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Restaurants Get Blue Zone Certification

Restaurants receive Blue Zones certification from Vitality City for giving their menus a healthy makeover.

More than 30 Beach Cities restaurants were honored Thursday morning for their efforts to make healthy eating easy for customers.

The Healthways-Blue Zones Vitality City initiative recognized eateries from Redondo Beach to Manhattan Beach as Blue Zones restaurants, meaning they changed their menus to highlight healthy eating, created healthier dishes or banned smoking.

The two Beach Cities restaurants were the first establishments to receive Blue Zone certification, according to owner Cris Bennett.

As part of its menu makeover, Good Stuff started offering steamed vegetables and created "16 under 600" menus for lunch/dinner and breakfast, which feature 16 entrees with less than 600 calories.

"It was amazing how well it was received," Bennett said, adding that he was looking at including calorie counts for all menu items. "[We're] getting caught up in the Vitality City wave."

After a fresh fruit dessert did not not sell well at dinner, the local chain created a "brownie bite" dessert—basically, a small brownie square topped with strawberries with a little whipped cream on the side. The entire dessert has fewer than 150 calories.

At in Redondo Beach, the restaurant started listing all the sides in order according to healthiness, trained servers to offer to-go bags and highlight healthier options and added a fresh-fruit dessert.

"For us, our menu is fresh fish," said owner Robert Hyman. "It was a great fit for us to be part of Vitality City."

Before presenting the certificates, Vitality City Director Joel Spoonheim told attendees that "Americans eat out more and more every year." The Blue Zones certification, he explained, encourages people to make healthier choices.

Additionally, because restaurants in the program tend to be small chains and individual restaurants that have control over their menus, the program helps out the community, he said.

"We're really excited to be supporting local businesses," Spoonheim said. 

chair Lisa Santora agreed. "We're looking at not only improving the health of this community, but the prosperity of the community," she said.

The program's emphasis lies on making small changes that have larger effects, such as changing the order of items on a menu, or only serving fries with entrees when specifically requested.

"We want to make healthy choices the easiest choices," Santora said.

Restaurant owners are noticing a difference. Barbara Kubo, who owns in Manhattan Beach, said her restaurant started offering steamed vegetables and brown rice.

"It's been phenomenal," she said.

