Thursday, May 31, 2012

Rethink Your Drink

It’s officially summertime, so that means it’s time to Rethink Your Drink! 

Rethink Your Drink is a campaign to educate the community about the added sugars in sugar-sweetened beverages. It also encourages and promotes water consumption. 

The Network for a Healthy California, First 5, and the Department of Health and Human Services – Public Health are teaming up to host an infused water contest at the first Farmers Market of the season. Come check out our booth on June 2nd from 9am-1pm and sample our contestants’ infused water. The official judging will commence at 10am. Our panel of celebrity judges include Mayor Katherine Murray, Robin Patch (City Clerk), Ron Phillips (Farmers Market Manager), Chelle Webb (founder of Bouncing Berry Farms), and David Finigan (County Supervisor and First 5 Commissioner). Now that I have announced the judges, please keep in mind that bribing our esteemed panel will result in immediate disqualification. 

This promises to be a fierce competition, with intense rivalries already forming. We have entries from individual community members, like Angela Glore and Chad Hegelmeyer, who take their infused waters VERY seriously. Or will an organization or community group, like Ferment Del Norte, First 5 Del Norte, 4-H, or CHANGE take home the prize? Come find out at 10am when our panel of judges will decide which water trumps them all.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Del Norte Community Gleaning Project

Gleaning is the process of using volunteer support to collect unused fresh foods from growers/ producers and donate the food to the hungry. Del Norte County has its own gleaning program that is offering its services to the community. If a private community member is growing more food on their property than they can eat, volunteers will go to their homes, harvest all their fresh food, and leave a portion for them and bring a portion to a local food bank. Similarly, if a local farm needs help with a large harvest, volunteers will go to the farm to help bring in the harvest, and deliver a percentage of it to a food bank.

Usually, gleaning refers to collecting leftover crops after the field's have been commercially harvested. Machines generally leave a lot of foods behind that would be wasted if people did not go in and collect them. Del Norte's Gleaning Project targets home gardens and smaller scale areas, but the general idea is the same.

It's a great way to make use out of food that would be wasted and to offer healthier foods to those that normally cannot afford them. Gleaning not only makes fresh food more accessible, but helps in reducing waste and strengthening community relationships. Their are many successful gleaning programs in the area including "Food for People" in Humboldt County and the Illinois Valley Gleaning Project in Oregon, and Del Norte's is a promising new program.

The Del Norte County Gleaning Project started last year with Angela Glore, Connor Caldwell, and the help of a group of 4H teens, the 4H "Citizen Group." Last summer, they would go to the farmer's markets where food vendors would donate their extra food and produce at the end of the market.  Last season, which was June-October, they collected a total of 4,114 lbs. of fresh produce, 100% of which was given out to CAN's food boxes within a 2-4 day of collection. With the start of the farmer's market this Saturday, June 2nd, the Del Norte Community Gleaning Project officially starts this year. If anyone has any food they want collected, or is willing to be a volunteer, please email Connor Caldwell at or the UC Extension/4H office at cedelnorte@

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

DNATL Food Assessment: Fresh Fish Sales and Calfresh

The DNATL Food Assessments have arrived, which list our strengths, weaknesses, challenges, and recommendations as a community. One thing that surprised me under weaknesses, was limited access to local fish and foods. It is unfortunate that almost all the fish caught in Crescent City is shipped hours away to other locations. Before I moved to Crescent City, I expected it to be a place where I could buy local fish anytime. Because the wholesaler's contract states that the seller can only sell fish to them, it makes it very difficult to sell local fish in the area. Essentially, the fish that are caught in Crescent City are shipped out, and the fish in our stores are shipped in from different locations. This system seems so odd to me, and their does not seem to be an easy way to change it.

The good news is that it appears a new market is opening at the old Surfside Grill and Brewery site on Front Street. It looks like they will be doing a lot of exporting, but also plan on operating a live fish market as well. This could be exactly what Crescent City needs and will give us a place to purchase local fish. It will be interesting to see what it is like when it finally opens, and if the public will be interested in it or not. I think it is important for everyone to offer full support to this new business so that we can have the opportunity to purchase fresh and local fish.

