Friday, May 31, 2013

Protective Style Lookbook || Faux Twisted Bun (for Short Hair)

By popular demand, this is a series showcasing various protective hair styles.  Protective styling does not have to be boring. :o)

Model: Kim

Difficulty level: 3/5

Description: Transform short chunky twists into a fake twisted bun in little time.


Skin Care || Black Women, The Sun, and Our Skin

Can we get sunburn?
Yes.  Whether you are fair or dark, you can get sunburned though the lighter you are the more susceptible you are.  (I'm medium-dark and have been sunburned a couple of times.)

Can we develop melanoma (a rare but dangerous skin cancer)?
Yes.  Though rare, black people can develop melanoma.  The root of Bob Marley's death was acral lentiginous melanoma (that originated under his toenail) and ultimately spread to other parts of his body.  As a matter of fact, "acral lentiginous melanoma makes up approximately 50% of diagnosed melanomas in Asians and individuals with dark skin."[1]

Should we take protective measures against sun exposure?
Yes.  Exposure to the sun can increase any risk of developing sunburn or melanoma.  Additionally, it can hasten the signs of aging in our skin.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Hair Diary || Braid-Out to Stretched Bun

Chunky braid-out using eight braids on wet hair.

After some time wearing wash-n-gos, I decided to wear a braid-out for a few days and then a stretched bun for a day.  To go into the braid-out, I finger-combed on wet, conditioner-soaked hair and made eight braids.  Then I let my hair air-dry and undid the braids for the braid-out.

And now for more hair photos:

Bun on hair stretched from the braid-out.  No combs.  No brush.

Bun on hair stretched from the braid-out.  No combs.  No brush.

Bun on hair stretched from the braid-out.  No combs.  No brush.

Mixology || A More Natural Bug Spray Recipe

Do you want an alternative to the chemical-based bug sprays out there?  Are you interested in making a more natural bug spray?
- ½ cup distilled water
- 1 tbsp alcohol
- 6-10 drops essential oil: use any of these alone or any combination – lemongrass, any mint, lavender, citronella, eucalyptus, tea tree, neem, geranium, and litsea cubeba. 

Pour the alcohol into the spray bottle. Add the essential oils and shake well. Add water, leaving enough room at the top so it will mix when you shake it. If you use a large spray bottle, ingredients can be doubled or tripled.

For more DIY Natural Recipes, check out: DIYNatural Blog

Monday, May 27, 2013

In a post-Francis* world where institutional neglect and cruelty towards some of our most vulnerable citizens has been exposed, A Bird in a Gilded Cage suggests that the arts might offer something of an antidote to the way we support people affected by memory loss. This is a gentle polemic that sweetly kicks the ankles of those obsessed with understanding the impact of the arts on human wellbeing through crude pseudo-scientific measurements, placing creativity, culture and the arts at the heart of a conversation about quality of life.

*The final report into the care provided by Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust. The Inquiry Chairman, Robert Francis QC, concluded that patients were routinely neglected by a Trust that was preoccupied with cost cutting, targets and processes and which lost sight of its fundamental responsibility to provide safe care. His final report is based on evidence from over 900 patients and families who contacted the Inquiry with their views. 


      DIGITAL NHS...*

            DANCE YOURSELF DIZZY...*                                            

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Ahi Tuna Salad

One of my favorite starters to order at a restaurant, aside from the cheese plate, is the tuna tartare.  To satisfy the craving at home, I make something similar once in awhile.  This recipe does call for a couple of unique ingredients you may not necessarily have on hand, but you can pick them up at most grocery stores.

  • Ahi tuna
  • Tomato
  • Avocado
  • Scallions
  • Spicy mayo (I get it from the sushi counter at my store- it's about $1.00 for a small cup)
  • Wasabi paste- comes in a tube
  • Black sesame seeds
I sear the tuna in a skillet over medium high heat for about two minutes per side and them remove and let rest while I dice the tomato and avocado.  Add in a bit of chopped scallion, the spicy mayo and wasabi paste to taste and sprinkle with the black sesame seeds.  

