Sunday, March 19, 2017

The infamous 'O'

Let me start with my recent TwitterWar.
Nirmal Indian Curry Retweeted Joe Walsh
this is what I call 30% syndrome~read @WalshFreedom Poor also deserve quality of
life #obesity denies it @ypsireal
Nirmal Indian Curry added,
Joe WalshVerified account @WalshFreedom
Due to Philly's soda tax, Pepsi in Philly is laying people off. Such a shame the Left doesn't understand economics.
9:23 AM - 7 Mar 2017
Wow @WalshFreedom 200 K poor people in #Philly can die 15 yrs early due to #obesity that is nt a Shame but 100 people losing job is~30% synd
The background of these tweets starts in June 2016. Philadelphia became the 2nd city in the US to impose #Sodatax. Please read my earlier posts or at least 10% vs 30% vs 60%. There was a big fight put up by the soda companies and off course Mayor Bloomberg did his bit to stave off their challenge.
Fast forward 9 months. Due to #sodatax, there is almost 40% reduction in the soda consumption in the city and its suburbs and Pepsi Bottling plant there is laying off its 100 workers. I did mention in my post about the Union boss fearing such situation.
This tweet was from Mr Joe Walsh, a former Congressman. it talks about the ‘shame’ for left or so called liberals. I could not believe that people could be so ignorant or simply oblivious to their surroundings. I would tell you why.
Philly do have 70% overweight prevalence including 36% obesity rate as in the whole US. So just taking the city’s population of 1.5 million, 42% of them African-American and then knowing the obesity rate among African-American women being 56%, you would reach at almost 400 K people, not less, suffering from obesity. And if you know the obesity or overweight prevalence is precursor to majority of the health issues, you would agree that this is the reason why the US with 5% of the world population ends up eating 52% of the world medicines.
Besides that the obesity disturbs your day-to-day life as people spend more hours at the hospitals, lose job hours, or their kids lose their school hours or the quality time with their parent. And yes data after date points out that the obesity kills people 15-18 years early.
Then why 100 jobs for 100 people with 400 family members become more important than the well-being of 400 K people. Because they are poor or they are African-American. Or they deserve to live like this or die early. Why this becomes a left or right issue here? Like we are talking about our fellow human beings, not some aliens from other planets or our beloved pets. That shocks me to the core.
I don’t want to argue with anyone that Soda is bad for us humans in any form. See my earlier post - why #SodaFree restaurants. Whoever talks about the #FreedomOfPersonalChoice they are so ignorant. This freedom has led to more drug overdose deaths in the US than the guns or the motor accidents.
See we live in democracy and yes we should have freedom. But freedom must come with the full disclosure. Let the soda be marked with pH of 3 as it is most acidic drink. Let people know they can use it as a toilet cleaner too (normally has pH of 2) as demonstrated by Ramdev baba in India. Or it has Glycemic index of 90 as compared to 100 for Sugar. Let people know we should maintain 75:25 ratio for alkaline:acidic food. See here - .
If you go through this chart, you may agree that this is common sense, not the rocket science. Why you think we are fighting over the health care reform for almost 20 years now. Because we spend more time on finding health insurance than thinking about how to eat right or healthy. Because we worry more about jobs for 100 people than letting 400 K people live a miserable life.
But I recently understood where this is coming from. We transformed our cafe into a mission-first food vendor in 2013 and to fight obesity, overweight prevalence is our life-time mission. We lost 60% sales straightaway but I believe that our mission fits into our goal of making the first Indian food chain anywhere. So I always look to share our concept of and how it empowers each of us to take care of self, the community and the planet. We have got some recognition as we were ‘Space awardee’ at Motor City Match awards and then I got an interview at Michigan Business Network below-
Then we were contacted by @SaludToday in St Antonio, TX about our charter for #SodaFree #OnlyWholeWheat restaurants. Also our Twitter handle @NirmalCurry has 1800 followers with 15 millions secondary followers. If your tweets are liked by Ms Helen Clark, the UNDP administrator and the former prime minister of New Zealand, you may have some valid concept.
But I got jolts closer home. There were two events in Ypsilanti, MI where our Nirmal cafe is located. The first was Pitch Ypsi 5000 and 5 ventures were selected from 60 applications to present before the local audience. I have pitched all around in the South-East Michigan and I was confident to make it. But 5 selected were one theater group, one Microbrewery, one food vendor with Honduras connection and the winner was Grove Studios who create creative space by using the shipping containers. All worthy participants but no one talked about the health equality or eat right. Then I applied for TEDxYDL organized by the Ypsilanti library. There were 10 slots and all great speakers again here - .
But again no mention of health or obesity. That pushed me into introspection. I started thinking - do I know a single obese person? The answer was big No. Yes no one in my immediate family, friends or acquaintances are obese. The obesity rate among Indian Americans may be around 5% same as in India as we eat much less meat than other Asian Americans. So no surprise here. Is not 30% syndrome working here what I mention in my blog post. Like we don’t know any obese person or we are eating healthy, so we don’t accept that if obesity at all is a problem what we need to take care off. This is what I call ‘I am OK You are OK.’
I believe our concept has so much relevance as we believe that the health equality is the key to fight the income and educational inequality - other two components of the social inequality which we all love to talk about. Think of #ProteinProfile #SLowCarb or Glycemic index or the water foot-prints of food items, the HPP (high pressure pasteurization) we talk about, majority may be not aware of it or don’t care about it. Let me share HPP’s efficacy in reducing sodium in food or reducing food waste.
But Philly’s Soda tax proved one thing that if you go on harping about the same thing over and over again, people take notice of it. Or how you would explain 40% drop in the soda consumption. Like the tax is 1.5 cents per ounce, so a 2-liter (67 ounces) soda would cost $1 more. At the restaurants, it could be 10 cents rise for big one.
But let me share one thing if someone thinks this obesity or the life of these affected people don’t make impact on our lives. Yes it does. Our health insurance premium or health care costs are inching up day-by-day because we have so many unhealthy people to take care off. When they are not able to take care of children, these kids go on streets and then land up in the prisons all round the US. Again the US with 5 % of the world population has 25% of the world prisoners, all prisons run by our tax dollars.
We can do much better. We are done with the famous ‘O’ though I would miss the lady ‘O’ using the bully pulpit for the health related issues.

