Why the Western diet is killing us and 10 ways to stop it

Fed up with all the mixed messages about what to eat? If so, you’ll appreciate this solid advice from a doctor who’s passionate about dishing out advice on eating right. Don’t make changes to your diet based on some “cockamamie Internet meme,” Dr. Michael Fenster warns. “The biggest threat to the US isn’t some foreign power; it is the Standard American Diet.”

It’s rare to come across a doctor who wants to spend less time cutting into bodies and more time cutting up food, but that’s exactly what this cardiologist and culinary chef wants to do. “There are a number of medical professionals and people in health-related fields who know a lot about their respective specialties but know nothing about food,” Dr. Mike says. “A number of them can’t boil water.”


Dr. Mike on his “Cookin’ With Doc” show.

Stay away from advice from “fadsters” and “celebrity super-star spokespeople,” Dr. Mike warns. “These programs put you on the hook paying out a lot of your hard-earned money each month for some processed, powdered, and wretched-tasting slop out of a box.”

Dr. Mike is one of the few brave doctors willing to give us a shout out about how the modern Western diet is killing us and what we can do to stop it. This book is stock full of evidence to back up his recommendations on what to eat and what not to eat. But then again, how much more evidence do we really need to figure out that the modern Western diet and all-you-can-eat buffets are connected to the disabilities and diseases of modern civilization? It’s ironic that we’ve become so accustomed to shopping in grocery stores stocked with packages that we need to produce evidence to show that real food doesn’t come in a box.

The eating “program” Dr. Mike prescribes is a tasty and nutritious solution that anyone can adhere to. He recommends adding more fresh juice, organic fruits and vegetables, probiotics, prebiotics and spice to our diet while subtracting modern wheat, high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners. “No junk food or fast food,” this doc advises. This savory book is peppered with great tips and jammed with sweet suggestions. I’ve already gone back to read several of the sections a number of times. Each time through I pick up on a new flavor or scent.

CLICK ON IMAGE to buy The Fallacy of the Calorie

Sick and tired from the Western diet? Dr. Mike offers a delicious and nutritious 10-step solution to foodies who battle the bulge:

Step 1A: Begin with a juice detox for 3 days.

Juice is nature’s energy drink. If possible, buy seasonal produce from a farmers market or local organic market. Use a variety of colors of fruits and vegetables such as: carrots, apples, celery, beets, cabbage, ginger, oranges, limes, lemons, berries and leafy greens. Find a juicer that works well for you, preferably one that extracts the pulp. If you work full-time, he recommends starting the detox on a Friday and ending on a Sunday.

Step 1B: Chase the rainbow.

Eat lots of dark leafy greens such as: kale, spinach, broccoli, bok choy, watercress, mustard and other greens. They’re rich in vitamins A, C, E, and K. They also provide a good source of B-complex vitamins. Add a rainbow of different colored fruits and vegetables. This helps to maintain healthy gut microbiome.

Step 2: Incorporate probiotics into your diet.

“What you eat combines with your gut microbiota to fuel your personal bioreactor. This bioreactor aids your digestion, provides nutrients, and not only helps for the basis of the immune system, but helps regulate it,” says Dr. Mike. “The key here is to repopulate your gut microbiome with the right balance.” Check out his book for more details on which probiotics might work best for you.

Step 3: Feed the probiotics.

“It does no good to keep taking probiotics if you don’t feed them,” says Dr. Mike. “Naturally occuring synbiotic combinations such as bananas with live-culture yogurt, or vegetables stir-fried with miso, cost less than supplements and have the added benefit of being delicious.” Prebiotics are found in many foods such as: bananas, honey, garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, artichokes, soybeans, chicory, dandelion greens and burdock. Eat at least 2-4 servings of prebiotic-rich foods a day.


Step 4: Give up modern wheat.

“Modern wheat will kill you,” says Dr. Mike. “But you don’t have to be gluten-free, just be free of modern wheat. Avoid prepackaged breads, cookies, cakes and other modern wheat-containing foods and snacks.”

Beans and lentils provide a good source of flavorful starches. Corn, oats, barley, quinoa, buckwheat and kaniwa are all good non-wheat options. If you buy pasta from Italy, you can be sure it’s made from the ancient grain, semolina durum wheat.

CLICK ON IMAGE to buy Eating Well, Living Better: A Grassroots Gourmet Guide to Good Health and Great food

Step 5: Use sugar sparingly.

Use raw forms of sugar and honey whenever possible. Don’t eat anything with high fructose corn syrup or anything that contains it. Don’t ever eat or drink anything with artificial sweeteners.

Steps 6-8: Become a Grassroots Gourmet.

Avoid the call of junk food. It’s addictive. Don’t go to fast food joints, pizza shops or convenience stores. “After 30 days of eating the Grassroots Gourmet way, you’ll likely find that eating there will make you ill,” says Dr. Mike. “When you’re shopping try to avoid putting the processed, prepackaged, pre-prepared, and artificially preserved items in your cart.” Buy from your local farmers market and cook from scratch. Eat at home as often as possible.

Begin your meals with a small salad or appetizer and wait about 15 minutes before you eat the main course. If you want to have dessert, wait at least 15-20 minutes after you finish your main dish. These are just some of the core principles of becoming a Grassroots Gourmet. These principles are covered much more extensively in Eating Well, Living Better: A Grassroots Gourmet Guide to Good Health and Great Food.

Step 9: Make a conscious effort to evaluate the quality of the food you eat.

Because chicken is no longer just chicken, and a burger is no longer just a burger, and bread is not even just bread, examination of where the food was sourced, how it was produced and the degree of processing must now become our normal procedure.” says Dr Mike. Food safety is not equivalent to a healthful diet.

Step 10: Spice up your life.

Herbs and spices restore taste and texture to food. “An herb refers to the fresh or dried leaves of a plant. Spices are generally regarded as the flowers, buds, seeds, bark or roots of plants.” says Dr. Mike. When food pleases us, we savor it. When you put this vitality back into foods, it helps you break the addictive and manipulative commercial use of sugar, salt and fat.

Garlic, onion, allspice and oregano inhibit or kill bacterium. Using them in combination yields even greater efficacy. The piperine found in black pepper is effective against botulism. Turmeric has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory powers. Circumin has been shown to inhibit the growth of skin cancers. Hot chili peppers are rich in vitamin C and contain antimicrobial and antiviral properties.

Sick and tired of dieting? CLICK ON IMAGE to gain the mental power to achieve your fitness goals. This is how you can begin living the life you've always wanted to live.

Sick and tired of dieting? CLICK ON THIS IMAGE to learn how you can gain the mental power you need to achieve your fitness goals. You can begin living the life you’ve always wanted to live.

Looking for a way to entice someone to read this book? Breakfast in bed might be desirable, but Dr. Fenster offers up an aphrodisiac for dessert near the end of the book. He hints at exotic ways to spice up your afternoon or evening in bed.

Dr. Mike has weighed his options. He’s stepping outside the operating room to tell us how we can avoid the scalpel. It’s time to share your reservations. Would you like to meet your doctor for supper or surgery?

Dr. Mike affirms the slow foods movement. Be patient. I have a gut feeling this doc is going to help tens of thousands of people live happier and healthier lives.

Dr. Michael Fenster during a Health & Wellness Channel filming

Dr. Michael Fenster during a Health & Wellness Channel filming


Michael Fenster, MD, is a Board Certified Interventional Cardiologist. He has taught students, interns, residents and fellows. He has also served as an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the North East Ohio Medical University. In addition to addressing audiences from the lay public, he also speaks to peers at the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology and elsewhere.


Dr. Michael Fenster

Dr. Mike co-managed an award-winning restaurant. He received his culinary degree in gourmet cooking and catering from Ashworth College where he graduated with honors. He was their alumni of the year in 2013.

He has written columns for numerous culinary magazines, websites, The Tampa Tribune and is a monthly contributor for Luxuria Lifestyle.

He is a medical and culinary consultant and regular guest speaker on the Josh Tolley Show, a nationally syndicated radio program. He is also a regular on the One Life Radio.

He has been a regular on The Daily Buzz show as well as Daytime TV, entertaining and informing during cooking segments. He has hosted his own local cable TV cooking show, “What’s Cookin’ with Doc.” He also co-hosted “Cooking From the Heart,” with Fitness Hall of Fame Instructor Forbes Riley. He also headlined the Annual Florida Blueberry Festival where five live shows, “Just What the Doctor Ordered-Live from the Florida Blueberry Festival.” This was simulcast worldwide via web by the Health & Wellness Channel.

To book Dr. Mike at your next event, contact his agent Kristin Haggar.

How one urban farmer is foraging for her dream

“My mom was a forager. When we drove around, we were always looking around and trying to point out things we might want. It could be almonds, sour cherries, quince, pomegranate, or anything else that was edible. We would ask people if they could pick the food off their trees. Most people were more than happy to allow us to do it because otherwise it turns out to be a big mess in their yard and they have to clean it up or pay someone to clean it up,” Nasim Hashemi said.

“My parents grew up Iran, but raised my brother and me in Carmel, California. My mom couldn’t find the foods she wanted in stores, but she started finding them out in the neighborhoods. I felt like the only foreigner in town. We celebrated each season and its foods according to Persian culture. Little did I know at the time that this was planting seeds that would later blossom into Freshness Farms.”

