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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.

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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