How Green Is Your Body? Part II

Posted by organicneedle in health, plastic

Yesterday we chatted about smoking…today let’s focus on the toughie…obesity.

Weight, Diet and Exercise: Definitely a harder issue to tackle especially in the USA where overeating and sedentary jobs are the norm…and it all comes with some intense emotional baggage. There is not much denying that eating well and exercising are probably two of the most important things YOU can do to ward off literally thousands of health issues…including most of the biggies. Considering that most medical issues involve some sort of plastic, transportation, time, energy, etc. etc., it can be assumed that the less medical intervention you need the greener it is…and the less taxing it is on a ballooning health care system. So…do you consider keeping yourself in healthy shape a part of your green ethic? And if keeping one’s self in good health is both an economic and environmental issue for the public, should it become a government issue? Should we be fighting the epidemic of obesity the same as we have been fighting smoking?
Here is some of what is being done and proposed.

Research and Knowledge: Obesity costs the US health care system close to an estimated 100,000 billion dollars a year, 1/2 being paid by Medicare…and therefore, your taxes. The list of preventable diseases associated with obesity, 20% more than your ideal body weight, is staggering. Yet…despite increased knowledge and awareness we continue to get fatter as a nation. In NYC, our mayor has taken a step further than just public awareness about the risks of obesity… he is helping to show how it is happening. Chain restaurants in NYC have to list calorie content of all its foods. (Seriously eye-opening for all those Starbucks Latte freaks!) Time will tell if the added info has an impact.

Tax: Tax on junk food. There have been several proposals to tax junk food, especially fast food and sugar laden drinks. The $ raised from these taxes would go to programs geared towards fighting obesity…like the projects listed below.

Public Policy: Some school districts have revamped their lunch menus and pulled unhealthy vending machines from their halls and cafeterias.
Green markets are being sponsored and brought into the Bronx to increase healthy food consumption. Again…time will tell if these things will have a major impact.

The idea of charging higher health premiums to the obese, who now make about a shocking 1/3 of the adult population, has been tossed about too. I am more in favor of the reward system. Why can’t we write off gym memberships if we use them? Or free aerobic classes? Can you imagine how many common human ailments would be curtailed if we simply had better preventative care? Why not offer reduced rates to patients who follow doctor prescribed diets and exercise regimes to get their diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol, hypertension, etc. under control?

What do you think? Do you consider how you treat your body a part of how you treat the earth? Is it a green issue? How far should the government be allowed to go even if it is a matter of public finance and health before it becomes too much Big Brotherism? Do you consider your health simply as a personal matter or do you see it as a part of a larger system? And again, very important, do calories in fact count if they come off of your kid’s plate?

[Disclaimer Prince Style: I was dieting when I wrote this so forgive me if it goes astray.]



How Green Is Your Body? Part I

Posted by organicneedle in health, plastic, politics

This winter, as most winters, I put on my little winter cushion.  I fluctuate 3-5 lbs between the cold and warm seasons. Usually not a big whoop. This year however, my natural flux seems to be having a slightly harder time hitting the summer zone. Now 3 or 4 lbs isn’t a health crisis…but it does make my spring/summer wardrobe a bit snugger than I prefer. So rather than go out and buy looser clothes to accommodate my winter butt…I will be working a bit harder to get back to summer size. By doing so I will definitely feel better…but also will be saving a ton of $ and resources by NOT BUYING a pile of new clothes in the next size up.

gumbyWhy do I bring my widening rear up other than its pure entertainment value? Well…it got me thinking of the whole connection between one’s physical health and the issue of greenness.  The truth is I am saving more than money and resources on new clothes, I am preventing a step in a direction towards potential future health issues.  Now I am NOT implying that keeping a healthy weight is a sole indicator of one’s physical health. But it is one crucial part of it…along with not smoking, moderation in the naughty stuff, regular exercise, balanced diet, etc.  While reading No Impact Man’s  great guest post focusing on personal responsibility in our actions…I got seriously thinking about where personal health issues within our control come into the picture of greenness and social responsibility.  There is no denying that medical issues require a great deal of energy, resources, time, plastic, and cost the health care system a fortune, making it harder on tax payers and those on the economic gray zone between middle class and poverty.

Smoking: Let’s tackle smoking first…since there are few if any health justifications for its use.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention smokers cost the country $96 billion a year in direct health care costs, and an additional $97 billion a year in lost productivity.  Considering the state of our economy and our health care system, this is no small public matter. In addition, second hand smoke leads to air pollution and potential health issues for anyone exposed, often children of smokers.  Fortunately, this is a fight we seem to be slowly winning.  How?

Research & Public Information: According to the American Lung Association smoking has dropped from 43% to 23% in the past 40 years primarily due to increased knowledge about the dangers involved.

Policy: Congress just passed another set of laws restricting even further how cigarettes can be marketed and stricter rules for getting those products on the shelf. Cities like San Fransisco & NYC have banned smoking in bars and restaurants….much to the delight of nonsmokers. Does it work? Oh yeah…NYC is down 350,000 smokers since 2002 when the ban took place.

Taxes: Cigarettes are a popular tax because it is the easiest to justify. In NYC the tax is $4.25 a pack…yep..that’s $4.25 just in tax. Of those who still smoke, the # of heavy smokers has dropped by a third citing the high cost.

What else could be done? Should cigarettes be banned all together? (My son asks me all the time why smoking is legal at all. He considers it a crime for someone to blow smoke in his and his brother’s faces on the street. He makes a beautiful puffer fish-like face holding his breath dramatically and covering his baby brother’s mouth while walking by the offender.) Should smokers have higher premiums considering they are statistically likely to need more health care than a nonsmoker? Most importantly, should people who throw their cigarette butts on my street be forced to eat them? All important and valid questions to consider in the fight for public health.

*Tomorrow we will talk more about my widening butt, don’t worry.



Inspiration in a Can

Posted by organicneedle in Uncategorized

Just returned from Lancaster touring the amusement park and staring at the Amish, as my good friend puts it. A good time was had by all.  Throughout our little journey, I learned 3 very important things.

1. My husband wants to be Amish….minus the religion and hard work aspects.
2. PA has way too many white people.
3. The Amish can can the bejeebies out of anything. Eggs. Fruits. Veggies. Pie mixes. Soup mixes. Meat. Sauces. Individual freedoms. Jar it all up and slap it on a shelf. They even had cheesecake in a jar, people. And the tricksters let you taste everything….knowing full well you will be driving away in your devil’s wagon with a few dozen jars in your sinfully idle little hands.
weird al
But what I took away most was a little much needed inspiration. I now have all the canning supplies I need to prepare my own concoctions…but have yet to actually get started. Letting my munchkins taste literally hundreds of goodies gave me a good idea of what yummies would be worth my considerable efforts.  In the interest of canning science research, we all sampled ourselves into the next pant sizes. Apple butter was a big hit…and apparently narcoleptic cat easy to prepare without a ton of sugar. Pickled mustard eggs…not so much. And all those tomatoes I have coming to me? Salsa! My husband sampled himself sick on all the great spicy combinations of pepper and tomato. Who would have thought the Amish would like it so hot? So besides giving me a tremendous appreciation for the ability to wear a tank top on an 80 degree day, they have also given me a little appreciation for the simple things…like squashed fruit in a jar.

Now I must go order those little sealy lids…. and break it to my husband, who has never actually lived in the country, come face to face with a horse, or gone an entire day in the past 10 years without the use of the internet, that he does not actually have what it takes to be Amish. Just call me the dream crusher.