Michelle Obama Tackles “Food Deserts”

Michelle Obama(BlackDoctor.org) — First lady Michelle Obama recently announced that several major retailers, foundations and small businesses have committed to bringing healthier food to neighborhoods where supermarkets are scarce.

But she knows it’s not going to be easy. If you have kids, you know that given the choice of Kit-Kats or kiwis, kids will pick usually pick the candy. But today’s target is the parents living in so-called “food deserts.”

“If a parent wants to pack a piece of fruit in a child’s lunch… they shouldn’t have to take three city buses,” Mrs. Obama said during a press conference today.

As part of her Let’s Move campaign, the First Lady wants to help families make better choices — especially the 23.5 million Americans living in largely urban, low-income areas where access to healthy food can be spotty.

The White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity has identified this challenge of bringing more nutritious, affordable foods to so-called food deserts as one of the key pillars to solving the epidemic.

“We can give people all of the information in the world about healthy eating… but if parents can’t buy the food they need to prepare those meals… if their only options for groceries are in the corner gas station or the local mini mart, then all of that is just talk… and that’s not what Let’s Move is about,” she said.

The new initiative builds on a pledge announced in January with Walmart. The nation’s largest food retailer says it knows firsthand how important access to good food is. “We will use our position to reduce the cost of an increase access to healthy foods,” wrote Chad Mitchell on the Walmart community blog.

Walmart pledged today to open up to 300 stores in food deserts by 2016, but other giant retailers are involved, too. Walgreens says it will start offering whole fruits and vegetables, SUPERVALU is building 250 new stores, and various smaller groups are joining forces and money in the effort.

The White House admits that no single initiative is a magic bullet. And the goal of melting some inches off our collective waistline is complicated.

Consider the study published last week in the Archives of Internal Medicine, which blames the easy access to fast food options for obesity problems, rather than a lack of stores selling healthy food.

Yet another recent study from the University of Maine finds easy access to junk food doesn’t appear to affect students’ body mass index.

But making the healthy stuff easier to get may be a good start.

Natural Ways To Stay Cooler At Home

african american business woman standing in front of a big window(BlackDoctor.org) — It’s surprisingly easy to keep your house cooler without air conditioning. Employing a few basic environmentally-friendly tips will help keep you cool and save some money — and maybe even the planet.

1. Hot Air Out, Cool Air In

The most basic thing you can do to keep your house cooler without air conditioning is to keep as much sunlight out as possible and let cooler air in at night. During the day, keep windows, drapes, blinds, or shades closed, especially on the southern and western sides of your home. If you have a porch, you can put up large plastic or bamboo shades to cut down on sunlight.

2. Windows

Use white or light colored window dressings to reflect light. You can also apply reflective slicks to windows to further cut down on light. At night, leave cabinets open as well, as they will store heat.

3. Be a Fan of the Fan

Moving air is cooler air. At night, place fans in windows to bring more cool air in. Ceiling fans can also make a big difference. In terms of cooling, even a one-mile-per-hour breeze will make you feel three to four degrees cooler. In terms of energy savings, if you run a ceiling fan full-blast for 12 hours, you will only spend about $10 a month in electricity. Ceiling fans have two settings, one to pull air up (for winter use), and the other to push air down. Make sure your ceiling fan is blowing down.

4. Turn Your Fan Into an Air Conditioner

Another easy way to cool your home without air conditioning is to place a bowl of ice or a frozen milk jug in front of one or more fans.

5. What’s Hot in Your Home?

It’s one thing to keep hot air and sunlight out; it’s another to identify the appliances in your home that generate heat. If you aren’t at home during the day, it is easier to simply shut off as many electric appliances as possible. If you spend more of your day at home, try to use heat-generating appliances only during the coolest part of the day.

6. Cool Off Your Electronics, Too

Keeping your electronics on a power strip provides a quick way to “power-down” before leaving for the day.

7. Switch Your Light Bulbs

Change incandescent bulbs for cooler fluorescent bulbs. Turn off lights when not in use.

8. Reduce Humidity

Humidity makes a room hotter. Do laundry early or late in the day. Take showers or baths during the cooler times of day. If your bathroom, laundry room, or kitchen has vents, use them. Invest in a dehumidifier if you live in a humid climate.

9. Insulate Your Attic

A well-insulated attic, especially when an attic ventilating fan is used, is one of the best ways to keep heat out of your home.

10. Landscaping

As you plan out landscaping for your home, be mindful of having deciduous trees, trellises and shrubbery on the southern and western portions of your home. Don’t place heat-absorbing rocks, cement, or asphalt too close to the house.

With a small amount of planning, you and your family will be able to enjoy a more naturally cooler and enjoyable summer.