Three Billion People Cook Over Open Fires ― With Deadly Consequences

Photo by Lynn Johnson

Tackling the health risks of wood burning, open fire stoves….

On Easter Sunday morning, in the small town of San Antonio Aguas Calientes in central Guatemala, Elbia Pérez and her sister, daughters, and 18-month-old grandson are crowded around their kitchen table. On the table, a large pot of tamales, handfuls of spicy meat and corn dough wrapped in plantain leaves, stands waiting to be steamed. The room is filled with talk, laughter, and smoke—gritty, eye-watering smoke that sticks in the throat and provokes deep, scratchy coughs.

The problem isn’t that the family lacks a functioning stove. In fact the aluminum-sided kitchen—part of a compound that shelters 45 extended-family members—contains three. But the two-burner gas stove is out of fuel, and the Pérez family can’t afford to fill it. Their efficient woodstove, a knee-high concrete cylinder donated by an aid group called StoveTeam International, is too small to support the tamale pot. So, as she does about once a month, Perez has fired up the old wood-burning stove, a crumbling, chimney-less brick ruin whose smoke pours directly into the unventilated kitchen. Everyone notices the smoke, but it’s a familiar annoyance—and compared with the daily challenge of affording food and fuel, it’s a minor one.

Read on at National Geographic.

Some Tuna Can Carry Up To 36 Times The Toxic Chemicals Of Others. Here’s Why

Photo by Tigeryan/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Not all tuna is alike….

A new study may prompt hand wringing among you tuna poke and sushi lovers. When it comes to pollutant levels, researchers now say where your tuna was caught matters.

In a first-of-its-kind global study, scientists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego analyzed 117 yellowfin tuna taken from 12 locations worldwide, measuring the contaminant levels of each. They found yellowfin tuna caught closer to more industrialized locations off North America and Europe can carry 36 times more pollutants — including pesticides, flame retardants and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) — than the same species caught in more remote locations, like in the West Pacific Ocean.

Read on at NPR.org

A Fresh Idea to Improve Food Access

Via Civil Eats


A food truck that brings healthy food to those in need…

Every Friday afternoon at 3:30 p.m., a school bus parks outside the South End Community Health Center in Boston, opens its doors, and invites local residents to come inside and purchase groceries.

Fresh Truck is more than just a mobile supermarket, however; the nonprofit is working to get nutritious foods into the hands of people who lack access. Unlike traditional supermarkets, the shelves of the old bus are stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables and devoid of salt- and sugar-laden processed foods; shoppers can use cash, debit/credit, and EBT state welfare benefit payment cards.

Read on at Civil Eats.

New C.D.C. Chief Saw Coca-Cola as Ally in Obesity Fight

Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald wrote an opinion piece for the Coca-Cola Journey website.

Using Coca-Cola’s money to solve obesity….

When she was health commissioner of Georgia, the state with one of the highest rates of child obesity, Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald faced two enormous challenges: How to get children to slim down and how to pay for it.

Her answer to the first was Power Up for 30, a program pushing schools to give children 30 minutes more exercise each day, part of a statewide initiative called Georgia Shape. The answer to the second was Coca-Cola, the soft drink company and philanthropic powerhouse, which has paid for almost the entire Power Up program.

Read on at The New York Times.

Traces of Controversial Herbicide Are Found in Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream

Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Ben & Jerry’s


Traces of controversial glyphosate found in Ben & Jerry’s ice cream….

A growing number of foods commonly found in kitchens across America have tested positive for glyphosate, the herbicide that is the main ingredient in the popular consumer pesticide Roundup, which is widely used in agriculture. But few brands on that list are as startling as the latest: Ben & Jerry’s, the Vermont ice cream company known for its family-friendly image and environmental advocacy.

The Organic Consumers Association announced Tuesday that it found traces of glyphosate in 10 of 11 samples of the company’s ice creams — although at levels far below the ceiling set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Read on at The New York Times.

Holistic Efforts are Making a Dent in Childhood Obesity

Via Civil Eats


On reducing childhood obesity…

When it comes to childhood obesity, it might just take a village. Or that’s the implication of a two-year, community-wide intervention in two low-income Massachusetts towns, Fitchburg and New Bedford, which took place between 2012 and 2014.

The effort focused on messages about: reducing screen time and soda consumption, replacing nutrient-poor foods with fruits and vegetables, increasing physical activity, and increasing sleep duration and quality at four levels (clinician, parent-family, organizational, and environmental) among low-income kids ages 2–12. And it resulted in small, but significant, reductions in obesity rates and increases in some healthy behaviors among some groups: In one of the communities, the prevalence of obesity dropped 2 to 3 percent among seventh-graders participating in the study, compared to control groups.

Read on at Civil Eats.

‘We’re Losing More People To The Sweets Than To The Streets’: Why Two Black Pastors Are Suing Coca-Cola

Via Ronaldo Shemidt


Soda may be more deceptive than you think….

William Lamar, the senior pastor at D.C.’s historic Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, is tired of presiding over funerals for parishioners who died of heart disease, diabetes and stroke.

So on Thursday, he and another prominent African American pastor filed suit against Coca-Cola and the American Beverage Association, claiming soda manufacturers knowingly deceived customers about the health risks of sugar-sweetened beverages — at enormous cost to their communities.

Read on at The Washington Post.

Why Taste Buds Dull As We Age

Via CSA Images/Getty Images


The science behind taste buds…

Sometimes people develop strange eating habits as they age. For example, Amy Hunt, a stay-at-home mom in Austin, Texas, says her grandfather cultivated some unusual taste preferences in his 80s.

“I remember teasing him because he literally put ketchup or Tabasco sauce on everything,” says Hunt. “When we would tease him, he would shrug his shoulders and just say he liked it.” But Hunt’s father, a retired registered nurse, had a theory: Her grandfather liked strong flavors because of his old age and its effects on taste.

When people think about growing older, they may worry about worsening vision and hearing. But they probably don’t think to add taste and smell to the list.

Read on at The Salt.

Fresh Food By Prescription: This Health Care Firm Is Trimming Costs — And Waistlines

Via BigFishDesign/iStockphoto/Getty Images
Via BigFishDesign/iStockphoto/Getty Images


The story of the Fresh Food Pharmacy…

The advice to eat a healthy diet is not new. Back around 400 B.C., Hippocrates, the Greek doctor, had this missive: Let food be thy medicine.

But as a society, we’ve got a long way to go. About 1 out of every 2 deaths from heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes in the U.S. is linked to a poor diet. That’s about 1,000 deaths a day.

There are lots of places to lay the blame. Calories are cheap, and indulgent foods full of salt, sugar and fat are usually within our reach 24/7.

So, how best to turn this around? Consider Tom Shicowich’s story. It begins with a toe. His left pinky toe.

Read on at The Salt.

Forcing People At Vending Machines To Wait Nudges Them To Buy Healthier Snacks

Via Brad Appelhans
Via Brad Appelhans


Researchers aim to help consumers make healthier choices…

If you wanted a bag of Doritos from one of Brad Appelhans’ experimental vending machines, you’d have to wait. The associate professor of preventative medicine at Rush University Medical Center designed a device that fits inside of vending machines and waits 25 seconds before releasing the typical processed snacks. But healthier fare — like peanuts or popcorn — drops instantly.

Think of it as a sort of “time tax.” The idea is that every second you spend waiting for a snack will make you want it less, similar to how a tax on sugary drinks might get you to buy less soda, Appelhans says.

“We were interested in the ability to test whether time delays can nudge people to healthier choices,” he says.

Read on at The Salt.