5SR - April 2, 2024

Hitha on protopias, reducing stress, and solving a murder mystery

A quick refresher - I’m Hitha Palepu, the founder of #5SmartReads. If you’d like to connect with me elsewhere, I’m most active on Instagram and write a weekly newsletter about smart, random things (check out the most recent issue). Looking forward to connecting there!

And not only does it improve health, per a study of 5,300 participants conducted in Alameda County, California. It’s also could help reduce health care costs by about $40B if scaled to the 6.5 million people wiht diabetes in food insecurity in the United States.

The researchers compared participants’ health records with those of patients at other Federally Qualified Health Centers who had not received the produce deliveries. Over the course of a year, participants significantly lowered their non-HDL cholesterol (the kind that clogs arteries) compared to the other group. Some participants also saw lower blood sugar levels.

Participants not only increased their produce consumption but also their physical activity, according to the research, which has not been peer-reviewed or published in a scientific journal. The share of participants who said they were food insecure (meaning they had limited access to healthy food due to a lack of money and other resources) dropped from 59% to 48%. However, being part of the program didn’t seem to change people’s blood pressure or body mass indexes.

I’m not proud of how I parented my kids over the weekend. I was snippy and short tempered and overreacted more than I should’ve.

I so wish I had come across this article last week instead of yesterday, but I’m certainly putting this forgiving, brief practice into play whenever I feel my anxious feelings rising (and in the mornings and evenings).

If you’ve struggled with a meditation practice - your mind wanders, you get distracted by an instructor’s voice - this quick practice might be the one for you.

Same goes if you’re a parent in 2024. We need all the self-compassion and stress reduction we can get.

One of the reasons I love Star Trek so much is that it’s always been a protopia - a hopeful future that continues to bring me hope for the future.

Kathryn Murdoch feels the same. And she’s taking it a step further with A Brief History of the Future, a protopia documentary series that features changemakers who are devoted to protecting our natural resources now, for a better future.

Murdoch isn’t stopping with this docu-series. Through her production company Futurific Studios, she’s focused on protopian content across publishing, film, and other mediums.

The series will air on PBS starting tomorrow, April 3. I’m excited to watch it, and for more protopian shows, films, and books to enter the space. We all need it if we’re going to build the future we need.

If you still haven’t ordered or requested a copy of The Sicilian Inheritance from the library, please do it now. It’s the multi-hyphenated book of my dreams - a bit of true crime, a bit of romance, a lot of delicious food and wine, and strong, messy women.

Got your copy? Good.

Now you can enjoy Jo’s hilariously honest essay of her summer in Sicily with her young family, which she brought while trying to solve her great-great-grandmother Lorenza’s mysterious murder (which she documents in her podcast of the same name):

“Traveling forces you outside of your comfort zone. It gave all of us these rad experiences and memories that will become a part of our collective family memories, even if the little kids don’t remember.

My kids got to see their mom working as a novelist and a journalist, too, and that’s pretty badass. They actually understand what I do and are excited about it, which makes it a lot easier when I have to tell them I need to leave for a few days for a work trip. They know what that looks like now.

If nothing else, I passed along a sense of adventure and curiosity to my kids. And who knows? In the end, we might just solve this generations-old murder.”

Granted, this trend is growing out of necessity (student loan debt is high, housing affordability is low, and some level of inflation is here to stay).

But it’s also a return to non-American cultural norms, where multigenerational living is the norm (tracking with our population growing more diverse). And as someone who lives in a multigenerational household half the time, I find it to be a gift to have this extra time with my parents, and for my parents and kids to have that time with each other.

The polling of multigenerational housing is both interesting and unsurprising:

“Overall, a little more than a third of Americans say this trend is “bad for society” (ouch), per Pew’s research. But white people are more likely to say it’s bad news (41 percent) than Black people (26 percent), Hispanic people (28 percent), or Asian people (23 percent). Men find it more objectionable than women, older people are less on board, and Republicans are the least into this of any group measured.”

No matter how where you live (by choice or circumstance), I hope you make the best decision for you. And if living near your parents (or with them for a longer stretch than your holiday visit) is an option, I can’t recommend it more.

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