Its time to bring infamous ‘O’ at the front, back and center of our debate, no less.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Why #SodaFree #OnlyWholeWheat restaurants

Happy Valentines Day to everyone ! This day of universal love and compassion inspires us to do what we are doing with the same vigor and determination. It was Feb 16th 2015 when we made switch to #OnlyWholeWheat restaurant. Last year we shared 7 steps to #EatRight. This year we decided that 7 steps are too many, how about just 2 now.

Last week we have had a 2-star Yelp review about how Nirmal cafe in Ypsilanti, MI don’t have a Soda fountain and the water filter looks so awkward. She had other complaints too though not sure how much role the absence of soda fountain played in 2-star.  I don’t blame her because we may be the only #SodaFree restaurant in Michigan or even in the US. So when we transformed ourselves into Nirmal in 2013, a self-service cafe practicing ‘Disruptive Eating’ from a full service full Bar restaurant, first thing we did was to call Coke and asked to dismantle the soda fountain. But we continued to serve soda cans for the next 4-5 months as we wanted to go for smooth transition.

Before I dwell on why Soda free was our first agenda, I hereby mention that the lady with review admitted to our public response that she understands and appreciates our fight against obesity and how being #SodaFree makes sense. Only I wish she could have done it publicly.

Soda is bad for our health, period. Is there an adult anywhere who does not know? Kids know better than us but I am not including them here. I see big fight here for #SodaTax and how Philadelphia became the first big city to impose it in June 2016, only second city in the US after Berkley, CA. Does that surprise you? Me not. Like I come across people all the time who do not eat even potato, are not going to touch soda with a barge-pole. Then who drinks it? The low income populace or non-college educated ? The obesity and overweight prevalence is highest among the low income populace. Do you see a correlation?

In India too, there was a big fight against Cola companies and it was led by Baba Ramdev, who is credited with bringing Yoga to 200 millions or more people. Before him, Yoga was an elite thing almost same as in the US, he took it to all sections of society. He commands considerable political influence too in India. So he persuaded top Bollywood stars to not endorse Colas. Let me share one link below which and other similar links would give you an idea of anti-cola feeling in India.

Is the #SodaTax big enough to dent the cola companies here, NO? I don’t know how many of us would notice 10 cents rise in 2-liter Cola price. In Mexico, they are doing it for last 2-3 years with very little impact. One thing for sure, the Soda tax won’t do much to the damage what soda is inflicting on hapless people.

Let me share my take. Most of people know Soda is a sugary drink and we should avoid sugar or minimize its consumption. So Cola companies are smart and they offered Diet. But I don’t see mention of Soda being most acidic drink with pH of 2.5, no kidding. See the link below.

For us, discarding Soda was easy if you see our 2nd 75:25 rule - eat 75% alkaline and 25% acidic food. If you see the chart of alkaline vs acidic foods, you would find it no-brainer. These are the food items which take us to ‘Prevention is better than Cure’ mode.