Fred Reardon November 18, 2011 at 07:09 PM
Is the AES Redondo Beach Power Plant in a Blue Zone? Is the power plant even on the radar of this "whole Healthways-Blue Zones Vitality City initiative." @Beach Cities Health District and their chair Lisa Santora, congratulations on getting the restaurants on board. It is a good, admirable thing. Now, please use your influence to address the negative health impact of the power plant in our densely populated area. Thank you.
Joe Galliani November 18, 2011 at 09:48 PM
Well if you're going to go that far, Fred, why not ask them to eliminate all the major sources of greenhouse gases in the Beach Cities. Why stop at the Power Plant. What about all the cars, buses and trucks?
Fred Reardon November 18, 2011 at 10:16 PM
Yes Joe, I understand why you may feel that way. It would be nice if our society created some incentive/s for people to reduce the impact related to the gluttonous approach many people use to travel from point A to point B. Regarding the power plant in Redondo Beach, my concern is proximity and I am referring to the toxic plume that occurs when that plant is fired up and the resulting invisible dangerous emission particles that rain down on citizens living in close proximity and the associated ill effects. The plant is too close to people. You don't find your car's exhaust pipe located next to your face. Therefore, why subject people to a slow death by continuing to locate smoke stacks in their backyard. I find it hypocritical that the BCHD is pushing this Blue Zone Health initiative yet not confronting the big health risk in the area...the power plant.
Bruce Szeles November 19, 2011 at 02:30 AM
Ok Joe, I'll give up my car. Just don't take my Taylor pork roll/egg and cheese sandwich on hard roll away! Peace Jersey Born
Joe Galliani November 19, 2011 at 02:36 AM
Sounds good to me, Bruce, so long as you don't breath those pork and cheese fumes on me right after eating :) And you don't have to give up on cars, just get an EV.
Joe Galliani November 19, 2011 at 02:42 AM
Fred, I don't think your analysis holds up. I'm not arguing with you about the dangerous emissions that come from the power plant - especially those that contribute to the climate crisis. But if you think that car exhaust isn't located close enough to pedestrians, bicyclists and other car drivers then you don't understand where the exhaust pipe is or the dangers and harm that fossil fuel burning cars - which occupy our roads 24/7 - cause, especially to children. There is nothing hypocritical about the Vitality City project, it's doing exactly what it said it would. The power plant issue isn't the only health issue in the South Bay even if you'd like to present it as so.
Jim Light November 19, 2011 at 02:57 PM
You are putting words in Fred's mouth. The power plant is the largest single point of air pollution in Redondo. CAISO rejections show 26% excess power capacity without the plant in 2015 under worst case weather conditions and assuming worst case contingency conditions with a major transmission line down and a power source offline. Since we don't need the power, why should we allow a plant that would put out the equivalent annual air pollution of over 200,000 cars worth of particulate pollution? Particulate pollution, according to the EPA, is especially bad for the young, the elderly, those with heart and lung conditions and those who work out outdoors. Thiink all those people on their Maoi walks. I think Bruce has a great point. If you are for health, you should logically oppose an unneeded single source of tons of air pollution. People have to drive to work. You will not get all of them to suddenly switch to EVs with ranges of 100 miles or less. Its just not going to happen. We can stop the power plant. Three other communities have done it, and their plants were deemed critical. If they can do it, we can too.
L. Campeggi November 19, 2011 at 04:16 PM
Joe, you're correct that the AES-Redondo power plant isn't the only health issue in the South Bay. And yes, it's also true that cars and buses are pollutants, too. But when the #98 polluter in the entire state of California (per California Watch) and the #1 polluter in Redondo also sits on the same street as the most densely-populated coastal community in California (Hermosa - 13,000 residents/sq. mile; Redondo - 10,000 residents/sq. mile), the groups promoting health first in our community should absolutely register concern and opposition. This #1 polluter in our city isn't the source of our power and provides very little to the California grid while running at less than 5% capacity. While I'm not against electricity, THIS power plant is not a necessary evil; it's an UNNECESSARY EVIL. It doesn't make sense for Vitality City or BCHD (or Redondo Beach, or the School District, etc.) to not take a position to oppose a new power plant in our city! For ANY health-conscious group/organization to remain silent on this issue makes a person wonder why they're not consistent with their message of "total health of the community in all forms." There is 26% excess capacity now in our local reliability area, without AES-Redondo. It's the #1 polluter in our city and not needed. We can't control everything but this one is a no-brainer. Anyone truly concerned about health and the future of our environment would go on record to oppose AES' plans to build a new power plant.
Jake Rome November 19, 2011 at 08:07 PM
Geeze, if you're going to use electricity, they've got to produce the power somewhere. My guess is that the South Bay and Redondo produce far, far less electricity than our area consumes. If everyone in Redondo put solar panels on their roof, that would be a more effective way to reduce the polluting of all power plants and truly make plants like AES unnecessary. Instead of reducing electricity usage and adopting renewable energy, our residents consumer ever more fossil fuels while demanding that one of the few power plants leave the area and demand that instead of electricity be generated in someone else's backyard. Let's get the power plant out of Redondo by producing clean electricity right in the city, not by forcing residents of lower income communities to endure more pollution on our behalf.
