Tuesday, April 8, 2014

H is for health (Portlandia from A to Z)

Cooking Light names Portland its #2 best city because of:
  • Our sustainability reputation
  • Award-winning public transit system
  • 277 miles of bike paths
  • Excellent city planning
  • Parks and hiking trails
  • Fabulous local food and wine
  • Farmers' markets and organic restaurants
  • Acres of parkland
  • High percent of population that reports to be in good or better health
  • High percent of people who exercised in the last month
  • Walkability
Here are some of the best and worst of our obsessions with health:

Biking and TransitSunset Magazine ranks Portland as #5 as "The West's Best Places to Live." It cites our 17,600 bike commuters, 12 times more than the national average. Our beloved New Seasons market dedicated more parking to bikes than cars at its newest store. Bicycling Magazine rated Portland as the #1 Bike-Friendly City in America. Beyond 300 miles of bike lanes and paths, we have a fantastic transit system with buses, light rail, and a streetcar. (U.S. News & World Report listed Portland as #5 on its "10 Best Cities for Public Transportation.")

Walking and HikingWalkscore.com lists Portland as #14 on its list of most walkable U.S. cities. "Portland might be the most walking, biking, and public transit friendly city on the West Coast." With our plentiful parks and easy access to the mountains, coast, and Columbia Gorge, we have no shortage of hiking trails. The Mother Nature Network named Portland on its list of "15 Best Cities for Outdoor Enthusiasts," and National Geographic listed Portland as one of its "Best U.S. Hiking Cities."

Running|As home to Nike and adidas, Portland has a rich legacy of runners and joggers. Forbes Travel Guide lists it as #3 on its "America's 10 Best Cities for Runners." And we're home to world-class Olympic athletes like Galen Rupp, Alberto Salazar, and Mo Farah.

Gluten-free optionsMy husband is gluten free, as are my nephew and several friends. It's a good thing Portland has fantastic gluten-free options. Grub Hub lists Portland as its #2 city for gluten-free takeout (after Seattle). However, the Gluten-Free Girl loves Portland more than Seattle: "Portland is a dream of a place to eat if you have to avoid gluten. (Seattle, would you please catch up?)" So do other gluten-free bloggers such as MisterBelly, and Winning Without Gluten. We have gluten-free food carts, restaurants, food fairs, and beer and vodka. Portland is gluten-free heaven.

VeggiesVegetarians also have plentiful options. My (vegetarian) middle son is celebrating his birthday this week, and he is excited to go out to a vegetarian restaurant to celebrate. (When we go to other restaurants, he is tempted to order meat but then he feels guilty.) In 2008, VegNews.com named Portland as its "Veg City Taking Over the World," and we also made #2 on PETA's "Top Vegan-friendly Cities," #5 on Happy Cow's "Top Veg-Friendly Cities in the World," and Travel Nerd's "Best Cities for Vegetarian Foodies."

Local farmingPortland residents can keep three or fewer chickens (but no roosters), ducks, doves,
pigeons, pygmy goats, or rabbits. They are also allowed to keep one Vietnamese Miniature Pot-Bellied Pig. Cows, llamas, and bees are allowed but require a permit. We have friends who keep chickens for the fresh eggs and also keep bees for the honey. And of course, nearly everyone grows their own vegetables! You can even hire goats to come to your house and eat all your weeds or mow your yard.

Natural health
Yoga, acupuncture, midwifery and natural childbirth, massage, chiropractic care, naturopaths, colonics...Portland has plenty of each of these natural health options. We even have our own college for natural health care and a yoga studio designed to cater to "fat" people. We are granolas to the core.

Health obsessions gone overboard
Much to my dismay, Portland does not fluoridate its drinking water. We are one of the only cities in the United States that does not. Even though most scientific research says that fluoride helps dental health and doesn't have side effects in small doses, voters defeated a fluoridation ballot measure last year.

Also, Oregon has the highest non-vaccination rate in the country. Both the anti-fluoride and anti-vaccination movements have promoted distrust of science and an allegiance to natural methods. The casualties of these health obsessions are usually children or frail adults at risk. That's the downside of Portland's health obsessions.

Read my other A to Z posts here, and stay tuned for tomorrow: Indian and international food!

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