But the majority of soda is still sugary with high glycemic index (GI) of 90-95. So when we see something sugary, we can’t control ourselves as it gives our blood sugar high spikes and instant satisfaction. Its another matter you feel again hungry in 2-3 hours and end up eating more junk foods in the form of chips and soda again.

So when we talk of ‘Disruptive Eating’ and how Indian Curry makes it easier and tastier as we eat more whole grain - whole wheat bread or Parboiled rice, lentils are our staple food, all these items have GI in the range of 25-50 which we should aim for. Zero GI of meat items is equally dangerous as it makes you fill your stomach physically not with blood sugar spikes and you end up eating far more specially meat.

So when people enter Nirmal cafe in Ypsilanti, MI, they don’t see a soda fountain, the first jolt. Then they see our menu, still soda is missing. But then they see plenty of other Indian drinks from Chai tea to Lassi (yogurt drink) to Cumin drink to fresh lemon water, you won’t find all these even at other Indian restaurants. Like lemon water would be the most alkaline drink to contrast with soda.But what we have done extra is to offer all these drinks including juices, 2% milk in 8 Oz for $1, same as soda drinks. Again may be few restaurant have such options. So if you don’t drink soda, you end up coughing up $2 for smoothies or other drinks. In our earlier fine dining avatar, we used to have 16 Oz mango lassi for $2.

But yes soda drinks may account for 10-15% of a restaurant’ sales and it has high margin of 80% as compared to 35-40% for food. Or other drinks may have 50% margin at most. So why restaurant owners would go for #SodaFree. 2-3 reasons I can think of.

  1. First, as a restaurant owner, we are serving the same community in which we live. We don’t get customers from Ohio or Grand rapids, MI at Nirmal. So if we know by serving soda, we are harming the innocents, that could be the major influencer.
  2. The City can do its own part. How about subsidizing the license fee for #SodaFree restaurants or the Utility providers like DTE giving 15%-20% off in their monthly bills or the local banks coming up with interest free loan to cushion the initial revenue loss.

#OnlyWholeWheat restaurant is equally important and it is easier to achieve. It does not entail any revenue loss on the part of restaurant. I do mention all the time in my blog posts why we should go for Whole wheat. The heart disease is No1 killer in the US and just switching to whole wheat reduces the heart disease risk by 20% as per the research of University of Washington and Harvard’s on the similar lines.

One more thing if you don’t know. Sugar or the white breads are used to calculate the Glycemic index (GI). Yes the white breads are that bad. We struggled a lot to discard the Naan white bread at Nirmal and it took us almost a year. Naan may be the most popular item in Indian cuisine and it is made in special oven called Tandoor. See our earlier post ‘Why whole wheat.’

Once majority of restaurants start serving only ‘whole wheat bread’, its price would go down. Or restaurants may keep option of white breads if someone asks. Because the whole wheat breads does not have much processing, hence it should be cheaper than the white breads which goes through whole lot of processing. But because majority of us don’t care about it, we pay more for healthy eating - whole wheat bread.  

Healthy people make a city great, not only jobs and businesses. We have long taken refuge in #FreedomOfPersonalChoice and the small governments. If 5% of world population would continue eating 52% of world medicines as we do here, basically we are letting more government in our life in the form of subsidy in the health insurance, or food stamps as our health does not permit a stable job or kids losing the school hours often resulting in the school closures here in Michigan.

All of us can do our part - ask your cities to promote such cafes and restaurants and you do it by discarding Soda and white breads at all costs. We owe this to our community, country, the planet and our future generations.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Detroit, our battle-ground

Detroit is on the comeback trail, no doubt. But we believe that the health equality is the key to fight the income and educational inequality - the 3 components of the social inequality. Specially it becomes more relevant for Detroit if you think of its 500 K out of 700 K populace living in the food desert. Michigan recently slipped from 8th to 15th among the fattest states in the nation. But we did not do anything as our combined obesity and overweight prevalence still hovers around 70%. Other states got fatter.

Our sole focus is to make people healthy and the healthy people make a city great not only jobs. The obesity kills the people 15-18 years early leave aside the impact on our day-to-day life in terms of lost job hours, kids missing schools and other normal activities.Though they are not on CDC's chart like the heart disease or Cancer. Please visit our websites at,  and the Twitter handle @NirmalCurry to know more about us and our concept.

It took us almost a year to devise 3 tools for #WarOnObesity in Detroit.

