Archive for the 'Obesity' Category

Fighting Obesity and Food Insecurity, One Click at a Time

A long-time reader of The Jew and the Carrot, it’s easy for me to see the importance and power of conversations within the Jewish community regarding eating, nutrition, food politics, and sustainability. However, the Jewish imperative for justice does not allow us to stop at environmental or personal levels. Rather, we have to continue our pursuit of justice to ensure that everyone has access to fresh, seasonal produce, healthy food options, and the skills to prepare healthy meals. The Nourishing Kitchen of New York City is an organization working to do just that for the East Harlem community.

Go for the Gusto

This entry is cross-posted on

Two months ago, the Cleveland Plain Dealer published its own commentary on the obesity epidemic with a series whose cover page spelled out, in large type, the words, “Eat, drink, and be sorry.”  Excuse me?  Eat, drink, and be SORRY?  The actual quote, from Ecclesiastes, reads, “Eat, drink, and be merry, so that joy will accompany him in his work all the days of his life…”  And herein lies the problem. 

Postville, Procter & Gamble, And The Problem With Pareve Margarine

The raid on the kosher meat-processing plant in Postville, Iowa, threw us a bone in the shape of a vigorous new debate on whether it is fitting and proper to designate as “kosher” products made without regard for animal welfare, fair wages, and the environment.  To these I would add human health.  What does it mean to approve the manufacture and distribution of products that are known to compromise the health of those who consume them?  Is there a distinction to be made between contaminants that do their work quickly, like salmonella, and those whose destructive effects are slow and cumulative, like trans fats?

Jewish Groups Fight “Food Deserts”


Check out this great article in the L.A. Times about the Progressive Jewish Alliance organizing a tour of food deserts in Los Angeles. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“Jewish community groups aim to broaden the growing local and national campaigns to attract more supermarkets to poor neighborhoods, where limited access to healthful food has been linked to obesity, diabetes and other diseases. Programs are sprouting up in Louisiana, New York, Michigan and Pennsylvania.”

Read more here.

Mark Bittman on Soda and Obesity

Soda.  Pop.  Coke.  S.S.B. (sugar-sweetened beverage).  Whatever you wanna call it, it’s bad for you.  Or so argues Mark Bittman, the New York Times‘ “Minimalist” columnist and prominent foodie in this Sunday’s New York Times.  This phenomenal article poses the question of whether soda may be the next tobacco.  He interviews proponents calling for a special excise tax on soda to fund obesity prevention programs, as well as other measures to curb the intake of these empty calories in a can (or bottle).  The article comes after Michelle Obama’s appointment to lead a national campaign against childhood obesity, which some believe is linked to an excessive consumption of soda and candy.

Win A Copy of Eat Fresh Food – Awesome Recipes for Teen Chefs

Eat Fresh Food by Rozanne Gold

Photos by Phil Mansfield

Every once in a while I feel sorry for myself because my kids won’t eat my lovingly prepared meals; for comfort, I seek out one of my fellow mom’s, specifically those with teen-agers. Invariably they look at me with a withering ‘well let me get you the violins and a stiff drink fast, your poor thing’ stare, reminding me that I am a mere amateur at kitchen rejection. When I hear their tales of trying to feed their teens, my load somehow seems lighter, more manageable. Snarky, picky, and sometimes downright nasty, it is no easy task to manage teens at the table.

Enter Rozanne Gold and her new book, Eat Fresh Food: Awesome Recipes for Teen Chefs. I sat down with the author and discovered that the book’s appeal to teens is as organic as its recipes. Gold recently adopted a teen-ager and for the past few years they have been coming together as a family, in and out of the kitchen. Her daughter was one of five teen chefs engaged to prepare and test each recipe. Their collective industry and obvious enjoyment is evidenced throughout the book with hands-on pictures depicting their efforts.

D.I.Y. Et Pret A Manger

This blog is not the right place for it, but still, Roger Cohen has really gotten on my nerves over the last year or so.  His ranting about how wonderful Iran is and how great it is for the Jews there made me question my devotion to the New York Times.  His  piece “Advantage France,” in Sunday’s paper, about some of the differences between the French diet and the American diet, may have me beginning to change my mind.  I’ve only spent a few days in France, and only in Paris, but I’m guessing he’s exaggerating somewhat.  Nevertheless, the idea of Americans adopting any diet (or lifestyle, really) that required not only combining the ingredients and cooking them, but processing them to begin with (filleting the fish, making the pasta, etc) does sound beautiful and absurd.  The idea of connecting to food on a “gut” level and a geographic one far predates the terroir of which Cohen writes, at least in Jewish tradition.

