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Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Friend Shout Out - Sarah

This week's Friday Friend Shout Out is dedicated to Sarah Forney. Even though she is my sister, she is still is one of my best friends! And besides, she is friends with Terra and Jill anyway!

Everyone who knows Sarah is familiar with her hilarious sense of humor. When you are hanging out with her, you can be sure that you are going to have a great time!

Sarah has been such an inspiration to me this past year. She has taken on a successful new job working as a freelance director for News 12 NJ (the TV station!) and has enrolled back at school to study history and medieval studies at Rutgers University. She has been completely devoted to work and school. Going to and from classes, the library, study groups, then off to work all weekend long. When she's lucky and can come across some down time, she plays some of her instruments and work on her music.

During this busy time of her life, she's realized how important her health is. She began seeing a holistic health counselor early this Fall, and has been incorporating wonderful lifestyle changes into her daily life. She has been cooking in the kitchen, experimenting with new, fresh foods all while taking notice of how these foods are effecting her body. Sarah has incorporated more whole grains and greens into her diet because she now understands the benefits of these healthy foods. Her health counselor is helping her learn how to balance all the areas of her life (diet, career, lifestyle, etc.) in order to be healthy. Sarah has been positively responsive to all of it!

I admire her studious personality with her schoolwork. She's completely enveloped in her studies because she adores what she is learning. Her excellent grades have shown just how much all of her reading, homework and studying has paid off!

I am very proud of my hard working sister and all of her efforts to improve her health and life goals. Even though we haven't hung out in a while due to her schedule, it makes me happy to know that she is taking good care of herself while she's got so much going on. I am looking forward to her Winter and Spring break so that we can spend some quality time together.

Since Halloween is tomorrow, I included this picture of Sarah when she was a 'whoopie cushion!' Haha!!

Keep up all of your hard work, Sarah!! I love you!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Have a Healthy Halloween

Halloween is a really fun night for kids as well as us adults. However, all of the gooey, sugary candy left over isn't good for any of us! Instead of writing the laundry list of the harmful effects that sugar has on the body (besides, this email would go on for pages!), we'd rather just list a few. Sugar can suppress the immune system, (which is something that we DON'T want during this time of year), sugar contributes to obesity, can cause arthritis, increases cholesterol, contributes to diabetes, can cause cardiovascular disease, can cause depression...and we're only getting started! To sum it up, sugar is the white devil! We are all about encouraging children to enjoy some healthier alternatives to the traditional candy treats, and you should be too. We've listed a few ideas below for you to try:

Healthier Halloween Treats
- mini boxes of raisins
- pretzels
- single serving packets of microwave popcorn
- whole grain crackers (you can find small packets of these in the grocery store)
- packages of trail mix (if you live near a Trader Joe's, they have pre-packaged 'Handful of Nuts' that are a wonderful treat for kids...and you!)
- stickers, party favors...it doesn't have to be all about food!

If you are going to be trick or treating with a little one, check out these helpful, easy tips.

Like heroin, cocaine and caffeine, sugar is an addictive, destructive drug, yet we consume it daily in everything from cigarettes to bread.
-William Dufty, author of Sugar Blues.

DO NOT Support Mars Candy
Something for you to be aware of: Please think twice before picking up a Mars candy bar! You should know that candy maker Mars, Inc. - creator of M&M's, Snickers, Twix, Dove, Three Musketeers, Starburst, Skittles, and other candies - funds deadly animal tests. We won't go into the horrific details, but if you would like more information on their cruel experiments, click here.

Remember that every time you buy something from the grocery store, you are casting a vote.

Farm to Table

All the people that asked me before I left for Rwanda if I would be able to eat here obviously have never seen the Kimironko market in Kigali. I was often asked this question because I follow a vegan and gluten-free diet, which can be difficult even in the states where so many things are accessible. Admittedly, I packed a few things in my suitcase that I could not live without (quinoa, agave, Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar!) but for the most part I was not concerned. I was actually looking forward to living in a society that lives mostly off real food.

One of the books that I brought with me was Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma, which surprisingly I had not yet read. I started reading it this weekend and realized how appropriate it will be to read while I'm here. In my opinion, one of the biggest problems that American's face when it comes to nutrition is industry is the lack of real food. Between factory farms and processed and refined foods, most American dinner tables rarely see whole foods. Yet we wonder, why in places around the world where diets may be heavy in fat or starches the people are still so much healthier.

Its amazing to be immersed into a society where there is such a direct connection between the people and the foods they eat. Their are no fad diets or diet books, no factory farms, no cows pumped with steroids and antibiotics. The food here is real. It is whole. It is local. Every inch of the Rwanda landscape is covered in land that is being harvested for one crop or another. You can not go anywhere in this country that I have seen thus far without seeing local women walking the streets, transporting huge sacks or baskets on their heads full of fruits or vegetables.

I just returned from the Kimironko Market, a huge open-air market a few miles from our home in Kimironko. You can find nearly anything there. For probably the length of a football field, stretched tables are filled with all types of produce. I found fruits from bananas to papayas, pineapples, mangoes, oranges and my favorite - avocados. I found vegetables, from beets to cauliflower, broccoli, garlic, onions, eggplant, zucchini. Starches such as rice, white potatoes and sweet potatoes. Beans of every variety, meats, eggs, milks. All grown here in Rwanda. John, our gardener and housekeeper, who escorted me to the market asked me if we had anything like this market in my country. I laughed out loud as I imagined the typical American grocery store in comparison. Even a typical Jersey farmer's market is light years away from anything quite this extensive.

But this is the way of life here. In some ways so simple, and so the omnivore's dilemma is not such a burden. When an American goes to the grocery store they are faced with shelves and shelves of brightly colored packages boasting all sorts of health claims and advertisements, making it difficult to decide what you want to eat and especially, what you should eat. Here what you eat is what you grow or what you raise. Simple as that. Part of the beauty of it is that food is so much fresher and more flavorful when it is eaten at its source! Food goes literally from the farm to the table - it does not get much fresher than that! The bananas are so sweet. The avocados are huge and delicious. And I can take pride in buying them (which at 100 Francs each, roughly .20¢, yes please!) because I know that my money is going directly to the farmer to feed his family, and that in general I am supporting the economy of a country that is so in need.

I can not wait to see more of how many Rwandas live and eat as I start working with Gardens for Health. Gardens for Health is an organization that connects families living with HIV/AIDS with co-op supplied land to in order to grow their own produce, which will provide food security and nourishment. I will hopefully be assisting them in conducting surveys in households affected with HIV and then contributing to their plans for nutritional counseling for those households as well.

I will continue to post about my experiences here with the organization, the people, the culture, and of course the food, so please stay tuned. Now it is time to decide which of these wonderful vegetables to cook for dinner!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Cell Phone Donations.....

Natural Health Magazine online recently posted in their Green Living section a bit recycling old cell phones. Apparently more than 165 million cell phones are thrown out for up grades each year creating 65,000 tons of waste each year!! I know that I have at least 4 phones stashed away in my desk drawer. Obviously I realized that it wasn't a good idea to toss them into the trash and I knew there were recycling options out there, but I had no idea how many!

Not only can you bring your phone back to your provider (Verizon, Sprint, TMobile, AT&T etc.), donate it to charity, but you can get paid for recycling your old phone too! So Instead of letting your old phones take up precious space in your home office, here are a few options to recycle or donate:

1. Flip Swap: Free, easy and green. Flipswap pays you to recycle your old cell phone. Fliipswap appraises your cell phone value and then gives you the money or the option of donating the money to one of 80 associated charities. What's really cool is if your phone is really old or broken, they will accept it, recycle it in a environmentally responsible facility and then plant a tree!!

2. Cellphonebank.org: Cellphonebank.org was created in 2004 to attempt to reduce cell phone e-waste and to "provide an ongoing and readily available source or 911 emergency cell phones and funds to meet the unexpected and urgent needs of participating law enforcement and affiliated victim services agencies." The organization has a number of drop off locations in NJ or you can simply ship your old phone to them.

3. Shelter Alliance: Shelter Alliance is a GRC wireless recycling program that offers services for collection programs for organizations, cell phone donation programs for businesses and individuals. Basically, they help organizations start cell phone recycling programs to raise money! They call it fundraising with accountability, I call it a fabulous, socially responsible idea for NPOs and other organizations looking for funding!

I did a couple of google searches and found that the options are really endless! If you want to get paid for your cell phone, you can. If you want to donate it to a good cause, you can. If you want to donate it to an organization so they can recycle it and get paid, you can. It's just a matter of preference. So, don't let those old cell phones collect dust! Recycle them, get paid or donate them.

And as always....
Keep it Fresh!