Our first tool for fight against the obesity and overweight is the packaged and HPPed curry in 8 oz ($3) and 16 oz ($5) which we plan to launch by Jan 2017. This would be a first HPPed Indian food anywhere in the world (patent pending). HPP is the high pressure pasteurization which does not use any preservative and keeps Curry good for 75-80 days in the refrigerator against 10 days for non-HPP curry. Indian food uses 200 seasonings ingredients out of 381 known so far and HPP keeps the original flavor of Curry intact. HPP can reduce the food waste at both ends - the grocers and the customers.

We plan to place our packaged curry into Save-a-lots, Dollar generals, Aldis, the local grocers and also Krogers, Meijers, the Whole Foods of the world. By using all type of stores we hope to catch the attention of our target low income and the non-college educated populace. We want to position Indian food as a tastier, cheaper and healthier alternative to the tacos, burgers and pizzas.  Indian food now is consumed by the middle-income and the college educated people, only 5% of the population. HPP enables us to reach out to the stores like Dollar Generals or Save-a-Lots as we can place our products with ‘pay as you sell’ option.  There are 3500 Indian restaurants all over the US and the packaged Indian food is now available at the Costcos, the Whole Foods, Meijers, Krogers, not at the local or low-cost stores.

These curry are not ready to eat meals and it comes with a recipe book. Or the patrons can go to our website to watch the videos how to use it. We want to promote the home cooking to make healthy eating (read more whole grain and less meat) more affordable. These curry are basically 'seasoning in liquid form.' and you can use it in so many ways. Once we launch our curry, we plan to do the cooking classes in the food desert localities in Detroit specially at the Church kitchens, the apartment complexes, the community halls to dispel myths about the Indian food. The biggest myth to dispel –Spices or any seasoning don't make food spicy (read Hot), the Chili does like in any other cuisine. 

Our idea is 'Disruptive Eating' and we want to disrupt the way people eat or drink now. USDA does recommend about almost 1/3rd of calories coming from the grain (6 ounces) and 50% of that grain should be whole grain. On the average, people here are not eating even 15% whole grain on average and I can suspect the low income people may be eating much less. In Asian or Indian diet, we get 50% calories from the grain (USDA also does recommend getting around 50% calories from Carb) and eating parboiled rice or whole wheat bread could not be so bad as it made out to be. Like for Asians here in US have the obesity rate of 12% against 36% for the general population and the Asians are the highest income group in the US.

One example of our ideal meal. For a family of 4 including 2 kids - 2 lbs of parboiled rice ($2), 2 cans of kidney beans, 15 Oz each ($2) mixed with 16 Oz of our Curry ($5) - the complete meal for lunch or dinner with requisite protein- total $9 for whole family, it is less than 2 toppings 2 large sized pizzas in $15 for lunch or dinner. Our option is much healthier, tastier and cheaper. Tastier is much important component as normally we want to substitute the meat options with the baked vegetables, soups or salads. And that is not working. Once people start eating whole grain, naturally they would eat less meat. Also the grain is the cheapest source of calories and the plant proteins like lentils, legumes, tofu, nutri-gget (both made from soyabean) are the cheapest source of protein. Detroit with 500K food insecure people out of 700K population needs cheaper options.

The second tool is the brick and mortar restaurant which we have at Ypsilanti now and we want to locate one at Detroit. We are the ‘Space Awardee’ at Motor City Match awards in round 4 and Brightmoor Nirmal would be our first real ‘Nirmal.’  Two things we want to demonstrate at our cafe. Our flagship item Food Box in $5 with 5 items proves that Indian food is not elite and second the direct messaging. Nirmal may be only restaurant now in Michigan with #SodaFree and #OnlyWholeWheat items and our principle is simple - we need to restrict access to bad food along with the access to the healthy food. The choice of personal freedom has become the freedom to let people suffer.

Cities can promote such restaurants by not charging the food license fees, or the utility companies like DTE giving 50% off or the local banks giving interest free loans. If we want to make a healthy community, everyone needs to pitch in. Soda companies are tough nut to crack as Philadelphia became only 2nd city in the US to impose #SodaTax recently. Also #SodaTax may be good first step but its impact is minimal as evident from Mexico’s example. #SodaFree is about individual restaurant owners and we don’t think majority of us won’t prefer to serve unhealthy items like Soda, the most acidic drink, to our fellow community members. See link ~ .

