About Elisa

I am a journalist and online organizer who is the co-publisher of this blog. When I am not online, I am shuttling around my two kids, an 8-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter.

Why This Latina Mom Supports Measure D in Berkeley

What’s up?

What candidate or ballot measure are you most passionate about in your city or state? With the elections quickly coming up, I find myself most involved with the “Yes on Measure D” campaign here in Berkeley, which if it passes, would be the first soda tax in the country.

As someone who has witnessed the toll that type 2 diabetes and heart disease can take on a family and the healthcare system– and in my family, there is definitely a link to a lot of soda consumption! — it’s an issue near and dear to my heart. Yes, we need to build more parks, bike lanes and address food deserts. But we also must hold junk food and junky beverage marketers accountable, too. Something is wrong when soda is the default drink in a children’s menu. Something is wrong when the soda industry is allowed to target our kids through cartoons, video games and their favorite celebrities. Imagine if Beyonc√© were the Marlboro spokeswoman? We have thankfully stigmatized cigarettes enough that no celebrity would touch that, and yet, it’s still acceptable to make caffeinated and sugary beverages appealing and as readily accessible as possible to children!

This past weekend I attended an event sponsored by the Berkeley Ecology Center — they’re the folks who brought to us our farmers’ markets and our nation’s first recycling program — on the soda tax in Mexico. Mexico is facing a crisis, in which after the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the importation of U.S. corporations such as Coca Cola Company, its people are abandoning the healthier traditional diet in droves for processed foods and soda. This super market display of sodas beneath bananas blew me away:

After years of repeated warnings by the country’s healthcare officials — and being rebuffed by the soda industry’s millions of dollars in lobbying efforts — international non-government agencies became involved to help pass a 10% soda tax in the country.

While healthcare officials say there is much work to do to curb Mexico’s appetite for artificially sweetened beverages, it has raised $500 million for the country and there has been a 10% decline in soda consumption. Campaigns such as the one below asking parents — “Would you give your child 12 teaspoons of sugar?” — have helped inform the public as to how much sugar a soda actually has, and no, your kids don’t need soda to live.

“The health costs (related to type 2 diabetes) alone was collapsing the health care industry,” said Rebecca L. Berner, Director of El Poder del Consumidor.

I left the event inspired and will probably make my way to the “Yes on D” office in downtown Berkeley to do some phone banking. Berkeley is an outdoorsy, healthy city, but I hope that this initiative serves as an example for the rest of the country — very much like our recycling program and farmers’ markets!

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?

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Friday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

The only news story that piqued my interest yesterday was that of Attorney General Eric Holder’s resignation. Personally, I was grateful to see him devote his public service to the pressing civil rights issues of our time: gay rights; immigrant rights; prison sentencing reform, which disproportionately impacts people of color; investigations into injustices such as the lack of accountability in Michael Brown’s shooting death in Missouri; and legal challenges to the gutting of key provisions of the Voting Rights Act. I’m sad to see him go, but understand that a post at the White House is not the most family or human-friendly of jobs.

In better news: Amazing Race is back up tonight. (Yay!) I’ll be preparing a healthy “snack-like” food spread and watching with the family.

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?

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Monday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

I did it! I completed one of my life goals and finished a sprint triathlon in 1 hour 49 minutes.

I am so glad I took the plunge. Originally, I was reluctant to sign up for a number of years because I didn’t know how to swim. My form the day of the race was still terrible, but it didn’t prevent me from finishing a quarter mile swim on my own in 18 minutes! (I thought I was out there much longer than that — lol!)

They broke us up by ages, and initially, I was disappointed at how far behind I had fallen in the swim. But my spirits picked up when I started passing people I had started the swim with on the bike! I really do love cycling, and lately I haven’t had time to train on the bike — just tool around town.

I feel great. I made it in time for Ari’s soccer game, and when we got home I took a nap. Completing a life goal, family, rest — it doesn’t get better than that!

How are you? What’s on your mind today?

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Friday Morning Open Thread

What’s up? This is what I’m up to on Sunday:

Doing a triathlon — in this case, a “sprint” that includes a 400-yard swim in open water, 11.1-mile bike ride and 3-mile run — has been in the back of my mind for a couple of years. It’s not unheard of in the active Bay Area, and honesty, what kept me from signing up was the swim.

I am a terrible swimmer, and even signed up for beginner’s classes at the YMCA. Between that and swimming at the Y once a week, I am hoping to survive the swim part and move right along to biking and running, my fortes.

Here’s to a swim, in which I don’t swallow half the bay…enter nervous laugh here. Have you done a triathlon? Please share your tips!

What are you up to this weekend? What’s on your mind today?

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Hump Day Open Thread

What’s up?

Lately, I’ve seen some icky Facebook memes against raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour because fast food workers are simply unworthy. One meme pitted them against soldiers, making the false statement that soldiers are paid less, when soldiers at least receive housing, healthcare coverage, and aid for an education. I still think they should be paid more, but so should many civilians who also work hard to provide for their families and pay their taxes.

This response — thanks Vegas for highlighting! — was a ray of sunshine:

Have you seen any good FB memes lately? Please do share!

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?

