Thursday, August 21, 2008

Bad Taste at The Wall Street Journal

From The Wall Street Journal:

Talk About Audacity!
By JAMES TARANTO August 19, 2008
Oh the humanity! [David's emphasis]The cost of school lunches is also rising:
As the cost goes up, nutritional quality goes down. It is not cheap to follow federal guidelines for healthy eating; fresh fruits and veggies and whole grains can cost several pennies more per meal.
Poor kids, deprived of vegetables and whole grains! (Emphasis mine)

David wrote to the paper asking:
What did the writer mean my this apparently sarcastic remark?
Is he playing into "the eat your vegetables" joke? If so, it was in bad taste as diabetes and obesity are rising in this country among kids and bad diet particularly the lack of fruits and vegetables are the cause. Perhaps he should check his own audacity meter.

In this regard below is a news release I recently sent out through my publishing company, Ceres Press on this important subject.


Food Activist Says “We Must Help the Kids”

Diabetes On The Rise Again

Children’s Book Develops Good Attitudes Towards Healthy and
Anti-diabetes Foods

The U. S government reports that the number of Americans with diabetes has grown to about 24 million people, or roughly 8 percent of the U.S. population. A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), based on data from 2007, said the number represents an increase of about 3 million over two years. The CDC estimates another 57 million people have blood sugar abnormalities called pre-diabetes, which puts people at increased risk for the disease.

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the country and can cause serious health problems, including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and amputations. It is well established that overweight predisposes people and that the regular consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables is one of the best defenses against overweight, in addition to being a protective factor against most chronic ailments.

“We Must Help the Kids”

For more than thirty eight years, best-selling food writer David Goldbeck has been writing books with his nutritionist/wife Nikki Goldbeck to help adults with their nutrition concerns. They have produced nine books, including the seminal bestselling The Supermarket Handbook and American Wholefoods Cuisine.

But now it’s not adults, but children that concern David. He says, “We must help the kids. There is no doubt that the foundation of a healthy diet and the key to weight control is the significant consumption of vegetables and fruit. Unfortunately, many adults do not like these fine foods - so we must make sure kids don’t develop adult’s negative attitudes. That's why I created and wrote “The ABC’s of Fruits & Vegetables and Beyond” (Ceres Press, $16.95). The goal of the book is to make good food enticing, appealing and acceptable – not just “good for you.” It is out only a short and it is already being bought in quantity for class use. I think this says a lot about the need for resources like this.”

David’s Unusual Approach

To solve this difficult problem, David took an unusual approach. He constructed a book that is actually ‘two books in one.’ First, he wanted kids’ first words – their “ABCs” – to be “B is for banana” and “T for tomato,” rather than “ball” and “truck.” David brought in noted children's entertainer, author and literacy promoter Steve Charney to fill the bill with clever and zany alphabet poems. Charney brought the same genius to the poems as in the songs he wrote for “The Bear in the Big Blue House,” Jim Henson's Emmy-nominated show. David says he fantasizes about toddlers being fed while they (and their parents) recite:

B is for bananas.
The US loves this fruit -
It certainly is "a peeling"
In its pretty yellow suit.

In the book’s second part, “Beyond the ABC’s,” which David wrote with food editor Nikki Goldbeck, takes kids to a delightful mixture of food lore, recipes, jokes, tongue twisters, unusual facts, shopping tips, recipes, and other fun- and thought-provoking activities. Children also discover where many fruits and vegetables come from, learn some Spanish words, and are directed to related books and websites.

The objective is for kids to translate the early impressions gained from the ABC’s and the expertise they develop in Part Two into intentional eating.


Steve Charney is a nationally known children's entertainer, magician, ventriloquist, songwriter, radio personality, and literacy promoter. His books include Hocus Jokus and Kid’s Kookiest Riddles. He is also the co-host, with his dummy Harry, of the radio program “Knock On Wood.” Steve performs at festivals, theaters and libraries throughout the world, and Steve and Harry often promote literacy in schools, as well. He has written dozens of songs for Jim Henson's TV show “Bear in the Big Blue House.”

