Readers Write: ’28-Day Sugar-Free Challenge,’ health care costs and HCMC, Line 3 pipeline replacement, winter weather implications

As a registered dietitian nutritionist who has specialized in weight management for the past 24 years, I had to express my concern for the Variety section’s “28-Day Sugar-Free Challenge.” Although research tells us that Americans eat too much sugar, for many people these kinds of food challenges tend to increase food fears and food obsessions. Research also tells us that taste is the No. 1 reason people choose the foods they eat. When they see that so many foods they like are on the “forbidden list” they can end up saying, “Why even try?”

The suggestion to stop eating any food that has a form of sugar in the first five ingredients is taken to the extreme, for instance, when it is suggested to forget that Sriracha sauce you were about to squirt on your ramen since sugar is the third ingredient. But let’s be realistic, how much of that are you going to eat? A teaspoon? A tablespoon?

A focus on sugar as the problem distracts from the real problems many are facing today: being too busy to shop and cook for themselves and their families, and a diet mentality that moves from one evil type of food to the next sugar, carbs, meat, etc.. Rather than demonizing categories of foods or certain ingredients, imagine instead creating a 28-Day Challenge asking people to take the time to plan meals you could tap into many online resources for quick, healthy meals, batch cooking and the like, cook, and enjoy eating them mindfully with family and friends. Paying attention to your hunger signals as well as what your body needs for well-being leads to people naturally eating the amount of food that’s right for them. And that includes some of those delicious treats we love, like chocolate and ice cream. Eating and nourishing your body should be an enjoyable experience, not something that creates fear or anxiety.

Sharon Lehrman, St. Louis Park

HEALTH CARE COSTS

HCMC’s $20 million deficit may be seen as a cautionary catastrophe

On one of the most pressing issues facing both the citizens of Minnesota and their elected representatives — health care and how to pay for it — there was a front-page article Feb. 7 “$20M Deficit at HCMC’s network”.

The article notes the CEO resigning “amid growing financial problems.” Hennepin County Commissioner and hospital Board Member Jan Callison is quoted as saying, “It’s not a pace of catastrophe, I don’t believe.”

She notes the problems relate to, according to the article, “vulnerable patients who rely on government programs to pay hospital bills, as well as public reimbursements often falling short of the cost of care.”

Ms. Callison may not think it is a catastrophe, but we Minnesotans should see it as just that.

Our Legislature is now in session debating how to fund a cost-effective, efficient and competent health care delivery system.

Some Democratic representatives have offered as their answer Medicare for all or, put another way, an expanded government program to pay hospital bills.

Republican leaders note that expanding the current Medicare system will only lead to more financial problems for health care systems throughout the state.

From my point of view, the government must pay for the care of its most vulnerable citizens. We all require quality health care. But the more the government is involved with health care for all, the less effective, less efficient and less competent the health care system will be for all.

And that is a catastrophe.

John Huninghake, Oak Grove

ENBRIDGE PIPELINE REPLACEMENT

Walz ought to support appeal of PUC’s Line 3 approval

The deadline to refile petitions with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission over Enbridge’s Line 3 replacement is Tuesday. Gov. Tim Walz should direct the Department of Commerce to resubmit its request to appeal the PUC’s vote last year to allow the replacement.

I could have chosen to refer to any number of topics for this letter — agriculture, energy, environment, human rights and tribal issues, to name a few. All of these topics will be affected by Enbridge Line 3.

We have entered a new era in which fossil fuels will not have the same place in our lives. On one hand, the DFL Party in the Legislature is shooting for a fossil-free Minnesota by 2050. On the other, we have a largely DFL PUC approving the replacement of Line 3. A fossil-free world will not need Line 3. Gov. Walz, your office needs to stand for this.

Also, for hundreds of years we have treated the Indians like second-class citizens, ignoring that we drove them from their lands, lifestyle and traditions. Are we not doing the same thing now, by forcing them to choose between a new Line 3 on the existing route through tribal lands or through pristine ceded lands? How can we sit by and allow this? The Anishinaabe are intertwined with nature. They were slaughtered in the frontier days and taken advantage of in the modern era. We have taken and taken, thinking only of our needs rather than the impact on them. It needs to stop — now. Gov. Walz, your office needs to stand for this.

Furthermore, no pipeline is fail-safe. There have been numerous prior leaks and spills, and Enbridge admits the old Line 3 is “seeping.” New becomes old, and sooner or later the replacement line also will seep, leak and spill. The appropriate action by the PUC would be to demand the old line not be replaced, and instead removed. Gov. Walz, your office needs to stand for this.

Finally, these breaches of the pipeline pollute our rivers, lakes, water tables and agricultural lands. The cost is enormous. We need to stop it.

Gov. Walz, please let your legacy be to do the right thing for Minnesotans, and for the Anishinaabe, in particular.

Your office needs to stand for this!

Nancy Hassett, Big Lake

• • •

The young people, religious leaders, educators, scientists, political affiliates, progressive business leaders and a huge social movement are telling the governor to stop Line 3. There is a line drawn in the sand. If he does not allow the Department of Commerce to proceed with its legal appeal of the PUC permit, then he is indicating clearly that he does not support the global movement away from fossil fuels and does not accept the science of climate change. It should be an easy choice. What does he have to lose by letting the legal appeal go forward?

Kriss Wells, Minneapolis

WINTER WEATHER

There’s no mirth in this for many

In response to the Feb. 9 letter about adults’ being tired about the demands of work and public discourse and finding the winter weather an excuse to cancel schools and have a vacation, between the lines there was some definite shaming.

I’d like to bring up some realities of the present day: Minnesota’s winters are warmer than in days gone by, so now we have to regularly contend with ice that won’t melt when the warm turns cold and the jet stream stalls and stays cold. This is called global climate change. Many more people are on the roadways than even 20 years ago, and we are all trying to navigate on icy conditions. Our mass transit i.e., buses have to drive on the same ice the rest of us do. We all have to get from our icy neighborhood streets to well-traveled roads — somehow. I could also mention the injuries sustained by too many people I know who have fallen on the ice, which they can’t avoid.

I’m a freelance worker, and I’ve lost significant income from this latest pattern of not difficult but hazardous weather as people are not able to spend the hours it takes fitting music lessons into just getting around.

We are all making sacrifices. But not the kinds of sacrifices the letter writer mentions. Many of us are worse off because of these weather conditions.

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