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Kale bubble

6 Feb

photo-17

Have we reached kale bubble yet?

Anyone who has been reasonably in the loop on health trends has seen this “nutrient dense” green powerhouse applied to every recipe under the sun, from sushi (see: Uchi’s Yokai Berry) to chips (see: Rhythm Chips) t0  juice bars (see: One Lucky Duck in NYC).

The people behind the kale public relations campaign touting the benefits of kale and its health properties are doing an outstanding job. Look, I eat lots of kale and while agree that there is little doubt that kale does have tremendous health properties (rich source of vitamin C, K, A, loads of fiber, iron, and calcium) there are numerous other forgotten greens, vegetables, and superfoods that kale has overshadowed:

  • Bok choy
  • Sea greens
  • Mustard greens
  • Turmeric
  • Spirulina/Chlorella (sea algaes)
  • Wheat/Barley grass

Personally, I am still waiting for sea vegetables to get their due praise such as kombu and dulse. Japanese people eat them and don’t they have like the highest life expectancy in the world?

In the mean time, enjoy this spoof on “kale fad diets” by Healthy Choice Frozen Yogurt. The good news is that the big boys (multinational corporations) are watching the kale trend and clearly pushing back with marketing health products of their own. It shows we have come a long way on our countries’ path towards a culture of health prosperity.

Always going for glory,

Craig

Do vegans cause environmental destruction?

17 Jan

Let me preface by saying that I personally do believe there’s much validity to adhering to a vegan diet, or as I prefer to call it, a Non Animal Protocol (NAP), as a pathway to longterm health. Yes, there are numerous studies purporting the benefits of eschewing all animal products (see China Study et al).

However, some important facts have come to light regarding regarding the crop burden and carbon “foodprint” caused by our ever-growing hunger for these worldly food stuffs, particularly quinoa and soy (two major players in many vegan/vegetarian diets due to their respective protein contents).

Food fun facts:

  • Soy production is now one of the two main causes of deforestation in South America
  • In Lima, quinoa now costs more than chicken due to global demand increasing prices
  • In rural areas of Bolivia and Peru, market pressure forces once biodiverse lands to become more monoculturistic due to demand for quinoa and soy alone
  • Farmers in South America can no longer afford to purchase the crops their growing in their own lands
  • World food security, at the local level becomes threatened by global demand for these unique crops, leaving the locals in the dust, increasing risk for poverty

An anecdote: A hyper-conscious individual who eats only plant-based foods for “sustainability,” eats mounds of soy and quinoa in Vermont for years. He hears a news report about global poverty in Peru and vows to be a “part of the change.”  He then travels on a mission trip to Peru (where both quinoa and soy crops are grown), to combat local the poverty for a few weeks, and then returns home and continues eating the same diet he has always consumed, oblivious still the world impact this local decision is making.

It fascinates me that we believe that by eating such plant-based foods, we reduce our own “carbon footprint,” when the reality is that, the food system is now way more complex that we could have ever fathomed. In today’s hyper connected economy, all of our decisions can have a global import.

Yes, we should all eat more consciously and open our minds to the possibility that maybe eating all foods, animal or not, are actually the least impactful on our respective environments.

Some things to posit while eating consciously:

  • Eat foods grown locally in your particular area to reduce global burden
  • The best ecological systems include the raising of meat (see Dan Barber)
  • Eat consciously and be aware of who grew your food
  • Ecological conditions should (help) dictate personal diet
  • Ecological resources can point towards eating meat and produces better global, market conditions

I’ll leave you from a quote from Dan Barber, Chef and Owner of Blue Hill Farm and Restaurant:

“There is no healthy ecological system that I’ve ever seen that doesn’t include animals — there just doesn’t. Because the manure from the animals is a free, free ecological resource that amends the soil that gives you better-tasting and healthful vegetables. ”

Sources:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/16/vegans-stomach-unpalatable-truth-quinoa

http://www.slate.com/articles/video/conversations_with_slate/2012/03/chef_dan_barber_on_why_vegetarians_should_consider_eating_meat_video_.html

6 bold health predictions for 2013

18 Dec

Genome Sequencing for all!