Another part of the Food Assessment that surprised me was a strength: the CalFresh participation rate. At first I thought a high rate of people on Calfresh would be a weakness, but what it really means is that most of those people that are eligible for food assistance are receiving it.  Del Norte County has the highest rate of participation in California at 87%.  This gives people the chance to purchase healthier foods that they may not have been able to receive, and also means more money is circulating in the community. With that said, there is still 13% of people that are eligible not receiving it, which could bring in more money to the community and offer better food options for residents. So, although we are doing a great job, their is still room to improve.

Here is the full list of Recommendations from the Food Assessment:
1. Expand programs that increase fresh and healthy food access for low-income consumers
2. Research the opportunity for fresh fish sales
3. Maximize economic benefits from food systems
4. Make healthy store conversions
5. Foster advocates for agriculture
6. Encourage local knowledge and self-reliance
7. Conduct further research to benefit the community's food system

Field Day-Fundraiser for the Pool

Joe Gillespie and Alessandro Broido are organizing a Field Day in conjunction with the Run to the Pool Fundraiser on Sunday June 10th. The idea is to recruit youth to raise money vie pledge forms that they will submit at the Field Day, thereby rewarding them with a day of fun in the sun. They are planning on having several games activities including volleyball, kickball, soccer, relay races, scavenger hunt, disc golf, hoola hoops, stilts, and more. First Five will also be there with the Wonder Bus.

Through this event they really hope to promote health and well-being with outdoor activities while supporting one of the most valued exercise venues of Crescent City, the Fred Endert Municipal Pool.

They'd like to invite any other fundraising of promotional ideas as well as people who'd like to help facilitate games the day of the event. Contact Alessandro with ideas or for more information:

Monday, May 7, 2012

In Defense of Coffee

For some reason I cannot fully explain, since arriving in Del Norte County a couple weeks ago I am drinking more coffee than I ever have before.  I suppose you can argue that it is because it is addictive, which is true, but I think there are many factors contributing.  Coffee’s main draw is that it is a stimulant, which can help you stay awake and focused.  That was the main reason I started drinking coffee a couple years ago.  But there are other reasons for consuming this warm beverage. One reason for me, it seems to be everywhere. Wherever I go, to the office, a meeting, or a social event there is always a pot of coffee staring me in the eyes.  Another reason is for socializing, going out for coffee with someone or taking a coffee break is a good reason to meet up and have a conversation.  Whatever the reason, I am drinking more of it, which has led me to look at some of the health effects it has.

Most of the time, people focus on the negative effects coffee can have.  However, many of these negative effects have been refuted and studies did not take into account people's other lifestyle choices like smoking or eating habits.  So instead of looking at the negative effects, I looked at some of the positive effects.  A big one is that it contains antioxidants, which help to protect against free radicals that cause tissue damage in the body.  In addition, coffee consumption has been shown to decrease chances of type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's, and dementia.  Not only that, but people that drink coffee tend to have fewer cases of cancer, heart rhythm problems, and stroke.  Now, this does not mean drinking coffee is going to cure you from any diseases, but it does show that drinking a cup or two or coffee each day is not the worst thing for you.  

A good thing about coffee is it usually only has about 2 calories in it per cup.  This is before you add any cream or sugar, but even with the extra ingredients, coffee does not have nearly as many calories as other high calorie beverages.  Coffee can also be beneficial in losing weight. I've always found drinking a cup of coffee before exercising usually boosts my motivation and allows to me to go for a longer period of time.  In general, coffee can be that extra boost of energy you need to make it through work or complete a big project in time.

With that said, everything in moderation. Too much coffee can of course have adverse effects like restlessness, anxiety, and sleeplessness.  But for anyone feeling guilty about drinking a couple cups a day, their are much worse things out there for you in regards to your health.