Occupy the Food Supply

My living room veg garden: cabbage seedlings, burdock and sweet potatoesBy Dr. Susan Rubin

My journey from being a dentist to a food activist has been filled with twists and turns over the years. When the Occupy Wall Street movement started last fall, I was immediately intrigued. At the core of the Occupy movement is greed, corruption and the undue influence of corporations on our government. The corporate control of food in every level of our lives had been pretty darn clear to me for a long time, its a big reason I’m an active participant in the Occupy movement.

Corporate control of our food is every where you look. Here are just four examples (there are many more):

1. School Food: 25% of all school cafeterias are run by giant corporations such as Aramark, Chartwells, Sodhexo and others. These corporations are required by law to deliver a profit to their shareholders, that comes way before providing healthy, safe food to kids. In my 10+ years of school food advocacy, I saw first hand that the school cafeterias who made meaningful healthy changes came from school districts that did NOT outsource their food service to corporations.

2. Genetically modified organisms, aka GMOs. Approximately 70% of all processed and packaged foods contain GMOs. One corporation, Monsanto, controls more than 95 percent of our nation’s sugar beets, 94 percent of the soybeans, and 88 percent of the corn grown in this country. Pretty darn creepy. Learn more about Monsanto’s influence on our food system by clicking here.

If you live near me, get your seeds from the Hudson Valley Seed Library.

3. Seeds. Ready for another creepy fact? Five companies dominate the world’s seed market — Bayer (Aventis), Monsanto, DuPont, Dow, and Syngenta (Novartis and AstraZeneca). These are the corps who make pesticides and genetically modified organisms. Corporate control of seeds is terrifying, learn more by clicking here. The answer to this is save your own seeds or be involved with a local seed swap. I belong to the Hudson Valley Seed Library – check it out!

4. A flawed farm bill Sadly we live in a country where a happy meal is cheaper than a healthy meal. Multi-national meatpacking corporations like Tyson-IBP, ConAgra, Cargill and Smithfield are big players in the farm bill, keeping subsidies for corn and soy so they can profit from factory raised cows. Learn more about the farm bill by clicking here.

So what can YOU do to keep corporations out of your food supply?

Here are some suggestions:
1. Buy your veggies from a local farmers market. It is essential that we all do everything we can to support our local regional food systems. With climate change and resource depletion (fossil fuels), we must rebuild local food. Regular visits to farmer’s markets can be a delicious way to wean yourself away from corporate controlled food.

2. Join a CSA. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture- its a great way to keep corporations out of our food supply, you deal directly with a farmer for an entire growing season. Local Harvest is a website that can help you to find a CSA near you. (l I’m psyched that Kitchawan Farm is a starting new small CSA just minutes from my home. Learn more about their 2012 farm share by clicking here.

3. Buy your bread from a a local bakery. Get yourself some REAL bread! We have one a few towns away from here, in Port Chester, its called Kneaded Bread its a special treat and worth the trip. You’ll find that 99% of bread in supermarkets contains questionable ingredients that don’t belong in bread. Most of it contains GMO ingredients. Get your family off of this poison!

4. Prepare you own meals instead of buying fast food, take out or frozen dinners. If you stop to think about it, how did we ever lose this skill of preparing food for ourselves and our families? You guessed it! Food corporations and their slick ad campaigns turned cooking into “drudgery” and sold us “convenience” YUP, it comes down to re-skilling: learning how to cook, its really not rocket science. Get your kids started on this as well, child labor is appropriate, you’ll be teaching them life skills. By the time they’re out of high school, they should know how to cook for themselves. That way they will not be dependent upon the corporate run cafeterias at their college or worse yet, RAMEN! Note that there are colleges with great food, UMASS Amherst is a great example.

5.Buy your milk from a local farm. Find one in your area and support it. Corporate influence of our milk supply is truly disturbing. One thing you must make sure of and that is that the milk you drink does not contain Monsanto’s recombinant bovine growth hormone. rBGH increases your chances of breast, colon and prostate cancer.

