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Peaches oh 🍑 peaches!

61ED0575-A0CD-4AD8-ACC2-0ED00F7C2AB8I’ve never met a peach I didn’t like. Can you tell the difference among white or yellow flesh type peaches, nectarines and other local varieties? I used to live in the southern U.S. “Peach State” Georgia which first got me thinking and making wonderful peach tart-pies. I also got to appreciate the rich character and identity of each place I’ve lived in. We often overlook symbols and sayings but these add value to our historical knowledge as well as likely contributing to our health literacy. Phrases like “how peachy” can be positive while saying “oh, peaches!” could be a softer more comical way to express one’s frustration. So yes, we sometimes use “fruit language” when we speak.

Not only are peaches an attractive looking fruit, they taste great, are low calorie and have necessary fiber and carbohydrates and vitamins, including potassium and Vitamins A through E to help us function better during our day — particularly good for our skin fighting against the stress of everyday pollution. Furthermore, peaches are supposedly good for those with high blood pressure but as with everything please eat in moderation…yes, if fresh peaches are not an option, eating canned peaches with strained Greek-style yogurt is a low calorie meal especially at the start of your day. If you can afford the extra calories try “peaches and cream”, another southern U.S. tradition which is especially delicious. I particularly like one variety which comes from the region of Naoussa in Northern Greece where it looks like a squished flat peach but it’s sweeter than other varieties.

Here’s a secret for a great peach tart — bake the crust for about 15 minutes before then add your peach mixture and if your peaches are tart just add some more brown sugar! Yummy…

 

 

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Waiting time, me first!?

Yesterday I was waiting in line at the bank as they had changed their system in the last five months so those in the que needed to have numbered tickets. Summer is also a time with a lot of ex-pats and visitors to countries who may have no idea of the way things are done or changes and indeed a new system could create several communication issues…

I happened to ask a question and one of the few employees (think cut-backs and vacation time so it was the so-called “skeleton crew”) and she had directed me to an odd looking stand with a digital button to receive a number for the que. There were primarily older people over 70 years, one whom I’ll call “Gus” and one mid-lifer (45-50 years) who sat down after me, started listening to music singing to himself whom I’ll call “Dick”.  What came to unfold was another case of personality traits up against digital – access literacy.

Gus was talking to me about the cuts in his social security and his disappointment with the current leadership and how he doesn’t see for the last three years any improvements. In fact, on a functional societal level it’s been the worst ever and the damage has been done for years to come despite these articles about Greece getting out of debt (well financially banks have gained and all Greek tax payers have been squeezed like no one can imagine since WWII!) a good one by Ms. Stamouli for the Wall Street Journal (link WSJ). Gus it turns out had not gotten a number for the que, so when the number changed Dick sprang up and in essence cut, even though he clearly saw the people waiting before him.

Gus: “Sir, sorry but it’s my turn in line” (Dick first ignored him, looking at the bank teller).

Dick: “Well this is my number”

This is where I had enough and said to Dick “please don’t tell me you didn’t see the people waiting here in front of you AND you see it’s obvious the man is older and likely didn’t know he had to get a ticket?” (no response just looking at us and the teller).

Bank que number

Waiting time 10 minutes on average

At this point, the teller was going to allow the older man to go in front, but Dick (true to his name) didn’t budge, so Gus just said “it’s ok…it’s obvious to me this man doesn’t have courtesy”. I got up gave Gus my ticket and got another one glaring at Dick. You guessed it, we waited until Dick was done, as I said to Gus loudly for Dick and others to hear “You see if you’re dealing the ‘me-first’ people there is no point in talking sense to them…” Gus agreed as did a woman next to me and of course we continued pleasantly to talk about a group, maybe even a newer generation of people who are oblivious to their surroundings most of the time including to those with special needs or elders, pregnant women, etc. there is such a need of mindfulness training!

Personality traits like narcissism, digital literacy, corporate and human communication….hmm….don’t even get me started about the tailgating and “me first” attitude on the roads!

 

Poverty lives among us

Many  of you may think you know what poverty looks like. But given what poverty levels are there substantial numbers of people in the world living it every day. You can see it, you can smell it, you can feel it, it is not so pleasant for you or for your daily living requirements.

When poverty exists, there are no street cleaners picking up after daily trash, not enough policemen to go around and do an adequate job, people’s ADL skills are so low that you often have to hold your nose from the stench in crowded public transport systems.

One day I saw an older man picking through trash from a dumpster in broad daylight in a more upper scale part of a city but I didn’t have time to ask him what he was looking for exactly — food, or other? I frequently see some people picking out aluminum cans for recycle money and sometimes to the dismay of local people living there (since they dump other trash on the ground and don’t pick it up) or to monetary loss of municipalities.