Do you wake up each day excited about getting to work?

“Absolutely, but it wasn’t always like that,” Nasim said.

Nasim went to Monterey Peninsula College and then went on to UC Davis and got a degree in mechanical engineering. “It didn’t feel like me, but I did it because I had to do something. I picked it out of the air. But I didn’t know me at the time. I never felt excited or happy about it. I felt disconnected with it. I worked, but I wasn’t even really connected with my work. I was just doing it,” Nasim said.

“In the fall of 2008 I was sitting on a porch at Janet Hedley’s house with a few other moms talking about how sad it was that the state didn’t have enough money for schools. We started talking about all the different fund raisers the schools pushed on our kids. They wanted our kids to sell magazines, gift wrap or cookie dough. The gift wrap is expensive and it can’t be reused or recycled. The cookie dough leads to obesity,” Nasim said.

“Janet had a lot of fruit trees in her yard. She has a garden where she grows lettuce and other things. As we were sitting on her porch and looking around, we talked about the importance of teaching our kids to eat healthy foods. Several of us already belonged to a CSA and we came up with the idea of introducing this as a fund-raiser to the school. It was the ambiance of sitting in Janet’s yard where the idea was born,” Nasim said.

“I took the idea to the principal and the school district. The school agreed to give it a try. My dad knew some farmers in Watsonville so I went down there and talked to some farmers. Many of them were looking for ways to sell their foods. It’s hard for the small farms to be sustainable and compete with factory farms,” Nasim said. “We called our fund-raising venture Local Organic Vegetable Boxes, or LOV Boxes. And that’s how it all got started.”

Is there something from your childhood you’d like to bring back into your life?

“Food is one of our greatest assets in California. We’re paving over our own productive land and outsourcing our food to other countries. Food is something we need for survival. This is copying the trends of technology, but outsourcing our food is much more serious. It’s also messing up our eco-system. This really scares me,” Nasim said. “But I get so excited when I teach kids about food. It was a lot of hard work to get to this point. It was difficult, but I did it. I didn’t realize how much my upbringing was a part of me until I started teaching my own kids.”

“I was just a mom and housewife and all I wanted to do was remodel my home, but the universe didn’t cooperate with me. But being at school and with the kids, the universe has taken me down this road. I’ve come to a point where I go with the flow,” Nasim said.

“We were just doing this with the schools, but I realized that there was so much food in the area. We realized how much land was available. Lots of people had big yards and wanted to do something meaningful with it,” Nasim said.

What do you love to do so much that you could do it every day even if you weren’t paid?

“I love to help people become healthier and more connected to the earth. LOV boxes was a lot of hard work with no return, so people lost interest. After it ended, I thought that I should just let it go, but every time I tried to quit, something just kept pulling me to continue. It was a realization that came to me. I was meant to continue, so I started Freshness Farms. I never thought about being an urban farmer. I always loved fresh food and going out to the garden and picking my own food, but I never thought I’d be running a CSA and doing field trips for kids, and education for companies. I feel very blessed because I feel like I’m following my calling.”

“I encourage Freshness Farms members to think about what they’re eating. I ask them:

  • Are you eating earth food or packaged food?
  • How many hands did it go through before it got to you?

“I also encourage them to pay attention to whether or not the produce is packaged,” Nasim said.


Today, Freshness Farms has five employees including Nasim. “We’re not just harvesting food and using it. Everyone is paid to do the picking and sorting. We don’t have any volunteers. There’s a tremendous amount of effort and cost to develop the processes to collect, organize and distribute the food,” Nasim said. “We pick produce on trees in people’s yards and we trade this for other food they need. A lot of times when people have trees full of fruit, they can’t eat all to on their own or they get tired of it. We’re sustainable because people want the farm shares.”

“Everything has happened naturally through word of mouth. This has been good because it has allowed us to work out all our kinks. Besides, we don’t have any money for marketing. It’s healthier when things grow at the rate they’re supposed to according to nature. When plants grow too fast artificially through the use of fertilizers, then the food loses nutrients. Factory farms don’t take the time to let the dirt rest either,” Nasim said. “Both dirt and plants need time to soak in minerals.”

“The focus of Freshness Farms to connecting people to foods and their seasons. When you’re connected with the earth, you don’t crave melons or strawberries in the winter. It’s natural to crave these things in the summer when they’re in season,” Nasim said.

Five Years of Freshness

“We’ve made a lot of mistakes at Freshness Farms, but we learn and we move on. Our systems have continued to improve over time. Most of our customers are individuals, but now some departments of Apple, Intuit and other companies are buying from us for their employees,” Nasim said. “I don’t believe in artificial growth. It brings people to their knees at the end of the day if they aren’t prepared.”

Would you like to learn to cook without using recipes?

“Freshness Farms isn’t for everyone. Some people need a system or a recipe to create. They have their mind set on particular ingredients. The people who enjoy the farm shares are more flexible and creative. They’re ok with a leafy green. It doesn’t matter if it’s spinach, chard or kale on any particular day. They’re open to substituting ingredients,” Nasim said. Eating in-season foods teaches us to respect the laws of nature. “In life you can plan and plan, but sometimes things don’t work out exactly as you planned. If you’re flexible you can come up with new great combinations,” Nasim said.

“One of the classes I give is cooking without recipes. You can roast or make a stew or a stir fry or rice with vegetables, so you can use any number of things. It does’t matter if it’s a beet or carrot,” Nasim said.

“How much of the earth is made out of water?” Nasim asks her students. “We need to be eating about 70-80% fruits and vegetables. And about 8 out of 10 things we eat should be coming from the earth.”

She also encourages kids to think about their breathing. She teaches them to consciously take in enough oxygen throughout the day. “Many kids are never taught to think about their breathing or how much water they drink,” Nasim said.

“It would be great to replicate urban farming education in other parts of the Valley. Urban farming produces its own eco-system. We really need the sun to be growing our food. Growing indoors is not whole,” Nasim said.

In 2004, Alrie Middlebrook pounded through an asphalt parking lot on Race Street in San Jose and created what is now the Middlebrook Center’s ELSEE Gardens, home to the California Native Garden Foundation. Nasim has a shared vision with Alrie Middlebrook. Both would like to see the community eating what it produces. They envision a raw food local restaurant in cooperation with Middlebrook Center.

In 2011, Nasim Hashemi was voted Silicon Valley Entrepreneur of the Year. “It was a very nice surprise,” Nasim said. “I was in the midst of dealing with all the details of managing a small business. Doing all the picking and working with the kids is very time-consuming, so I never get around to marketing.”

To this day, Nasim still hasn’t remodeled her home. But she still has a monthly girls night out with the core group of friends who started LOV Boxes. Janet Hedley works for the Living Classroom in Los Altos. She helps to build gardens at schools. Two others are teachers. Marina Paraguano is a teacher at Harker High School. Pearl Hall is a teacher at McCall Middle School. Ann Smith started a blog for cooking together with Freshness Farms (five years link). Michelle Westlaken is a Feldenkrais practitioner. She helps people discover ease in movement. The common core among all these women is their love of facilitating learning for children.

“My ultimate dream is to bring wellness to more people by teaching them through food how to maintain better physical and mental well-being,” Nasim says.

CLICK HERE to get back on track. You can live your dream life!


Experience the gourmet farm-to-table lifestyle in Maui

If you’re headed to Maui and you want to try some of the best local foods, you’ve come to the right place. Following are several ways you can experience the farm-to-table lifestyle on the island. A few dedicated people have grown a family of several small companies that successfully thrive on living local. On a recent trip to Maui, I had the opportunity to interview Robert Comstock, the General Manager of Pacific’O Restaurant. Here’s what I learned:

“We have such a cool company,” Robert said. “We’re a lifestyle company. We keep everything contained to our passions. There are a lot of aspects. In Hawaii it’s called Ohana. It means family. We enjoy working together and spending our holidays together.”

Pacific'O restaurant on the beach

Pacific’O restaurant on the beach

Native Hawaiians had a sustainable system where the farmers traded with the fishermen so that they could all have a complete diet. It’s called Ahupua`a. It’s a Hawaiian word that means a self-sustaining unit from mountain to sea. We strive to live by this principle and we give people a number of ways to experience it:

Entertain the family at the Feast at LeLe

It’s hard to think about traveling to Hawaii without going to at least one luau. The Feast at LeLe is a sit-down dinner featuring five courses from the Pacific island nations of Aotearoa, Tahiti, Samoa and Hawai’i. This farm-to-table dinner includes a sunset show spotlighting music and dance from these four Pacific islands. At this table-service feast you get to eat authentic food from each different region.

Sunset Feast at LeLe in Lahaina, Maui

Sunset Feast at LeLe in Lahaina, Maui

Every table is intimate and offers a panoramic view of the West Maui sunsets. LeLe is the ancient name for Lahaina. This is the beach where the royal family of Maui would feast and entertain.

Splurge at Pacific’O fine dining restaurant in Lahaina

When you ask questions at Pacific’O, you’ll be happy with the answers you get.

