Wednesday, February 10, 2021

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Black History Month

“So, by the time Gregory came to speak on our campus in 1986, he had been a vegetarian for nearly 20 years. In his speech, he traced the path of a hamburger from a cow on a factory farm to the slaughterhouse to a hamburger to a clogged artery to a heart attack, and it completely rocked my world.

                                                       --Tracye McQuirter



This quote about comedian and human rights activist Dick Gregory (1932-2017), pictured above, caught my eye. As more and more Americans embrace veganism and plant-based eating, it is important to remember history. 

February is Black History Month and an occasion to celebrate black farmers and others who have contributed to our collective health.  One such person was George Washington Carver (1864-1943), scientist, botanist and inventor.  Invited to head up the Tuskegee Institute’s Agricultural Department, Mr. Carver researched new uses for peanuts, soybeans, sweet potatoes, and pecans.  He urged farmers to rotate crops (a practice my grandfather used on his 160 acre farm in Indiana) and to use organic fertilizers.  He knew the value of soil that was cared for to grow food rich in nutritional value and his research benefited farmers.   He also became a nutritional advisor to Matahma Gandhi.

People like Dick Gregory and George Washington Carver helped raise awareness about the connection between what we eat and our health. Nourishing our soil by not destroying it with chemicals is key to growing good foods.  We need access to healthy foods.  Celebrate Black History Month and those whose contributions add value to our health and the health of America's children.  

With love and kindness,

Nancy Heinrich, MPH

Founder and Wellness Architect 

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Eating Real Food

"Exercise is beneficial and I highly recommend it.  But a lack of exercise is not the primary reason for weight problems and exercise can never take the place of a healthful diet."

--Neal Barnard, M.D., founder of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine 

How much of the food you eat is considered to be nutrient dense?  The term “nutrient dense” indicates how much bang for the buck you get with what you eat and drink. 

Think about my favorite food groups: fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Nutrient density is a given with these groups, with some foods falling heavier on the scale than others.  Take cauliflower, in the cruciferous vegetable family (i.e., cauliflower, broccoli or "little trees", collards, cabbage, and arugula).  It is a nutritional powerhouse, high in Vitamin C and K, high in dietary fiber (about 12 grams of fiber per head), high in potassium, with anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. We should all enjoy a little cauliflower (or other cruciferous vegetables) every day. 

When I go grocery shopping, I sometimes peak into others’ grocery carts, especially when kids are tagging along.  I spy cereal boxes filled with added sugars, food dyes, and empty calories. I spy packages of meat and chicken (no dietary fiber in anything from an animal but full of saturated fat, the kind of fat that contributes to heart disease).  I spy highly processed foods such as Pop Tarts with a gazillion ingredients and no nutritional value.  Those “foods” are not nutrient dense and contribute to diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

Foods that are highly processed and loaded with added sugars, salt, and fat should be avoided or rarely consumed.  The other day my lunch was Mediterranean pasta salad with Kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes, spinach, and yellow bell peppers, with a simple red wine-olive oil vinaigrette. So good and good for you!

What you eat can kill you or heal you.  Make every bite count.  Turn up your relationship with real food and make most of what you eat vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains.  Leave processed foods in the store and enjoy real food and healthy meals with your children!

With love and kindness,

Nancy Heinrich, MPH

Founder and Wellness Architect

 

 

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Farm Tripping

"Strong communities are built around real, local food.  Food we trust to nourish our bodies, the farmer, and planet." 

                                                                                                        --Kimball Musk 

One of my favorite childhood memories is the summers at my grandparents’ farm in Indiana.  There was something special about the big garden my grandfather planted for my grandmother.  We ate so well: fresh-picked green beans, luscious sliced tomatoes, and potatoes. Homemade vanilla ice-cream with sliced strawberries from Huber’s Farm. Fresh peach pie with homemade icep-cream on Sundays.  

In the workshops designed by Growing Healthy Kids, we see the value of taking kids to meet farmers. Sometimes it is at the local farmers market and sometimes it is going to the farm.  Kids grow from learning where real food comes from. Kids learn by doing. 

One thing these workshops have taught me is that teaching kids what real food is and where it comes from has not been a priority in educating children but it should be. Almost all of the kids educated through Growing Healthy Kids’ workshops have self-reported previously never going to a farmers market, let alone a farm, before they participated in our program.  These workshops have taught me that all kids deserve opportunities to go to farms, talk to farmers, learn what is grown in their bio-region and about real food from the people growing it. 

A trip to the farm can be life-changing. Good food is a centerpiece to a good life and connecting with the source of real food is a valuable lesson. Getting outside and slowing down as one walks the farm is a great stress reliever.  As your breath slows down, your blood pressure relaxes. You sleep better at night with a good dose of fresh air. 

Find opportunities to visit your local farmers market with your children.  Introduce yourselves to the farmers and ask them about what they grow.  Ask them why they work so hard to grow food for total strangers.  Let’s go to the farm!

Improving the health and lives of America’s children, one child at a time. 

With love and kindness,

Nancy Heinrich, MPH

Founder and Wellness Architect