Another day I saw someone rummaging through my neighboring garbage bin so I asked – stated “are you looking for food? I’m sure the local fast food place or the church further down can help you out with that….” He looked at me saying in broken Greek (so I knew he was a migrant, and pretty well dressed guy who could look like any local!) “you know what I’m looking for? Clothes for my wife and kids”. So I told him where he could find stuff including the fact that we now recycle clothes in big red bins in many areas of Athens now! Then I thought to ask how many kids he had? He said FIVE. So I smiled saying “wow, you moved fast but hard to support all of them…most of us can’t make it with one or two!” The current poverty levels falling under “extreme poverty” are up to 15% according to survey sources in Greece.

How can we reach people in being more health literate about spacing children and general contraception information, being realistic about responsibilities and understanding that we now live in cities mostly not in farms, and talking more seriously about overpopulation as  many religious leaders still continue to preach about the “sin” of birth control and encourage population growth… really?

Let’s help people better manage themselves their homes and communities to not delve in poverty so that the upper “land lords” gain the wealth only. Share the wealth, live in and with integrity.

 

Jamming for Peace

Last weekend we jammed, heard amazing leaders talk about a range of topics from preventing nuclear proliferation,  super foods, social justice and health literacy, to rebuilding communities, by focusing on leadership and giving hope to young people. The Peace Jam is an annual event —started by an international effort for peace back in 1996 — with more than 39 countries active in participation, including Greece the last years with the group Eimai headed by Ellen Froustis at the steady helm.

A great chance to reconnect with Dr. Chris  Zarcadoolas, checkout her blog Public Linguist.  She gave insight about what is happening in health literacy and U.S. trends with e-health and technology, some communities’ access (and lack there of) to healthy food and obesity trends, the social media tidal wave, and questions of social equity and issues of trust.

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HAEC/HAUniv Student discusses about vandalistic tagging

A student from Hellenic American College/ Hellenic American University working on a pilot study with a team of students and their professor in a Global citizen class and showcased several images of various vandalistic style graffiti posed both questions and concerns for the event’s audience members to ponder over in a workshop —messages which their younger counterparts will definitely “take home” in better understanding tagging and how much money is needed for clean-up, or how vandalized road signs can negatively affect drivers.

Nobel Laureates actively support Peace Jam events as guiding beacons across the globe. Luckily we heard Nobel Laureate 1980, Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Argentinian Activist and Painter, share his lifelong lessons. He talked about the problem of foreign debt by comparing both Greece and Argentina as countries in crisis. He said,  “A democracy is constructed you cannot just give it, built from below. We are ALL responsible for bringing and building democracy…”  He talked about the importance of caring for our earth, maintaining hope especially for young people that there is “always some light ahead of us”. We must not despair but always move forward. Education helps us become free men and women.

April showers bring May flowers and..?

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We all know the quote “April showers bring May flowers” and indeed we are happy when all the rain subsides into beautiful rainbows and the blossoms of Spring.  I particularly liked this woman’s creation of Alice in Wonderland in MyFairyGardens.com. Alongside all the birds chirping their mating songs, our little insect friends (lady bugs, bees, ants) and perhaps “foes” (mosquitoes etc.) many people suffer from seasonal allergies that have some symptoms similar to colds do you know the difference?

How many are health literate about how insects pollinate and know that many are useful and needed for a healthy ecosystem? As a matter of fact big companies like Bayer-Monsanto may be taking insect reppellent “killer” chemicals too far ….some accusations of altering the genetic mix of mosquito and thus creating dangerous illness like the Zika virus.  I’ve been thinking of all those years of preparing for summer nights with harsh mosquito repellents only to find that there are more natural ways to help us and our children — as a matter of fact do people know we can easily plant both lavender and citronella plants to both attract bees and to repel unwelcome mosquitoes?

Many of us are educated about allergies but do we know to consult with professionals who can help us determine what we suffer from most and how over years this may change? Understanding how our immune system works and the basics of allergies like hay fever which may “look like a cold” is important health information, as also understanding and recognizing potential allergens (common food allergens are peanuts or shellfish, many people are allergic to bee stings), accessing necessary servies.  The last part is critical as we can potentially have life threatening reactions, some may need to always carry with them an Epi-pen or syrups/medicine like anti-histamines. Terms that enrich our fundamental literacy such as ‘allergen’ ‘intolerance’ or ‘sensitivity’ can help us better communicate with our healthcare providers or find relevant information on the internet, there is so much for us to know…. Mayo Clinic has a good basic description of the difference between a food allergy vs. food intolerance and generally good reputable sites are ones to look up in enhancing our own health literacy.

Come into May with a good healthy Spring attitude… you owe it to yourelf, your family, community to:

  • learn more about how to attract good insects and repel those not-so-friendly or good for our health ones
  • understand allergies (seasonal, food) and potential allergens to avoid
  • advocate for healthier ecosystems and responsible corporate practices