Ask about their view. If you’re looking for beachfront or sunset dining in Maui, this is as good as it gets. “The location has been a big part of our success,” Robert said. “Other local restaurants such as Lahaina Grill are also rated highly, but they don’t have our view.”

Pacific'O on the beach

Pacific’O on the beach

Ask about the competition. “Pacific’O is the first privately owned restaurant to own its own farm in Hawaii. Today there are only a handful of farm-to-table restaurants in all of Hawaii,” Robert said. If you want to eat at a quality restaurant, it doesn’t get any better than this.

Ask about their menu. Chef Anton moved to Maui shortly after graduating from the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in San Francisco. Prior to joining the Pacific’O team, he spent ten years honing his craft in some of Maui’s highest ranked restaurants: the Sheraton Maui Resort, Gerard’s, Kimo’s and Star NoodleExecutive Chef Anton Haines has established himself as one of Maui’s rising star chefs by creating delectable menus based on in-season locally sourced foods.

Pacific'O Executive Chef Anton Haines

Pacific’O Executive Chef Anton Haines

Ask about their fish. “We are the top purchaser of fresh fish on Lahaina,” Robert said. “Giving cash back to the economy has several benefits. The money goes straight back into the fisherman’s pockets. Because the fish are caught and eaten locally, the distribution has very little impact on the environment.”


Local fish, such as Onaga, are caught one day and delivered first thing the next morning to Pacific’O.

“The main benefit for you is that you get fish that’s been out of the water for only a day. The fish served here is about 85% local. The difference is that you see fresh clear translucent cuts, not the cloudy fish you see that’s older. When you taste the local fish here in HI, it’s lighter.  The government’s version of fresh fish is 20 days. You typically see fish wrapped in foam and you have to just trust what the labels say,” Robert said.

StahlerFreshGroundPepperCartoon“Once the fish comes in, it hangs for about 20 hours to give the chef some working time with the fish, and then it goes to your plate. Not only does it support the local people, once the fish are filleted and broke down, the rest of it is composted back into the compost tea at their farm. Nothing is wasted.”

Ask about their ingredients. Pacific’O has set the standard for farm-to-table cuisine on Maui. Local fruits and vegetables supplied by their own 8-acre farm in Kula, and free range eggs come from The Neighborhood Farm in Launiopoko. At any given time, about 30-70% of the produce comes from their own O’o farm. There’s nothing else quite like it on the island. The rest is locally sourced as much as possible. But in order to provide a full menu, they apply their own 70-mile rule, because they do get some foods from the big island.

Ask about their farms. If you want to learn more about where their food comes from, you can visit the O’o Farm and The Neighborhood Farm.

Enjoy a farm-to-table gourmet lunch outdoors at the O’o Farm

Enjoy a truly unique island experience at the O’o Farm in Upcountry Maui. Explore the gardens, learn the ways of all natural growing and sit down for a gourmet lunch prepared in your presence. The vegetables are harvested with you and then prepared in an outdoor kitchen.  It’s a pure expression of Hawaiian cuisine benefitting your body and soul. It’s as fresh as fresh can be! This is a guided tour of the farm where you can learn about sustainable growing practices. Even if you don’t have your own farm or backyard garden, you’ll appreciate this tour.

O'o Farm Tour Lunch Upcountry Maui Hawaii

Forage and feast at O’o Farm in the misty forest of Waipoli in Upcountry Maui

In 2000, surfing buddies turned successful restauranteurs, Louis Coulombe and Stephan Bel-Robert purchased over 8 acres of near-virginal upcountry land to grow natural produce for the Lahaina restaurant, Pacific’O. Louis, who’s passionate about flying, first noticed the property when he was paragliding. The property which had been a hippy commune years before, but it wasn’t maintained. It was overgrown with wattle trees.


O’o Farm in Upcountry Maui, Hawaii

Louis and Stephan made a plan to set up natural growing practices and started executing the plan to clear the property and to plant exciting products for the plate. At first the diversified farm was largely experimental with a citrus and stone fruit orchard and a few coffee trees. Since then, they’ve diversified quite a bit. Today they focus on growing the things that are expensive to purchase and things that grow well in the Kula environment at 3200 feet.

Their goal is to provide vegetables locally sourced from Maui water, dirt and sun. It takes top dollar to even grow the plants, but it was especially challenging in the beginning since this place wasn’t set up for agriculture. They only have one hose for 8.5 acres, for example. The water comes from a water shed. It rains up there hundreds of inches a year. The farm is located in a place called the misty forest where mist drips off the trees.”

The chefs here don’t just see interesting pictures in a culinary magazine and decide to ship in ingredients from all over the world. When they want to add something to the menu, they first have to grow the crop, and know they can sustain it before they release the dish.

Get a caffeine buzz at the O’o Farm Seed to Cup Tour

Since roasting coffee was part of Louis’ weekend relaxation anyway, he decided to try roasting coffee beans for their own operations. Stephan is French and enjoys his coffee too. That’s how Aina Gourmet Coffee began. In 2009, Stephan, Louis and their chef partner James McDonald opened Aina Gourmet Market, a local foods marketplace with a full coffee bar serving 100% Maui grown and O’o Farm roasted coffee. They created a relationship with Ka’anapali Coffee Farms to grow five varietals on about 250 acres. O’o Farms purchases the beans and roasts them on their farm.


Aina Gourmet Coffee Tour at O’o Farm

They built a world class coffee tasting room with an amazing view. Now they have a Seed to Cup tour on the O’o farm. You can walk through their tree groves and see the different stages of coffee trees. You can pick berries and then move up into the tasting room where you observe a live roast. It only takes about 15 minutes. And then you get to taste the coffee. The beans are single varietal, like a single varietal wine. They don’t over roast.

CLICK HERE to buy Aina Gourmet Coffee

CLICK HERE to buy Aina Gourmet Coffee

Wake up to Aina Gourmet Coffee in a luxurious resort

Coffee connoisseurs enjoy their morning brew as much as wine enthusiasts enjoy an evening glass of red. They describe their sips in terms of body, acidity, flavor and finish . . . ranging from mild to wild. Aina roasters focus on creating the perfect conditions to attain the right balance of flavors. All Aina Gourmet Coffee is 100% Maui grown and 100% O’o Farm roasted.

“Aina Gourmet Coffee is our brand of coffee. It’s grown on Ka’anapali Hillside by Ka’anapali Coffee Farms. We take their beans to our farm and roast them up there. We also grown our own coffee at O’o Farm but only enough to sustain the farm guests,” Robert said.

Aina Gourmet Coffee  is served at at Aina Gourmet Market in the Honua Kai Resort & Spa at Ka’anapali Beach, and also at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalu Resort. Both markets are very busy and have a big following. We also make our coffee in a French press at Pacific’O and we sell it whole or ground in half-pound and one-pound bags at every venue we have. From ground to roast is about 2-3 days. With this turn-around time, you don’t lose any essence of the coffee itself,” Robert said.

Get to know some local chicks at The Neighborhood Farm

Participate in the Egg Farm & Gourmet Lunch tour at The Neighborhood Farm in the scenic West Maui Mountains. This is a free-range chicken farm in Launiopoko. It sits on 15 acres of agriculture land at the top of the hill. This educational chicken tour is for both locals and tourists interested in learning about how to farm chickens.

Free Range Chickens

During the first part of the tour, you enjoy spectacular ocean and mountain views, learn about the history of the area and meet local chicks. These beautiful free-range hens are kept outdoors so they can enjoy fresh grass and bountiful bugs every day. The 750-1000 birds enjoy coops with million-dollar views. They’re contained by soft electric fences to help keep the predators out. This is a concept of how you can raise eggs locally, without large-scale commercial farming. The farm provides eggs for local restaurants and grocery stores.

The second part of the tour is followed by a meal served in the seaside ambiance of the Pacific’O restaurant in Lahaina. It’s about 10 minutes from The Neighborhood Farm. This gourmet meal features dishes from freshly gathered eggs. Contact Pacific’O to make reservations for this lunch tour.

Harvest produce at the O’o Farm volunteer program

If you’re interested in volunteering at the farm, you can pair up with a farmer to do some real harvesting. You get lunch and you get to spend the day working with Head Farmer Richard Clark and Orchard Manager Ancil Clancy.

Which of these experiences suits your taste?

These interdependent sister companies make up one small lifestyle company that has grown from the ground up, literally. If you cherish your health and the well-being of our planet, support farm-to-table businesses like these. Because of the popularity of their food and tours, it’s a good idea to make reservations at least several days in advance.

Tools like Yelp, UrbanSpoon and TripAdvisor give local businesses the opportunity to thrive among big and impersonal, but well-known franchises. Yelp and UrbanSpoon even allow you to search for “farm-to-table” restaurants by location no matter where you are in the world.

ValleyIsleKombuchaIf you’re willing to take the time to read through customer review rants and raves, you’ll often find that local businesses do a better job overall of providing personalized service. And you have the opportunity to experience the local culture as well as support people in pursuit of the dreams and passions. How many people have the opportunity to do this when they work for a franchise?

“We know who not to purchase from,” Robert said. “We only buy from people we know really well. We have Valley Isle Kombucha on tap here at Pacific’O to support a local producer.” When you choose to support lifestyle companies, everyone benefits.