6. Make you own cookies, cakes, and pies. With real ingredients. Organic butter. Fair trade sugar. Teach your kids that these forms of treats #1 taste better……teach them quality counts, #2 better for you and for the planet. Stay far far away from toxic corporate cookies like Girl Scout cookies. Support your local troop with a check instead and make your own cookies at home.

7. Start growing your own. I often tell people, “gardens are the answer. what was your question?” The benefits of growing food are enormous, let me start to count the ways. Getting your hands in the dirt, soil, has health benefits: anti-depressant properties, may help facilitate learning, may help people with asthma.


bio Dr. Susan Rubin is an eco-gastronomically focused food educator and leader in the world of school food activism as well as a mother of three.  She is the founder of Better School Food, a coalition of health professionals, educators, and concerned parents, whose mission is to raise awareness about the connection between better food and better health. She is one of the Two Angry Moms in the documentary film of the same name.  Dr. Susan has a private health counseling practice in Westchester, NY.  You can contact Dr. Rubin at www.drsusanrubin.com


Headache? Ulcers? Arthritis? Water Yourself!

Water Yourself!Ever looked at the plant in your front hall that you’ve forgotten to water? Leaves dried up as it slowly dies away?  Even the plant fairies have left it.  News flash: You are that plant. You can’t live without water, so why are you avoiding it?  Ok, maybe you don’t, but many do and I’d bet my eco-friendly glass water bottle, you know someone who does not drink water.

As a holistic nutritional counselor, I’ve heard everything from:  “I don’t like the taste of it” to “I just forget”.  Yet when one gets a headache the first place they head to is the medicine cabinet for aspirin. Clue:  You’re dehydrated.  Drinking anything else and I do mean anything else; will not hydrate you the way WATER does.  Your body is made up of Water. It is the basis of all life. The planet reflects this and so does your body.

Your Muscles are 75% water, Blood is 82% water, Lungs 90% water, Bones are 25% water and Oh yeah, the place of your headache, your brain, the control center of your body is 76% water.

The Healing FACTS of WATER:

In the June 21, 1983 NY Times article entitled: Doctor Finds Ulcer Remedy While in Iran Prison, brought to light the miracles water can bring to our health.  It was under these awful conditions in this prison in Teheran, Iran; Dr. Batmanghelidj discovered this water treatment.  As a prisoner, he was “the doctor on staff”. It started one evening with a patient suffering intense ulcer pains.  Dr. Batmanghelidj treated him with about a pint of water, because nothing else was available. ”His pain became less severe and then disappeared completely after eight minutes,” said the report.”

Arthritis = Inflammation. Rheumatoid, Gout and Osteoarthritis are the three most “popular” varieties individuals can create for themselves. Osteoarthritis is the most prevalent, affecting an estimated 20 million Americans. Water is the cure that moves the crap, literally and figuratively through your body.  Cleaning along the way. Thus, reducing inflammation.

I’ve been there! Recently, I had the good fortune (I try to stay positive, no matter what!) to experience bone health issues. All I can say loud and clear, Major PAIN!  Stress, inflammation and dehydration is what put me in a place I never want to return to again, ever.  My back went out, I couldn’t move. The hunchback of Notre Dame had nothing over me! With the diagnosis of 5 herniated discs, one that was out, sequestered and pressing on my spine, I was told that surgery was my only option. I almost caved and followed the conventional route, then as I lay on the floor like a cockroach with all fours in the air, I remembered the magic elixir, WATER.  Lots of it.  Now, as I  stand strong and straight (with some chiropractic help, essential oils and such), I’m proud to say that I completely avoided the surgery I was told was the only way, but my healing started with water.

All liquids are NOT created equal!!

Coffee, tea, wine, liquor will dehydrate you further.  Soda and manufactured fruit juices are full of sugar, be it natural or enhanced. Including, milk!  Besides making you tasty for mosquitoes, they can cause stomach cramps and diarrhea. When really what your body is screaming for is…WATER. Then have your coffee, tea….

