Charity Logo

Charity Logo

Charity of the Month


In December I am riding for Heifer International. Founded in 1944, Heifer International works with communities around the world to end hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth. Its approach is more than a handout. Heifer provides animals (e.g., heifers, goats, water buffalos, chickens, rabbits, fish, and bees) and training to impoverished people in over 30 countries. The animals can give milk, meat, or eggs; provide draft power; or form the basis of a small business. Communities make their own decisions about what crops, animals, and market strategies make sense for their everyday conditions and experiences.

Heifer International is based on 12 Cornerstones, such as Sustainability; Genuine Need and Justice; and Gender and Family Focus. Perhaps the best known Cornerstone is Passing on the Gift, in which Heifer recipient families pass on the offspring of their animals to others in need. In this way, whole communities can raise their standard of living.

A donation to Heifer International also can make a wonderful alternative holiday gift. Instead of yet another sweater for Grandma that she really doesn’t need, why not donate a Heifer animal or a share of an animal in her honor? Does your child really need so many new toys? Instead of five new toys, give him/her three new toys and a Heifer flock of chicks. Heifer has honor cards to let your loved ones know of your gift on their behalf.

I have set up a Team Heifer page to support Heifer International through A Year of Centuries. My goal is to raise $500. Please make your donation through If you would like more information about Heifer’s work, please visit Whether you give to honor a loved one or make a regular donation, thank you for taking steps to transform the world for the better.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sugar: Not So Sweet

Much advice – often conflicting – abounds about what comprises the healthiest diet.  Eat less fat!  No, eat fewer carbohydrates!  It can be hard to sort out.  In reality, the percentage of protein, carbohydrates, and fats in our diets might vary according to how active we are, whether we are trying to lose or gain weight, and how our individual bodies react to various nutrients.  The main thing that I see in common between valid dietary recommendations is that they advocate getting away from processed foods.  In particular, all of us can benefit from reducing the amount of refined sugar that we eat.

One unexpected change I’ve experienced since my crash is that I don’t have nearly the sweet tooth that I used to.  (Maybe that’s the one that was knocked out – ha.)  In the first few months after the crash, my body seemed to crave particularly healthy foods.  I think it knew what it needed, especially as I continued to train and race while my jawbone healed.  It’s not that I didn’t have a healthy diet before, but some things that previously I might have eaten became pretty unappealing.  For example, one day a coworker brought in a box of store-bought pastries, and it practically turned my stomach just to look at them.  Eventually, I quit having such visceral reactions.  However, because my desire for sweets really hasn’t returned, I’ve just kept riding that wave.

I used to make dessert fairly often for Robert and me, but we’ve developed a new habit.  Just about every evening after dinner, we have a cup of hot tea instead of dessert.  Sometimes our tea is an herbal variety that we drink straight.  Other times it’s a variety that I might doctor up with a little honey and cream, like Earl Grey.  Earl Grey is my favorite!   I told Robert that whenever I kick the bucket, he’ll know that I’m really gone if I don’t respond to an IV of Earl Grey tea.

And you know what?  I feel a lot better not eating so much sugar; I never feel bloated anymore, and my weight doesn’t fluctuate as much.  Not only that, I’ve become more and more convinced that sugar is toxic, at least in the quantities that Americans typically consume.

The cover story of the August 2013 issue of National Geographic featured sugar.  It was a fascinating article that described both sugar’s role in world history and its physical and mental effects on us humans.  We probably all learned in elementary school about the triangular trade of the eighteenth century.  European countries colonized the New World primarily to grow sugar.  Sugar then was shipped back to Europe for finished goods.  The finished goods were shipped to Africa for more slaves, who were sent across the Atlantic Ocean to grow more sugar.  It’s pretty sobering to realize that the slave trade came about largely to satisfy people’s craving for sugar.

Today, we Americans consume more sugar than ever.  More than 22 teaspoons of added sugar per day to be exact.  That’s 77 pounds per year, compared with 4 pounds per year for the average Englishman in 1700.  Much research has been conducted regarding the increased consumption of sugar and ever-increasing rates of diabetes and obesity.  One scientist made quite an interesting observation in the National Geographic article.  It’s not that we lie around on the sofa watching TV that causes us to eat lots of sugary food.  Because we eat lots of sugary food, our energy is zapped, and so we lie around on the sofa watching TV.  Food for thought…

No comments:

Post a Comment