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Four Good Reasons to Encourage Less Soda Consumption

BERKELEY, Calif. — This past weekend MomsRising.org co-sponsored an educational panel on soda. Berkeley and San Francisco, California, each have ballot initiatives to tax soda as a way to curb consumption, and in San Francisco’s case, fund certain public programs.

Up to now, every single soda tax ballot initiative in the country has failed as the industry has pumped serious money to defeat such measures. And as healthy and aware as many citizens are here in Berkeley, the measure faces an uphill battle as the industry has dumped hundreds of thousands of dollars to defeat the measure, including blanket every single lamppost in downtown Berkeley with signs.

On Saturday, MomsRising was on hand to pass out information on our food justice campaign, and also listen to dynamic speakers on the insidious practices of the soda industry: Anne Lappe, author and founder of Small Planet Institute; Lori Dorfman, director of the Berkeley Media Studies Group; Xavier Morales, director of the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California; Kristine Madsen, pediatrician and research scientist for the University of California in San Francisco; and Vicki Alexander (pictured on right), retired maternal child and adolescent health director and health officer for the city of Berkeley.

As an organizer with MomsRising, I thought I was aware of the rising tide of diet-related illnesses like type 2 diabetes, but I walked away from the event appalled. The statistics in California and certain communities in terms of soda consumption and type 2 diabetes was staggering. The soda industry’s hands are not clean here, check out the following stats:

Sugar-sweetened beverages like soda are the largest source of added sugar in children’s diets. 1 in 3 kids will develop diabetes, yet kids in California drink more soda than adults. California researchers found that 41% of children (2-11) and 62% of adolescents (12-17) in the state drank one soda a day, compared to 24% of adults.

The soda industry is predatory of children. It is disingenuous for the industry to simply tell parents to say “no” while it spends billions of dollars creating addictive products and placing them in view of children everywhere: school vending machines, store shelves, happy meals, and even video games.



The Latino community has a lot to lose if the industry’s power isn’t reigned in. One in two — 50% — of U.S. Latinos will develop type 2 diabetes in their lifetimes if no policies are in place to address it, according to Xavier Morales. “Type 2 diabetes has reached epidemic-like proportions in the Latino community,” he said.

While Latinos have a genetic propensity for type 2 diabetes, the industry shamelessly advertises to the community in the form of Spanish ads, billboards and other promotions. In fact, the industry has altered the culture in that it isn’t uncommon for Latino families to have a two-liter bottle of soda on the dinner table as opposed to water or milk, Morales said.

Type 2 Diabetes is no joke. The slides that most haunted me — I will spare you the gory images! — were that of fatty livers, and the havoc type 2 diabetes can wreak on the body: amputations, blindness and certain cancers. Morales said there are more amputations among Californians with type 2 diabetes than war soldiers from Iraq!

Considering the disproportionate impact this epidemic is having on low-income and communities of color, Morales called it a social justice issue. And while he’s received pushback from the industry, he said it is imperative that we forge forward to reverse a trend, in which children today will live shorter and sicker lives than their parents.

A small glimmer of hope:

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Hump Day Open Thread

What’s up?

Sportsmanship in youth sports has been on my mind lately. After a one-year hiatus, Eli has joined a recreational soccer team with girls from her class. She prefers to ice skate, but DH and I really want her to develop friendships with other girls her age. Up to now, Miss Eli has been tagging along big brother and his friends.

Big brother, on the other hand, lives and breathes soccer. He is in a competitive soccer league, which requires travel over the weekends and three practices a week. It’s a commitment for our family, but seeing that he likes it and is thriving, it’s been a joy shuttling him to the suburbs for games.

My least favorite aspect of being a soccer mom? Seeing hyper-competitive coaches publicly berate their players when…they. are. kids. This past weekend, I was appalled to hear some of the feedback from the opposing team’s coach. Gems like, “If you want them to score again, keep doing what you are doing!”

Um, the kids are 10. This isn’t FIFA. And if the goal of a coach — or a parent for that matter — is to raise the best soccer player, this isn’t the way to keep a kid interested.

Eli’s soccer league passed out a helpful pamphlet on being a “good sports parent.” Yes, some of the language is a bit touchy-feely — hey, I’m a competitive person, too, I own it — but so much of it spoke to me. There was a part about the importance of filling a child’s “emotional tank”, which the book pointed out is true for adults, too.

When someone is inundated with nothing but criticism, it can be draining and cause low motivation and self-esteem. The book recommended a ratio of 5:1 compliments to criticisms. This has become a running joke in our household, by the way, as DH is highly critical. I started keeping tabs on how often he compliments and criticizes me. “Hey, you have not filled my emotional tank today!” I’ll say. lol!

How do you instill good sportsmanship in your children? What do you do or say when you hear obnoxious coaches or parents?

Chat away!

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Monday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Soccer season is back up in Casa Nueva. Also, we hit a major milestone last night. I took the kids to their first concert: Marc Anthony. I scheduled this post before we left so I’ll update you this week on how it went. :)

Here’s a topic we haven’t discussed in a while: family-friendly workplaces. The Huffington Post published a column by an executive coach who pored through stories by professional women who were demoted or discriminated against after they had children. Most of these women successfully sued their former employers, but no one knows about it because they are not allowed to talk about their cases as part of the settlement.

Definitely give this story a read and sign off on whether you have a family-friendly employer or not.

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?

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