Are you into sushi or not so much?  I know people love it or hate it.  I'm definitely in the love category! 

Healthy Hair on Youtube: Latifatumi

What I LOVE about this lady's hair is that it has an amazing healthy sheen/shine and with minimal product.  It is also springy and thick from root to tip.  Latifatumi has a pretty basic regimen that involves largely natural products, including African Black Soap, shea butter, etc.  Check out Part I of her regimen in the following video.  (The remaining parts can be found on her channel.)

NOTE: If you are interested in viewing her hair type in its natural state, do check out the following video.

Oldies, But Goodies ... Another Summer Edition!

1. Black Skin and Sunscreen
2. Chlorine and Summer Hair
3. Nutritious Bartending || The Healthier Sangria
4. How to Barbecue Healthier
5. Summer Recipes

Monday, May 20, 2013

Sudden cholesterol increase? It may be psychological

There are many published studies with evidence that cholesterol levels are positively associated with heart disease. In multivariate analyses the effects are usually small, but they are still there. On the other hand, there is also plenty of evidence that cholesterol is beneficial in terms of health. Here of course I am referring to the health of humans, not of the many parasites that benefit from disease.

For example, there is evidence () that cholesterol levels are negatively associated with mortality (i.e., higher cholesterol leading to lower mortality), and are positively associated with vitamin D production from skin exposure to sunlight ().

Most of the debris accumulated in atheromas are made up of macrophages, which are specialized cells that “eat” cell debris (ironically) and some pathogens. The drug market is still hot for cholesterol-lowering drugs, often presented in TV and Internet ads as effective tools to prevent formation of atheromas.

But what about macrophages? What about calcium, another big component of atheromas? If drugs were to target macrophages for atheroma prevention, drug users may experience major muscle wasting and problems with adaptive immunity, as macrophages play a key role in muscle repair and antibody formation. If drugs were to target calcium, users may experience osteoporosis.

So cholesterol is the target, because there is a “link” between cholesterol and atheroma formation. There is also a link between the number of house fires in a city and the amount of firefighting activity in the city, but we don’t see mayors announcing initiatives to reduce the number of firefighters in their cities to prevent house fires.

When we talk about variations in cholesterol, we usually mean variations in cholesterol carried by LDL particles. That is because LDL cholesterol seems to be very “sensitive” to a number of factors, including diet and disease, presenting quite a lot of sudden variation in response to changes in those factors.

LDL particles seem to be intimately involved with disease, but do not be so quick to conclude that they cause disease. Something so widespread and with so many functions in the human body could not be primarily an agent of disease that needs to be countered with statins. That makes no sense.

Looking at the totally of evidence linking cholesterol with health, it seems that cholesterol is extremely important for the human body, particularly when it is under attack. So the increases in LDL cholesterol associated with various diseases, notably heart disease, may not be because cholesterol is causing disease, but rather because cholesterol is being used to cope with disease.

LDL particles, and their content (including cholesterol), may be used by the body to cope with conditions that themselves cause heart disease, and end up being blamed in the process. The lipid hypothesis may be a classic case of reverse causation. A case in point is that of cholesterol responses to stress, particularly mental stress.

Grundy and Griffin () studied the effects of academic final examinations on serum cholesterol levels in 2 groups of medical students in the winter and spring semesters (see table below). During control periods, average cholesterol levels in the two groups were approximately 213 and 216 mg/dl. During the final examination periods, average cholesterol levels were 248 and 240 mg/dl. These measures were for winter and spring, respectively.

One could say that even the bigger increase from 213 to 248 is not that impressive in percentage terms, approximately 16 percent. However, HDL cholesterol does not go up significantly response to sustained (e.g., multi-day) stress, it actually goes down, so the increases reported can be safely assumed to be chiefly due to LDL cholesterol. For most people, LDL particles are the main carriers of cholesterol in the human body. Thus, in percentage terms, the increases in LDL cholesterol are about twice those reported for total cholesterol.

