FPOP Event Recap – Cook 4 Health Demo & Apple Pusher’s CUMC Premiere!

April 17th 2012, FPOP hosted its 3rd Cook4Health healthy cooking demo in conjunction with a screening of the documentary, Apple Pushers. FPOP’s Cook4Health liaisons, Lisa Cole and Chris Philippou demonstrated how to create a delicious meal of Zucchini Spirals topped with Creamy Cashew Sauce or Zucchini Spirals and Mango Pico de Gallo. Both of these meals are completely vegan, raw, and use only whole, unprocessed ingredients. Lisa explained the health benefits that can be attained by eating foods in their raw state, such as, increased bioavailability of antioxidants like glutathione and the cancer fighting agent isothiocyanate. She also warned that following a 100% raw, vegan diet could lead to vitamin B12 deficiencies, since this is a vitamin only found in animal products. In addition, those who follow a raw food diet might miss out on beneficial compounds such as lycopene, which is actually absorbed more readily in foods subjected to simple cooking. Some foods, such as button mushrooms, should only be eaten when cooked, as in the raw state they contain a natural carcinogen. However, simple cooking breaks down this compound and button mushrooms are an excellent, delicious source of Vitamin D. Recipes and more detailed nutritional information about raw food diets can be found on below.

A screening of the newly released documentary, Apple Pushers, followed the cooking demo.  Apple Pushers told the story of 5 immigrants trying to get by in New York City. Each of the Apple Pushers had an entrepreneurial spirit and a desire to build a better life for themselves and their family than they had experienced in their home country. They found the opportunity to do so in the form on a New York City Green Cart. In 2008, Mayor Bloomberg signed into action local law 9, which established 1000 permits for Green Carts. Green Carts are mobile food vending entities that can only sell fresh fruits and vegetables. Local law 9 specifically allocated an increased proportion of Green Cart permits to underserved areas of NYC in which it is often difficult to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables. While the vendors face many challenges in setting up their business operations, once they become established, many have found that they can earn a good profit margin to support themselves and their families. In addition, many work in teams, thus supporting a greater number of newly immigrated workers. In addition to providing a business opportunity for immigrants and other entrepreneurs, Green Carts play a critical role in increasing access to healthy foods in underserved areas of New York City. Green carts are often located in food deserts in which access to healthy food is essentially nonexistent, while a plethora of junk food options abound. Increased availability of healthy food options in communities in which obesity and its comorbidities are overrepresented is an innovative way to reduce obesity rates in the current and future generations. Green carts are a particularly attractive solution to this problem, as it is an example of a health and social issue being solved with a free market solution.

Apple Pushers show us what can be done when effective policies serve to empower individuals at the community level – to help them provide for themselves and their families, while also providing a much-needed service (fresh, affordable fruits and veggies) to their underserved neighborhoods. FPOP supports local vendors and CSAs that bring fresh produce to underserved areas. Where do you get yours?

Special Thanks to Rebecca Lo, SGA Vice President, for her help with making the AV equipment available to FPOP, videotaping the demo and editing the video. We really appreciate it!

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