Posts Tagged ‘food’

Another Way to Reduce the Cost of Healthcare

May 30, 2017

Locally grown produce on sale at Uptown Market in downtown Columbus, GA, Saturday, May 27, 2017.

It’s no secret that the cost of healthcare in the United States is highest in the world, but  overall quality is low among developed nations. The United States ranks 37th in the world according to the World Health Organization.  As you probably know,  just about all of the developed countries in the world but the United States have universal healthcare.  Certainly the top ten do. While the debate on whether to go single-payer or continue for-profit is important, there is another way to drastically reduce healthcare costs that gets very little attention.  Poor diet reportedly is a major contributor to the cost of healthcare in the United States.

This was graphically pointed out by a Harris County farmer at a Wednesday night group discussion at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Columbus, Georgia.  He provided some very interesting information from the Sustainable Food Trust. (Click on that link and you can read the report on The True Cost of Food Conference that was held in San Francisco.)

The report tells us the following:

Diseases related to poor diets in the United States account for 86% of healthcare spending.

Obesity annually costs taxpayers $2 trillion in healthcare spending.

About $5 billion is spent on  reactions to food dye.

877 million pounds of pesticides are used each year by industrial agriculture.

Americans spend about 6 percent of their annual income on food now as opposed to 16 percent in 1960. European countries spend 9-15 percent.

The U.S. government annually spends $20 billion taxpayer money on agricultural subsidies.   That  keeps primary crop prices low, which keeps food prices low.

The Government spends $153 billion annually on assistance programs to low-income earners, $75 billion of that in food stamps.

The market favors producing food on an industrial, unsustainable scale. “Sustainability,” in this context, means providing for the current generation without inhibiting the ability of future generations to provide for themselves.

So, the real cost of food is much more than the money you pay for it at the supermarket. For instance, your taxes pay for the $20 billion agricultural subsidies.

Just think about the social costs and dollar costs of  things like rising healthcare costs, air pollution, water pollution, climate change,  illegal immigration, allergens, and others.

So that’s what some believe is the problem. How about solutions. Our Harris County farmer listed these:

— Reward environmentally responsible food production.

— Use money from government subsidies, crop insurance, and food stamps to make sustainable food more available and accessible to the public.

— Raise taxes on artificial-chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

— Create healthcare incentives and encouragement to eat healthy food.

— Create investments in local, sustainable businesses.

— Pay agriculture employees better wages and improve working conditions.

You have to admit, cliché warning, that’s certainly food for thought.  One thought I have is that there needs to be a national educational program to inform the public about the benefits of following a healthy diet.


One of the stands featuring locally grown produce at the Uptown Market on Broadway in downtown Columbus. The market is open Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon.




May 21, 2012

What’s it going to  take to get the message across that obesity is a growing, costly, dangerous health problem in the U.S. and in our area?

Dr. Joseph Zanga following speech on obesity to Rotary Club of Columbus

Well, for one thing, for media to get interested.  Dr. Joseph Zanga, Chief of Pediatrics at the Columbus Regional Healthcare System, says Columbus media just don’t seem to be interested in the problem. That’s a shame because the problem has reached the crisis stage.

Obesity causes endocrine and orthopedic problems. cardiovascular risks, and psychosocial problems.  Increased healthcare costs run in the  billions of dollars. Increased illness causes lost school and work time. It creates a less energetic workforce, and a less focused workforce, and increased turnover.

Dr. Zanga, one of the leaders of Live Healthy Columbus, says  the problem is going to get a lot worse if something isn’t done because obesity is growing at a fast rate among children, including little babies.

Check out these stats.

In the Columbus area there are 90,000 children. An estimated 30,000 of them are obese or overweight.

Georgia is in the top 20 states with the highest obesity rates in the U.S.

Nearly 40% of Georgia’s children are overweight are obese. Georgia

Georgia spends $2.4 billion annually on obesity.

In the United States:

10% of children under 2 years old are overweight.

21% of children 2 – 5 years are overweight or obese.

29.8% of children 11 – 15 years are overweight or obese.

17% (12.5) million) older teens are obese.  92% of obese adolescents will be obese adults.