A 32-percent increase (16 x 2) in LDL cholesterol would not go unnoticed today. If one’s LDL cholesterol were to be normally 140 mg/dl, it would jump to 185 mg/dl with a 32-percent increase. It looks like the standard deviations were more than 30 in the study. (This is based on the standard errors reported, and assuming that the standard deviation equals the standard error multiplied by the square root of the sample size.) So we can guess that several people might go from 140 to 215 or more (this is LDL cholesterol, in mg/dl) in response to the stress from exams.

And the effects above were observed with young medical students, in response to the stress from exams. What about a middle-aged man or woman trying to cope with chronic mental stress for months or years, due to losing his or her job, while still having to provide for a family? Or someone who has just been promoted, and finds himself or herself overwhelmed with the new responsibilities?

Keep in mind that sustained dieting can be a major stressor for some people, particular when one gets to that point in the dieting process where he or she gets regularly into negative nitrogen balance (muscle loss). So you may have heard from people saying that, after months or years of successful dieting, their cholesterol levels are inexplicably going up. Well, this post provides one of many possible explanations for that.

The finding that cholesterol goes up with stress has been replicated many times. It has been known for a long time, with studies dating back to the 1950s. Wertlake and colleagues () observed an increase in average cholesterol levels from 214 to 238 (in mg/dl); also among medical students, in response to the mental and emotional stress of an examination week. A similar study to the one above.

Those enamored with the idea of standing up the whole day, thinking that this will make them healthy, should know that performing cognitively demanding tasks while standing up is a known stressor. It is often used in research where stress must be induced to create an experimental condition. Muldoon and colleagues () found that people performing a mental task while standing experienced an increase in serum cholesterol of approximately 22 points (in mg/dl).

What we are not adapted for is sitting down for long hours in very comfortable furniture (, ). But our anatomy clearly suggests adaptations for sitting down, particularly when engaging in activities that resemble tool-making, a hallmark of the human species. Among modern hunter-gatherers, tool-making is part of daily life, and typically it is much easier to accomplish sitting down than standing up.

Modern urbanites could be seen as engaging in activities that resemble tool-making when they produce things at work for internal or external customers, whether those things are tangible or intangible.

So, stress is associated with cholesterol levels, and particularly with LDL cholesterol levels. Diehard lipid hypothesis proponents may argue that this is how stress is associated with heart disease: stress increases cholesterol which increases heart disease. Others may argue that one of the reasons why LDL cholesterol levels are sometimes found to be associated with heart disease-related conditions, such as chronic stress, and other health conditions is that the body is using LDL cholesterol to cope with those conditions.

Specifically regarding mental stress, a third argument has been put forth by Patterson and colleagues, who claimed that stress-mediated variations in blood lipid concentrations are a secondary result of decreased plasma volume. The cause, in their interpretation, was unspecified – “vascular fluid shifts”. However, when you look at the numbers reported in their study, you still see a marked increase in LDL cholesterol, even controlling for plasma volume. And this is all in response to “10 minutes of mental arithmetic with harassment” ().

I tend to think that the view that cholesterol increases with stress because cholesterol is used by the body to cope with stress is the closest to the truth. Among other things, stress increases the body’s overall protein demand, and cholesterol is used in the synthesis of many proteins. This includes proteins used for signaling, also known as hormones.

Cholesterol also seems to be a diet marker, tending to go up in high fat diets. This is easier to explain. High fat diets increase the demand for bile production, as bile is used in the digestion of fat. Most of the cholesterol produced by the human body is used to make bile.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Protective Style Lookbook || Gorgeous Chunky Flat Twists Updo

By popular demand, this is a series showcasing various protective hair styles.  Protective styling does not have to be boring. :o)

Model: NaturalMetra

Difficulty level: 3/5

Description: Side chunky flat twists pinned into beautiful updo.

Mixology || Homemade Coconut Aloe Leave-In Conditioner

Do you want to create a natural homemade leave-in? I have yet to try this recipe but it certainly looks interesting.  Try it out.

