Thanks to the generosity of the Esperance family foundation, Dr. Mark Hyman, and my colleagues at Healthcorps, I received a fellowship to attend an extremely enlightening conference in Baltimore this week. The Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM) is a cutting-edge organization that holds educational conferences for health care practitioners. Functional medicine is “a science-based, personalized healthcare approach that assesses and treats underlying causes of illness through individually-tailored therapies to restore health and improve function.” In other words, functional medicine treats each person as an individual and relies on very detailed lab tests (beyond what most doctors use) to identify which nutrients and cellular support the patient needs in order to regain health. Their progressive approach focuses on boosting the immune system by using nutrition therapy and other treatments in order to actually heal diseases – especially chronic diseases which affects millions of Americans.
It doesn’t sound nearly as exciting on paper as it does in person! I haven’t felt this kind of mental inspiration since I was a grad student at Bastyr University in the mid-90′s. (Jeff Bland, founded IFM and was also one of the original founders of Bastyr University so a lot of the information is similar.) It’s pretty cool to sit in a room with so many like-minded colleagues while we learn revolutionary therapies.
If you or someone you know could use an IFM practitioner, I highly recommend finding a Functional Medicine practitioner in your area (please note: there are still very few out there). While the health care debate rages on and people continue to suffer from chronic disease, Functional Medicine provides a cost-effective solution that truly heals people and improves quality of life – it is the medicine for the 21st century.
Since I’m spending 9 hours a day absorbing biochemistry (at least trying to!), I don’t have much time to write a post. So, I thought I’d collect some interesting food news for you instead – a lot is happening in the Food Movement lately!
USDA Promotes Local Foods and Farming Campaign
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, announced a new campaign last week called, “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food.” They are giving out $65 million to help connect small famers with communities that want (and need) access to local foods. And I am thrilled by the part of the initiative that will help children connect where their food comes from and provide more local foods in school lunches. There will be farm-to-school tactical teams to assist school administers! This means that a movement that has been struggling for years will now receive a major boost from the United States government. The Obama administration deserves major kudos for making such headway in food and agriculture in less than one year. Very exciting!
New White House Farmer’s Market
The new White House Farmer’s Market was just christened by Michelle Obama. The Washington Post wrote a snarky article about it which I’m not linking to because I much prefer the eloquent and educational piece written by blogger, Obama Foodorama. Obama Foodorama discussed the crucial issues regarding food, families, kids, and local foods that Michelle Obama is bringing to the forefront of American politics. So many firsts: This is the first time that a First Lady and the USDA have forged a partnership – and she is also the “only First Lady to ever have a food policy agenda, a food policy team, and a Food Initiative Coordinator.” Read on to learn about how Michelle Obama is finding clever ways to improve our food system without ever stepping foot into Congress. She is truly a pioneer for the Food Movement.
Two Terrific, Short Videos to Promote Better School Lunches
The Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act is up for re-signing next week (though it’s not clear when it will actually be signed) so two marvelous videos were created to help promote stronger nutrition guidelines in school feeding programs. One is Lunch Encounters, a spoof of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and “Priceless,” a MasterCard parody. Check out the videos and learn more about what you can do to help improve school lunches for American children.