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Archive for the ‘health’ Category

Kombucha Love

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Hello. I’m Tao and I brew kombucha.

Kombucha fermented tea won me over first in its bottled form sold at my local co-op. A raw, enzymatic, probiotic drink that fizzed it’s way into my heart, despite the mysterious floaty culture things in every bottle. I knew enough about raw and fermented foods to understand this was really healthy stuff –but I came to understand that it is actually a complete health therapy – full of immune-enhancing, detoxifying and balancing nutrients, probiotic organic acids, enzymes, B-vitamins, antioxidants and more.

The word spread quickly, first in the raw food communities and health food stores. When Whole Foods stocked and then expanded and restocked their shelves with two brands, it became as close to mainstream popular as a health beverage could get. Still, we early drinkers felt like we were in a secret society — smiling and nodding when we came upon others who splurged (at almost $4/serving) regularly on the magic brew.

Then the home brewers began to surface, bringing their coveted kombucha “Mothers” out of the closet to share with others on the path. Now we could brew our own kombucha, organically and to our health’s content — for somewhere around 50cents/gallon. And, not a moment too soon, since some kombucha beverage brands were recently pulled from the shelves of stores due to a labeling mishap.

Like many twists of fate, the invasion of governing forces served only to boost interest in the drink, and especially in the brewer’s world. Although I had been brewing occasionally in the past with a culture a friend shared with me, I quickly upped my brewing game and am loving it.

If you aren’t connected to the underground world of shared Mothers – or even if you already have your SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast), I recommend learning more about the process of brewing and the health benefits at any of the many resources now available online.

I discovered Kombucha Dave on Twitter. With unmatched enthusiasm and passion, he has invited all of us to join the kombucha brewing community by providing supplies, home brewing education and a lot more through his website, online store, blog, newsletter, videos, Facebook page and Tweets. I found his free online brewing course super helpful – there was more to know about brewing than I thought!

It’s empowering to explore and participate in your own wellness. Happy brewing!

I Do Not Want These

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

Ok, well – all 28 bones (27 for me, I’m missing one sesamoid bone) and 20 muscles in my feet want them, but I feel more than slightly ridiculous at the thought of wearing  these sock-like, shoe thingies.

But, science is science, especially when it’s logical and aligns with everything I know about feet and movement. And, as a yoga teacher and a trail runner, I know quite a bit in that regard. And, I have funny feet with really high arches. Yoga keeps them strong enough, but I can’t deny that the idea of running and hiking ALMOST barefoot really sounds exhilarating as well as possibly the missing fitness link for not only my feet, but the rest of my legs and core.

The bottom line is, your feet need to move within their full ROM to stay mobile and strong. And they set the stage for the rest of your body to be the same way. I often tell my yoga students that one of the worst things that happened to our feet in the modern world, is really really really good shoes — meaning those with a support system that, in essence, does the work for you. Bare is better.

If you want to know more about the shoe-less shoe technology and your body, go to I did and then gave in to a pair of these. They immediately felt comfortable on a hiking trail – no breaking in necessary. I could feel the gravel and stones through the bottom – sometimes not so comfortably, but in the end, the soles of my feet only felt more “awake” – a little like a massage.

But, I still don’t want these. They look ridiculous.

In fact, they make me crave the really high pair of heels sitting in my closet.

Form or function? I guess it’s all about balance.

Daylight What?

Monday, March 29th, 2010

I’ve been trying to roll with it, but Daylight Savings Time is killin’ me.

On a purely physical level, I’m annoyingly sensitive to my sleep needs – lose sleep and I’ll lose energy and attitude – making parts of the day a struggle. So, I made a deal with my body. I’ll work at sleeping and rising at consistent times and you give me full-on energy during all the other hours. I had to throw in a few extras – like a good diet and exercise, but overall, it works well – I get to operate full-on most days and can even manage late night music shows once/week w/o too much trouble. My body and brain know when to wake up and when to shut down. It’s a pretty good system.