2 cups of aloe vera juice
3 cups of coconut water
25 drops of honeysuckle essential oil

Mix all the ingredients together in a spray bottle.  Store in a refrigerator until ready for use. (Recipe Source) kilter

This week your blogger is otherwise engaged and is only providing you with interesting snippets to explore, if you should so wish... 







Thursday, May 16, 2013

Mushroom, Asparagus, Radish, & Arugula Salad

Hi everyone!  It’s Jennifer from The Chronicles of Home and I’ve got a delicious spring salad to share with you today.

We ate this mushroom, asparagus, and radish salad for dinner recently alongside roasted chicken thighs but I could have eaten it alone as a vegetarian meal.  In fact, I did eat the leftovers by themselves as my lunch the next day and I have great news - this is one of those salads that is fantastic leftover.

The mushrooms and asparagus are cooked and warm when you add them to the arugula, which softens and wilts just slightly.  The flavors are springy and fresh but I found the salad to still be hearty and satisfying, which is just what I’m craving this time of year.

Mushroom, Asparagus, Radish, & Arugula Salad

1 medium bunch asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 1” pieces
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1/4 c. shallot, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 c. chicken stock
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tbsp. fresh chives, chopped
1 tbsp. flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 tbsp. grated parmesan or romano cheese
2 c. arugula
8 radishes, sliced
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Blanch asparagus in a pot of boiling salted water for 2 minutes.  Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water to stop cooking.

Preheat oven to 350º.  Melt butter and 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large ovenproof saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add shallot and garlic.  Sprinkle with salt to taste and cook 1 minute.  Add mushrooms, chicken stock, and thyme and bring to a boil.  Transfer to oven and roast until mushrooms are tender, about 30 minutes.  Return to stovetop and boil over high heat until liquid evaporates.  

Lower heat to medium-low and add aspargus, chives, parsley, and parmesan.  Stir to coat.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Toss arugula, radishes, remaining 1 tbsp. olive oil, and lemon juice in a large bowl.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Add mushroom and asparagus mixture and toss gently to combine.

* * * * * 

Thank you for this post from contributing writer, Jennifer, of The Chronicles of Home.  You'll definitely want to check out her blog for more amazing recipes, beautiful home decor, and easy-to-follw DIY projects!

Study || Hard Water Impact On Hair

Hard water metals concentrate primarily in the cuticle layer.  A study published in 2011 indicated that these metals can affect certain hair properties, which include:

- stiffening of hair strand
- reduction of combing forces
- improvement of ability to hold a style in virgin hair
- reduction of ability to hold a style in bleached hair

Additionally, certain variables affect the uptake of hard water metals by the hair, such as the:

- condition of the hair (e.g., chemically damaged)
- pH of the water
- level of water hardness


Oldies, But Goodies - Summer Edition!

1. Summer Time Meals
2. Mixology || Soothing Summer Body Spray
3. Summer Hair Care || Battling the Humidity
4. Summer Skin and Anti-Acne Regimen
5. Hair and Sun Damage

Meeting the Challenges of Transitioning to Accountable Care

Accountable Care Organizations have been attracting a lot of attention lately, with the recent article in The New York Times and Don Berwick reportedly advising some Pioneer ACOs in their dispute with CMS about how to measure quality. Here on the TJU campus, Jonathan M. Niloff, MD, spoke at the JSPH Forum on ACOs and ways of achieving organizational alignment and management through healthcare transformation. Dr. Niloff, Chief Medical Officer for MedVentive, is responsible for the strategic development of population health analytics and solutions.

ACOs take up only seven pages of the new health law yet have become one of the most talked about provisions. This latest model for delivering services offers doctors and hospitals financial incentives to provide good quality care to Medicare beneficiaries while keeping down costs. An ACO is a network of doctors and hospitals that shares responsibility for providing care to patients. In the new law, an ACO would agree to manage all of the health care needs of a minimum of 5,000 Medicare beneficiaries for at least three years.