Scott Stringer and his Urban Food Movement


Many years ago, I escorted some at-risk urban youth to a park. Blinged and tattooed, these kids’ gestures stiffened into armor and their faces hardened into leather expressions of defiance and danger. Then they spotted the recently picked apples that had been brought along for a snack. They lunged, giggling and pushing to get their hands on those apples first.  When a butterfly passed overhead the boys tore into a chase, yelling, “A butterfly! A butterfly!”.  They held onto their bitten-into apples as they ran.  Can urban lives be changed one piece of fruit or vegetable at a time? Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer’s urban food movement is counting on it.

Faith Leaders for Environmental Justice


The Faith Leaders for Environmental Justice. It’s an unwieldy name, but to the point. They are an interdenominational umbrella group of clerics andorganizations working at translating environmental consciousness into social justice. Based out of NY, and working mostly in and around the city, the group is co-chaired by NY Faith and Justice (a largely Christian organization) and We ACT for Environmental Justice, but includes a number of representatives from interfaith groups, including our very own Hazon. They host talks, run initiatives and are dedicated to improving the lives of those in lower income communities in the five boroughs.  They take the wild and crazy position that these communities foot the bill for our collective enviro-sins. See? It’s not just about saving baby seals…

Yid.Dish: Cut Fat and Cholesterol out of Pesach

My family makes Passover a week of fresh veggies, but most of my friends will be filling up on meats and sweets and thus eating more fat, salt, sugar and cholesterol than usual. Here are some tips on lowering the fat and cholesterol in your own recipes, as well as two recipes of my own for which I reduce the amount of unhealthy ingredients.

In the field of calorie and fat reduction (the work I do for Rhode Island’s Public School System) we follow a four step system to make recipes healthier. Remember it is not necessary to eliminate all of the ingredients considered harmful. Small amounts of fat, sugar, salt, and cholesterol can actually be good for your system, so we are just looking to decrease the amounts of each, not remove them completely.

More Local Food at the White House

According to the New York Times, the Obamas’ personal chef who “happens to have a particular interest in healthy food and local food,” is moving to Washington.

Mr. Kass’s appointment signals changes at the White House that should please chefs like Alice Waters, who have lobbied the Obamas to set an example for the rest of the country by emphasizing food that is healthy, local and sustainable. It further suggests that a vegetable garden on the White House grounds, another of Ms. Waters’ dreams, could be on the horizon.

Institutional Food – How Green is Your Synagogue?


Deciding what to eat for lunch can be a challenge – but deciding what hundreds (or thousands) of other people should eat for lunch is decidedly harder.  But such is the charge for the many hospitals, schools, and other institutions across the country that feed people, en masse, on a daily basis.

In the past few years, a growing handful of institutions (e.g. Yale University and Kaiser Permanente) have attempted to bring institutional food away from Lunch Lady Land – sourcing produce from local farms, offering less junk food in favor of more fruits & veggies, increasing the number of homemade meals (vs. “heat-n-serve” foods) etc.  The Jewish community has jumped on the institutional food reform bandwagon too as synagogues, day schools and JCCs across the country begin to question their dependence on Styrofoam coffee cups and greasy kosher pizza.

Eating Light at the World Food Summit?


World leaders attending the UN Food Summit in Italy will be met with modest meal choices come lunchtime. Well, sort of.

According British paper, Times Online, officials at the Food and Agriculture Organization are keen on avoiding claims of hypocrisy for serving lobster and foie gras while discussing global starvation. Said one official, “At the last summit in 2002 we did not give enough thought to the menu and were open – unfairly, in our view – to the charge of hypocrisy.”

As someone who has planned many events for a Jewish environmental non-profit, I know how challenging it can be to model an organization’s values at its events. Somehow, even with the most careful planning, there’s always an overlooked detail – disposable cups where there could be real glass, kosher food but not Chalav Yisroel dairy, or garbage cans where there could be a compost bin. So I sympathize with the FAO organizers who probably spent so much time planning the Summit sessions that they forgot how much every meal is a micro-session in itself. Then I looked at the menu.

You Gonna Eat That? New York Chains Post Calorie Counts


(x-posted from All Voices)

Yesterday, while waiting in line at Starbucks in New York City and perusing the refrigerated food case (mmm…pre-portioned cheese plates), I noticed something was different. It took a second for me to put my finger on it – like realizing that a friend got a haircut or is wearing glasses. But then it was all I could see: calories! Next to each cranberry scone and piece of chocolate-drizzled coffee cake was a small plaque bearing the name of the treat and the number of calories it contained.

As of March 31, all chain restaurants in New York City (restaurants with 15 or more outlets – Mc Donalds, The Olive Garden, TGI Fridays, and the like) were required to start posting calorie counts for all menu items in the hopes of enabling consumers to make informed (and ideally healthier) decisions. CNN reported in January: