Thursday, July 23, 2009

Food, Inc - A Movie to Understand America's Food Industry

I would encourage everyone to see this movie. Parents, please see this movie first before letting your young children see the film. Make sure they are mature enough to understand and discuss the ideas that this movie will present. For families with older kids (>12yo) who choose to see this movie together, I can guarantee some interesting conversations will occur!

Agriculture in the United States today has been transformed by the factory model. While great efficiencies have been achieved by this model, there is a high price to pay for it. Food, Inc. focuses on the unintended consequences of cheap and fast food.

The food that we consume is being produced and controlled by a handful of very large corporations. The power that these corporations wield and their ties to Washington, DC spill over to organizations such as the FDA, USDA. These ties influence public food policy and subsidies. Food, Inc brings to light these conflicts of interests. There are many more unintended consequences such labor issues, foreign policy concerns and world hunger that result from a highly mechanized system of food production.

Food, Inc illustrates how wheat, corn, soybeans are now in every food product that we see on our supermarket shelves. The movie explains why these crops in particular have become the dominant ingredients in food production and why this may not be a good thing.

Fruits and vegetables are considered specialty crops and these farmers do not receive very much in the way of government subsidies. So, there are not enough farmers to grow the fruits and vegetables that we need to meet our basic recommended daily allowances (RDA). These RDA values have been set by the same government that does not support fruit and vegetable growers. Ironic!

Food, Inc profiles a sustainable farm in Virginia called Polyface Farms. Joel Salatin is a powerful spokesman for his way of farming at Polyface. His animals are humanely treated and his land is cultivated with care. He shows it is possible to create a food system that is good for humans, animals and the land.

The movie's narrators are Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma and Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation. Food, Inc is the film version of their books. In this case the movie is as good as the books.

Food is such a fundamental need for us human beings. We should understand where and how our food comes to us. Over the past few decades, we have become increasingly disconnected from the source of our food. Food, Inc. can help us make more informed decisions about our food for the well-being of ourselves and our families.

Playing at the Drexel East theater on Main St. in Bexley. See this movie!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A month of eating locally

It has been about a month since my last posting and committing to eating locally.

It has been a good experience so far. A couple of Saturdays I had other engagements in the morning through the market hours and was thinking about how to make it to the market. The beauty of farmer's markets is that they open 9am. So, in order to keep my commitment of eating locally this summer, I have been getting to the market by 9 sharp. I have been frequenting the Clintonville Farmer's market. I know now the layout of the stalls and when I have to, I can finish my shopping in a half hour flat! The Grandview farmer's market just started last week and I plan to start walking there this coming Saturday. Between a couple of the markets, I should be able to get everything that we need.

What I have been able to do is buy the vegetables, fruits and meat that my family needs for the week. My family consists of 3 pre-adolescent girls and my husband. The four of them have been pleasantly surprised at how much they have liked the items that I have bought and cooked.

One of the most amazing things was getting freshly harvested garlic. This is simply amazing!! The flavor just explodes....I think one could get away with using half of what a recipe calls for. I made a simple saute of green beans in olive oil with garlic, salt and pepper. The garlic roasted itself in the saucepan to a lovely sweet and crunchy taste that made the fresh green beans taste fabulous too.

I have found that cooking with these fresh veggies requires little in the way of seasoning. The flavors are so pure and very little seasoning is needed. The fruits are so true to their flavors. I just bought peaches yesterday which were simply lovely....very peachy! No additives needed to bring out their goodness.

Meats...they are flavorful and a minimal of seasoning is required to bring out their full flavor. The meats cook more easily and retain their natural goodness. I have purchased chicken, pork and pork sausages. I have also bought eggs. These eggs come from hens that are pasture raised and as the vendor said to me "I love my girls" and I think the love comes through to the eggs. The eggs have a bright yellow yolk - something that you won't see with the more conventional egg farm eggs. The taste is fresh and really good.

Going to the market has stimulated the cook in me. I am enjoying cooking more than ever. It is such an adventure to take tried and true items like carrots, green beans and garlic (love this!!) and see the difference freshness makes.

There are of course things that we cannot get from the markets but these items are modest in number. I plan to explore some of the other markets around to see if I can reduce the items I purchase in the more conventional grocery store and continue to expand my support of the sustainable food chain. Not that grocery stores are evil at all....I am thankful for them and that they provide a needed service for many items that our modern lives require. However, supporting local farmers is really important in my view to supporting the local economy. Ohio can use all the help it can get from consumers keeping dollars in Ohio. It is akin to my excitement that my neighborhood of Grandview finally has a hardware store (Goodale Pro Hardware on Goodale Ave.) that will save a 20 minute drive to suburbs and also keep dollars local.

Emotionally, culturally and financially, eating locally just works. I am vested and connected to my food more so now because I know the growers and have talked to them. I love that I know the history of my heirloom Paul Robeson and Cherokee Purple tomatoes which I will eat in the next few days. Culturally, American farmers are an amazing breed especially those committed to sustainable farming. I like supporting their efforts and just as I know where my food comes from, I know where my money goes when I buy from the farmer. Financially, our food spending over the past month is a bit less than before I started buying our staples almost exclusively from the markets. I am delighted by all these facets that have enriched our lives this past month.

I urge you and your families to take advantage of the bounty of Ohio farmland. It is wonderful. Let your kids pick out the veggies....if they can see where their food comes from and they pick it out, they are more likely to eat it. Keep eating local. It will do your body, mind and spirit good!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Summer of Eating Locally

It has been awhile since I have posted to the WholeKids Pediatrics & Yoga blog.  My apologies for the "leave of absence."

I have had the fortune to be peripherally associated with The Anahata Food Project (initiated by Yoga On High founder Marcia Miller) which is growing fresh food to be donated to a local food pantry.  This pantry's administrator states that the recipients of food aid almost never get fresh green vegetables and fruits.  As a result, these families do not cook very much and the children remain at risk for malnourishment.  This has gotten me really thinking about the state of food and its impact on health.

On a personal note, I have sensitivities to certain foods that I should not consume regularly. Yet I do .... why?  It certainly has to do with the fact that the food tastes good.  It also has to do with bad habits that have been entrenched for awhile.  A recent ayurvedic consultation brought to light for me the need to make some changes.

On a more global note, local foods are making more and more sense to me.  The impact on the environment is so much lower.  Trucking in foods from across the country in the winter days of Ohio makes a little bit of sense, but in the spring/summer and early fall?  Not so much.  We have an abundance of farmers and farmer's markets with the most wonderful of produce, meats, cheeses, milk and flowers.  I walked around the Worthington Farmer's Market this past Saturday and was amazed at the amount of food that is available and is sustainable and/or organic.

One can truly do a week's worth of shopping at the farmer's markets.  It might take a bit of creativity as well as a willingness to try some new veggies and fruits. For the vegetarian eater, the farmer's market is a smorgasbord of wonder.  There were bratwursts, sausages, chicken and beef to delight the non-vegetarian palate - all sustainably raised on Ohio farms. Organicallly raised meat is higher in omega-3 fatty acids compared to conventionally raised meat which is higher in omega-6 fatty acids.  Omega-6 fatty acids are inflammatory to the body when consumed in excess.  Our diets should contain about a 3:1 ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids.  The standard American diet contains a ratio of these fats on the order of 10:1 or worse.  So, most Americans are consuming a more inflammatory diet.  

Non-organic produce or meat prices have increased dramatically over the past two years and people have noticed their grocery bills rising 10% or more. Our family food purchases are almost 60% organic or local and we have noticed that our grocery bills are fairly stable. Generally speaking, the prices at the farmer's markets are competitive with the grocery stores and the quality of food just can't be beat!  Industrial agriculture is intricately tied into the petroleum business.  I highly recommend a book called The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollen.  A brilliant and interesting piece of writing on the state of food in America.  While there is reason to despair at times about the quality of food, Mr. Pollen illustrates many reasons to hope.  Our local farmer's markets and their growth is one shining ray of hope.  

My pledge this summer is to work on eating from my farmer's markets as much as possible. Indian cuisine might get a little challenging but maybe not.  We'll see.  I will be writing about this venture in the blog.  

Our open house this coming Saturday at WholeKids is focused on healthy eating.  Holly Davis, a wellness coach with training in holistic nutrition, will talk about eating locally.  Snowville Creamery, an Ohio dairy, will be making an appearance.  Please come see us at the open house and join me in a summer adventure of eating locally.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Thoughts on Massage

I have been thinking about massage recently.  I think massage is a lovely thing personally.  I don't get massages for myself as often as I would like but I love the idea of them.  

My family is from India and the vast majority of babies there are massaged on a daily basis.  The new moms are massaged as well.  Massage is not a practice reserved for the those with more money as it tends to be in America.  The art of massage is passed down in families. Everyone learns to do it.  In addition, there are women called ayahs skilled in childcare who also perform baby and post-partum massage.  It is a lovely way to start and end a day especially if you are new mother or a newborn just learning to navigate this big, bright world!

I took a more scientific look at massage when I was preparing my lecture demonstration to a group at the Franklin County MRDD preschool.  The power point presentation is on the resource page of the website if you are interested.

The sense of touch occupies such a large percentage of the primary sensory cortex that touch is really vital for survival.  It is evident that babies and children who are not nurtured with touch in their formative years can have struggles with relating to the world around them in many ways.  

One of the most well established findings from massage research is that parent and child bonding is enhanced with baby massage.  In addition, there is the side benefit of reducing post-partum depressive symptoms in many mothers.  Studies suggest that babies who are massaged tend to cry less, are less irritable, sleep better and have more organized behaviors.  

As children get older, studies show that preschool children who are massaged or are lovingly touched by their parents tend to be less aggressive and may have improved cognitive abilities. For those children who are struggling with anxiety and depression, touch can be a very important piece of the therapeutic plan.  These kids experienced overall improvements in their anxiety and depression scores when massaged regardless of what other therapies were in use.  

It is not clear in all the studies that massage has such direct benefits, but the preliminary findings are intriguing.  Massage research is in its infancy in terms of hard and fast findings on the benefits of massage, but I believe that the continued research will bear out what I already know.

While I am an advocate of scientific evidence, I don't need to look past my own home for evidence.  I lay next to my daughter who was ill last week giving her a back rub that she asked for as she fought off a fever and a cold.   I could feel her body relax as I gently kneaded her back and legs.  Her body quieted and she fell asleep.  

Massage is a healing practice that empowers parents and kids alike.  I love that!

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Grand Event!

The open house/grand opening this past weekend (2/28/09) at WholeKids Pediatrics & Yoga was a smashing success!  If you were not able to come, please give the office a call and set up a time to come in.  I welcome that.  I am thankful to all of the families that came to see the yoga studio and office.  Thank you for bringing your children - they were all so sweet and I hope to see them again soon!  I know that it got busy at times and I appreciate everyone's patience as they waited to speak with me.  

The open house was a good event for me as an integrative pediatrician.  The turnout exceeded my expectations.  I had many discussions about how I use complementary practices such as yoga, natural medicines and supplements.  Several recent studies show that approximately 40% of Americans utilize complementary therapies and that parents use them for their children as well.  These studies along with the discussions that I had with many of you illustrated the growing need for integrative and holistic care.  Pediatricians must be educated about alternative practices to better serve the children in their care. There were lots of discussions about vaccinations which continues to illustrate to me that an honest dialogue on this subject is necessary.  Vaccines are an issue that is very personal for each family and that is exactly how I treat it. My adage is that whether it is a discussion related to decisions about vaccines or vitamins, one size does not fit all.

All the conversations solidified for me what I knew at a gut level - that families are looking for a pediatric practice that is based on a true partnership with parents and children.  The questions that people asked informed me even further that families are looking for a pediatrician to listen, to guide and to create a safe space for the questions that arise in raising children.  At WholeKids Pediatrics, that is exactly what I hope to have created.

I must take a moment to provide thanks.  I am glad to have the opportunity to practice medicine in a way that feels to true to myself.  I thank my current families and those yet to be patients for the opportunity to care for your children.

As to the open house, the delicious food was from Gordon's Gourmet located next door - Ted, Gordon and Jason are the best!  Kelly and Kathy, I am so glad to work with you every day.  You have embraced WholeKids and for that I am grateful.  Lori, you are a gifted yoga teacher and I am honored to work with you in providing yoga and nutrition counseling for our patients. My family and friends for always being there.  Anne and Jessica, fellow Grandview moms and great friends, my humble gratitude.  Shannon, my dear friend, your assistance, support and love (and Michael's, too) are more appreciated than words can ever say. My girls, Meghana, Lauren and Jesse, for loving me and loving WholeKids. To my husband, John without whom none of this is possible - my love always.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Staff at WholeKids

In all the excitement with moving, I neglected to introduce the wonderful people that help me at WholeKids Pediatrics.

Kathy C. is my front desk administrator.  She brings a wealth of administrative and accounting experience to the practice.  Kathy does scheduling, helps with referrals and helps make our billing processes go smoothly.  She is a mother, grandmother and loves our patients.  In addition, she is Buckeye fan like me!

Kelly I. is my nurse.  She comes to us via Chicago and Arizona with a variety of nursing skills. She is a mom to three young children and manages to balance work and family well. Kelly is new to integrative pediatrics but is excited to learn as she practices at WholeKids Pediatrics. She will soon be a certified infant massage instructor.  Both Kelly and I are eager to incorporate more infant massage into our practice with one-on-one instruction and classes. We will keep you posted on these opportunities.

Last but not least, there is Lori W.  Lori is the wellness coach at WholeKids.  She is a gifted yoga teacher for both adults and kids.  She is also a holistic health counselor.  She assists me with developing individualized yoga routines as well as nutritional plans for patients whom I feel will benefit from her services.  She is a kind soul with a passion for working with kids.

As you can see, WholeKids is a small practice.  Just the way I envisioned it.  The goal is to know our patients well and have you all get to know us.  In addition to being an innovative practice, I hope to provide a place where you and your kids feel comfortable and cared for.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Going Electronic!

Going Electronic!

This week, WholeKids Pediatrics embarks on converting to electronic medical records (EMR). Electronic medical records allows for better documentation of patient visits, phone calls and referrals.  It also makes billing and payments much simpler.  The other great thing about having EMR is that the office becomes as paperless as we can make it - in keeping with the mission of being a environmentally friendly and responsible office.

The EMR system being implemented is called eClinicalWorks - a system well known in pediatrics.  Training will be ongoing the week of February 16th - 20th.  We ask for your patience as we learn this system more thoroughly - our processes might move a little slower until we learn the system well.  

I have used EMR in the past and loved it.  Using paper charts for this past few months was a necessity but I am glad to give it up for the electronic version.  Not only will I save paper but my hand won't cramp anymore as I tend to write a lot!

Thanks for your patience as we go through this conversion.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Environmentally Friendly Design

We have been in our new office for just over a month now. It has been a joy to work in an office that is light, airy and that has been designed to be friendly to the environment. I would like to share a little bit about the choices made in designing the office. The office was designed with the creative help of Jessica Walli of JKW Design and graphic designer, Dennis Field of Greenline Creative.

Paint is our main decorative touch. The paint is contains no volatile chemicals (VOCs) meaning that you don't get that "fresh painted" smell which comes from chemical particles off-gassing into the air. VOCs in paint can cause respiratory symptoms such as coughs, skin rashes and for some headaches and fatigue.

The carpet is the other big decorative touch. A carpet that was eco-friendly but could hold up to kids stomping around a lot was needed. The carpet in the office is a beautiful Angela Adams design which has green certification and is made of environmentally sound nylon fibers.

The final exciting find was the fabric for the exam tables. I wanted something that would be beautiful but safe and durable for the kids as they lay on the exam tables. I discovered Enviroleather which is a soft leather-like fabric that has no polyvinyl chloride, bromide or plasticizer in it unlike other vinyl exam tables. I can feel good about having your children lay down on these tables.

Sustainable Earth cleaning products, many of which are Green Seal certified, are used for general maintainance. In addition, paper is recycled and used to support a school fundraising effort. Last, but not least, we recycle our plastic and cardboard containers.

WholeKids Pediatrics is committed to being an evironmentally responsible medical practice. It benefits us as we work here and also, your children while they are in our care.