“We’re all fisherman, all the owners and management. Stephan has a sailboat in the harbor. We go spear fishing on the back side of Lanai. It’s nice when you can park your boat in front of your restaurant,” Robert said.

Franchises are basically branded distribution systems. In most cases, their main focus is on maintaining the consistent taste and feel of their brand. Most are more concerned about their profit than your health. Why eat mediocre food from afar at a franchise when you can eat wholesome locally grown fresh food at a farm-to-table restaurant?




Food biz coach offers 9-step process for edible startups

“Most food entrepreneurs suck at marketing and sales . . . and most don’t know how to launch their business,” says Mari-Lyn Harris, a food entrepreneur coach based in Silicon Valley. But if you get help from an expert, you increase your odds of succeeding. Here’s her 9-step recipe for success to help you launch your tasty idea:

1. Start where you are.

So you’ve decided to start a food business? Maybe someone inspired you. Mari-Lyn wanted to start a pie business as a vehicle for social change. She explored the idea, but had to figure out how to get the product into the marketplace. Her neighbor was going to have a garage sale every weekend for a month, so she set up a little table at the garage sale. She got people to sample her pies.

PieChartCartoonStarting where you are means that you have to get people to sample your product. By starting where you are, you begin by figuring out how to get your product into the hands of customers. Find ways to get your product to more people so they can try it. Mari-Lyn calls it “the five-minute bite.” You can do home parties. Just like when you go to Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods Market, you sample the food. They know if you like it, you’re more likely to buy it.

Mari-Lyn empowers food entrepreneurs to move forward. Your inner voice may be telling you that you can’t do it or you can’t afford it. But you have to challenge yourself.

“You may not know where to go or how to get started. You may not know where the money will come from, but if you have a great family recipe or great food idea, reach out for help. Don’t give up until the means and resources show up,” says Mari-Lyn.

2. Create your vision.

It’s important that you create a vision for yourself and your business. It gives clarity, direction and buy-in from other people. If you don’t begin with your vision, all your good intentions will be scattered and nonproductive.

A vision statement is more important than your mission. You need to know where you want to go with your idea. Make your vision statement the business you want to grow into. It’s the dream you’re going after. What does it look like? Can you clearly describe it to others?

Cultured Gourmet's Kraut Source

Cultured Gourmet’s Kraut Source

3. Test your product.

Give people free samples and ask for their feedback. Get feedback from people outside your friends and family. If you have a product for weddings, for example, you can offer samples to people who are getting married and caterers to see if they like your product. If not, don’t be offended. Just ask them why. It’s useful feedback.

To test your product, you have to find a way to do it underground. Reach out to professionals to give you a review of your product, such as food bloggers or people who write about food products. Then you can know if your product may be well received.

Engage your customers. You have to deliver for them what they want. Let your customers be your advocates.

To get into a farmer’s market, food truck or market, you have to be licensed. You don’t want to do that right away until you know your product will be viable.

4. Have an audience.

You may have a great idea, but it doesn’t mean it will work. You need to keep testing your product and get feedback from potential customers. Narrow in on your “tribe.”

A lot of food entrepreneurs think that everyone is their audience, but it’s not so. Mari-Lyn discovered that men like pies more than women, but women are the ones who buy pies for the men in their lives. Your research helps you discover who will buy your product. “This is your tribe.”

5. Set up a sales and marketing strategy.

Marketing and sales are two different things. Marketing is the promotion and buzz of your product. Sales is when you actually sell a product or service.

Sales is not a negative or dirty word. It’s about developing relationships with people to get sales. A sale won’t happen until you speak to people. Technology can’t do this for you. You may have great pictures and descriptions on your website, but this isn’t enough. You can use technology, but you also need to have someplace where they can buy and then taste it. It’s all about relationships and getting to know your customers.

Marketing is the key component in any business. Mari-Lyn recalls working with a client who put together a flyer, but it didn’t say how to get in touch with him. And when she checked his website, there was no email or way to contact him.

He had an ineffective marketing materials. When you don’t have a thought-out marketing plan, it’s easy to forget simple things like this.

A sales and marketing strategy will help you execute. The strategy is the layout of action steps you’re going to take to get the marketing done that drives your sales.

6. Build a marketing map.

You have to know your audience before you build your marketing map. This is a plan. Find some customers and build your plan at the same time. Your marketing map can be simple. It’s your hub.

From your hub, you have different tactics or action steps to reach out to your tribe. You write out how you’re going to do it. You develop content to help deliver the message about your product. You don’t need a business plan unless you’re going after funding.


Let’s take, for example, a personal chef. You may not know how to get your services out in the market place, but the marketing map helps you to develop your business easily. You may want to blog, for example. The blog helps you educate your future customers on how to prepare food or get to know you better.

5 Essential appliances for easy healthy meals

You can blog about how you help your customers. For example, one chef discovered that his client was lacking in magnesium so he prepared foods with more magnesium which helped her feel better. If you decide to blog, here are some things you need to consider:

  • Who will participate in writing content?
  • How will you get new content on a regular basis?
  • How will you share the information?

Many people feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to go. The marketing map gives you clarity in knowing your next step and how to effectively use your time.

7. Get sales.

Put your sales strategy to work. When someone eats your food, you want them to have a great experience when they taste it. You want it to be memorable. You want people to say, “this is incredible,” or “I love this!” The sales part happens when people buy that taste and experience.

TrustYourHeartKindleeBookMari-LynHarrisOnce you have a small tribe, you can develop partners who can help you get more sales. As a startup you may not have a large budget, so the quickest way is to develop collaborative partnerships.

Building relationships with people will help you get sales. Mari-Lyn worked with Marnie Pherson and 23 other business builders. Each wrote a chapter in the book about leveraging relationships. It reached the Amazon Best Sellers list in March 2012.

Have you ever though about writing a cookbook? Books help give you authority. When you collaborate with others toward a common goal, you often get there much faster than going solo.

Mari-Lyn offers workshops on “someone you ought to meet.” She helps her clients develop partnerships who can help them get sales.

8. Get help if you need it.

If you don’t have the resources or people in your community, then join other groups for support. If you live in the Silicon Valley area, you can join the Food Entrepreneur networking group hosted by Food 4 Social Change, which is a cluster of food professionals such as manufacturers, chefs, suppliers and vendors. Everyone can help each other.

9. Execute your strategy.

Executing your marketing strategy is picking something that’s a tool. Who will do what. How will I execute it? It’s all about the who, what, when, where why, how. It’s usually a series of tactics to get things done. Whether it’s your marketing or sales strategy, the execution is all about the who, what when, where why how.

Wally Amos, the legend behind Famous Amos Cookies and founder of the Cookie Kahuna, was featured in the August 2014 issue of Costco Connection magazine. His and his partner came to a point where they had different ideas about how to execute their business plan. He decided to stick with his original plan and grow his company organically.

Mari-Lyn Harris, Food Entrepreneur Coach at Food 4 Social Change

Mari-Lyn Harris, Food Entrepreneur Coach at Food 4 Social Change

To him, focus means that you need to follow one course until you’re successful.

Whether you’re a caterer, a food-truck owner, a specialty food maker, or even Wally “Famous Amos,” most food entrepreneurs lack the sales and marketing skills they need to succeed. But Mari-Lyn can help.

Mari-Lyn Harris is a business consultant who has been coaching entrepreneurs since 1996. She coaches food startups to build out customized plans for their future. Mari-Lyn is also the Founder and CEO of Food 4 Social Change. The vision is to create jobs by assisting food entrepreneurs to fulfill their dreams of a bold and vibrant business community. One of the things Food 4 Social Change offers is a business networking group to help create a vibrant food community.

Call Mari-Lyn at 510-564-7880 to help you develop your customized marketing map.


How to lose 5 pounds in 5 minutes while grocery shopping

I love to go to the farmers market once or twice a week to stock up on fresh organic fruits and vegetables. My husband and I often go to the Campbell Farmers Market together on the weekend. It’s a bustling market, especially in the summer.

Campbell Farmers' Market

Campbell Farmers’ Market

If you want to make the most of your time, you have to work out a strategy, especially in the summer when it’s super crowded. We take the light rail to the market, do all the shopping and get back on the light rail within an hour. I do all the shopping and he oversees the cart. We work well as a team. It makes for a pleasant morning walk and community experience. It’s especially nice when we run into a friend.

Campbell Farmers' Market draws a big crowd in the summer

Campbell Farmers’ Market draws a big crowd in the summer

Sometimes we buy a lot and sometimes we just buy a little. We buy less when: we’re traveling together, my husband has a business trip on his own, or we have a week when we’re planning on eating out with colleagues or friends during the week.

Today was one of those days when we didn’t need to buy a lot, so I suggested that we take our smaller Roadrunner cart which helps me to visually see when I need to stop shopping. Nearly all of the fruits and vegetables at this market are fresh and enticing, so sometimes I buy too much. So today I talked my husband into taking the small cart.

After purchasing about $90 worth of fresh produce and fish for the week, the cart was full, but we still needed to get some oranges. Our last purchase was oranges. I carefully chose each one. My mouth was watering as I thought about how good the fresh orange/peach smoothies would be this week. As I walked up to my husband with a 5 pound bag of oranges, he snarled at me knowing that the bag wouldn’t fit in the cart. I offered to carry the bag, but he insisted on carrying it.

We walked to the light rail station which is only a few blocks away. He pulled the cart and carried the bag of oranges. When we got to the station, we had about a 5 minute wait.

We sat down as usual, glanced at our Samsung smart phones and my husband helped me with an app on my phone. I was distracted by a woman toting a newborn in a baby carrier and pushing a stroller with a talkative little boy who was quizzing his mom with an endless flow of questions:

Mom toting a baby and boy in stroller

Mom toting a baby and boy in stroller

“Where is the train?”

“Can I have a strawberry?”

“Why can’t we walk home?”

“Is daddy home?”

Then we all heard the train bells.

“Why do we have to take the train mommy?”

“Can I get out,” he asked as he tried to escape the stroller.

I suddenly became more concerned about how this young mom was going to get her babies and stroller, loaded down with produce, onto the train.

Normally when I stand up after being seated somewhere, I have a habit of looking back to make sure I didn’t leave something behind: a water bottle, jacket or pair of glasses. But this time I didn’t look back.

After my husband and I boarded and the train got moving, he suddenly realized that the 5 pound bag of oranges was back on the bench at the Campbell Station, but it was too late for us to turn back.

We unintentionally left behind a nice surprise for someone.

At first I felt frustrated not only with this $9 loss, but also with the fact that I didn’t have oranges to go with the peaches I bought for our morning smoothies.

But then I did a little mental gymnastics. I thought about how many times I purchased too much produce and ended up with wilted cilantro or soggy zucchini simply because I bought too much. I also reminded myself how minor this was in comparison to other things that could have happened. Anytime I catch myself going down a pathway of negative thoughts, I shift my thinking in search of a positive outlook.

Although I lost 5 pounds of oranges in 5 minutes, I gained several valuable lessons:

  • Stay focused. Anytime we lose focus, we risk losing things, but more importantly, we risk losing time, one of our greatest assets. This also reminded that I need to exercise more focus in each of my work days.
  • Set reasonable limits. Having too much is almost as challenging as having too little of something. When I buy too much produce or too much of anything, it only adds clutter to my life. It’s easier to navigate through life with just the right amount. If the bag of oranges had fit into the smaller cart, we’d be enjoying those oranges this week. But because I tried to push the limit, we had a breakdown in our process.
  • Try new things. I make an orange based smoothie almost every morning, but there are many other ways to make smoothies. This week I can experiment with different smoothie recipes. Yummly is a great source for locating recipes.

My husband was a bit more practical.

“Next time, we need to take the big shopping cart so everything can fit,” he said. He’s referring to our cart that can carry 150 pounds of stuff.

Martin Shovel

Martin Shovel

The most popular New Year’s Resolution in the US is to lose weight. One of the best ways to do this is to avoid eating things in the first place. I’ve faithfully lived by this habit for many years when grocery shopping. If I don’t want something in my body, then I don’t want it in my shopping cart, and I especially don’t want it in my kitchen. This has been one of my biggest strategies in maintaining my weight within a 10-pound range all my adult life life.

Even at the end of potluck dinners, I always make sure that people don’t accidentally leave behind stuff I wouldn’t feed to myself or my family.

How to get happy now via habits, goals and resolutions

If you want to lose 5 pounds in 5 minutes while grocery shopping, leave behind the stuff you shouldn’t eat anyway. This will help to eliminate all the food-like products in your kitchen. Pay attention to everything you eat.

Most SAD (Standard American Diet) grocery stores sell about 80% processed foods. This is immediately evident when you walk in the store. If it’s in a can, box or bag, take the time to read the ingredients. If they’re full of sweeteners or you can’t understand the words, lose the weight before you ever put it in your body.

If you have the opportunity to take walk or take public transportation to your local farmers’ market, you’ll benefit even more by getting exercise while you shop.

Sick of diets? Film diet plan will help you escape the fat trap

Ever consider what pets must think of us? I mean, we come back from a grocery store with the most amazing haul – chicken, pork, half a cow. They must think we’re the greatest hunters on earth! Anne Tyler


How to make oatmeal when you’re in the shower

Have you been searching for a quick way to make a super healthy breakfast without too much fuss? You just found what you’ve been looking for!

When you make oatmeal on the cooktop, you have to continue stirring it or else it won’t cook evenly and it’s likely to burn. I recently discovered a tool that allows me to hit a start button and then take a shower or go on about my morning routine without any worries. In 20 minutes, just about the time it takes me to shower and get dressed, breakfast is ready.

make oatmeal while you're in the shower

make oatmeal while you’re in the shower

Here’s how you can make quick “old-fashioned” oatmeal that’s just as nutritious as it is delicious. If you love oatmeal, but feel crunched for time in the morning, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to make with a VitaClay cooker. I used to make oatmeal on the cooktop, until I discovered the VitaClay Smart Organic Multicooker. Now I always make it in my VitaClay, but I still use my same favorite oatmeal recipe:

Dr. Lorraine’s Oatmeal

  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 heaping tbsp steel cut oats
  • 2 heaping tbsp oats or multigrain hot cereal
  • 1 banana, diced (the riper the better)
  • 1-2 tbsp dried apricots (or dates or figs) chopped into small pieces
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt

This recipe makes one large serving or two small servings. Double or triple it if you want to make breakfast for the family.


Here’s how to make oatmeal in a VitaClay: Place all the ingredients in the cooker. After experimenting with different settings, I’ve found that it works best to cook it for 20 minutes using the soup setting. Select the “Slow Cooking”setting. Click on Hour to select 0 and then click on Minute to select 20. After the 20 minutes are up, the cooker automatically switches into warm time mode, so your breakfast will be warm, even if it takes you some extra time to get to it.


Oatmeal made in a VitaClay turns out with a delectable creamy/chewy texture much better than anything you can make in a microwave or cooktop. Some of the oats do stick to the bottom of the clay pot, so you need to scrape it out with a large spoon or spatula. Don’t worry about the fact that it sticks a little–it adds a terrific texture to the oatmeal.

I like to add about a teaspoon of Manuka honey to the oatmeal and then douse it with some soy milk. If you’re strictly vegan, you can skip the honey or replace it with stevia. If you’d like some crunch or extra protein, add some pecans or walnuts.

There’s no need to wash the VitaClay pot right away. I usually let the ceramic pot cool off while I eat. And then I put it in the sink and add a little water. Later, it washes out easily with a soft brush. I’m so happy with this new time-saving tool for making a great breakfast!

Time-saving tip #1: If you don’t have a lot of time in the morning, mix the dry ingredients together in the evening so that you only add the coconut milk and fruit in the morning.

Time-saving tip #2: You can chop up a supply of bananas on the weekend, freeze them, and pull them out as you need them.

Time-saving tip #3: You can chop up a supply of apricots, dates or figs, keep them refrigerated, and pull them out as you need them.

If you don’t already have a VitaClay, buy one now. It’s an easy way to take one step closer to achieving better health by starting your mornings with a nutritious boost.

Sick and tired of dieting? CLICK ON IMAGE to gain the mental power to achieve your fitness goals. This is how you can begin living the life you've always wanted to live.

Sick and tired of dieting? CLICK ON IMAGE to gain the mental power to achieve your fitness goals. You can begin today to live the life you’ve always wanted.


Ten terrific reasons to drink tea

This afternoon I went to Hard Times Cafe in Minneapolis. I was impressed not only with the number of teas they had to offer, but also with their beautiful display. It reminded me of the many benefits of drinking tea.

June 14, 2014-06-04 Drink Tea Hard Times

Here are ten great reasons to drink tea:

  1. Have your favorite tea anywhere. It’s easy to carry a few tea bags with you wherever you go.
  2. Many teas are good for your health. Check out Health King Enterprise to learn more about balanceuticals.
  3. It’s a great alternative to sugar-filled drinks. Add a little manuka honey or stevia if you want to sweeten your tea.
  4. Some tea blends are natural remedies. It’s an important component of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
  5. Tea is easy to make. Just add hot water.
  6. Reduce your grocery bill. Bottled beverages are more expensive than teas.
  7. Save money when you’re eating out by bringing your own tea bag. When you’re placing a food order, most restaurants don’t charge for hot water.
  8. Drinking tea reduces pollution. Tea leaves are lightweight, therefore the distribution has less environmental impact than much heavier bottled beverages.
  9. Enjoy tea with or without caffeine. Drink caffeinated tea during the daytime to boost your energy and herbal tea in the evening to relax.
  10. Minimize your exposure to toxins. Make organic tea with distilled water.

Dear Diary, This is the Day I Decided to Drink Distilled Water

barbara-smaller-herbal-tea-party-new-yorker-cartoonThree old couples were having tea one day. They were all chatting and whatnot when one of the men said to his wife, “Pass the honey, honey!” Getting the chuckles he expected, he carried on. A moment later, the second man said, “Pass the sugar, sugar!” This got a bit of a bigger laugh, so the third man, although not quite as clever or quick-witted as the other two, decided to join in on the fun. He waited for the right opportunity, cleared his throat and then confidently said, “Pass the tea, bag!” AJokeADay

International Tea Masters Association ITMA logo

Tips on aging for all ages: more museums, less food

Would you like to prevent cancer, Alzheimer’s or other diseases? If you know friends or family members who have experienced the effects of these diseases or their treatments, you may be wondering what you can do to help minimize your risk. But you may not have considered searching for the answers in a museum.