A ‘Checkers’ restaurant opened last week just across the road from Nirmal in Ypsilanti. There were long line of cars almost whole day for the first 3-4 days. I was kind of bemused like we have Wendy, McDonald, Burger King on the same road within 500 meters. I got my Checkers burgers too eventually after a week. Definitely they are less costly than others but one thing bothered me again – they don’t even ask for whole wheat bread option, same as others. How many of us know:

1.     Just switching to Whole wheat bread reduces the risk of heart disease by 20% and Heart disease is No 1 killer here
2.     Or one whole wheat bread is equal to 8 white breads
3.     Or white breads like sugar are used for measurement of the glycemic index (GI)
4.     Or Parboiled rice is better than Brown rice, read my earlier post, Slow Carb vs Low Carb

See link here ~ and read ‘Why whole wheat’ at our website.                       

We have huge information gap and Nirmal café may be effective to bridge that gap in conjunction with the city officials, the community leaders and other stake-holders.

The third tool for #WarOnObesity is our unique mobile App. The users can earn the points for eating healthy which could be converted into the discounts for buying Nirmal curry and the healthy items from the participating vendors. This would be only App which would monitor how much grain/whole grain you are eating, how much protein from which source not only calories. It would award bonus points for the home cooking or skipping soda or meat for a day. We want to give people a purpose to #EatRight and to be a part of the fight against the global warming, the poverty and the hunger.

Our aim is simple. To reduce the fatness index (prevalence of obesity and overweight) by 25% in Detroit by 2020. Once we have proof of concept in Detroit, then we can venture for our regional and national expansion. But we need lot of resources and the support from everyone to pull this off. This has potential to reduce the health care costs drastically.

We are honored to be short-listed as a participating venture at ACE (Annual Collaboration of Entrepreneurs) 2017 on 26th Jan 2017. We are only food vendor among 25 ventures selected but our impact is far reaching and goes much further. We need your votes at ACE to bring 3 things at the center stage in Michigan – the fight against obesity, HPP and the Indian food – exactly in the same order. Are you in?

Thursday, September 22, 2016

SLow Carb vs Low Carb

It all started at our Nirmal cafe in Ypsilanti, MI. If you happen to be in the South-east Michigan and come to our cafe’s own parking lot, you would get a jolt with slogans on the windows, not typical for any restaurant leave aside ethnic food joints. ‘Eat Healthy Drink Healthy’ or ‘Pure Michigan Pure Food, Nirmal =Pure would greet you at the outside. ‘Nirmal’ does mean ‘pure’ in our mother tongue Hindi. Once you enter inside, the first poster to greet you is ‘Know Your BMI’ and then ‘why whole wheat’ or ‘Meat for Protein?’ or why eat lentils, like all components of ‘disruptive eating’ which we practice and promote aggressively. We do proclaim ourselves as a mission-first food vendor and our mission is to defeat this monster of obesity and overweight prevalence fair and square.
Let us get back to the main story.

An old lady of around 65 years of age, white and well-educated inquires about our flagship item -Food Box 555 -5 items for $5 in 5 minutes - only fast and ready food at Nirmal. Food box contains total 24 Oz of food - 8 Oz of parboiled rice, 3 Oz of whole wheat bread, two entrees of 5 Oz each out of 3 choices of the legumes, vegetables and chicken and 3 Oz of fruit. Complete meal with the requisite protein and far tastier and nutritious than the tacos, burgers and pizzas in the same price. Parboiled rice is 80% nutritionally similar to Brown rice, so the Food box has around 50% of whole grain. When we talk about the slow carb, Parboiled rice is better choice as it has glycemic index of 38-40 as compared to 55-60 for Brown rice.

This lady calls me and ask - do you really think Food box is healthy with so much carb? Honestly I was taken aback as our whole concept of ‘disruptive eating’ revolves around Indian food read Curry and our style of eating. More whole grain, More plant proteins, More vegetables and much less meat and it is not we do it deliberately. Anyway I simply blurted out - Yes it is. If not then India and China would be the fattest nations on Earth which we are not. Like the obesity and overweight prevalence in Asian countries are much less than that of  US or the Mediterranean countries eating the Mediterranean food considered the healthiest here in US. And if you are thinking the low rate of obesity may be due to the poverty, then yes the obesity rate for Asians in the US is 12% as compared to 36% for the general population and the Asians are the highest income group here.

But this incident was blessing in disguise as it opened a new window for our thought process. It actually helped us to redefine the tools for Disruptive Eating. The low income populace is disproportionately affected by this menace of obesity and overweight but the whole food system is kind of rigged for the low income populace. I would explain how?

First thing first, USDA guidelines do recommend getting 45% to 65% of daily calories from the Carb. Also around 33% calories from the grains (for 2000 calories diet), half of which should be the whole grain. Majority eat 15% of recommended whole grains and 40% does not eat at all the whole grain. I don’t see how and why the Carb is declared as a villain for obesity and overweight prevalence.

