Thursday, February 26, 2015

More U.S. Children Doing Yoga, Taking Sleep Supplements

from A growing number of American children are bending into downward dog and other yoga poses, according to a new report on complementary health practices.

The report analyzed National Health Interview Survey data on practices outside of mainstream medicine and found significantly more kids and teens practicing yoga, tai chi and qi gong in 2012 than in 2007.

The study also showed a significant increase in the number of children using melatonin supplements as sleep aids. Melatonin is a natural hormone known to play a role in sleep.

Yoga originated in India more than 5,000 years ago, and the mind-body practice has become so popular in the west that yoga studios are as common in parts of California as Starbucks coffeehouses.

The new study, published in National Health Statistics Reports, included 17,321 interviews with adults about their 4- to 17-year-olds.

Overall, 3.1 percent of kids did yoga in 2012, up from 2.3 percent in 2007.

Industry data shows a nearly 8 percent increase in the number of yoga instructors during the same five years, the study authors write. In addition, they say, public schools are beginning to incorporate yoga – which fosters stretching, relaxing and developing strength – into fitness programs.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Marijuana Is Officially Legal In Alaska

from Marijuana is now legal for adults in Alaska.

Alaska on Tuesday becomes the third U.S. state to end prohibition of marijuana, officially putting into effect Ballot Measure 2, approved by 53 percent of state voters in November.

Alaskans age 21 and older may now legally possess up to one ounce of marijuana, grow as many as six marijuana plants in their homes (with no more than three flowering), and possess any additional marijuana produced by those plants.

Shops selling legal recreational marijuana aren't likely to open until 2016, after the state legislature establishes a regulatory framework. State lawmakers have begun introducing legislation to that end.

"State laws allowing adults to use marijuana are becoming less and less of a novelty," said Mason Tvert, communications director for drug policy reform group Marijuana Policy Project. "It won’t be long before it’s the rule instead of the exception nationwide. Colorado and Washington are proving that regulating marijuana works, and soon Alaska will, too.”

The Marijuana Policy Project, a backer of the Alaska ballot measure, is launching a public education campaign reminding marijuana users to "consume responsibly," with ads that read: "With great marijuana laws comes great responsibility.”

“Most adults use marijuana for the same reasons most adults use alcohol,” Tvert said. “We want them to keep in mind that it carries the same responsibilities.”

Voters in Alaska, Oregon and Washington, D.C., passed similar marijuana laws last year, joining Colorado and Washington state, which legalized recreational marijuana in 2012 and opened retail shops in 2014. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Australian Farmers Lobby Gov't For Clearer Labeling Of Supermarket Food

from Tasmanian farmers are calling for greater transparency in supermarket food labeling, lobbying the Australian government to introduce clearer identification of imported goods.

The call for action on Monday comes on the back of a major hepatitis A scare in Australia, prompted by frozen berry imports from Chinese suppliers.

The Australian government has vowed to tighten regulations of labels which do not currently state a country of origin. But it has stopped short of agreeing to ban frozen imports.

Farmers have said that consumers are being left in the dark, and are often under the illusion that they are getting local products when they're actually eating imported food.

Tasmanian vegetable grower and deputy chairman of Ausveg, David Addison, told The Hobart Mercury on Monday that current regulations are "meaningless" and not strict enough, often causing confusion in supermarket aisles.

"People are increasingly wanting to know where their products are coming from," he said.

He said the current acceptable standard - "made in Australia from local and imported ingredients" - was misleading, and recommended a ban on the term. The issue will be examined by a parliamentary inquiry into foreign food sources.

Federal Agricultural Minister Barnaby Joyce announced last week that changes to labeling laws could be reviewed, but no steps have since been taken to implement any modifications.

Addison said that while eradicating imported foods would be an extreme step, clearer labeling would give Australian consumers a much better idea of what they were buying.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

New Yorkers Protest City Plan to Destroy Community Gardens

from Hundreds rallied at the steps of City Hall on Tuesday to protest the Department of Housing Preservation Development’s plan to build affordable housing on seventeen community gardens.

Community activists and elected representatives alike gathered in the hope of removing the gardens off the HPD’s list of properties to be made available for development, the argument being that one social benefit—spurring affordable housing construction—should not come at the cost of destroying another.

Among those in attendance was Paula Segal, Executive Director of 596 Acres, a land-access advocacy group based in the city. “We would like them to evaluate whether the current position is the best use of public land,” she said. “I feel strongly about New Yorkers having a say on what happens to their land.”

Ms. Segal’s organization–which is co-ran with the New York City Community Garden Coalition–has put a map together outlining the 181 city-owned properties included in the Request for Qualifications for developers and the over 750 sites not included by the HPD. With so many vacant lots under the HPD’s jurisdiction, Ms. Segal is not the only one questioning the city’s allocation process.

“It seems like they have over 1,000 vacant lots. There should be 15 they can swap out, I know there’s lots in the vicinity,” said Greg Todd, who helps manage the Imani Garden in Brooklyn. “You can clearly see there are lots of options available, they don’t have to pick on the few gardens.”

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Smuckers Spreads Into Pet Food Business With Big Heart Buy

.@Smuckers Spreads Into Pet Food Business With @BigHeartPet Buyfrom J.M. Smucker Co. is adding Milk-Bone dog treats and Meow Mix cat food to its stable of human-food brands, with a $3.2 billion agreement to buy Big Heart Pet Brands that also marks a win for the smaller company’s private-equity owners. The deal gives Smucker, maker of Pillsbury baked goods and Folgers coffee as well as its namesake fruit spreads, a presence in the market for pet food and pet snacks. Sales of those products totaled $21 billion in the U.S. in 2013 and have been growing relatively quickly as Americans lavish ever-more money on their growing number of dogs and cats, as growth in the packaged-food has stagnated.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

'#BigFood' Dominates School Food Conference

'#BigFood' Dominates School Food Conferencefrom If there’s still any doubt about where the School Nutrition Association’s (SNA) allegiances lie, their recent School Nutrition Industry Conference (SNIC) leaves no uncertainty.

The annual conference, which this year ran from January 11- 13, is “where school nutrition directors and industry representatives [came] together to build successful partnerships to better serve the nation’s children,” according to the SNA’s website. But a review of the conference agenda, speakers, educational sessions and sponsors paint a far different picture – one of an overwhelmingly industry-driven event heavy on the promotion of food and beverage offerings from major processed food corporations.

That’s bound to happen when the SNA taps the food and beverage industry to financially sponsor a conference. Food behemoths Domino’s Pizza and Jennie-O Turkey Store were listed as $5000+ sponsors donating between $500 and $4,999 included ConAgra, Five Star, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Sara Lee, Barilla, Kikkoman, Land O’Lakes, PepsiCo, Rich Products and Schwan’s.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Clean eating: Getting real food back in your diet

Clean eating: Getting real food back in your dietfrom Clean eating? Barbara Mintz thinks the term is silly. Real food? Who comes up with these phrases? But regardless the trendy buzz word you want to use now, Mintz and fellow registered dietitians and doctors are rejoicing that Americans are now finding it cool to do what they've been telling us for years to do: Eliminate processed foods from our diets and replace them with an array of vegetables and fruits, whole grains and lean proteins. "It's like, 'OK, now you're finally getting it,' " said Mintz, vice president of healthy living and community engagement for Barnabas Health. Clean eating continued its spread throughout the masses last year, but health experts say it's not just a flashy fad that should be discarded for 2015.