WBEZ | Latin American http://www.wbez.org/tags/latin-american Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Is it time for the 'Immigrant Diet'? http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/it-time-immigrant-diet-110723 <p><p>At a little Asian grocery store on Chicago&rsquo;s north side, Douglas Cheok studies the produce as he shuffles down the aisles. The Malaysian-born communications consultant, carefully selects small amounts of ginger, garlic, leafy greens, and soba noodles.</p><p>Then he stops at a shelf lined with fermented bean curd.</p><p>&ldquo;This salted bean curd soaked in vinegar and oil adds a more solid taste to the noodle soup or whatever you cook,&rdquo; he says sharing an Asian secret to inexpensive flavor. &nbsp;</p><p>Cheok adds the pungent curd to his cart, grabs a few fresh shrimp and heads to the check out line to buy groceries. It all costs less than $15 but he says it will last well over a week.</p><p>Once back in the kitchen, Cheok chops, minces, boils and stir fries his ingredients into a large feast of soup, greens and noodles. In the process, he demonstrates what might hold the key to affordable nutrition for all.</p><p>At least that&rsquo;s the working hunch of public health professor Adam Drewnowski, who is researching folks who upend conventional wisdom by achieving high levels of nutrition on tiny budgets.</p><p>Drewnowski stumbled upon the phenomenon last year when he was examining data on nutrient dense foods. Much of it is fairly expensive, but there were a few exceptions. Among a small group of Mexican American adults Drewnowski found consumers who were achieving high levels of nutrition at a low cost.</p><p>&ldquo;So maybe the secret is being able to transform those real foods, the raw ingredients which can be obtained cheaply at ethnic markets, into tasty meals&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Maybe, if you know how to cook them and transform then you&rsquo;re going to be OK.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Douglas Cheok show how he cooks healthy on a budget</strong></p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/XKVFUFgUWUM" width="560"></iframe></p><p>Drewnowski is the Director of the Center for Public Health Nutrition at the University of Washington and he&rsquo;ll be looking at a different sample of data later this year from Seattle. There he also expects to find Asian immigrants like Cheok.</p><p>So what is it about these immigrants that allows them to pull off this feat? &nbsp;</p><p>The folks at Oldways believe it&rsquo;s about sticking to traditional diets. OldWays is a nutrition non-profit aimed at improving health through heritage. And it urges folks to adopt many of the healthful tenets of Mediterranean, Latin American and Asian diets. This month they are launching classes on the African Heritage diet as well. &nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Traditional diets are not expensive diets,&rdquo; says Oldways president Sara Baer-Sinnott. &ldquo;The longer that immigrants are here in the US and become acculturated, the less likely they are to continue their traditional way of eating and therefore their health statistics decline. They become more obese. They have more hypertension. They are overweight. And by following traditional diets, it&rsquo;s not a very expensive way to eat and it&rsquo;s a healthier way to eat.&rdquo;</p><p>These diets can be especially affordable in cities like Chicago with abundant, low-cost ethnic grocers. While limes can cost 50 cents apiece at mainstream stores, they can often be 12 for a dollar at ethnic grocers.</p><p>Kenny Moore is a produce buyer for Pete&rsquo;s Fresh Market which serves heavily ethnic communities. He says that he&rsquo;s able to offer bargain prices because he sells such a large volume.</p><p>&ldquo;On a whole Hispanics and Asians do buy a lot of produce and so it helps our volume and our buying,&rdquo; Moore says. &ldquo;They like cooking and use a lot of herbs and vegetables to do so.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ethnic%20grocer%202.jpg" title="Ethnic grocery stores can offer incredible deals on produce because they sell so much of it, store reps say. (WBEZ/Monica Eng)" /></div><p>The situation in these ethnic neighborhoods would appear to be a public health professional&rsquo;s dream: affordable, accessible produce and lots of folks who know how to cook it. So does that automatically equal great health? Not always. &nbsp;</p><p>While Asian-Americans suffer less obesity than the general population, Latinos check in with more. In fact, 6th grade Latino boys suffer from the highest childhood obesity levels in the nation, despite generally robust access to fresh produce. &nbsp;</p><p>Public health researchers are still trying to sort it out why this happens.