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Summer is just about over for most of the U.S., but in San Francisco, the city I call home, we’re just entering our glorious “Indian Summer.” Look! The sun! I love it. I also love my friends with container gardens that are overflowing with tomato plants, eggplants, and other good stuff. They don’t dump a lot of chemicals onto their small plots of earth, and apparently neither should the pros. Read on…

A Study of Organic Goodness
Results from a few recent studies point to the myriad health benefits of organic versus conventional produce and meats. Aside from the fact that organic fruits and vegetables just plain taste better, and come free of harmful pesticides, a recently completed, ten-year UC Davis study found organically grown tomatoes to be significantly higher in flavonoids than non-organically grown tomatoes. The same study also found an organically farmed plot of land to have less year-to-year variation in crop yield than conventionally farmed plots.

Building on that positive news, scientists with the Agricultural Research Service—the USDA’s chief scientific research agency—concluded after a long-term study that organic farming can build up soil organic matter better than non-organic, no-till farming can. This finding contradicts the longstanding belief that no-till farming is the best soil builder. In regards to organic animal products, a study recently reported in the British Journal of Nutrition says organic dairy and meat in a mother’s diet significantly increase beneficial fatty acids in her breast milk.

A Carbon-Cutting Challenge
Carbon Conscious Consumer (C3), a national climate campaign sponsored by the Center for a New American Dream, challenges individuals to establish climate-friendly daily habits and inspire their friends to do the same. New American Dream wants us to consume responsibly, but they also want us to live well and have fun doing it. With that in mind, they came up with six easy steps—instituted over six months—to lower carbon emissions, and so far, the monthly challenge has yielded tremendous results. In August, the organization asked consumers to “Downshift Their Driving” by committing to living car-free for one day each week. Nearly 10,000 people responded, collectively cutting 1,403,109 pounds of carbon in the process. In September, the goal is to “Junk Your Junk Mail.” Visit http://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs4-junk.htm for some ideas on how to remove yourself from a number of mailing lists.

AIDS Drug Selzentry Approved

In August, the FDA approved a new drug to help patients with the AIDS virus, although questions remain about its long-term effects. Selzentry, made by Pfizer, is the first AIDS drug that works by blocking a crucial doorway called the CCR5 receptor that H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS, often uses to enter white blood cells. Pfizer said the drug, known chemically as maraviroc, would be available by mid-September. But it will reportedly come with a black box warning due to possible side effects such as liver toxicity.

High-Tech Fitness
For those who can’t seem to part with their Blackberries for ten minutes, much less find the time it takes to complete a proper workout, should take note of a few new programs and services for our cell phone, computer, and iPod. The FLOW software system ($29.95, www.thewavecorporation.com) offers a series of five-minute clips of “sit exercises” that you perform in your chair. The mini-workouts aim to hit all major muscle groups and take about as much time as a trip to the coffee pot and back. PumpOne Trainers ($9 and up, www.pumpone.com) offer a variety of exercise videos for the iPod or mobile phone, and will work simultaneously with your favorite music. For the outdoor enthusiast, the Trackstick II (www.trackstick.com), a pocket-sized GPS location recorder, will track your route for future reference. The BiM Active (http://bimactive.com) works with GPS mobile phones and Garmin devices to track distance, speed, and calories burned while you run, walk, or hike. You can also create routes using Google Maps to save or share. The program also saves data to an online training log, allowing you to track your progress.

An Update from the Author

In July, I shared my personal struggles with disordered eating and how it’s affected my life and my body. Because I didn’t have enough energy (aka food) to fuel my workouts as a distance runner, my body wore down and I ended up with a pretty serious injury, the latest of many in my running career. Even though my training went down the tubes for a few months, the injury served as a serious wake up call for me to get healthy—authentically healthy. It hasn’t been easy, and I’ve still got a ways to go in my recovery process, but I feel good about some positive changes I have made in my diet and my personal well-being.

A few weeks ago, I started my gradual return to running, and I’m optimistic about the progress I’ve made. I’ve been attending a weekly support group for the past few months, which has become a valuable sanctuary; a place where I can share my feelings, anxieties, and milestones of the week with an intimate, supportive group of women who understand and empathize. My mirror has ceased to become a funhouse attraction (for now), distorting my lower half to gargantuan proportions. I have more moments where I celebrate my strength then cringing at perceived flaws.

Best of all, a very special romantic relationship has blossomed, which was a rather unexpected, but very welcome, development. It’s no surprise that my love life was practically void during the years I had been so fixated on food, weight, and getting rid of both. They say that food is often not the real issue in women with disordered eating. It’s more a way that we learned to cope with overwhelming feelings or those we’re afraid to express. That’s certainly true for me, and I’ve got some work to do yet in that department, but I try to take things one day at a time. I’m learning to speak my truth.

Again, if you’re reading this and think that you may have established some unhealthy habits or hangups, don’t be afraid to reach out. If you’re not sure or want to learn more, www.nationaleatingdisorders.org will lead you to a wealth of information. For years, I was afraid to talk about this stuff. Still am, much of the time. But recently I came to realize that there’s nothing to be ashamed of, that an eating disorder is often just a tool—a coping mechanism gone awry—and it is possible to acquire new, healthier tools. Knowing this, it became easier to talk about my problems, and healing happened, and is still happening. Questions or comments? Write me at health@dishmag.com.
www.Dishmag.com / Issue 76 - September 5185
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