Sports drinks, such as Gatorade and Powerade have electrolytes. The use of food dyes and unnecessary sugars cause other issues that only water can wash away.  Sports drinks do not have as high an electrolyte content as coconut water.  Coconut water is a 100 times more effective. It is also, a natural choice and contains…water in the title. (Mother Nature’s reminder!)

So, what’s a body to do?  Check in with yourself.  Drink a glass of water and see how you feel after 10 minutes.  Drink some more…then see if you need to head to the medicine cabinet.  Take responsibility for your own health and the health of your family.  Don’t hand over your power to the pharmaceutical industry until you check in with your own body.  You own it. Honor it.

Our health is truly dependent on the quality and quantity of the water we drink. The next time you’re asked what you would like to drink, water yourself first, before choosing your next beverage of choice.


“Healthy” from the Plate of the USDA

Well, the USDA food pyramid has just gotten a “new” makeover!  MyPlate is the colorful, new, in your face, pay attention to me ad campaign!  MyPyramid, the prior ad campaign, was based on the Food Pyramid, and like Madonna or Brittney, it was just time for a redo.

Statistically, we as a nation are not getting healthier, we’re getting sicker.  So, it’s time to wake up the public because we, are in crisis!  Yep, we are a fat, overweight, diabetic bound, heart diseased, downward spiraling nation of fast food ad campaigns that scream louder than the USDA food pyramid, MyPyramid or MyPlate ever could – CRISIS!!

Wait, maybe the USDA and lobbyists in Washington are in cahoots?  No!?  They have our best interests at hand, right?!  Think again!  Take a look at the plate.  Here sits this bright, beautiful plate, telling us what we need to know as a nation to keep ourselves and our family healthy.  What’s a mom to do?!  READ the labels. Take responsibility for your own opinion, your own health and the health of your family.

Yes, there is some really great information to be gleaned from MyPlate.gov.  Vegetables, Grain, Fruit, Protein and Dairy. We all need to eat our vegetables! Greens, specifically, actually lots of them! (This I give them 5 stars, as it’s the largest section on MyPlate). Fruit, but as Dr. Andrew Weil has so aptly pointed out in his blog post: no distinction is made between fruit juices and fruits.

Protein come from MANY sources and guess what?! Grains and greens have protein.  So do nuts, beans and legumes.  It’s not all about animal proteins. MyPlate misses bringing awareness to these other sources of protein, BUT it does not push the over abundance of animal protein it used to!  Dairy, low fat precisely, is not necessarily healthier for you than full fat.  In fact in the Dec. 21, 2010 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, it shows that there is a natural substance in dairy fat,( trans-palmitoleic acid), that may substantially reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

What is missing from the plate is, water (ah…not in the glass!).  Water is the basis of true health and wellness.  You can live without food for weeks, but you can’t live without water for longer than 3 days.  We NEED water to grow,  just like plants.

Watering yourself creates homeostasis, health:

  • Detoxifies
  • Natural food suppressant (want to loose weight?!)
  • Moisturizes the skin
  • Aids in digestion and prevents constipation
  • Gets rid of headaches and helps with reduction of migraines
  • Water is the transport system for everything that enters your body
  • The elixir of youth!
  • It hydrates you!!

Take a look at your plate and then take a look at MyPlate.gov.  It’s about getting yourself educated, demanding real information about what you and your family need to ingest. MyPlate.gov is an opinion by the USDA, not a decree.  Follow your own instincts, get educated.  The government is tied into big pharma, beef, poultry, dairy, grain, soybean, corn and their lobbyists at the expense of our health as a nation.  The thinking is if we keep people sick, we can keep big pharma happy!  The beef, poultry and dairy industry needs to be kept happy too.  Let’s not forget the GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) Monsanto monster corn, soybean and grains.  Just so you know, Monsanto develops and markets genetically engineered seed and bovine growth hormone, AND is extremely aggressive with it’s litigation, political lobbying practices, seed commercialization practices and “strong-arming” of the seed industry!  So, let’s make sure Monsanto is kept happy.

Follow the money trail and drink your water.