Unfortunately, the craziness of changing the clocks twice/year really messes with it. The well-laid plans, dating back to WWI – of saving fuel/energy, has not panned out. But, we humans don’t like to change or admit that we are wrong, so we keep moving clocks up and back. It turns out, our futile attempts at energy savings actually costs us more in electricity and heating and pollution emissions. These facts are no longer debated – look at this from Grist.

My body knows when to wake up, so when it’s darker and colder and actually an hour earlier, it complains a lot about being pushed from sleep before the restoring process is finished. And, that’s exactly what it feels like – making my whole self feel out of sorts every Spring. Looking at a bigger picture, it’s painful to watch kids standing at the school bus stop in the pitch dark, and I don’t really know what the farmers and other early outdoor workers have to deal with, but it can’t be helpful.

It takes me weeks to adjust, but I eventually will. Of course, then it will be Fall and we’ll do it all over again. Spring Forward? Not me.

Hidden BPA – canned foods

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

by Tao, Carrboro, NC

While the case against BPA plastics keeps growing, the many sources of it continue to be revealed. While many of us have stopped storing or heating leftovers in plastic containers, switched to stainless steel drinking bottles, not many have considered the plastic lining in canned foods. Yep, the same stuff in our plastic water bottles – BPA – a hormone-disrupting chemical that has been shown to damage our cardiovascular system, reproductive system, cause cancer, diabetes, obesity, and disrupt fetal development.

Unfortunately, even reputable companies offering organic products have not yet addressed this issue. There are only 3 known companies to have eliminated BPA from their cans – Vital Choice, EcoFish and Native Forest Organic. That leaves a LOT of this toxic chemical out there in our food supply, in our bodies and in the environment.

While the evidence mounts, showing especially dire effects from BPA on infants and children, companies making related products are scrambling to take out the BPA of their bottles, cups, and pacifiers (pacifiers???! – ouch). CA legislature is considering a bill to officially ban this chemical in kids products. Progress on this matter is encouraging, yet there is the inevitable stall-out in the food industry, both in the search for alternatives and the fact that companies like CocaCola are lobbying hard against any interference in their manufacturing process.

Once again, it’s up to us as consumers to call the shots and turn the tide. Eating fresh is best, but when you can’t avoid otherwise, buy only canned goods labeled BPA-free, contact your favorite food companies and request their compliance. You can keep up on news and info. at Bisphenol A Free Portal.

Sad Stats

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Did you know :

7 in 10 deaths in the U.S. are from chronic illness

1 in 2 people in the U.S. live with chronic illness

50% of the U.S. diet consists of processed food

Another 42% consists of meat and dairy (from factory farms??)

Only 7% consists of fruits and vegetables (mostly not organic or local??)

Then it gets worse:

40% of the 7% of the above vegetables are potatoes….and 50% 0f that 40% are – you guessed it – in the form of french fries.

If you are getting nauseous just reading this and a little afraid of chronic illness in your life, then take charge of your life through your body and the planet in 2010. Get educated. Get well. Get going.

Listen to Woody – Don’t Be a Dickhead

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

Speaking of Woody Harrelson…celebrity or not, this guy is green inside and out. He’s stepped back from his Hollywood career and life to find a more “right livelihood” and he’s not shy about spreading the news of what he’s learned and experienced. If you don’t yet know Woody, here’s a good place to start.

He lives in a sustainably-minded community on the island of Maui, where they get all of their energy from the sun and grow much of their own food. He believes in particpation in the global community. He co-founded a website with his wife (and involving 5 other committed people) called, “VOICE YOURSELF” where they hope to “promote and inspire individual action to create global momentum towards simple organic living and to restore balance and harmony to our planet.” For years, or perhaps decades, he has been involved in many green initiatives besides his recent venture with Alanis Morrisette.

In fact, I stumbled upon (as an ’employee pick’ at our local video store) this socio-political documentary, “GO FURTHER”, filmed by Ron Mann. Made in 2001, it is probably even more important to watch today, as Woody and a group of friends set out on a bicylce tour (deemed the SOL – Simple Organic Living – Tour) of the West Coast, followed by a bus fueled with hemp seed oil.Their mission? To raise awareness about sustainable living and a wide range of topics, such as organic food, alternative energy and political activism. The travelers included a yoga-teacher, a hemp-activist, a junk-food addict, a raw food chef and a college student who was persuaded to join them. A lot happens along the way – this film will draw you in both mentally and emotionally.

