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Marilu Henner Serves Congress Some Food for Thought

Author and organic dining advocate Marilu Henner will join the members of the Congressional Vegetarian Staff Association on Wednesday for some frank talk about what we should and should not be putting into our bodies in 2014.

(Courtesy Robert Sebree)
(Courtesy Robert Sebree)

Henner and vegan cookbook author Kathy Freston will tag-team a policy luncheon scheduled to take place from noon to 2 p.m. in room HVC 201 of the Capitol Visitor Center. The event, which will feature complimentary vegan tacos from Ape Man Foods and cupcakes from Sticky Fingers bakery, is open to all Hill staff and interns.

The duo had originally planned to commune with congressional vegans last fall, but things got derailed by the government shutdown.

Henner is no stranger to Washington, having testified before Congress on more than a half-dozen occasions to date. She’s weighed in on topics ranging from nutritional standards to deadbeat parents — including a 2004 effort to reshape the ever-evolving, administration-designed food pyramid.

Were she ultimately calling the shots, Henner might push pet projects such as augmenting food labeling and including hydration in dietary guidelines. For now, she’s most interested in having people swear off the “extreme flavors” that sway day-to-day dining decisions.

“We have to get away from processed foods,” Henner warned HOH, labeling excess fats, salt and sugar as the root causes of rampant unhealthiness. “We know that something is wrong. You just have to look around, America. We are stuffing our faces but starving our bodies.”

Henner said she’s been practicing mindful eating for more than three decades — “It was a Wednesday,” the memory maven quipped about her “health” birthday (Aug. 15, 1979) — adhering to a strict regimen of nourishing and natural foods.

“A plant-based diet is really where it’s at,” she told HOH, noting that eating organically helped her shed 54 pounds and trim her cholesterol by 100 points.

Furthermore, she challenged lawmakers to quit kowtowing to animal product peddlers (cattleman’s lobby, dairy farmers) and get with the times.

“I want Congress to catch up with the people,” she said of the groundswell of support for everything from meticulous monitoring of genetically modified organisms to just plain smarter eating. “There is a tsunami of health you cannot stop.”

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