During his talk at the May 9 JSPH Forum, Dr. Niloff described the often difficult realities of making an ACO work. A successful ACO implies less revenue per patient – a scary proposition for any health system. In an environment of less revenue per patient, it is crucial to keep the patients that were going out of the system, within the system. Growing the network is also vital. “Ultimately, it’s about aligning more physicians, gaining the allegiance of more physicians to your program to drive better coordination of care.” A successful ACO also requires a population health approach to managing healthcare by identifying patients most at risk and putting programs in place that captures those patients and drives specific programs focused on improving quality and coordination of care.

One health provider that seems to have this figured out is Advocate Health Care, based in Oak Brook, Ill. Described in The New York Times piece as an innovator in the accountable care approach, Advocate Health Care has seen hospital admissions decline nearly 9 percent. The average length of stay has declined, and many other measures show them providing less care, too. Under Advocate’s deal with Blue Cross Blue Shield, certain patients are assigned to the accountable care framework – about 380,000 – and their health costs are projected. If Advocate achieves savings below that amount while meeting explicit quality targets, it splits the money with the insurer. If not, its revenue is at risk.

The Affordable Care Act has helped encourage a shift to Advocate’s payment model – an estimated 428 accountable-care organizations now cover four million Medicare enrollees and millions more people with private insurance.

Still, many remain skeptical that we have arrived at the right set of measures to allow us to declare one ACO a success and another a failure. Perhaps what is needed is a set of definitive measures, beyond readmission rates and average length of stay, that can tell us how a specific population is doing.

I’m sure that by now, many of you have had experience with ACOs. What are your thoughts? Are ACOs part of the answer to alleviating Washington’s long-term deficit problems? Feel free to weigh in on this issue in the comment field below.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mila (Chia Seeds)

Have you heard all the good news lately about chia seeds? I met a new friend I instantly "clicked" with and she is an independent distributor of Mila (a blend of chia seeds), a whole, raw food and it's one simple thing we've incorporated into our food here lately.  

So far, I've been putting about 1/4 to 1/2 scoop of Mila in my protein pancakes, as well as these other dishes:

You can order Mila from my friend Dacia here:

Below are some of her tips for eating Mila. If you have any questions, please feel free to email her (  She's very knowledgeable about the product and is sincere about it's health benefits.

Eat Consistently and After Hydrating If Possible

Now that you have your bag of Mila please make sure to eat it daily and consistently. The bag is a 35 day supply. As we discussed, the recommended daily serving for adults is 1 of the scoops (in the bag = 2 Tbsp). It's suggested to start with 1/2 of the recommended amount so your GI has several days to adjust to the nutrition and raw fiber. The best way to eat your Mila is after it's "hydrated," which just means after it has had a chance to absorb water. If you're consuming it by drinking it in water, let it sit for at least 15-30 minutes before starting to drink it. If you decide to add it to a smoothie instead of just drinking it in water, put your Mila in a small bowl with a few tablespoons of water and let it absorb the water for at least 15-30 minutes and then add it to the smoothie.

Drinking in Water and Other Options

As I mentioned, my husband and I drink ours in a large water bottle over the first hour or so of the morning - we were surprised we don't mind consuming it that way. If you decide to consume it that way, a full scoop with 10 ounces of water will be quite grainy with a more thick consistency and a full scoop with 20 ounces of water makes the Mila hardly noticeable, so it's really just personal preference. Again, though, make sure to let the Mila hydrate for at least 15-30 minutes before starting to drink it. I recommend putting it in a large water bottle so that you can shake it. Between shaking it periodically and adding it to 20 ounces or more of water, I don't feel like it has anywhere near the thick, gritty consistency. If you don't like it in your water or want to try other ways to eat it, as we discussed there are lots of other ways to incorporate it into your diet - it mixes easily into things like peanut butter and it also retains all of its nutrient content in baked goods such as muffins or pancakes. If you want any recipes besides the power ball recipe, I'd be glad to pass them along.

Look for...

Pay close attention to things like satiation (feeling full and satisfied), bowel habits, energy levels, and sleep. Some people don't feel the health benefits and others feel a difference over days or weeks. If you experience anything like constipation, gas, or bloating, I've already learned that it's usually your GI adjusting to the nutrition and raw fiber. Adjusting how you're eating your Mila can alleviate those issues and will ease your body into the nutrition and fiber. If that happens, just call/text/e-mail me and I can give you some tips.


