Advocating Healthy Food

Healthy Child Healthy World was started 22 years ago by James and Nancy Chuda
Gigi Lee Chang, Bun Lai, Ashley Koff, and Mark Hyman spoke about healthy eating for the whole family during a lunch last week to benefit the nonprofit Healthy Child Healthy World. Lucia Akard

On a sunny afternoon in Sagaponack, parents and food advocates gathered last week at the home of Erica and L.A. Reid to dine, shop, and listen to a panel discussion on healthy eating given by nutrition experts. The event, called “Food Fight: Get Into the Ring,” was hosted by Healthy Child Healthy World, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating safer environments for children and providing parents with access to educational information and solutions.

Healthy Child Healthy World was started 22 years ago by James and Nancy Chuda after they lost their daughter, Collette, to cancer, attributed to pesticides. Today, Gigi Lee Chang is its chief executive officer.

Ashley Koff, a nutrition expert who has been involved with the organization for the past three years, explained that it “relies on experts so that they can simplify things for the members . . . better nutrition is simple, so we strive to come up with simple tips.”

Before the panel began, guests had a chance to purchase jewelry, accessories, and beauty products from a variety of vendors, including Lafayette 148 and Beautycounter. A percentage of the sales was donated to Healthy Child Healthy World.

Dr. Mark Hyman, the New York Times best-selling author of “The Blood Sugar Solution,” founder of The UltraWellness Center, and an expert in the practice of functional medicine, was the lead speaker. Functional medicine, he told the gathering, is “medicine by cause, not by symptom.”

Ms. Koff and Bun Lai, the executive chef at Miya’s Sushi in New Haven, said to be the only sustainable sushi restaurant in the nation, were the other panelists. Samantha Ettus, an author and a radio and television host, was the moderator.

Dr. Hyman opened the panel with comments on the importance of healthy food choices for families and children. “Food is not just calories,” he said. “The quality of the fuel you put in determines the quality of health.”

Having dinner together as a family, nightly, is one of the easiest ways to implement healthy food practices, he said. He also stressed the importance of removing high-fructose corn syrup from children’s diets, because even though it is not much worse than sugar, it is “in everything that is a poor quality industrial food.”

“What you put at the end of your fork is the most important thing you’ll ever do for your health and your family,” Dr. Hyman concluded.

Ms. Koff spoke about the dangers of genetically modified organisms. “G.M.O.s are grown with more pesticides­ than anything else,” she said. “These pesticides have been shown to be hormone disrupters, and they are in every seed of every G.M.O. plant.”

Mr. Lai, the chef, stressed the importance of eating seafood low in chemicals and eating “simply, naturally, whole, and fresh.” Environmentalism and nutrition are fundamentally related, he said, so much so that “invariably, when you produce food that is destructive to the environment, it is destructive to our health as well. The ecosystem of our body is directly linked to and part of the ecosystem of the entire world.”