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PlaneTree's website
June 2011
Our "Health Care Hero"

     PlaneTree's director is in excellent company as a member of the first-ever group of South Bay "Health Care Heroes." The Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal honored 18 professionals for their work during a recent event held at the Computer History Museum. Logo for Health Care Hero finalist awardPlaneTree's founding director, Candace Ford, and three other heroes were nominated by Good Samaritan Hospital.

     A Business Journal special supplement featured the "heroic" efforts of all the honorees, including Candace. BJ is donating $300 to the charity of choice for each of the winners and finalists - you know where Candace will direct hers. Congratulations to all the Heroes!

Icon for
     After years of special interest lobbying and focus-group testing on consumers (as well as nutrition research), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has replaced "MyFoodPyramid" with a new icon, "MyPlate," and companion website, Dietitians and food industry insiders have reacted variously to its simpler design. Nutrition buffs will be fascinated by this brief document showing how graphical representations of a healthy diet have changed over the last century. 
     Many people have also called for a redesign of the "Nutrition Facts" panel that appears on most packages of processed foods. A draft improved version, as envisioned Close-up of a Nutrition Facts labelby the Center for Science in the Public Interest, was included in a 2009 Nutrition Action newsletter. If you think you could create a better panel than the current one, submit a design to the Rethink the Food Label contest.
     Or, if you simply want to understand the "Nutrition Facts" panel currently in use, read or watch these guides from the FDA.
News You Can Use
"I need a new doctor. Who's a good one?"
     This is one of the most common questions library patrons ask. While PlaneTree staff and volunteers do not recommend specific professionals, we have a variety of resources to help you select a new family doctor or specialist.
     Among them is the nonprofit, advertisement-free Bay Area Consumers' Checkbook. The Spring/Summer 2011 issue that just landed on our journal rack features local physicians whom Close-up photo of a doctor with white coat and stethescopeother Bay Area doctors named as "most desirable for care of a loved one." General practitioners and specialists from 38 disciplines are listed.
     If you would like a copy of the ratings and related article for your personal use, please send us a request along with a stamped (64), self-addressed business envelope. (See our mailing address at the very bottom of this email.) Or come in to review it and other related materials.
     For additional help, MedlinePlus has tips for choosing a doctor. The Medical Board of California, a state agency, has more tips and information about a physician's current licensure, any disciplinary actions taken by the Board, and other details as reported by the doctor. You can check the specialties in which a doctor has received board-certification, or locate all physicians who have received board-certification in a given specialty near your zip code, by clicking here.
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Planning Ahead

     If you or a loved one needs to complete an advance directive, you'll find a selection of Logo of Coalition for Compassionate Care of CAforms and helpful information (in multiple languages) on the website of Coalition for Compassionate Care of California.

     One listed resource, Go Wish,™ is designed to "give you an easy, entertaining way to think and talk about what's important to you if you become seriously ill." It may be played online or as a card game. English-language decks are available ($9.95) in the PlaneTree bookstore. Order Spanish-language decks online.
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The Lights, They Are a-Changin'  

     Only 10% of the energy used by incandescent bulbs is turned into light, with the remainder turning into heat. That 90% wasted energy represents a terrific opportunity for us consumers to save our money and lower the environmental costs of power plants.
Compact fluorescent lamp (CFL)     The most common, more efficient alternative is compact fluorescent lamps. CFLs have improved significantly since they became widely available on the mid-90s, with better color and faster start-up. You'll find shopping advice on this video; a purchasing guide has helpful charts.
     CFLs do contain minute amounts of mercury, so give special care to recycling, cleaning up broken bulbs, and avoiding breakage. If you use CFLs, consider keeping these instructions handy by posting them inside the cabinet or closet door where you keep spare bulbs. 

 . .

Organic Foods

    Another article in the new Bay Area Consumers' Checkbook addresses these questions:

  • What does 'organic' mean?
  • Is organic food more nutritious? Safer?
  • How is organic food production better for the environment?
  • What does organic food cost compared to non-organic?
  • Which fruits and vegetables typically have the most and the least pesticide residue?

Close-up photo of a chicken     If you buy organic, you may wonder how well organic producers actually meet the ideals of humane, sustainable farming practices. Cornucopia Institute, a nonprofit public interest group, has developed scorecards rating egg and dairy producers. Note that clicking a brand name reveals relevant details about the company's farms.

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Family Caregiver Alliance logo     The Family Caregiver Alliance has information on a broad spectrum of care-giving issues, online discussion and support groups, and resources for locating services such as care-planning and respite care.
     Additional Santa Clara County resources for caregivers (and for individuals who need assistance in order to remain in their homes) are described in this brochure.

In This Issue
News You Can Use
When the Right Hand...
Helping Medical Research
Brainy Bags
Image of the brain

    Come into PlaneTree during open hours to pick up your own free brain-boosting bag while our supplies last!

    We've selected activities requiring spatial reasoning, challenging games, a 26-page booklet of brain-health research and advice titled "Staying Sharp: Successful Aging and Your Brain," a simple brain-fitness guide created by PlaneTree and Santa Clara County Library staff, and other goodies to include in reusable shopping bags (provided by SCCL).

    To learn more about the brain science behind the items in these bags, watch this "Staying Sharp" video. Read "Your Brain at Work," for a great mix of research-based tips on keeping your brain agile.

When The Right Hand Knoweth Not What the Left Hand Doeth
Photo of cheese and crackers
    In striving to improve the health of both America's citizens and agriculture industry, one arm of the USDA often finds itself in conflict with another arm. Its policies on cheese are illustrative.
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Helping Medical Research
A "Scientist"
   Do you picture medical research as involving scary new drugs and procedures that would be considered by only the most desperately ill patients?
    While reality sometimes matches this vision, clinical trials often involve no drugs or surgery, or ones that are already in common use. This is true for research at Stanford University on the following topics. If you might like to participate, click on a topic for information.
  Borderline high blood pressure
  Hypnosis and meditation
  Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  Smoking cessation for adults and teens
 . .
    To locate clinical trials on other topics, or to learn how trials are conducted and about participating in them, visit this page on
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