</p><p><strong>&ldquo;</strong>There are plenty of grocery stores in the neighborhood but buying healthy food. It gets tricky,&rdquo; says Erica Rangel a coordinator for <a href="http://enlacechicago.org/">Enlace, a health and education non-profit</a> in the Little Village neighborhood.</p><p>She recently gathered a group of women enrolled in an Enlace healthy gardening program to talk to about what&rsquo;s contributing to poor health in their community.</p><p>Graciela Contreras is a school lunch lady, gardener and grandmother who suffers from diabetes. Ironically, she blames some of the health problems in her community on traditional Mexican foods.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re used to the way we were taught to eat by our parents in Mexico &mdash; to eat tacos and enchiladas all that,&rdquo; she says in Spanish. &ldquo;That comes with more fat. So we are teaching our children and grandchildren to be healthier by eating vegetables. I steam the vegetables now.&rdquo;</p><p>Rangel believes the health issues have more to do with genetic factors, assimilation and little time for scratch cooking.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s easier when you&rsquo;re trying to feed a family and you feel that pressure to just buy in bulk things with higher sodium that are processed foods,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;You find it everywhere.&rdquo;</p><p>The other ladies offered similar sentiments. But I also chatted with local 6th grader Victor Marquez. While he doesn&rsquo;t have a weight problem, he says he know a lot of boys who do.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think they&rsquo;d have a problem if they ate good food but they eat bad foods,&rdquo; Marquez says. <strong>&ldquo;</strong>They eat junk like frozen stuff, chips, pizza, candy chocolates, lollipops, whatever.&rdquo;</p><p>But what about the fresh fruit stands that operate on nearly every block in Little Village? Don&rsquo;t his pals buy their fresh cups of mangoes, corn, melon and pineapple?</p><p>&ldquo;I always see kids get the chicharrones and the raspados and those aren&rsquo;t good because they&rsquo;re like ink,&rdquo; he says &nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p>Those chicharrones are deep fried artificial pork rinds and the raspados are snow cones drenched in inky sugar syrup. One vendor told me they&rsquo;re her No. 1 seller with kids.</p><p>But there may be hope for these kids off the street and back in the home. Drewnowski has some new research coming out that suggests the longer folks spend cooking, the better they eat. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>That certainly seems to be true for Douglas Cheok.</p><p>Back in his kitchen, he&rsquo;s chopping vegetables and boiling water for his stir fried greens and shrimp noodle soup. In less than an hour he&rsquo;s turned out enough dishes to last him all week. &nbsp;</p><p>As Cheok finally sits down to his his meal of shrimp soup and tofu with greens, he shares a startling secret.</p><p>&ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t know how to cook before I came to the States,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;In Malaysia eating out was cheap so I didn&rsquo;t have to cook.&rdquo;</p><p>Still, the retiree says that if he can learn to cook, &ldquo;Anyone can learn. You don&rsquo;t need a college degree to know how to cook. But it is always good to know how to cook.&rdquo;</p><p>And it might not hurt to live near an ethnic grocery store.</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at</em><a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng"> <em>@monicaeng</em></a> <em>or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/48706770&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Thu, 28 Aug 2014 13:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/it-time-immigrant-diet-110723 Milos Stehlik looks at harsh living conditions for children http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-16/milos-stehlik-looks-harsh-living-children-92082 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-September/2011-09-16/child1.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Perhaps the most influential film of all time is Vittorio de Sica's <em>Bicycle Thieves</em>. This Italian neo-realist masterpiece is the story of a poor man and his two children who gets a job putting up posters. It’s a job he can't perform without a bicycle, and when his bicycle is stolen, his son Bruno and friends go in search of the bike through Rome. Four years after it was made, it was voted as the greatest film of all time by a poll of critics by the British film magazine <em>Sight and Sound</em>.