My husband and I purchased Balboa Park Day Passes on a recent trip to San Diego. MetLife had a terrific display at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center. Of everything I saw in several museums this day, this display was the most practical.

DSC_6678 Aging for all Ages MetLife

This contents of this display would make a terrific outline for an adult health education course on how to:

  • maintain the health of your brain, bones, lungs, and skin, or
  • learn how to reduce the risk of common diseases such as Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis and cancer.

Did you realize that eating less, for example, may help reduce your chance of disease and extend your life? Here’s some advice from the writing on the red wall.

Less Is More!

Calorie restriction is a diet consisting of 25 to 40 percent fewer calories than normal but includes all the needed nutrients. Research in animals has shown this to have a remarkable effect on reducing disease and the result of aging. 

However, calorie restriction is difficult to do over a lifetime. Scientists have yet to determine how safe it is and to what degree, if any, it will extend our life span. But studying calorie restriction offers new insights into the aging process and the biology of aging that could influence healthy aging as well as provide clues on how to prevent or delay diseases associated with aging. 

To help reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s, keep your brain active:

Just as physical activity keeps your body strong, mental activity keeps your mind sharp and agile. That’s why it’s important to continue to learn and challenge yourself–whether by learning a foreign language, switching careers or even doing crossword puzzles. 

Regardless of age, an active brain produces new neural connections, the connections between nerve cells that allow these cells to communicate with one another. The new connections help you store and retrieve information more easily, even if your grey matter is topped by gray hair. 

To continue expanding your mind, try these tips: 

  • Take classes. 
  • Read regularly and keep a journal. 
  • Stay up-to-date on technology. Learn about computers and connect to the Internet. Consider using e-mail to stay in touch with friends and family. 
  • Join a book club or other discussion group. 
  • Explore the cultural life of your community. Attend concerts, lectures and plays. 
  • Continue musical or artistic talents or develop new ones. 
  • Volunteer to teach others your skills or knowledge. 

One way to help keep your brain active is to go to museums to learn from informative displays like this. This exhibition Aging for All Ages is funded by ongoing support from the MetLife Foundation Partnership for Lifelong Learning. Additional support is provided by Aging & Independence Services, a division of the County of San Diego’s Health and Human Services Agency.

You don’t have to be a MetLife patient or a San Diego resident to benefit from these health tips. This smart partnership benefits not only the organizations who pulled together the display, but also the people who visit the museum.

You know you’re getting older when your energy runs out before your money. AgelessFX

Fountain of Bacon cartoon Diffee

Next time you’re traveling and you’re torn between heading to a museum or restaurant, choose to feed your mind before your belly.

MetLife Foundation logo


Popular restaurant rating apps are missing some stars

Why did the man go up to the roof of the restaurant after complaining about a long wait for his food? Because they told him his meal was on the house. Jokes4Us

We all have our own standards and expectations on food when it comes to eating out. When you read a reviews on restaurant apps, you get a feel for how difficult it must be for restaurant owners to please everyone.

If you regularly use restaurant ratings, you’re probably familiar with some of the popular ones:

  • HappyCow is great when you’re looking for a vegan or vegetarian meal
  • OpenTable is useful if you want to make reservations online
  • TripAdvisor is helpful if you want to know how travelers rate a restaurant
  • Yelp is a quick way to find a decent restaurant nearby that’s open now
  • Urbanspoon is nice if you like to read critic and blogger reviews
  • Zagat is a the app to use when decor and service matter as much as the food

Each of these tools has its strengths and weaknesses. But they’re all weak in comparison to Dine Green when it comes to searching for a sustainable restaurant. I’m always looking for the healthiest restaurant around.
farmacy cartoon

Hippocrates said “let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.” If you adhere to this philosophy, then you understand that every visit to a restaurant is just as important, if not more so, than a visit to a doctor or pharmacy.

If you knew your life depended on it, wouldn’t you say it’s worth walking the extra mile to have a healthy meal experience?

Next time you want to eat out, check Dine Green to find a restaurant making an effort to bring you a better all-around food experience while reducing its impact on the environment. The Green Restaurant Association (GRA) has developed the Dine Green certification standards and ratings which are grouped into seven major categories:

1. Sustainable Food

If you want to know if a restaurant is serving sustainable food, the best way to find out is to ask. But here are a few signs that may indicate the food is more sustainable than the average restaurant:

  • the majority of their foods come from local sources
  • their menu changes daily or from week to week since they’re serving fresh in-season foods
  • they offer plenty of vegetarian and vegan choices
  • meat portions are relatively small (by American standards)
  • they offer organic foods which tend to have less impact on the environment and better nutritional value

It doesn’t take a big staff or training team to explain these concepts to employees. Restaurants can express these values through their name, signage, website as well as their employees. But if you aren’t sure, don’t hesitate to ask. If they don’t know whether or not their foods are organic or locally sourced, you might as well assume they aren’t.

2. Water Efficiency

When it comes to eating and drinking, water is the #1 most important resource. Our bodies and all of our food sources depend on it. Like other businesses, restaurants can do their part in minimizing water waste by:

  • utilizing the right technologies in their restrooms
  • conserving water used for dishwashing

Current GRA standards cover these standards. But the final, and most important factor to consider is the quality of the water a restaurant uses not only for cooking, but also the quality of water they bring to your table if you ask for a glass of water. The GRA standard doesn’t include this yet, but it should. I carry a TDS water tester in my purse and it’s surprising how much water quality can vary from one restaurant to another even when they’re next door to each other. If a restaurant has low standards on its water, I avoid going back.

A $15 Water Tester is Worth More Than a $150 Water Filter

3. Waste Reduction and Recycling

The US is one of the most wasteful societies in history. About 40% of the food in the US ends up in landfills. InfoWarsRestaurants can play an important role in reducing food waste by taking actions such as:

  • offering smaller portion sizes for lower prices
  • composting food waste
  • donating to local food banks

4. Disposables

Disposable products make up a huge amount of waste in landfills. Restaurants can help to minimize their impact in several ways:

  • minimizing or eliminating the use of disposable paper products such as paper towels, coffee filters, paper cups and napkins
  • serving food on 100% reusable tableware including utensils, plates, bowls and cups
  • making drinks on site instead of serving individual bottles
  • providing incentives for customers to bring in their own to go cups, containers and bags
  • eliminating the use of Styrofoam
  • eliminating the use of plastic containers and bags
  • setting up condiments to be added in house (instead of individual packets)
  • cooking mainly with whole foods delivered in returnable packages or crates

As a customer you can also do your part by choosing restaurants that minimize the use of disposables. And as often as possible eat at the restaurant instead of taking the food to go.

5. Energy

How a restaurant manages their energy can be a difficult thing for a customer to notice or control. But as a customer you can look for the following things:

  • restaurant is mainly lit with natural lighting (at least in the daytime)
  • they offer outdoor or open-air dining seasonally as weather permits
  • they avoid using heating or air conditioning whenever possible, instead utilizing shades, awnings, windows and cross-ventilation to help regulate comfortable temperatures

restaurant electricity cartoon

6. Chemical and Pollution Reduction

Have you ever thought about the fact that you could choose a highly restaurant on one of the popular restaurant rating apps and be in one of the most toxic restaurants in town? A highly rated $$$$ upscale restaurant that appears to be clean may expose you to more toxins than a $ inexpensive burrito shop on the same street. Environmental and food toxins don’t necessarily make you sick right away, but through repeated exposure, they can lead to chronic or even fatal fatal diseases over time. Most of the most popular apps don’t take into consideration the following:

  • chemicals used to wash the dishes
  • chemicals used for pest control
  • bleaches used in deli papers, coffee filters and tea bags
  • bleaches, air fresheners and other chemical products used for cleaning
  • bleaches and chemicals used to clean table linens and napkins
  • indoor plants to help improve air quality
  • fresh air (no smoking inside or out)

Restaurants can also help to cut back on pollution by offering bike racks and choosing a location near public transportation (to help reduce transportation emissions).

7. Sustainable Furnishing and Building Materials

A large percentage of Americans don’t even question the food they’re putting into their bodies, so why would they care what materials were used in the restaurant or its furnishings? Unless you work in the construction or interior design industry, you may not even notice what materials are used on the countertops, floors and tables. But here are just a few reasons why sustainable furnishings and building materials matter:

  • they’re much less likely to give off noxious emissions that are harmful to humans
  • they’re less wasteful and have lower impact on the environment

Dine Green has what your body craves. Although Dine Green doesn’t yet have as many restaurant listings as some of the more popular restaurant rating sites and they don’t even have an app, they’re beginning to fill a big gap in the restaurant rating app market. As more customers become aware of how hidden restaurant standards can affect their health, more people will gravitate toward apps that guide them to restaurants with more transparency, more sustainable business practices and more commitment to the health of their communities.