During the ’90s we grew from 5% to 15% of children obese.

The rate has slowed, but not stopped.

In my view, what we need is a media campaign that balances the plethora of commercials that promote unhealthy food.  For instance, how many restaurant chains offer and promote healthy food menus? I can only think of one:  Subway. As far as I know, it’s the only one that even  brings up the subject. Maybe you know of some more. If so, click on the “comment” button and let me know.

Maybe we need warning labels like we have on cigarette packs on food packaging, something like “too much sugar/salt/fat  is dangerous to your health.”

Stream of Consciousness

April 3, 2012

I have to hurry to get this in before  Monday is over since I pledged that I would try to have a new post by every Monday. I’m not thinking about any  single subject right now so I guess I’ll go with stream of consciousness.

I’m glad Dee Armstrong is doing the 6 p.m. news on TY again.  She’still good at it.

When I watch the candidates for  president rant on TV I am reminded of the old saw that “the outs view with alarm, and the ins point with pride.” That’s always true.

I wish Congress would spend more time concentrating on things needed to help our country and the rest of world and less on partisan warfare.

I wish state legislators would work more for the common good and less for lobbyists.

I wish there were an adult – no, I don’t mean pornographic – movie in one the theaters in Columbus. Well, there are a couple at the second-run Peachtree 8, but I’ve already seen them.

I wish Hollywood would make more adult movies, things like Midnight in Paris, The King’s Speech, and Hugo. Yes, I know that the star of Hugo is a child, but it’s still an intelligent, visually stunning  movie.

Chef Lee’s II is closed on Mondays I learned again tonight.

Doc Martin is quite entertaining.  It appears to be going on forever.

I’m getting sleepy so I’ll say good night.

Add Meat to Things that May Destroy the World

June 2, 2010


With all of the other destructive and chaotic things we have to worry about everyday, you can add another one.  Eating meat can destroy the world.  If the world’s people don’t stop pigging – out on meat,  disaster will hit by 2050 when the world’s population hits 9.1 BILLION people.  At least that’s what an article in The Guardian says. It quotes releases from the United Nation’s Environmental Programme or UNEP.  (“Programme” is British for “program.” Hey, I’m quoting a Brit newspaper.)

The article reports “Professor Edgar Hertwich, the lead author of the report, said: ‘Animal products cause more damage than [producing] construction minerals such as sand or cement, plastics or metals. Biomass and crops for animals are as damaging as [burning] fossil fuels.’ ”

What’s happening is that as people in developing countries become more affluent they pick up on Western ways, things like eating a lot of meat.  It’s going to take 70 percent more food than now being produced to feed 9.1. billion people.  Eating meat uses up a lot more veggies that animals eat than just eating the veggies.   

Actually, I can think of a very good reason right now not to eat a lot of meat.   It’s not good for you.  The big problem, though, is that most of us don’t give a fig about that.  We’re hooked on steak, chops, meatloaf, fried chicken,  etc.  I have to admit that I like Brunswick Stew made with a lot of barbecue.  However, I have cut way down on my meat-eating over the years. Since I like veggies, it’s not all that hard.  At least, not for me.  How about you?

Open Door Needs Food

July 8, 2009

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Cathy Claire Williams put this on Facebook.  I thought I would share it with you in case you want to help.

Please pass this on to your friends: Open Door is in urgent need of food for their food pantry! We’re told it’s at a critically low point right now, and the needs are greater than ever.

They especially need protein-rich foods like peanut butter and canned meats, but they will gratefully receive anything.

You can take donations directly to Open Door at 2405 2nd Ave in Cols, or bring them to Pierce Chapel on Sundays.

Fine Dining Returns to South Columbus

April 12, 2009

My broadcasting buddies of many years in Columbus,  Al Flemming, Don Nahley, and I get together for lunch once a month.  We take turns in hosting, which means we take turns in picking up the check, and the one who pays gets to pick the restaurant.  Friday was Don’s day, and he picked the Fife and Drum at the new National Infantry Museum, which is half open, the front half, which includes the restaurant, IMAX theater, and the gift shop.  These are the only revenue generating attractions at the museum.  Visiting the huge and impressive exhibition area will be free.   