I would put Carb into 3 categories -

1. Slow carb - any food item with low glycemic index (GI) like the whole grains, lentils, other legumes

2. Fast carb - any food item with high glycemic index like white rice, white bread and any sugary item. The reference point for GI is sugar with GI of 100.

3. Zero Carb/Low Carb - All meats are zero Carb and most of the vegetables and fruits would be considered the low carb.

So let me start with the Fast Carb which I do equate with 'trash' as it is harmful for us. Foods with high glycemic index breaks into the sugar very fast giving blood sugar spikes and a sense of fulfillment quickly. So you eat less and as soon these spikes subside, you again feel hungry say within a hour or two. As we do lunch and dinner once a day, we go for the junk foods and soda to satiate our hunger. Again these are also Fast Carb and we get into a vicious circle.

We must discard Fast Carb, I would agree at least for the main meals. But the substitute is not the low carb or zero carb. I would share my struggle. When I first came to the US for my education, we used to have welcome lunch or dinner or food at the official get-together. The spread of the food in the sit-in buffet  used to be quite fabulous with one beef item, one pork item, one chicken item, then baked vegetables (read broccoli), sandwich breads and some rice too. Its another matter that majority of Indians don't eat beef or pork due to religious beliefs, Broccoli I was not familiar with then and the sandwich breads I assumed you can eat for only morning breakfasts as is done in my family. So I was left with only chicken and some rice because if all persons ahead of you taking only 2 spoons of rice, you can't take 10 spoons and just disrupt the whole line. Here I am with almost 2-3 patties of chicken (almost 30 Oz) and still not feeling full. My savior was the cookies or Ice cream as dessert. But it was double whammy. With all due respect to the Vegans or Vegetarians, I can't sustain myself on the salads or the baked vegetables though at home I eat meat only 3-4 times out of 14 full meals a week. But that credit goes to Curry. But then Curry makes 42% of India's population vegetarian as compared to only  10% of population being vegetarian in the US and only 5% in China.

First you end up eating more meat as they are zero carb and they don't give you any sugar spikes to give you sense of fulfillment, so you go on filling your stomach physically. Meat has more fats and saturated fats than the plant proteins like legumes or tofu, nutri-gget or the vegetables, so you are eating more fats. And then because we need these blood sugar spikes at the end, you go for the pure sugary items, not good for health.

Now talk about the 'Slow Carb.' Our Food Box is the perfect example. Out of 24 Oz, you get 11 Oz of whole grain, slow carb, if you take legumes and vegetables as entrees, both slow carb or Chicken, the zero carb item. The side of fruit or salted yogurt is also slow carb. All 5 items in $5. You eat Food Box and it keeps you full for 5-6 hours. No need to spend money and time on eating junk foods and soda. This is what our patrons tell us so many times.

Any food items with GI around 50 would qualify as Slow Carb as these items breaks slowly to give you blood sugar spikes, a sense of fulfillment. So you eat your full meal and for the next 5-6 hours you are all set. Compare this with Big Mac, also almost 24 Oz in total with the white breads and beef patty and priced at $5-6 if you include soda as people do usually. It won't keep you full for even a hour or two because you are eating a combination of fast and zero carb.

But when I say that our food system is rigged because the whole wheat bread costs more than the white breads. Whereas it should be 50% cheaper. Brown rice is costlier than white rice. Very few of us know about the Parboiled rice which is better 'Slow Carb' than the Brown rice.

#EatingHealthyCheaper is in our hands. The day we start asking the restaurants to serve Parboiled rice and the whole wheat breads, they would follow suit. Then the grocers like Sam's club and GFS would start selling Parboiled rice and whole wheat flour which they don't do now.

Let us make this a movement and join us at Twitter @NirmalCurry and Facebook and Instagram (Nirmal Indian Cuisine). I am ready to debate with all proponents of 'Low Carb' because it may be good for people with the higher income, not for the majority here. And yes Indian food is all about the Slow food and the SLow carb.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Prevention is always better than Cure