David Goldbeck is coauthor with Nikki Goldbeck of nine food books. These books include the bestsellers The Supermarket Handbook, American Wholefoods Cuisine and, most recently, Healthy Highways. He is the author of The Smart Kitchen. David, trained as a lawyer, has worked as a waiter, produce man and elementary school teacher.

Nikki Goldbeck (Food editor) is a New York State Certified Dietitian-Nutritionist. She received her B.S. in nutrition from the School of Human Ecology, Cornell University. She is co-author with David Goldbeck of nine food books, with more than 1,500,000 books in print. Nikki Goldbeck has worked in the field of nutrition as an independent researcher, writer and educator for almost fort years. She is known to millions through her four one-hour shows on Donahue and hundreds of other media appearances and lectures. In addition to writing, Nikki maintains a private nutrition practice and runs workshops on various aspects of health and nutrition.

The next time the Wall Street Journal complains about the high cost of public health, perhaps they should look to their paper's contribution to the public's poor health habits.


Saturday, August 2, 2008

The New Organics?

The week of August 3-9, 2008, has been designated National Farmers’ Market Week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The week is meant to celebrate the creation of farmers’ markets and the role they play in offering local farmers an outlet for their products. But this is only part of the story. The honorees really deserve to be the farmers themselves for the role they have played in communities all over the country. As everyone recognizes, being a farmer is a difficult job: long and hard hours of labor while at the mercy of the weather and never seeing the economic rewards of a company CEO. What farmers return to the community is not only nourishing and wholesome fresh food but preservation of the rural landscape, as well.

This got me thinking about our local Woodstock Farm Festival. Many people have asked why there isn’t more organic food being offered by the vendors. As a result, I began to ponder the real meaning of “organic.” Does growing or producing organic food on a huge commercial farm fulfill the organic dream? Does making relatively unhealthy foods like candy, chips and soft drinks organic suddenly redeem them? (I hear someone is even manufacturing organic high fructose corn syrup. Is organic Coca-cola next!) Certainly the ability to eat foods free from harmful chemicals is significant, but is that enough?

About a decade ago, a well-intentioned group of farmers, consumers and government officials decided that rules and regulations should be written and enforced to keep organic foods “honest.” If companies were going to sell organic foods nationwide, a standard to adhere to would be critical. And having a uniform label would lend credibility. But what these laws did not contend with was the fact that for smaller farmers, many of whom have been growing foods and raising animals using traditional farming techniques for decades, if not generations, these new laws and standards could be prohibitive.

David and I have been writing about wholefoods and organic food since the early 1970s. The dedication page of The Supermarket Handbook, the 1972 book that launched our careers, reads “To the preservation of the family farm.” This is what the organic movement was all about: Growing food in harmony with nature – a non-industrial way of raising animals humanely and growing food crops without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. It is about eating food made by people, not factories. And, it is about distributing food through alternate and local networks like co-ops, natural food stores, farm stands, and farmers’ markets, thereby reducing the cost and pollution of long-distance transport, increasing the biodiversity of our food supply, and preserving a green belt around cities.

Local farming accomplishes most of these goals without the government dictating how it is done. When you shop locally – whether at the farmers’ market or at stores that carry local foodstuffs – you are supporting the original vision of organic. If the purveyor doesn’t display an official notice, it is still more than likely the animals have been treated humanely and the land has been farmed in a sustainable manner. Unlike huge agribusinesses, without adhering to these principles, local farms could not survive. This does not mean local produce is free of potentially toxic chemicals, but at least you have the ability to ask the farmer about it.

If your aim is to buy “organic,” you might want to broaden your definition of what that term means. Perhaps the next time you shop at Famers' and other markets that feature local products, you will weigh the many value-added features of watermelon grown within 25 miles of your house versus the ones organically grown on a corporate farm out west and then shipped across the country. It brings new meaning to the phrase “think global, act local.”