One year ago I discussed my predictions for the health trends of the year 2012.  As 2012 winds down and we all begin to reflect on what we have all accomplished this year, let’s take a moment to look forward to our year ahead, and what to expect in the realm of health and wellness.

But first a recap on prior predictions for 2012:

Functional food has continued to grow at an astounding rate, with more consumers seeking out their vitamins and minerals from food sources, not supplements and vitamins. More and more millennials are seeking their full nutrition from plant-based products, as the market has grown almost 20% over the past year.

Paleo and Gluten free have continued to surge with the Gluten Free market alone reaching $4.2 billion. The paleo explosion is still nigh.

Omega 3 essential fatty acids are now more recognized as ever by the consumer as a protector of heart health with 38% of consumers believing omega vitamins are “very effective” for heart health.

6 Bold Health Predictions for 2012: 

  1. Look for pharmaceutical companies to get a piece of the gluten free pie. I suspect they are currently in beta-test mode for enzyme products to be available over the counter that can help digestive-related issues in those with gluten intolerance and celiac disease.
  2. Corporate wellness will continue to be a dominant component in the conducting of business. As premiums continue to rise at rates faster than inflation, coupled with the health care law that will force employers to cover their employees or pay penalties, companies will do anything to reduce the burden of health problems on their bottom line. Corporate wellness will be immensely important in 2013 and beyond…
  3. Health technology integration: As we continue to build new apps, technologies, health trackers and health care IT, there will be great fragmentation in the delivery of care and data about our health. Look for start ups looking to create turn key interfaces with all of our health data, stored in cloud technologies. It will look much like the mint.com of health but instead of integrating all of our financial data, it will have all of our health data with web-based portals. It will show trends, data, and even key biomarkers that can help us improve our health, and prevent disease.
  4. Democratized health: With apps and technology on the rise, we are quickly gaining the ability to have complete control to diagnose and treat our own illness. While it’s ways away, Vinod Khosla (famed silicon valley entrepreneur) believes our primary care doctors are becoming even more obsolete than ever with 80% of what doctors do becoming obsolete in the coming years. Silicon valley based start-ups are even offering genome sequencing for $100!
  5. Juice, Juice, and more Juice! People are continuing to turn to “liquid nutrition” diets to “cleanse, detox, and just be health.”  So go ahead and thank your local celebrity for making this trend hot in NYC, LA, and a city near you! Again this is could be considered a sub-category of the growth of functional foods and corporate health too, as many companies are turning to “corporate, office-wide juice cleanses” for improved employee health.
  6. GMO battle will continue to heat up. Yes, prop 37 in california did not pass (thanks in part to millions spent by large agro-conglomerates to spread fear about it), but this war is far from over. Look for more state and federal legislation (farm bill, state bills) that will continue to get more clarity on this emerging issue.

What are some emerging health trends you’re noticing that are ripe for massive growth in 2013?

Craig E. Steinfeld, MPH

Sources:

http://www.ingredientsnetwork.com/news-content/full/top-10-functional-food-trends-of-2012

http://www.foodbusinessnews.net/articles/news_home/Consumer_Trends/2012/10/Gluten-free_market_to_42_billi.aspx?ID=%7B3BA3114F-5584-4EBD-B052-113B8CF85BD2%7D&cck=1

http://www.physiciansmoneydigest.com/lifestyle/Health-Premiums-Grow-Faster-than-Wages-and-Inflation

http://thehealthcareblog.com/blog/2012/08/31/vinod-khosla-technology-will-replace-80-percent-of-docs/

http://eatocracy.cnn.com/2012/08/27/juiciest-trends-in-juicing/