#PokemonGo became the most succesful app ever in the US within 2 weeks of its launch this month. But what was so unique about it? Like #Pokemon has been around for a while may be 20 years or so. For the first time, the gamers were forced out of their couches and wander around to catch the pokemons. Some hailed it as a kind of fitness app which can tranform the health profile of the US. Almost 70% of the US populace are overwiehgt and 36% of them are obese, inching up last year from 33%. But what is most disheartening is majority don’t think we can reverse this trend as evident from this line in the global obesity report published on April 1st 2016~
What chance does the United States have to stop the rise of obesity by 2025? Zero, the study says.
This app gives us hope. It demonstrates people want to come out of their couch potato status but they need some purpose, in this case catching the pokemons all around. But our case is not as simplistic as we intend or desire to be. Off course we believe #DisruptiveEating gives very high purpose to each of us to make the world or our planet a better place. And we tell people Indian food is key to #DisruptiveEating. But 2 things make our job more difficult - first one is natural as the eating habit after some point is not easy to change. Second is the myth about Indian food.
But first thing first. if 5% of the world population here in the US keep a semblance of health after consuming 52% of the world medicines, something is amiss. Please read my earlier posts. How your bad health or health with the medicines impact you and your family  the income and the educational opportunities. Which in turn may be not let you to come out of abyss of paycheck to paycheck or paycheck to the food stamps life. Health equality is the key to fight the income and educational inequality, not the other way round- 3 components of the social inequality. But as things stand today, there is lot of talk about income and educational inequality but just a lip-service here and there for the health equality. Do you wonder why there is the dietary guidelines by DPHP (Disease prevention & health promotion) once in 5 years? Like given the pace of change in this internet age, you won’t remember what happened in the world or your life 5 years back. See here ~ .
Like first time it says sodium intake should be limited to 2300 mg daily. We get most of sodium from the salt and various preservatives in all type of processed foods. We all know that excess salt and sugar is bad so why we need to wait for 5 years to hear it. I am happy that at least dietary guidelines are related to ‘disease prevention.’ This is what we vouch for when we talk about first 75:25 rule. 75% of our health issues owe its origins to our unhealthy life style and 75% of life style depends on what we eat or drink.
June 2016 could be a watershed month for us as we decided to project  ‘Indian cuisine’ as a key to challenge the status quo going on for too long and people not having many options to change. Take our second 75:25 rule. We ask you to try to stick to 75% alkaline food and 25% acidic food. See the chart here ~ . And you would instantly say that its most logical thing you came across. All vegetables and fruits are in alkaline category. No prize for guessing the sodas, beef and pork are in the most acidic category.  So why Indian food can make it easier for you? Indian food revolves around onions, tomato, garlic, ginger, plethora of spices like turmeric, cumin and coriander and all are in alkaline category. Lentils and goat meat are the staple food items in India and lentils are alkaline. The goat meat could be the least acidic meat in the sense that the goat milk and the goat cheese are only alkaline dairy products. Kind of inference here. Our Mother’s curry has Ph of 6.4, very low acidic as water has Ph of 7, perfect neutral. We call it Mother’s curry (onions based) because we use it at home daily and almost in all foods. Let me admit Makhani and Tikka Masala curry are the most popular items in the US and both are based on the tomato sauce. We may eat tomato based food once a week at home if not more.
I always hear from the people they can’t eat Indian food as it is too ‘Spicy.’ And that is kind of biggest misnomer.  Indian food uses plenty of spices but it is not Spicy. People equate ‘hotness’ of food with spiciness. Hotness come from Chili as in other cuisines like Mexican, Thai too which could be easily controlled. Like you can order your food as mild or medium, hot or extra hot. Our flagship item of Food Box_555 ($5 for 5 items in 5 minutes) has all mild entrees because that is only ready or fast food at Nirmal cafe. All spices are good for health in one way or other but yes it may take some time for your taste buds or bowel to adjust. And the spices are not Hot, Hot. But eating is believing.
But we would make it easier for you to believe once we launch our packaged curry in the local grocery stores this Fall. You can find the bottled curry or mostly entrees in the Whole Foods or the Costco which are beyond reach of 60%. Please read my previous post. So say once you buy a 8 Oz bottle of Mother’s curry in $4, you can use it as spread for your burgers, dressings for your salad or as barbeque sauce or mix it with lentils you cook at home to cook vegetables, chicken ot any other meat as per your choice. Basically it would democratize the Indian cuisine now considered elite. And perhaps that could be the best way to get used to Indian food.
And why this is important for us? Because we want to wean people away from the fast food. We are convinced beyond doubt that if we have to succeed in our mission to contain the obesity or overweight prevalence here, people have to turn to the slow food here. And Indian curry is the slowest, tastier, cheapest and the most healthy food around.