Jim Light November 19, 2011 at 08:32 PM
Jake, I guess you missed the whole point. The CAISO projections show a 26% surplus electrical generation capacity in our local reliability area WITHOUT ANY POWER from the AES Redondo power plant. We don't need to move it, we can ELIMINATE it. And the power production AES presented at their briefing to the City Council ( 530 MW running at 15.8% capacity) could EASILY be made up by the other plants in our reliability area. Im all for residents installing solar cells on their homes but that is just icing on the cake.
Jake Rome November 19, 2011 at 08:42 PM
Whether its being produced in Redondo or elsewhere in Los Angeles, the pollution from these plants is still being spewed into the atmosphere, especially CO2 gases which have a global effect. Reducing CO2 emissions is the main benefit-- closing power plants is the icing. Show the world how it's done-- reduce annual electricity usage in Redondo by the same megawatt hours that the plant would create each year. Imagine if each city that wanted to eliminate power plants did that, how much less pollution all of us would have to deal with each day-- how many fewer CO2 emissions would warm our planet?
Jim Light November 19, 2011 at 09:36 PM
Jake, sounds like you want the power plant gone as well. The point of the original comment that led to the change is that BCHD and Vitality Cities should oppose the repowering.
Jake Rome November 19, 2011 at 09:46 PM
Here's the thing. The Beach Cities Health District are highly reluctant to take a position on controversial issues. For example, they wouldn't endorse the position that the dune at Sand Dune Park should be reopened for exercise & play despite the fact that several board members openly supported the Free the Dune effort. One shouldn't expect BCHD to adopt one's one cause as their own just because there's some commonality of interest. BCHD & Vitality City are doing a great job promoting healthy living. Certainly adjacent efforts can be led by others that also support the same goal. Asking BCHD to put themselves in the midst of another controversial topic is certainly sensible but attacking them for staying away from the issue, as Fred does above, doesn't serve anyone's purpose.
Jim Light November 19, 2011 at 10:01 PM
Agreed, but I didn't read Fred's original email as an attack. He only responded in kind to Galliani's snide remark. But since the particulate pollution from the plant would be the annual equivalent of over 200,000 autos, and particulate is especially bad for those who work out outdoors.... If one advocates working out outdoors it would seem logical for one to oppose the source of so much pollution that would affect the health of those working out outdoors. But I know BCHD likes to stay out of politically sensitive topics so I am not attacking them... I do understand where Fred is coming from though.
Fred Reardon November 20, 2011 at 10:35 PM
Jack Rome, Let me see if I can follow your logic. BCHD and Vitality Cities can approach one kind of business, i.e. restaurants, and ask them not to do what they are doing because it is unhealthy (they ask restaurants to change the menus). BCHD and Vitality Cities cannot approach another type of business that is doing something really unhealthy because they are scared of controversy. When it comes to our health, the only thing BCHD and Vitality Cities should be reluctant about doing is nothing. We are not talking about someone’s choice to eat fries or not. We are talking about invisible poison gas floating through densely populated neighborhoods every time the Redondo Beach power plant is fired up. The toxic plume, which has little time to dissipate, rains down on all of us and is most likely causing and/or contributing to heart disease, asthma, lung disease/cancer, headaches, pregnancy complications, respiratory infections, bronchitis, etc. I am not attacking BCHD and Vitality Cities. I am pleading with them to stand up and help our/their community to get rid of the existing power plant and stop the proposed power plant.
Fred Reardon November 20, 2011 at 10:38 PM
Jake Rome and Joe Galliani, I am happy to hear that you both are interested in clean photovoltaic/solar energy. I like your idea/thoughts related to using south bay homes for photovoltaic platforms. AES has the power and ability to help us do this. I work with large private sector companies that use Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) to create a tremendous amount of clean solar electricity. It is a solid business model that works.
Fred Reardon November 20, 2011 at 10:40 PM
Regarding getting rid of the Power Plant and using the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) approach in the South Bay, this is how it can be done: Step 1 - AES works with the community, developers and local government to come up with a good land use plan for the power plant site and create a modest park, with commercial and community facility enhancements. The land use plan would need to be balanced, reasonable and marketable in order to gain the approval of the voters. Step 2 - AES sells the property and uses the capital to enhance their solar division and approaches residents and businesses in the South Bay that possess decent platforms for solar (structurally sound, decent tilt and azimuth angle). Step 3 - AES, via the PPA model, would rent the roof space, install the solar modules, inverters, etc. and connect the individual solar arrays to the grid. AES Solar Division would offer residents and businesses long-term, locked in rates (20 years +-) for inexpensive clean electricity (i.e. perhaps $.10 per kWh as opposed to $.14 per kWh + inflation) in return for the use of the roof platform for power generation. Step 4 - AES makes money, home owners save money, less dangerous emissions going into the atmosphere, we get rid of the power plant, less noise pollution, less landscape pollution, more park space, and we no longer have to breathe in dangerous invisible plumes of power plant particulates.

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