Some stars are missing in all these apps. We can all benefit from restaurant apps, but because of the way they’re designed, some of the best restaurants may not be getting all the stars they deserve. Take Chez Panisse, for example. Shouldn’t they earn one or two stars for their Edible Schoolyard Project? How many stars do Whole Foods Market cafes deserve for their quality standards and environmental stewardship? How many stars does Chipotle earn for their food with integrity? And how many stars would you give Workshop Cafe for their great work atmosphere?

Like Working In Starbucks? Workshop Cafe is 10x Better

In addition to the Dine Green features listed above, here are a few more things I like in a restaurant:

  • food prep and cooking area is visible to customers
  • music sends out good vibes helping people to feel positive energy while they eat (and the volume is low enough that you can carry on a conversation without shouting)
  • restrooms have outstanding ventilation
  • pets are welcome

My friend, Steven Wright, prefers restaurants that serve “breakfast any time.” Last week we went out to dinner and he ordered French Toast during the Renaissance. FoodFunnies

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Like Working In Starbucks? Workshop Cafe is 10x Better!

Starbucks’ success has a lot to do with timing. They began expanding their number of cozy spaces at a time when a growing number of people were willing to pay $5 for a coffee and a tiny table to check their email, do some work or meet up with a friend or stranger. In just a few decades, they’ve grown to be the largest coffeehouse in the world.

Millions of people worldwide like working in Starbucks coffee shops. If you’re one of them, you’ll love Workshop Cafe.

Workshop Cafe

One of the numerous work space areas at Workshop Cafe.

Like Starbucks, Workshop Cafe offers WiFi, coffee, tea and food. They also have indoor and outdoor seating in a great location. And they offer some work space areas that are well lit with natural lighting.

But here’s why Workshop Cafe is 10x better than Starbucks:

  1. Forgot your charger? they’ll loan you one.
  2. Need to print, scan or mail something? You can do it here.
  3. Want to work on a larger screen? you can plug into one of their larger screens.
  4. Need a quiet meeting room or place to make a call? They have small meeting spaces.
  5. Want to keep an eye on your bike? They have bike racks on the walls inside.
  6. Want a booth area with a little privacy? They have booth seating.
  7. Need to recharge your phone or computer? You can find plugs everywhere.
  8. Don’t like waiting in line? Place your order from their app and they deliver to your table.
  9. Want to work late? They’re open until 10 pm every day of the week.
  10. Prefer to bring your own food and drink? No problem. Bring it with you. You don’t have to order food or drinks if you don’t want to.

See what others are saying about this cool cafe on Yelp. And check out this clip by Workshop Cafe founder, Rich Menendez:

Most remote workspaces require monthly fees regardless of how often you’re there. At Workshop Cafe, you pay $2/hour, but only when you’re there. Workshop Cafe is a great startup business setting a precedent for the future of sustainable cafes and remote work spaces. Their ideas are certain to catch on.

Happy People Stop Working But Never Retire or Quit

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If you’re visiting San Francisco and need a relaxing atmosphere to work for a few hours, check it out. Your first 10 hours are FREE!

A man walks into a coffee shop and asks, “how much is the coffee?”
“It’s $4,” says the waitress.
“And how much is a refill?”
“It’s free,” she says.
“Then I’ll have a refill,” he says. Jokes4U

If your local coffee shop is having a hard time competing with the local Starbucks, encourage the owner to check out Workshop Cafe to catch up with the times.

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5 Essential Appliances For Easy Healthy Meals

Why did the blonde put her iPhone in her blender?
Because she wanted to make apple juice. Wattpad

Lots of people want to eat healthier, but aren’t sure how. If you want to make more healthy meals at home, I recommend investing in these essential appliances. When you learn to use these tools effectively, you can easily make healthy meals at home every day.

1. Water Filtration System

The taste and nutritional value of the juices, teas, soups, pasta and other dishes you make all depend on the quality of the water you use.

Any water filtration system is better than none, but some systems are better than others. Distilled water is the purest. It’s H2O. In addition to hydrating your body, another main function of water is to help detoxify your body.

Tap water, bottled water and well water typically add noxious substances to your body. Because they’re already contaminated, they aren’t as effective as distilled water in helping to rid your body of toxins. Doesn’t it make sense to use pure H2O to ensure you aren’t adding more toxins to your body through the water you consume?

Drink Distilled Water Daily to Detox and Defend Your Body

You may have heard a myth that you shouldn’t use distilled water because it’s acidic or it pulls minerals from your body, but consider the source. “Often it is heard that the body needs the minerals found in water. Not so. Our food supply is the proper source of minerals.” J. Edward Smith

2. High-Power Juicer/Blender

rainbow fruit smoothiesBegin your day with a juice drink. This is a great way to help flush your body and cleanse away anything left from the prior day or two. The first thing I drink every morning is a smoothie made with fresh fruits. I often have a blend of citrus fruits such as orange, grapefruit, mandarins, lime or lemon. You can drink it at home or take it to go, but it’s best if you drink it as soon as possible.

Over the years I’ve tried several different juicers, all of which had high ratings at the time. Many of them are cumbersome and difficult to clean. I’ve also purchased countless blenders in all the top brands, many of which were used to make smoothies numerous times a week by several family members. Very few blenders survived more than a year. They simply aren’t built to last. Despite the disappointment with most juicers and blenders I’ve owned, I never lost hope that eventually I’d find ones that were easier and more dependable.

One day several years ago I saw a guy demonstrating a Blendtec in a Costco. I had no intention of making such a large purchase that day, but the demo and the samples were so compelling that I decided to cave in to this impulse buy. He had what I wanted. The Blendtec has turned out to be the best juicer/blender I’ve ever owned. It works pretty much like a blender, but it’s much more powerful and much easier to clean.

With the Blendtec, you can make countless combinations of juices, smoothies, soups and sauces using whole fruits and vegetables. Unlike a juicer, it doesn’t extract the pulp, so you end up with less food waste.

I love drinking fresh juice not only for the health benefits, but because of how much I enjoy the tastes and because of how good I feel after drinking them.

3. Refrigerator/Freezer

Choose a refrigerator with lots of clear drawers. Most homes and apartments in the US come equipped with a refrigerator, so most people don’t shop for them very often. But if and when you do have the chance to shop for a refrigerator, look for one that has lots of clear drawers that can easily be pulled out and placed on your countertop. This makes it easy to store produce. Many whole fruits and vegetables can be stored without any additional packing, except for what nature gave them, so if you have lots of drawers to organize them, you can keep a fruit drawer full of oranges and apples, for example. You can use the largest drawers to store larger vegetables or fruits such as cauliflower, cabbage or watermelon. My husband and I eat lots of produce every day. I store a lot of it (without any packaging) in drawers .

Become familiar with the shelf-life of various fruits and vegetables. Even if you regularly eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, it can be helpful to check to how long they typically last. StillTasty.com is a great resource to check when you want to see how long something will last. I just did a quick search for carrots, and came up with a dozen different ways to consider processing and storing them, including juicing, freezing, canning and more. It’s a great resource. I often get great ideas just by checking this tool. It’s especially helpful if you have a surplus of one type of food. I’m always open to trying new apps. I recently discovered EatByDate.com. It has a nice clean interface and might be a good tool for people learning to eat healthier, but it’s not very helpful for more experienced cooks.

If you don’t have enough room in your refrigerator for lots of fruits and vegetables, clear out the sodas, beers, condiments, packaged foods or whatever else is using up your refrigerator space. Chances are, you’ll be better off without them.

4. Cooktop

Is your kitchens well stocked with lots of pots and pans, including many you rarely use? If you live in a standard American home or apartment, you probably have a cooktop with four burners, but you rarely use more than two at a time. You probably have a big oven designed to hold a huge turkey and all its fixings. But you only cook like this a few times a year, if that. Even if you like to bake, you could get by with an oven half the size.

chinese food cartoon Funday MorningSimpler is better. In order to compete with other brands, companies add new designs, materials and features to cooktops and cooktop/oven combinations. Whenever you have choice, go for simple.

You only need one or two burners to make a quick healthy meal. This is one of the many lessons I learned in China: two burners are better than four. How many times do any of us use three or four burners at once? Not often, right?  Yet most cooktops sold in the US have four burners. Four burners take longer to clean than two. Our kitchen in China had a cooktop with two large gas burners (not four) that put out big flames. Directly under the two burners were two large drawers, one to hold the wok and a ceramic soup pot and another to hold a rice maker. The few cooking utensils hung on the hung on the wall near cooktop. This simple design made it so easy to cook and clean up. The kitchen in our upscale Chinese apartment did not have an oven. Yet we were able to have healthy meals every day without one.

You can make a quick healthy meal in one pot. One of the biggest lessons I learned from Zhu, our cook in China, is that you can cook just about anything in a wok. Before I moved to China I didn’t know anything about preparing Chinese foods. I had owned a wok for years and used it from time to time, but I had no idea of how powerful one kitchen tool could be. Zhu would clean, chop and prep all the ingredients first and then move on to the cooking.

Most foods, when prepped appropriately, can be stir fried in minutes. Once you learn the technique, you can quickly and easily prepare foods in a hot wok.