-Start with 1/2 scoop or 1 Tablespoon for approximately 1 week
-Try to hydrate (soak in water) for at least 15-30 minutes before consuming
-Use at least 16-20 ounces of water and shake periodically if you're drinking it in water and don't like the thicker consistency
-Contact me for suggestions to modify how you're eating your Mila if you experience any undesirable effects

Type 4 Series: How to Wear A Wash-n-Go with Minimal Tangles

If you have been following me for the past few months, then you are probably aware of my growing re-interest in wearing wash-n-gos.  Up until recently, I took the stance that most type 4 naturals (especially 4b/4c) take on such styles .... "Wash-n-gos on this hair type = asking for trouble."  Well, that was until I tried Cynthiarf's method.

Since then, I've been wearing the wash-n-go on and off and have learned a few lessons along the way.  Here they are for those who are interested in trying this style in the near future:

1. If you have fine strands, then you might want to stay away from the wash-n-go.
Majority of my hair is medium, the crown is coarse, and the back is fine.  When it comes to the wash-n-go, the back (the fine hair) tangles and breaks more easily so I have to be more patient and meticulous in that section.  If my whole head were fine, I would more than likely not be wearing wash-n-gos as much as I am now.

2. Co-wash (rather than shampoo wash) for your wash-n-go.
This lesson is almost a given but stands stating.  Cynthiarf's regimen calls for shampoo-ing once a week when wearing the wash-n-go daily, and I have found success with that routine as well.  The remainder of the week calls for conditioner washes or water rinses followed up with conditioner.  Why conditioner?  Because it smooths the strands, restores moisture, and makes finger-combing easier.

3. Finger-comb thoroughly and daily.
The finger-combing process is crucial because it keep the strands detangled, removes shed hair that could contribute to tangling, and removes any tangles (which are few) that have formed.  The process is not long at all; it takes me no more than 10 minutes.  (Check out Cynthiarf's tutorial.)

4. Do not manipulate your wash-n-go.
This step is also crucial as it reduces the possibility of tangle formation.  Once your wash-n-go is complete, do not disturb the strands via twirling with your fingers, rubbing with a towel, combing, or any other manipulation.

5. Use the right conditioner.
Not every conditioner is made for a wash-n-go.  I find the most success with Tresemme, but you may find success with another brand/type.  Do check out Cynthiarf's video for more details on what to look for in a wash-n-go conditioner.

6. If you have time, rake through with gel.
Raking through your wash-n-go with gel will help your coils to clump a little and tangle less.  This step is not necessary, and I have worn many of my wash-n-gos without doing it.  However, if you have an extra 10-20 minutes and want a little more security, go for it.

"Soul" Food Mondays || Help Your Being

With whom do you surround yourself?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Wagnerian Delirium...

Mortality: Death and the Imagination
8th July – 16th August 2013 * * * * DETAILS COMING SOON

Wagnerian Delirium
Some very interesting reports coming in from Germany around the Düsseldorf opera house's production of Wagner's Tannhäuser directed by Burkhard Kosinski. The romantic opera was written in the 1840’s and set (in the mind of Wagner) in the middle ages. Kosinski chose to transpose it to 1940’s Germany under Nazi rule with depictions of mass murder, the gas chambers and SS executions.

There have been reports of people storming out of the theatre, booing and slamming doors - so much so in fact, that the staging has been pulled and it is now being performed purely as a concert. 

The furore on the internet has been prolific, with Oxford University historian, James Kennaway telling the Guardian:
"Wagner's operas have often produced extreme reactions and the list of singers, conductors and patrons who have keeled over dead after attending one and suffered a 'Wagnerian delirium' is amazing."

Debate over Wagner’s place in German culture has escalated coinciding with what would have been his 200th birthday on May 22nd. For many, Wagner has come to symbolise the seeds of anti-Semitic sentiment in German culture that would grow into the Nazi terror. A recent article in Der Spiegel commented, “Richard Wagner’s legacy prompts the question: Can Germans enjoy any part of their history in a carefree way?”

