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by Dalton Main

The Slow Food International Organization is considering hosting its next international congress in Louisville. The city one of several around the world—including four American cities—being considered for the event.

Slow Food International is a non-profit organization founded in 1989 to counteract the rise of fast food. The organization champions local, healthy food with a commitment to communities and the environment.

This will be the 6th Slow Food International Congress; they’re held every four years. The first event was in Venice and the most recent event was in Puebla, Mexico. That was the first time the event was hosted outside of Europe.

The organization will announce its decision in the next few weeks.

by Graham Shelby

Nearly 300 Kentucky schools have earned special recognition from First Lady Michelle Obama and the US Department of Agriculture for efforts to fight childhood obesity.

Mrs. Obama’s Let’s Move! program just completed its first year and in that time more schools from Kentucky than other state have met the requirements of the U.S. Healthier Schools Challenge by making improvements in the nutritional value of school meals and the quality of physical and health education. Those schools are eligible for financial rewards of up to $2000.

USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan says Kentuckians should be commended for the achievement, but childhood obesity is too big and too complicated to be solved by a federal program.

“We need parents to be saying this is a priority for us. We need school boards and we need local committees. Everyone needs to be a part of this game. It’s not going to be solved in Washington. It’s got to be all hands on deck,” she says.

Seventy-seven Louisville elementary schools are among those in Kentucky that received special recognition for following the U.S. Healthier Schools Challenge.

Despite that, Kentucky has one of the highest childhood obesity rates in the nation. According to one study, 37 percent of Kentucky’s children are overweight or obese.

Louisville has been ranked number two (behind Orlando) in The Consumerist’s Top 10 Cities With The Highest Fast Food Saturation list.

Total fast food restaurants: 377
Fast food restaurants per 100,000 residents: 147.1
Most prominent chain: Subway

This may not be surprising to anyone who has followed Louisville’s ongoing fight against food deserts–areas where access to fresh food is limited.

Mayor Greg Fischer has released the names of the members of the committee that will search for a new Public Health and Wellness Director. The new director will replace Dr. Adewale Troutman, who is leaving the post for a job in Flordia.

Here are the committee members:

  • Sadiqa Reynolds, Chief of Community Building for Mayor Fischer
  • Bill Altman, Chairman of the Louisville Board of Health
  • Bill Wagner, Director of Louisville Family Health Centers
  • Richard Clover, Dean of the U of L School of Public Health and Information Sciences
  • Dr. Allan Tasman, University of Louisville Department of Psychiatry
  • F. Bruce Williams, Pastor, Bates Memorial Baptist Church in Smoketown
  • Kellie Watson, Director of Louisville Metro Human Resources, or her designee.

Sadiqa Reynolds is also leading the review of Metro Animal Services.

California may become the first state to limit the amount of chromium VI in drinking water. The proposed safe level of the carcinogen would be .06 parts per billion. As LEO reports, Louisville does not meet that standard, even though the water will soon be in line with new federal regulations.

Louisville ranks 22nd out of 25 communities whose drinking water contains unsafe levels of hexavalent chromium, aka chromium VI (aka a major plot element in “Erin Brockovich“).

Today marks the release of a new study conducted by The Environmental Working Group (EWG), marking the first time such a study involving tap water contamination of chromium six has been made public.

 

Mayor-elect Greg Fischer has made what could be the final staff announcement of the transition. He has ordered a performance audit of the Public Works Department “to insure (sic) it is operating at maximum efficiency and effectiveness.”

From the Fischer team:

Fischer also announced that he will conduct a national search for new directors for the Department of Public Health & Wellness and Metro Animal Services — and he rounded out his administration by announcing that remaining departments heads, along with their assistant directors and executive assistants not affected by last week’s personnel announcements, will remain in their roles.

Fischer announced that the Public Works Audit Team — led by Dave Vogel, Vice President of Customer Service Distribution Operations for Louisville Water Company — will conduct the top-to-bottom review of the department, which has an $83 million budget and 728 full-time employees. Vogel will be on loan to the Mayor’s Office for up to six months while he and his team conduct the review. Public Works Director Ted Pullen will remain in his role while the review is being conducted.

[edit]

Fischer today also announced that directors and assistant directors in related agencies, such as the Louisville Zoo or the Parking Authority of River City, will remain in their roles, as will most of the existing personnel in the Mayor’s Office not affected by last week’s personnel announcements.

No word on whether Fischer will explore extending the city’s urban services to the old county. Metro Council President Tom Owen was planning to form a committee to explore the idea, but said he decided to wait until Fischer took office before pursuing a reworking of city operations.

Fischer previously announced eight new appointees. His team will also hire a new Economic Development Director to replace Bruce Traughber, who is leaving on January 3rd.

With a vote of 73-25, the Senate has passed the food safety bill we discussed earlier this month. But the legislation still faces an uncertain future.

Despite unusual bipartisan support on Capitol Hill and a strong push from the Obama administration, the bill could still die because there might not be enough time for the usual haggling between the Senate and House of Representatives, which passed its own version last year. Top House Democrats said that they would consider simply passing the Senate version to speed approval.

Both versions of the bill would grant the F.D.A. new powers to recall tainted foods, increase inspections, demand accountability from food companies and oversee farming. But neither version would consolidate overlapping functions at the Department of Agriculture and nearly a dozen other federal agencies that oversee various aspects of food safety, making coordination among the agencies a continuing challenge.

The Parkway Food Mart on west Hill Street is the latest Health in a Hurry location in Louisville. The Healthy in a Hurry program helps store owners stock fresh produce in parts of Louisville where access to such food is limited.

This is the third Healthy in a Hurry store. The Dollar Plus on south Preston St. was the first, followed by Shawnee Market in French Plaza about 18 months later. When that store opened, WFPL reported that six more stores were planned for the following year and a half.

University of Kentucky entomology professor Michael F. Potter was on Fresh Air Wednesday talking about bed bugs, the parasites that seem to be invading Ohio and Louisville.

The bedbug is sometimes called the “perfect parasite.”

“They bite you while you’re sleeping and the bites are painless,” explains entomologist Michael Potter. Potter, who works at the University of Kentucky and specializes in pest management, says there are several reasons why bedbugs are more insidious than other parasites such as lice, fleas and ticks.

“Bedbugs don’t stay on the host — they scurry away to their hidden harbors that are far from obvious,” he tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross. “And then on top of all of that, people react to bedbug bites differently. Some don’t react at all; others’ reactions are delayed until days or weeks later. So it’s a very efficient critter from the standpoint of doing its business and creating a lot of anxiety in terms of what’s happening.”

You can listen to the show to hear how Potter checks for bed bugs in hotel rooms, how bed bugs can infest a city and many other facts that will make sure you never sleep comfortably again.

The Lebanon Trade Center is like any other shopping center in Kentucky — there’s a cigarette outlet, a chiropractor, a Subway shop, a hair salon, and a cash-only pain clinic, where anybody with $200 can get a prescription for Oxycontin.

Jim Higdon at Marion County Line, reporting on Lebanon Medical Solutions, LLC. Read the whole story here

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