Dick McMichael, Al Flemming, and Don Nahley having lunch at the Fife and Drum, National Infantry Museum, Columbus, Georgia

Dick McMichael, Al Flemming, and Don Nahley having lunch at the Fife and Drum, National Infantry Museum, Columbus, Georgia

This is the first time Don, Al and I have  eaten there.  We enjoyed it a lot.  All three of us agreed the food was excellent; we will be back, and we’ll bring friends and family. 

Maj. Gen. (ret) Jerry White, Fife and Drum Restaurant, National Infantry Museum, Columbus, Georgia

Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Jerry White, Chuck Walls, Fort Benning Deputy Garrison Commander, and Sam Friedman, Atlanta real estate developer, Fife and Drum Restaurant, National Infantry Museum, Columbus, Georgia

Sitting at the table next to us  were Maj. Gen (Ret) Jerry White and two of his associates.  Gen. White, who heads up the museum,  has been concerned lately because, as he told me, “Nobody’s coming.”  He said that on one night, if one prominent Columbus family hadn’t come to the IMAX theater, no one would have been there for the evening show.  He had to be feeling a little better about it Friday because there was a fairly large lunch crowd, and some people were taking in the IMAX. 

I had to wonder if opening just the front half was a good idea,  because the main attraction is going to be the exhibit area, and it’s not ready yet.  Maybe waiting until the whole thing opened on June 19th would have been best because the traffic, I am sure, is going to be much greater, and the restaurant and IMAX theater will probably do much better business then.

That being said,  I think you’ll enjoy a trip to the museum right now to enjoy fine dining in the Fife and Drum,  and to catch a movie at the Imax.  I’ve done both, and I can tell you it is worth a trip to South Columbus.  The food is good,  the ambiance is quality, and the IMAX theater is truly a fun experience, and you can shop in the gift store, and you can visit, at no charge, the OCS and Ranger halls of fame.

Besides, the museum needs the money.

Servers wear Revolutionary War style uniforms at the Fife and Drum Restaurant, National Infantry Museum, Columbus, Georgia

Ikyll Edmond, server, Fife and Drum Restaurant, National Infantry Museum, Columbus, Georgia

Memories That Lead to Memories, Specifically Indy’s, the Varsity, and the Goo-Goo

November 26, 2008

  Richard Hyatt’s mention of Indy’s Restaurant’s imminent closing, brought back memories of the two Varsity Restaurants on Macon Road.  Richard wrote in his alter-ego state, “Mirabeau plans to get by Indy’s Restaurant for one final steak sandwich. The longtime establishment on Whitesville Road is closing soon.” 

 If my memory serves me well, the owners of Indy’s first owned the Varsity Restaurants.  No, not the world-famous one near Georgia Tech in Atlanta. The first one in Columbus was where Captain’s Dee’s is now located next to the I-185 ramp. That one was in the old Goo- Goo Restaurant tradition. (See how one memory leads to another.) Much of my youth was spent at the Goo- Goo, the late Albert Snipes’ restaurant on Linwood Boulevard, particularly in the drive-in section.  My parents took me there before I was old enough to drive there myself. Loved to get a hot dog and chocolate milk. Stop moaning. The Varsity also had a drive-in.  Just as high school kids gathered at the Goo Goo, they gathered at the Varsity. I don’t know why, but there very little trouble at the Goo Goo in the 1940’s and 1950’s,  but the Varsity, I was told, had more than its share of hell-raising teenagers. The owners closed the first one and moved a couple of blocks west. Seems that one developed the same problem, and the drive-in section was finally abandoned.

  However, the restaurant didn’t close until the move to Whitesville Road as Indy’s.  I ate  at the Varsity a lot, but not nearly as much as my parents and brother. They ate there at least once a week. My brother’s favorite dish in the world was the Varsity’s open hamburger steak sandwich, which was topped with a rich brown gravy.  I liked it, too, but not as avidly as Elbert. It was food in the grand old tradition of Southern Cooking. 

  Now, with Indy’s on the way out, where will we be able to get that good old Southern Cooking?  Well, have you ever heard of the Royal Cafe? But, that’s another story for another day.