Food as the New and Improved Pharma

The old saying “you are what you eat,” seems to have more often gone in one ear and out the other for most Americans. In modern society, there has been a serious disconnect between the quality and nutritional value of the food we eat and our health. That may finally be changing. A new branch of medicine known simply as “culinary medicine” seeks to put diet right at the heart of standard medical care. Tulane University even has a Center for Culinary Medicine. While it focuses on the traditional nexus of food and medicine (diabetes, obesity, heart disease), I’m hopeful that this is the start of a much broader look at this issue. That seems to be the approach of a new web site called “Dining with a Doc” that “celebrates food as medicine.”

Beyond connecting our diet to our health, we need to connect our diet to our planet. The impact of our meat-centric American diet on the environment is astounding. Studies show that more greenhouse gas emissions are produced from our industrial food chain than from the entire transportation sector combined. The optimal food choice for the planet is a plant-based choice. However, we don’t all have to become vegans overnight to make a difference. Just as switching to 25% wind power is better than nothing, reducing your consumption of meat and animal products by 25% is a great start.  Instead of a vegan diet, we can call this an “Eco Diet.”

Once you get it, you’ll get it. Making smart food choices is good for you and the planet you live on.  An Eco Diet cleans up your body and cleans the environment.  Need help? Just find a good nutritionist or a culinary doctor and you’ll be on the right path.

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Cleaning Our Air and Supporting Our Economy

ALA PA LogoChoose PA Wind Logo

Pennsylvanians hear a lot about energy choices, especially when it comes to offers to save money. But perhaps a more important message is getting lost in the marketing noise of the energy world. Pennsylvanians have the option of choosing energy that cleans our air and brings economic development right here in the commonwealth. Through a new campaign called ChoosePAWind, consumers in the PECO territory can sign up for Pennsylvania wind power at affordable rates.

The program is not only promoting local clean, renewable wind power, it seeks to build community support for green initiatives. Participating organizations earn donations to their groups for every enrollment they get. The double benefit of this is the ability to directly support energy sources that clean our air and help the local economy while also galvanizing your own community into action.

At the American Lung Association, we know that there’s a direct link between the pollution coming out of fossil-fueled power plants and lung disease. Decreasing pollution from these power plants means lowering the amount of nitrogen-oxide, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter that we all breathe. Doing this will lower incidents of pre-mature death, asthma, and other chronic conditions related to poor air quality. There are several ways to make this happen, from federal or state legislation, to simple voluntary actions such as switching to wind power. The more people that choose Pennsylvania wind, the better our air will be.

According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), Pennsylvania has 25 wind energy projects, totaling more than 1,300 megawatts of production, ranking us 15th in the nation.  They produce enough energy to power 330,000 Pennsylvania homes. The wind industry has put more than $2.7 billion in capital investment into our state and pays landowners $3.6 million annually in lease payments. The tax dollars from wind contributes to the public coffers, while attracting new manufacturing facilities as well.

Keeping your energy dollars local, cleaning up the air you and your family breathes, working with your community to promote sustainability – these are the key benefits of simply choosing Pennsylvania wind.

Deb Brown

President & CEO

American Lung Association Mid Atlantic

Jim Spencer

EverPower CEO and ChoosePAWind Founder

Why Chestnut Hill United Church is Supporting ChoosePAWind by Joy Bergey

Choose Pennsylvania wind to power your home. What a wonderful idea. It’s no-brainer to me to choose electricity whose generation doesn’t exacerbate climate change, pollute the air and water, or generate nuclear waste that will last for thousands of years and society hasn’t a clue how to store safely (PECO’s “regular” electricity comes largely from fossil fuels and nuclear plants, with these attendant woes).  Choosing wind power that’s “home grown” right here in state also means that you’re helping to create sustainable, well-paid jobs for our fellow Pennsylvanians.

It’s my contention that choosing to use clean electricity in our homes, workplaces, and schools is likely the biggest thing we can do to slow down global warming. Can most of us give up our cars? No. Or afford an electric car powered entirely by solar panels? No again.

To that point of solar panels: The price of solar technology has come way down in recent years, and continues to fall. And yet, a homeowner in Pennsylvania would still have to lay out thousands of dollars up front to put PV panels on her or his roof. (In my case, I’d be willing to do that, but my property is “treed out,” meaning that I’d have to take down several large trees to expose the roof to adequate sun to make the PV panels work. And since I live quite close to the Wissahickon Creek, those large trees of mine are providing other valuable eco-services, like helping to sop up storm water and prevent flooding.)

So, if you don’t have the roof, spare capital, and/or time to investigate, purchase, and install solar panels, do something that’s actually much easier, and every bit as effective: Buy electricity generated by the wind. Buy Pennsylvania wind, specifically. (If you’re reading this, you probably know that “buying local” offers all kinds of benefits, both economically and environmentally. The “buy local” benefits extend to energy as well.)

I’m delighted that the congregation that I’ve belonged to for two decades, Chestnut  Hill United Church (in northwest Philadelphia) is participating in the ChoosePaWind campaign. We’ve already designated that the income from this campaign will be used to further our social justice work. It’s a win-win-wind situation.

On Brand, Climate, and Thoughts on Moving Forward

Extreme climate change is coming, perhaps already causing havoc in some areas of the world, yet we as society can’t seem to agree on whether to take any action to stop it. There are feel good personal and community actions that help, but won’t by themselves solve the problem. There are a few states and cities adopting laws and regulations to help fight the problem. But the kind of economy wide, national and international action we must adopt now to avert the worst outcomes is beyond our reach. It has been for decades. We need to try something new. Perhaps one approach would be to reconsider how we environmental advocates brand climate change and our call to action. In other words, if we were to be selling this product, as environmental advocates, what category does it even fall into and what are the primary drivers or assumptions of that category?  Who are our competitors in this category?

I don’t think there’s agreement about what category our product is in. There are some who put it in the political issue category, in which case it is competing with other political issues for priority and voter attention. Others put it in a consumer product kind of category, in which it’s competing with other products or services in the sustainability realm. Still others think of it as a part of the protest category, part of a suite of issues that generate non-violent direct actions, protests, and marches. I’m sure there are others, but these examples suffice to make the point that the actions we take, and the messages we create can vary greatly depending on the category we think extreme climate change belongs to.

The products or services that we sell as part of our campaign depends on the category as well. Our call to action could be an email to a legislator, a vote, or participation in a rally. Or our call of action could be the purchase of green electricity or certain kinds of climate friendly products. Frequently, our call to action is a donation to an environmental NGO.

The competitors in our category also depend on our definition of the category. Our competitors could be issues vying for political action or they could be other services or products aimed at the Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS) market. Our macro competition is inertia, but that’s the case with almost every product out there.

So now that we have some ideas on category and competition, we may be able to better “market” our product and the consequent call to action. This means we’ll have to decide on just a few approaches rather than dilute our brand with too many competing messages.

What do you think our category is? Our brand position? Our competitors?