LOS ANGELES FUN [ON A BUDGET] WITH KIDS
FISHING: If you’re looking for some activities to hang on to a short attention span, the LA River may be the answer. Although parts of the river are just dry concrete, there is water to be found. Lake Balboa is seasonally stocked with trout and large mouth bass. A little further down the Golden State Freeway you’ll find the Glendale Narrows where kids can fish for carp, tilapia and catfish in the summer. Anyone over 16 will need to grab a license at a local sporting good store.
BIKING & HIKING: The LA River is also a great place to roll or walk through. Quite a few parks have emerged on the banks of the river. One, Marsh Park, offers interactive events for kids including evening camp fires that, of course, include marshmallow roasting and sing alongs.
MUSEUMS: Many Los Angeles area museums offer free days once a month. The La Brea Tar Pits, The Skirball and the Autry National Center are just a few. Many are free on a certain day, others require free tickets in advance. Be sure to check online before heading out. Most free deals are daytime events, but the Kidspace Children’s Museum offers free evening hours once a month.
PARKS: From Malibu to Pasadena the Los Angeles area boasts some of the most amazing, free play parks in the country. Malibu Bluffs is an ocean-themed playground with a view of the Pacific. It is well-maintained, has clean restrooms and a community center. In Pasadena I urge you visit Reese’s Retreat inside Brookside Park. This is the place we can all play Captain Jack Sparrow for a day. With canons, sails and a padded ocean floor, kids can run, play and engage their imagination. The space also features all kinds of swings and slides for all ages, as well as a cool sand and water area. A change of clothes might be a good idea; small price to pay for this kind of fun. Shane’s Inspiration in Los Feliz was the first universally accessible playground on the west coast. Kids of all abilities can have a chance to play together. This is a space that sparks the imagination and energizes body and soul. Shane’s boasts an airplane cockpit, train, rocket ship and old-fashioned monkey bars. Tucked into Griffith Park, you’ll find your family in a perfect location for more to do with the day. This park is steps away from the Observatory, Travel Town, Old Zoo Grounds, the Autry Museum and more. If you plan to spend some funds, the LA Zoo, Carousel and Pony Rides are all here for your enjoyment. Further south on the PCH, you won’t want to miss Glen Alla in Marina Del Ray or Polliwog Park in Manhattan Beach. With gas money and picnic sandwiches you could keep the kids busy all day.The Question Isn’t: ARE YOU EATING PESTICIDES?
The Question IS: WHAT AMOUNT OF PESTICIDES ARE YOU EATING?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is in charge of deciding how much pesticide residue is allowable in the food we eat. Among environmentalists, there is a huge cry today against Monsanto, the makers of Roundup pesticides and other products, because of the widespread use of their pesticides in farming. Just this year, in July of 2013, the EPA made a decision to increase the allowable residue of glyphosate by 200%. The controversial herbicide and active ingredient in Monsanto’s Round Up already found in many of the fruits and vegetables that you eat.
Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum systemic herbicide. It is used to kill weeds, especially broadleaf weeds and grasses known to compete with commercial crops.
In an article for Global Research California, Professor Don Huber warned “ignoring potential non-target detrimental side effects of any chemical, especially used as heavily as glyphosate, may have dire consequences for agriculture such as rendering soils infertile, crops non-productive, and plants less nutritious. To do otherwise might well compromise not only agricultural sustainability, but also the health and well-being of animals and humans.”
The recent decision by the EPA gives more reason than ever to lean toward organic choices at the market. Although the prices are higher and there are plenty of other health hazards in the foods we eat, I believe organic is still the best choice.ORGANIC OR NOT? NATURAL OR NOT? THOSE ARE THE QUESTIONS.
Many of us think we’re making healthy decisions at the grocery store. We may actually be uninformed, or misinformed, on the actual meaning of common terms used on labels. My produce choices would be from the organic section, believing that they are pesticide-free. That would be a mistake.
Although organic foods are not necessarily pesticide-free, the substances used are more natural in origin such as soaps, lime sulfur or hydrogen peroxide. To label a product “organic” there are limits to the natural substances that can be used as pesticides in their production. For instance, natural chemicals like arsenic, strychnine and tobacco dust (nicotine sulfate) are prohibited. Aside from tobacco, you may wonder why these “chemicals” would be considered natural. Arsenic is found in many minerals, usually in conjunction with sulfur and metals, and also as a pure elemental crystal. Strychnine is most commonly found in the seeds of the Strychnos nux-vomica tree. Because these items are grown or formed, and not manufactured, they are considered natural.
Other terms commonly used on US food labels can be much more confusing. I believed the term “free-range” to have some connotation to organic, as in eggs. But, after some research, I found that the term only means that the animal was allowed to roam for food and was not consistently penned. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does little or nothing to regulate those claiming to raise free-range animals. There is no limit to the amount of time or space that any animal is allowed to roam in search of food.
There is also very little regulation on the term “natural” when used on meat or poultry labels. The FDA regulations do state that the products can contain no artificial ingredients or added color. On the other hand, the regulations further state that the product may be “minimally” processed. Hence, not natural, by my definition.
Another extremely common ingredient on so many labels is “natural flavorings.” I was warned quite some time ago by a nutritionist that natural flavorings were not natural. After my own investigation I found that the official government definition is, “the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional,” 21CFR101.22. Quite a confusing explanation. Just keep in mind that both artificial and natural flavors are made by “flavorists” in a laboratory by blending either “natural” chemicals to create “natural flavorings” or “synthetic” chemicals to create artificial flavorings.
Attempting to eat right, or feed our children healthy foods, seems to becoming more and more difficult. Reading labels and understanding them is essential.THE BENEFITS OF EXERCISE: YOU HAVEN'T FIGURED IT OUT YET?
First and most noticeable, exercise controls your weight. Excess weight of just a few pounds may be just a nuisance, or a danger. Any excess weight can effect your health, but the more you carry, the more dangerous it can be. Excess pounds are scientifically proven to increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and certain cancers. Other studies show the increased risk of gout and gallstones. Regular exercise, at least 30 minutes a day is proven to decrease these risk factors greatly, while improving your overall self image.
Exercise has also been shown to decrease stress levels. Research has proven repeatedly that people involved in regular physical activity suffer less from anxiety and depression. Some research is being done regarding links between exercise and chemicals in the brain. It has been known for quite some time that endorphins, happy hormones, are released during physical activity. Other chemical reactions are being studied that are associated with stress, anxiety, and depression. Many psychologists believe the exercise decreased the symptoms of depression and anxiety by strengthening the body's ability to respond to stress.
Exercise has also been found to boost energy levels, affect sleep patterns positively and even affect sexual enjoyment. There are no studies that have been publicized that a sedentary life style is healthier than an active one. Any way you look at it, moving is better than sitting. If necessary, take it slow. Find something you enjoy. Start with a short walk then increase the distance and the difficulty of the terrain. Dig your bike out of the spider webs or by a used one online. The important thing is to start moving and don’t stop.
If you have not been exercising regularly, then it would be advisable to seek medical advice before starting an exercise program, especially for the sick or overweight individual.