Woody believes we have time to clean up our lives and the planet if we can simply, “Stop Being Dickheads.” I’m willing if you are. Watch this film, visit the site. Be inspired.

Consuming Kids – the documentary

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

by Tao

According to an article from the Valley Advocate, published in March 2009, “America is in the midst of a baby boom; federal statistics released last week report there were more than 4.3 million babies born in the U.S. in 2007, more than the number born at the peak of the post-World War II boom. And, according to the recently released documentary, Consuming Kids: The Commercialization of Childhood, the child-marketers are ready and waiting.

Consuming Kids is one of the best films I have seen in years that explores the various ways in which the identities, values, and future of young people are held hostage to a world shaped by the poisonous culture of consumption and commodification. Every school should buy this film and learn from it. And every parent, educator, and concerned citizen should watch this film if they believe kids deserve a more just world and future.”
– Henry Giroux | Professor of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University | Author of Youth in a Suspect Society: Democracy or Disposability?

The sections of the film cover a lot of ground, including, “The Floodgates Open | By Any Means Necessary | Under the Microscope | Brand New World | Cradle to Grave | Rewiring Childhood | Our Future”. I haven’t yet seen it, but it sounds like a message long over-due. Take a walk into Babies/Toys/kids R-Us and look around and you won’t need much more proof.

I could (and I have) touted the merits of green goods for kids, but consuming green goods is still consuming and it’s not enough to save our earth or our children’s perceptions and mental health.The critical step in cultural and social change is to reboot the brainwashing process that has convinced us of what we “need” both as adults and as adults consuming in the name of our children. This film is a good start and is hopefully making its way through all libraries, schools, educators and non-profits as we speak.

Written and directed by Adriana Barbaro and Jeremy Earp, watch a preview and learn more here.

Uncle. Wear a Helmet

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

I saw a peculiar and somewhat frightening sight while in Minneapolis. Motorcyclists without helmets. On the highway. Going 65mph. At night. Yes, it’s legal in MN, but that wasn’t the part that bothered me. It’s that it just seemed like a ridiculous risk.

Then it got me thinking about last week’s post…And I have to fess up. I give. There’s not much left to debate on the bicycle helmet issue. After a little more research, reading this on, and the comments that followed, I’m convinced. If you’re gonna travel on two wheels of any kind, wear a helmet. Even on those perfect days when you’d rather feel the “wind in your hair”. Even when it’s too hot. Or too cold. Or not required by law. It’s logical, it’s not difficult and it could save your life. If truth be told, it did save mine.

In my early twenties, I was just getting into off-road riding. Most of my riding was done on well-designed bicycle paths, which were plentiful in Minneapolis. With this rationalization firmly in place, I was an off/on helmet wearer, since I felt protected from cars. My trail riding was also pretty casual at this point – I rode at low speeds on wide, soft, pine-needle covered trails through the woods of MN, which were relatively flat (more rationalization).

I was setting up for a ride with a friend one day – it was hot and humid, and I didn’t want to wear that helmet. In fact, I rarely wore one in the woods – we had a little bike “gang” and wore bandana “helmets” then and well, you know, it looked cool and all that. My friend got off his bike and told me flat out, “I won’t ride with you unless you wear that helmet.” He seemed so serious that I didn’t argue, and put it on.

About 20 minutes into the ride, I hit something hidden under those needles. Not yet a skilled trail cyclist, I didn’t have a chance. I went over my handlebars and landed on my head. I also heard a loud crack. After rolling onto my back, I was a little afraid to move. I felt no pain, which made me even more nervous. Finally I sat up and realized my helmet had cracked. I had hit a large tree root with it.

My friend saved my head that day, if not my life.

Should helmets be law? I’m not sure about that one. I’d still rather see police handing out hugs rather than tickets. But, we can use our noggens when it comes to some common sense issues and even keep an eye out for others. Spread some helmet love and knock some sense into your friends, before it gets knocked out of them.

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