I remember one patron cautioning us about how our claims could be construed as a cure for the obesity or overweight? But here is the deal. We are out and out Prevention mode flag bearer unlike the weight loss clinics or the diet shops or the fitness centers. We say if people here eat Indian food frequently or get used to Curry, we can control the obesity or overweight menace here. And I have so many data to support our claims. Like India has 500 million vegetarians, 42% of its population whereas US has only 10% and China has 5% just for comparison with most popular ethnic cuisine. And the credit goes to Curry or our eating style. We believe that excess meat consumption is central to this meance and that we need to curtail it drastically. I am not yet factoring in the global warming debate yet. Compare this data - India’s  meat consumption per person per day is only 13 gms as compared to 330 gms for US, 220 gms for Europe and 160 gms for China. Like even if we Indians eat meat, it is not our main food. While growing up in India I used to have meat item once a week on Sundays. Off course here in the US we do eat meat now 3-4 times a week.
And we were not poor in India. That is often cited as a reason by the experts whenever I mention India having overweight prevalence of 20% only or the obesity rate of 6% compared to US’s 70% and 36% respectively. See the income level does play some part here but not the main part. If so then how you can justify the obesity rate of 12% among Asian Americans in the US which include Indians given that Asian Americans have the highest income level among all groups here including the whites. I am confident if the obesity data is for only Indian Americans, it would be below 10% as we eat far less meat than other Asians here though our eating styles - eating more grain, vegetables and eating more at home- are similar. The last one is very important to our all data.
Majority of Indians in India may eat outside once or twice a month. Here my family eat outside once a week thanks to our kids as we get to try so many different cuisines. So if you are eating Indian food once a week indulging in the buffet or creamy, oily items offered at the majority of Indian restaurants, these data are not relevant. Because for example, the buffet is not at all healthy eating. Not only one ends up eating more meat if you are non-vegetarian, majority end up over-eating. And this is what I have seen first hand at Temptations, our earlier avatar.  It could be relevant only when you cook and eat Indian food regularly at home or try to eat better at the Indian restaurants, doable due to the flexibility of curry.
When we ask you to eat Indian Curry, our hidden focus is to reduce the meat consumption here. But we are not telling you straight. We don’t have to as our mission to fight obesity is intertwined with less meat consumption. Recently I came across PETA’s announcement for $10000 award for a butcher shop in Kalamazoo, MI if they convert to a vegan shop after a fire ravaged their original store.        .
I liked such approach. Majority here care for the animals as the US has the highest per person pet animals. But read my post - Is Veganism the anti-dote to vegetarianism? The compassion for animals and the meat consumption are two separate things. First, we have to provide the substitutes for the meat and Indian cuisine has plenty.  I hereby ask PETA to start supporting Indian cuisine in the sense that let people first go for #meatless eating and then let them decide to go #meatfree or even VEGAN. See even if you don’t care for global warming or the climate change, the meat consumption as of today is not sustainable. Like 64% of the agriculture land is used for the animals’ feed. How you think we would be able to feed 9 billion people by 2050?
This week I did watch DNC for the first time. Politics is not my cup of tea but from June 2016 we decided to be a part as the politicians have played a major role to sustain this status quo as evident from the soda tax episode in Philadelphia. I admire Mr Michael Bloomberg, one man army for the prevention mode. He continues to pick-up fight everywhere for everything. I always wonder why he can’t support the cities if they agree to make the restaurants in the city Soda free. Like we may be the only restaurant out of 1500 or so in the Washtenaw county who does not offer any soda drink in the menu. The patrons go for other options, majority for the water. At least I am not aware if we lost some patrons for that. But yes the sodas are the most profitable item in a restaurant with almost 300% margin, other items may have 30-40% margins. City can always give some incentives to the soda-free restaurants in the form of 50% reduction in the food  license fees or the local banks giving loans at the reduced rates. Like all of us live in the same community and a health community would be cost effective if we factor in terms of lost man-hours or higher insurance premium due to the bad health. Two things are relevant here. First, the soda-free restaurants would be far more effective than the soda tax. Second, the water becomes the prominent drink, a neutral drink and a free option, so relevant for both 75:25 rules.

Similarly the heart related disease is No 1 killer in the US. We know that simply switching to whole wheat bread can reduce this risk by 20% as per research of University of Washington and similar study by Harvard. Please see our website blog 'Why whole wheat bread.' We also know the majority of restaurants here don't serve whole wheat bread as the Sam's club and GFS, two biggest suppliers for the restaurants, don't even carry whole wheat or grain flour. Then why not the cities can goad or give restaurants incentives to serve only whole wheat bread. We proved at Nirmal that the food exclusion works. We only serve whole wheat bread called Roti at Nirmal whereas Naan white bread is synonymous with Indian cuisine here in the US.

I can here murmur of 'Freedom of Personal Choice' or 'are we slaves' all around which I did take on in my earlier posts. It is all about 'Freedom to let People Suffer' and trust me majority belong to 60% of 10:30:60.
Have you heard - Honesty is the best policy only if majority are honest? Same here - Prevention would work only when the majority start practicing it, not wait for the cure.