purpose white flour look clean and beautiful destroys beta cells of the pancreas encouraging diabetes. White bread, an uber-refined wheat product, has been plundered of 11 known vitamins, half a dozen nutritionally significant minerals, as well as essential fatty acids. It’s a ‘wonder’ anyone buys it. Way back in 1943, the erudite editors of Nutrition Reviews were distressed at the government’s decision to proceed with enriching flour; a startlingly bad decision.

Even too many good complex-carbohydrates like brown rice, millet, grits, oats, quinoa, and barley can be a factor. Reduced-fat dairy products, probiotic yogurt, and fortified rice milk are cool in moderation. When you add beans, white-fleshed fish, skinless chicken, ‘real’ turkey breast, and fresh fruits and vegetables to the menu, you’re hitting stride.

Be unyielding and don’t give up. You can do it one step at a time. With the heartening progress I see Hoosiers making, I’m truly excited about the future.