In the Guardian this weekend, Will Self suggested that, “Hitler was indeed a great music lover – get over it! He could be one, and still prosecute the deaths of untold millions by word and deed. Hitler loved music because many humans – including evil ones – love music. He loved Wagner's music both despite and because Wagner was an antisemite – it all just fed into the semiotic mix.”

The timing of the doomed opera has coincided with the high-profile trial of neo-Nazi’s which began in Munich last week, with Beate Zschaepe being charged with a series of anti-immigrant murders, and where we can witness a bizarre and superficial media frenzy focused as much on Zschaepe's looks, as for the crimes she’s allegedly committed.

I can’t help being a little curious about what Self describes as “an assumed sharp dichotomy between high and low art, and a privileging of the discourse of the former.” Cinema goers have largely relished the excuse to cathartically grind their teeth to Schindler’s List, been remorselessly subsumed in In the Fog, or else heartily relish the extremes of Inglourious Basterds. There’s no shortage of literature that would provoke a similar range of responses and the response to Jake and Dino’s Chapman’s, Hell from some quarters, at least - was profound, with Jonathan Jones describing it as a ‘true masterpiece.’

Inequalities and denial spring to mind here and something about the gated community of an elite cultural psyche. Perhaps this version of Tannhäuser was tasteless and badly conceived? Kosminski, declined to make changes to soften the impact of the violence saying that he had been completely transparent with the opera house about his intent for the production and that he was not a “scandal director.” “It would be good if the debate continued,” Mr. Kosminski said, “and we learned what the underlying reasons were for this great emotionality.” Not perhaps art and health on an individual level, but a deeply fascinating issue.

So a question: is the portrayal of Nazi Germany permitted in popular culture and other art forms, but somehow best avoided in more genteel cultural circles?

Food production systems in Britain today are very much dictated by laws, regulations and other policies, all of which are geared toward supporting 'Big Dairy' ie the dairy farmers that milk hundreds and thousands of cows every day. Sadly, the modern approach or corporate take over of milk production and distribution is very much to the detriment of smaller producers and farmers here in Britain and around the world. The decline of the British dairy farmer in recent years has accelerated at a significant and worrying rate. 

In the past ten years, the number of dairy farms in England and Wales has fallen by 46.3%. from approximately 20,000 in 2002 to just over 10,000 in 2012. (Dairy Statistics: An insider Guide Pg 10, published by DairyCo, 2012)

The truth is, that the farming crisis in Britain is a direct result of the global restructuring of food markets and industries which has been ongoing since the early 80's. As a result of these new global food systems, agricultural produce, over the years, has become cheaper and primary commodities such as milk, even though demand has increased, the return to the farmer has not. British dairy farmers receive less today per litre of milk, than they did 17 years ago; and they continue to receive less per litre, than it actually costs them to produce. Further afield and also unable to break even, increasing numbers of frustrated and desperate small scale farmers across the globe watch demand for fresh produce increase, but without reaping any rewards. With the British dairy industry there appears to be a blockage; profits from sales are not trickling back down to the producers but pooling somewhere between (larger) processors and vendors.

A deeply worrying statement came from Tim Fortesque, Secretary General of the UK Food and Drinks Industries Council, quoted as saying:

“It is not the role of manufacturing industry to improve the health of the general public or to shoulder the responsibility of ensuring that people live longer, or lead healthier lives”

It is time that we, the modern consumer started to consciously understand methods of food production and question what role we actually play regards the shift towards industrialised farming and globalised food systems; and what exactly will the future landscape of the British countryside look like as the small farmers disappear and the factory farms take over?   

Dawn Prescott’s exhibition 'Farmgate' is at BLANKSPACE between 24 - 26 May explores the plight of the British dairy farmer. The work investigates modern methods of milk production and distribution as we witness an ongoing shift towards the industrialisation of dairy farming and the rise of the 'Mega Farm'.

What on earth does this little film have to do with arts and health? Find out very soon in Mortality: Death and the Imagination