Food Inc. starts showings Kahala Mall this Friday, July 31

Food, Inc., the movie that shows how the food industry really works starts at Kahala Mall this Friday, July 31, 2009. The debate about the health care crisis, should really be a debate about the control over the food industry by a few giant agribusiness companies that are feeding us junk food thus destroying people's health and directly causing the health care crisis, not to mention how brutally they treat the animals on their factory farms and in the slaughterhouses; the bad treatment isn't just limited to the animals, their workers don't get treated too well either (but at least they don't keep them in cages, kill them, chop them up, and eat them the way they do the animals).

As I mentioned in a previous blog the movie is not a vegetarian movie (i.e. the movie maker thinks it is fine to kill and eat animals so long as you treat them better), but nonetheless it raises serious issues that are worthy of very serious consideration, and not just consideration, there has to be change.

To watch a trailer:

A synopsis of the movie follows:

In "Food, Inc.," filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation's food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that's been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government's regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA. Our nation's food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment. We have bigger-breasted chickens, the perfect pork chop, insecticide-resistant soybean seeds, even tomatoes that won't go bad, but we also have new strains of e coli--the harmful bacteria that cause illness for an estimated 73,000 Americans annually. We are riddled with widespread obesity, particularly among children, and an epidemic level of diabetes among adults Featuring interviews with such experts as Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation), Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma) along with forward thinking social entrepreneurs like Stonyfield Farms' Gary Hirschberg and Polyface Farms' Joe Salatin, "Food, Inc." reveals surprising--and often shocking truths--about what we eat, how it's produced, who we have become as a nation and where we are going from here.

7 Healthy Habits for Back to School

Photo: Little girl sitting outside school with her backpack and snacks

Parents often pass down more than genes to children – habits are usually picked up too! Keep reading for some healthy habits you can cultivate in your kids just in time for going back to school.

  1. Focus on balanced nutrition – if your child has grown accustomed to eating poorly, it may seem like an uphill battle to transition them to eating healthy, but don’t give up! Keep introducing new foods and be a role model to them by maintaining a healthy diet yourself. Try not to use food as a reward – instead, teach your children to eat for strength. Ensure that your children eat a healthy breakfast before school. Check out our website for recipes you can make with your kids.
  2. Reconnect at family mealtime – shared meals give children the opportunity to talk about what they did in school and other activities they enjoyed. It also helps them develop the art of communicating, which is an extremely important social skill. Our website has countless one pot meal ideas that will save you time in the kitchen so you can spend more time at the dining table with your ‘ohana.
  3. Set a specific bedtime – your children need the right amount of sleep to functional optimally so give them a clear bedtime routine. Putting away toys, running a bath, or reading a bedtime story can all serve as cues so your kids know when it’s time to start getting ready for bed. Our stores also offer a variety of “sleepy time” herbal teas if your child has trouble falling asleep. Just make sure they’re not prone to wetting the bed overnight!
  4. Start a home garden – from indoor window herb planters to fully-fledged backyard nurseries, home gardens have been trending like crazy lately! Gardening gives children the chance to be outdoors, enjoy some exercise, and learn to nurture and care for other living things. We sell an array of organic seeds in all of our stores as well as basic gardening supplies to get you started.
  5. Get active – kicking off the school year can be a busy time, but there are so many easy ways to keep your kids active. You could go for a digestive walk after dinner, play jump rope at the park, shoot some baskets, or even follow a pilates video in your living room. It’s even better if you can all be active together – lead by example and your children will follow.
  6. Manage back-to-school stress – prepare your children for going back to school well advance of their first day. Take them with you when purchasing supplies so they can be involved in the decision-making process and mentally anticipate returning to school.
  7. Reduce screen time – kids are being more and more drawn to screens these days, whether it be phones, tablets, computers or TVs. Instead of plonking them in front of a screen to keep them occupied, try turning off the screens and talking with them instead. Suggest playing outside after school and join in with whatever outdoor activity they choose. Be a good role model by reducing screen time yourself.

Hope your school year gets off to a great start!

The Real Culprit Behind High Cholesterol, Dismantling Dr. Atkins and Fruit Appreciation 101

High cholesterol is a rising concern in the United States. Once thought to be a condition of middle and old age, it was recently found that approximately 1 in 5 teens has cholesterol levels that raise the risk for heart disease. Dr. Campbell, in his book documenting his authoritative 27 year nutritional study dubbed the China Study, explains how the primary culprit behind high cholesterol is not what we’ve been led to believe.