</p><p>The new realism of postwar Italian cinema takes a harsher turn when children are the subjects of films in Latin American cinema. Hector Babenco's pivotal 1981 film <em>Pixote</em>, which was subtitled in Spanish as <em>Law of the Weakest</em>, is the story of 10 or 11-year-old street kid named Pixote, who is sent to a horrific reform school after a round up of the street children by the Sao Paolo police. In the reformatory, Pixote sniffs glue to try to escape the constant threat of rape by older prisoners and the prison guards.</p><p>When Pixote manages to escape with the help of an effeminate boy named Lilica and her new lover Dito, he tries to survive on the streets dealing drugs, pimping for a prostitute and finally killing an American john and, accidentally, Dito.</p><p>The brilliance of Babenco's film was not only the harsh realism of the storyline, but the fact that he used non-professional actors in his cast. The role of Pixote was portrayed by Fernando Ramos Da Silva. <em>Pixote</em> was a huge international success. After the making of the film, Babenco faced the moral dilemma of what to do with the boy - Fernando - whom he cast in the role by literally pulling him off the streets. Despite attempts to help him go to school, Fernando was accidentally shot and died on the streets of Sao Paolo at the age of 19.</p><p>Despite the often violent and brutal circumstances in which the child characters in Latin American films live, there is a marked shift from depicting as victims. Instead, it seems natural that kids are artificially and brutally forced into adult roles and decisions by the cruel circumstances of their lives.</p><p>Film director Victor Gaviria's films often focus on youth in his native Colombia. The main character of Gaviria’s 1990 breakthrough film, <em>Rodrigo D</em>, is Rodrigo, a bored teenager living in Medellin who wants to start a punk rock band. The acceptance of violence is ramped up as Rodrigo and his friends casually steal a car or shoot cops or each other in the hillside shanty town. The world these kids know contains little else than violence and chaos. The only means of escape for Rodrigo seems to be music. In Gaviria’s world poverty is the primal condition for violence, and unavoidable. The frustrated Rodrigo, living in a shanty town, has no means of escape and no vision for another life except finding a drum through which he can express himself.</p><p>The children in Fernando Mireilles' breakthrough 2002 Brazilian film <em>City Of God</em> embrace violence in a hyper-kinetic equation of survival in a favela filled with drugs, dealing and betrayal. For these children, life no longer has any meaning, and the pulling of a trigger is the most expedient means of survival.</p><p>All these films owe much to Luis Bunuel’s great 1950 masterpiece <em>Los Olvidados</em>. Bunuel, the Spanish surrealist, creator of the legendary Un Chien Andalou and L'age D'or, went to Mexico after a stint in America spent dubbing Hollywood films into Spanish. In the low-low-budget world of 1950s Mexican cinema, Bunuel applied his sophisticated artistry to focus on a teenage gang in Mexico City. Bitterly attacked by the Mexican press and labor unions who said the film dishonored "their" Mexico, Bunuel went beyond psychology or social analysis. His film is a search for evil which creates the brutal conditions in which criminality becomes the only outlet in urban society. <em>Los Olvidados</em> is as relevant to the conditions of some American cities today as it was to Mexico when it was made on a shoestring budget in 1950.</p><p>Yet the film's timeless brilliance rests in the acuteness of its analysis: loneliness and alienation give reign to fear and terror. One boy in the gangr, Jaibo, kills an older boy, Julien in a rage and Jaibo seduces the mother of Pedro. All these themes come together in an unforgettable dream sequence as a boy's spirit is tortured by the ghost of the murdered Julien and his scantily-clad mother who floats around the room smothering her boy with love and with a raw piece of meat in her hand.</p><p>At the end of <em>Los Olvidados</em>, Pedro is killed and his body thrown into a ravine. The words of his killer, Jaibo, as he himself faces demise, are, "No, no... I'm falling into the black hole. I'm alone, alone...as always...go to sleep and stop thinking, my child...sleep."</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>Milos Stehlik is </em>Worldview'<em>s film contributor and the director of</em><em> Facets Multi-Media</em>. <em>His commentaries reflect his own views and not necessarily those of Facets, </em>Worldview<em> or WBEZ. </em></p></p> Fri, 16 Sep 2011 17:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-16/milos-stehlik-looks-harsh-living-children-92082