Although some ingredients may take a few more minutes, you can see how easy it is to prepare tasty dishes. If you want to make several different ones, you can make them simultaneously in the same wok or skillet. That way you only have one pot to clean up when you’re finished cooking. If you plan to use it for your next meal, store it on your cooktop to save time.

Stir-fry cooks come from all woks of life. PunOfTheDay

5. Food processor

What’s your idea of a quick and easy meal? A food processor is to a healthy eater what a microwave is to a Standard American Diet (SAD) eater. Depending on what you’re making, food processors can cut your food prep time in half.

Get a BPA-free food processor with high ratings and good reviews. I’ve owned a number of different food processors over the years. They all have their own set of strengths and weaknesses. I recently purchased a Cuisinart 9-cup food processor not only because it’s BPA-free and has great reviews, but also because it fits between my countertop and cabinets. I also like the sleek design and the fact that it came in a brushed stainless. It only takes a quick wipe to make it look clean, which isn’t always the case with other finishes and colors.

Make a big pot of soup every week. When you have distilled water, a refrigerator full of fresh ingredients and a food processor or Blendtec, you can make a big pot of soup on your cooktop that you can enjoy for several meals in the upcoming week or or month (if you freeze some).

4 Super Smart SOUP Recipes You Can Savor Year Round

Donate your toaster, can opener and other unnecessary gadgets to make room for your Blendtec and food processor. If you keep them on your countertop in the location where you’ll use them most, it makes it much easier to get to them and you’ll use them much more often.

One final word of caution. Never leave a pot of alphabet soup on the stove when you go out or it could spell disaster. PunOfTheDay

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11 Equipment Essentials for Easy Everyday Exercises

It’s easy to fall into a sedentary lifestyle, especially if you rely on a car to get around. But don’t worry, you don’t need to go out and buy expensive equipment to become more active. There are countless ways you can assimilate more activities into your daily life. It’s best to introduce small changes over time. You don’t need to go out of your way to exercise or go to the gym. There are many alternatives that are much more practical.

people walking

72-year-old Phil Woods is on a 2,700-mile mission (25 miles/day) to inspire older adults to walk more

Why exercise anyway? Many centenarians have spent decades doing activities that keep them up and moving around on a daily basis. But the activities not necessarily strenuous in the way you may think. You don’t need to join a gym or participate in a team sport in order to exercise.

Many centenarians were relatively poor for part or most of their lives. Many of them did, and still do, rely on walking, biking, or public transportation as their main mode of transportation. Some were farmers or laborers. Others have never worked outside the home, but raising a family, cooking, cleaning, gardening or participating in community activities have kept them moving around day after day for many decades. These activities are surprisingly simple, but profoundly beneficial over time.

Here are 11 equipment essentials that can help you live a more active lifestyle:

1. Walking shoes. A good pair of comfortable shoes is one of the most valuable investments you can make in your health. Walking is especially important if you work at a computer or have a desk job where you sit for numerous hours each day. Your body tenses up if you sit in one place for too long. If necessary, set a reminder alarm to go off every 30 minutes or so and get up to walk around and stretch. If possible, take a few breaks throughout the day to walk for 15 minutes or more. If possible, go for a brisk walk during lunch and after work. If you want to increase the intensity of your walk, pick up your speed and jog or run for part of the time. Women especially need to be reminded to wear comfortable walking shoes as often as possible. KEEN has lots of great choices on boots, shoes and sandals. High heels may be ok for some special occasions, but as these models demonstrate, heels are not appropriate attire for walking. Here’s why . . .

2. Broom. Sweep your floors. Clean your home. The next time you feel annoyed by the fact that cleaning is one of those jobs that never ends, think about some of the benefits. Be thankful for your home and the fact that you have the mobility to keep it clean. When you clean your home, you have opportunities to kneel down to clean things on or near the floor, lift buckets full of water, and stretch upwards while cleaning door trim or vents. Why pay for a membership to a sweaty gym when you can workout for free in your own home? Do cleaning exercises instead.

3. Drying Rack. When you hang your laundry up to dry, you get more exercise than you do when you toss everything in the dryer, especially if you’re bending over to lift items from a laundry basket and reaching up to a clothesline. By hanging your clothes up to dry, you reap numerous benefits. Washers and dryers increase the wear and tear on your clothes. When your clothes aren’t soiled, use the gentle cycle on your washer and skip the dryer. This also helps to cut back on your electric bill. The less time your clothes spend in the dryer, the better. Laundry exercises are much more practical than the bending and stretching exercises you do in an aerobics class.

Laundry Study Shows Americans Have Few Hangups

 4. Music. People go to Zumba, in part, because they can feed off the energy of the music and the people around them. But you don’t need to go to an exercise class to listen to music that energizes you. Download some workout songs that you like and listen to them often, like when you’re cleaning your house or hanging up clothes. When you wear headsets, not only do you cut off other people, but you may even put yourself in danger if you’re out walking and don’t hear the honk of a car. Use them cautiously.

man walking up stairs

5. Stairs. Whenever possible, use stairs and escalators instead of elevators. Even if an escalator is moving, you can use it like a staircase. Keep walking. If people are in front of you, excuse yourself and ask if you can pass by. In many cases, escalators give you a little extra exercise because the rise is typically a bit higher than standard steps. The best part about stairs is that you don’t have to pay for them. If you get out on a regular basis, you’ll find staircases in many places.

6. Cast Iron Cookware. Trade in your teflon and aluminum pans for cast iron. Cast iron pots, pans and muffin tins typically weigh a few pounds. So you get a mini workout every time you lift them, rinse them out or store them in your cabinets. Teflon and aluminum add toxins to your food, so it’s better to avoid them anyway. When you cook at home you have a much better idea of what you’re eating. So remember that it’s not enough to just buy cast iron cookware. You also need to get into the daily habit of cooking healthy meals at home in order to benefit. My kitchen is well stocked with Lodge Cast Iron Cookware. I pump iron every day.

7. Bike. The bike is one of the most efficient forms of transportation. Not only is it a great way to get around, it’s also good for you. Why buy a stationery bike that doesn’t go anywhere when you can buy a real bike that can take you places? By biking more you may be able to save money by using your car less. Be sure to get a bike that suits your size so you’ll be comfortable and safe when you ride. As you find more ways to use your bike, you might want to add some accessories, such as lights, a basket or a rear mount bike rack, so that you’ll use it more often. I love my Wald basket and bungee cargo net combination for quick errands. Bike riding helps you maintain balance and endurance. If you want a cardio workout, ride your bike in a hilly area or pedal faster. Remember to wear a helmet and a good pair of biking gloves.

8. Public Transportation Pass. People who rely on public transportation are more likely to walk more. If you own a car, do what you can to rely on it less and less over time. If you don’t live near a public transportation stop, consider driving to a commuter parking lot and finishing your commute on public transportation. If this isn’t practical, you may be able to find other ways to use public transportation. When you plan trips, look into your options of traveling by bus, train or plane instead of taking your own car. Next time you travel, see if you can manage your trip without renting a car. The less you rely on a car, the more active you’ll tend to be. ClipperCard

This CAR Game Will Drive You Crazy

old man woman gardening

9. Trowel. Grow your own vegetables. Gardening helps you connect with nature and it has the added benefit of supplying you with of food. Even if you don’t have a yard, you can use a trowel to do basic gardening with potted plants. When you have plants inside or outside your home, you’ll get a little more exercise as you water them, repot them from time to time and swap them around to different locations in your home. If you have access to a balcony, porch or yard, you can grow more and get more exercise as you kneel down to do some weeding or bend over to cut clippings from your herb plants.

10. Sportswear. Wear comfortable sports attire as often as possible. This makes it easier for you to stretch and flex. Do more of this every day. If you get any resistance at all, you want it to come from your muscles, not your clothing. Depending on the type of work you do, you may be able to find lots of great sportswear that can double as casual wear for work. This makes it easier for you to walk, bike or stretch before, during or after work. Columbia Sportswear

11. Water bottle. As you increase your physical activity, make sure you stay hydrated with water. Avoid all drinks that contain high fructose corn syrup. If you head out for a walk, take a large water bottle with you. Fill it with water or a fresh juice drink. Drinking some extra water or fruit juice is a great way to flush your body and curb your appetite.

Drink Distilled Water to Detox and Defend Your Body

You don’t necessarily need to make these specific changes to your lifestyle. What is important is that you think about the simple things in your daily routine and, over time, make minor changes to incorporate more activity. Seek activities you enjoy. If it isn’t fun or rewarding in some way, it will be difficult to maintain anyway. As you find ways to be more active every day, you’ll find that there really is no need for you to do something silly like run on a treadmill in your garage.

Although running, weight lifting, or high-impact sports may be good for your heart, they tend to be damaging to your knees or other body parts that get overused. Most centenarians report that they were active throughout their lives, but typically not in highly strenuous activities. They’re more likely to work out in their garden than in a gym. They’re more likely to be walkers than runners.

Some people are so lazy, they don’t even exercise good judgment. Alfred E Neuman

Seek ways to add practical activities to your lifestyle. The more movement you incorporate into your daily life, the better off you’ll be in the long run. Active living every day is much better for you than irregular binge workouts a few times a month.

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