First of all, it’s important to understand that the cholesterol we eat (called dietary cholesterol) and the cholesterol that our body produces (called blood cholesterol) are not the same thing. Your doctor can’t measure how much cholesterol you consume, he can only measure the amount of cholesterol that’s in your bloodstream. The process by which your body manufactures cholesterol is complex, and the cholesterol you consume in the form of fat may not become blood cholesterol once your body digests it.

Dr. Campbell discovered that the levels of blood cholesterol found in the Chinese population were significantly lower than the US. Even the highest levels in China were so low by US standards that it was commonly thought they could have no affect on health. However, Dr. Campbell found that even a slight increase in blood cholesterol was associated with a higher risk of cancer and heart disease.

Dr. Campbell set out to study what aspects of nutrition might contribute to higher blood cholesterol. He found, much to his surprise, that “consuming animal-based protein increases blood cholesterol levels. Saturated fat and dietary cholesterol also raise blood cholesterol, although these nutrients are not as effective at doing this as is animal protein.”

In other words, you may have heard from your doctor that you should eat lean meats to lower your cholesterol. But Dr. Campbell has discovered that it is the meat itself that is a greater cause of high blood cholesterol than the fat around the meat! He continues, “in contrast, plant-based foods contain no cholesterol, and in various other ways, help to decrease the amount of cholesterol made by the body.”

Many people have heard about the Atkins diet, which promises that you can lose weight by eating as much fat and animal protein as you want, as long as you stay away from carbohydrates. Dr. Campbell makes it clear that just because an idea is popular, doesn’t make it true. While he acknowledges that many people have lost weight on this diet, he says that the weight loss is temporary and unimportant compared to the negative side affects that accompany this diet over the long term. Constipation, headaches, hair loss, vomiting, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, vitamin deficiencies, kidney damage and increased cancer risk were just some of the side affects reported by studies of high protein, low carb diets. He concludes, “You can also lose weight by undergoing chemotherapy or starting a heroin addiction, but I wouldn’t recommend those either.” He also points out that Dr. Atkins himself was an obese man with heart disease and high blood pressure who suffered a heart attack.

So what does Dr. Campbell recommend? He points out that the diet of rural Chinese – who have levels of blood cholesterol lower than most Western doctors have ever seen -  is low in animal protein and high in carbohydrates. The difference is that they primarily consume complex carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Americans, on the other hand, mostly eat refined carbohydrates in the form of crackers, cakes, sweets, soda and white bread. Complex carbohydrates include fiber, which is necessary for good digestion, along with vitamins and minerals in a form that your body can assimilate. They are broken down in a controlled manner in your body, and are a good source of accessible energy. Refined carbohydrates, on the other hand, are rapidly broken down into glucose which causes a sudden spike in blood sugar and is then stored as fat.

The conclusion is: we need to eat plants – fruits, vegetables, grains and beans - in their natural state. If we can retrain our taste buds away from refined, fatty and sugary foods, we will appreciate that this is not such a sacrifice. For thousands of years, fruits were considered the sweetest, most delicious temptations on earth. Figs, plums, apricots, apples, peaches, pomegranates, dates and grapes have long been appreciated as works of art in themselves, delighting in their beauty, aroma and taste. Imagine a plate filled with orange squash, purple sweet potatoes, dark green kale and brown rice. The bright colors in your vegetables are signs of naturally occurring antioxidants, which are potent anti-cancer agents. Dr. Campbell explains how plants build antioxidant shields to protect themselves from the free radicals produced during photosynthesis. “The plants make the antioxidant shields, and at the same time make them look incredibly appealing with beautiful, appetizing colors. Then we animals, in turn, are attracted to the plants and eat them and borrow their antioxidant shields for our own health. Whether you believe in God, evolution or just coincidence, you must admit that this is a beautiful, almost spiritual example of nature’s wisdom.”

Next time you have an avocado, cut it open, sprinkle it with a pinch of sea salt, and eat it with a spoon. There’s nothing better. Consider the last time you ate an orange off the tree. Go find one (if you can’t find one, plant one. Hawaii is the perfect climate for citrus. With a grafted tree, you can see fruits within two or three years). Cut through the peel and pith to reveal the juicy flesh beneath. Take a minute to smell the orange oils, which are natural anti-depressants. Feel the warmth of the sun on your face. Take a bite of your sun-drenched orange. This is what sunshine tastes like. Mmmm…..