Did you know that by the beginning of 2020, 50 percent of Lodi’s population will be pre-diabetic or diabetic? This statistic is even higher than San Joaquin County’s average of 1 in 3 people being pre-diabetic or diabetic by 2020.
The Lodi District Chamber of Commerce’s 2014 envisioning project, Vision2020, created Vision Action Teams, or VATs, to tackle five areas of improvement for our community: workforce development, economic competitiveness, livability, business and community health, and tourism. While these five VATs have evolved and narrowed in their goals over the years, a city-wide initiative emerged from the Business & Community Health VAT to combat a growing epidemic in Lodi. It’s called Healthy Lodi.
Healthy Lodi’s kick-off breakfast took place in January at Hutchins Street Square and the outcome shocked us all — more than 100 local businesses agreed to join the effort to supply their employees and families with healthier alternatives.
According to the American Heart Association, it is recommended that men have no more than 9 teaspoons of added sugar per day, and women have no more than 6 teaspoons per day. The average soda contains 35 to 40 grams — or 7 to 9 teaspoons — of added sugar. That’s more than your recommended day’s consumption from one soda, and we know that doesn’t include any other item with added sugar during the day.
Eating and drinking foods that have added sugar is a cause of the diabetes and obesity epidemics in the United States. Added sugar is also linked to increased risks of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and inflammation of the body.
Diabetes, obesity and many diseases springing from these physical impairments ultimately cause employers higher medical costs, and as well as shortened lifespans of those in our community.
Since the inception of the Healthy Lodi Initiative, the Lodi District Chamber of Commerce has been in search of ways to “walk” the talk. And we found it. As some of you may have experienced or noticed this past May, we replaced sugary beverages at the Lodi Street Faire with healthy alternatives.
Events manager Karen Cannon partnered with the brand Zevia, a zero-calorie soda alternative. In contrast to traditional soda options — Sprite, Coca Cola, Pepsi, Fanta — Zevia has only 0 to 3 grams of added sugar per can. It come in Cola, Dr. Zevia, Cream Soda, Ginger Ale and Root Beer flavors.
The Lodi Street Faire also sold a multitude of sparkling waters, including brands like La Croix, Arrowhead, etc.
In addition to the changes made at the Lodi Street Faire, the Lodi Chamber hosts the Downtown Lodi Farmers Market every Thursday evening. Patrons of the market have their choice of fresh fruits and vegetables, and healthy snacks like hummus and cheeses. They can get their steps in while meandering the market through the night.
As in years past, we have once again partnered with Adventist Health Lodi Memorial to offer an EBT matching program that makes fruits and vegetables accessible for all in our community.
The Lodi Chamber staff also work to publish a “recipe of the week” with a focus on key ingredients our patrons can purchase while at the Farmers Market. These recipes have included fresh corn cakes with cheese and cilantro, sugar-free homemade fruit popsicles and triple berry tarts — a perfect and fresh addition to your breakfast table this summer.
We invite the community to embrace this change and join us in our quest to end the sugar epidemic in our town. If not, we are looking at a dismal result of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and many more complex, life-changing diseases in our community.
The Lodi District Chamber of Commerce prides itself as an organization dedicated to being a catalyst for business growth, a convener of leaders and influencers for positive change, and a champion for the community. Championing the Healthy Lodi Initiative is only one of the ways we are aiming to give back and help Lodi grow into the “City of Excellence” we know it can be.
Pat Patrick is the president and CEO of the Lodi District Chamber of Commerce. For more information on Healthy Lodi and how to get involved, visit HealthyLodi.com. For more information on the Lodi District Chamber of Commerce, visit LodiChamber.com, and to stay up to date with the Lodi Certified Farmers Market, follow their Instagram page at @LodiFarmersMarket.