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Letter from Publisher

Peggy Malecki

Welcome to a new year and a new decade that will offer us both opportunities and challenges in our quest for healthier and more sustainable living. It’s interesting to note that we’re back in the Roaring 20s, and just like 100 years ago, this decade is likely to be one of massive technological and societal change. The 1920s saw many technical and scientific advancements such as “talkies”, the first commercial radio station (KDKA, in Pittsburgh), penicillin and insulin, liquid-fueled rockets, portable hair dryers and a product that created perhaps the ultimate idiom. Yep, in 1928, Otto Frederick Rohwedder invented the automatic, electric bread slicing machine, and it became the greatest thing since, well, you know… The 19th Amendment (women’s right to vote) was ratified in 1920. The decade also saw the start of the Great Depression, prohibition, labor struggles, environmental concerns and other serious challenges of the day.

Once again, we’re on the brink of new advancements. But the last century of rapid change also helped bring us to the current urgency of climate crisis. We begin this year of Natural Awakenings with Wise Words from legendary journalist Bill Moyers, who is leading the charge for a new generation to make a critical difference in our world where it counts: climate change. Natural Awakenings has accepted his challenge to join a global media project called Covering Climate Now to spread awareness of the urgency of this issue. Throughout this year, we’ll be sharing the many aspects of how what we eat and how we live impact the planet—and how each of us can shrink our own climate change footprint through our everyday choices and habits.

Educators everywhere are cultivating the next generation with innovative, hands-on courses that teach students about climate change, the importance of renewable energy, sustainable food production, water quality/quantity and other conservation issues. Continuing our focus on the younger generations that we began in our December issue, Yvette Hammett explores this trend in “Raising Environmentalists: Teachers Prep Kids for the Future.”

This year, our focus on planetary health will also complement an ongoing commitment to cover all facets of personal health. We start by exploring some of the factors that contribute not only to living a long life, but living it well. In our main feature this month, Melinda Hemmelgarn looks at the role of genes, environment and lifestyle factors as she offers age-defying strategies—from diet, exercise and sleep to protecting our telomeres and adjusting our attitudes.

Our daily food choices have major impacts on personal health, as well as the health of others throughout the food web, our global neighbors and the Earth. We love to bring you stories about food, organic agriculture, home gardening and of course, amazing monthly recipes to make the most of healthful, seasonal and local food. In addition to those featured each month in the print version of Natural Awakenings Chicago, look for expanded recipe options coming to our digital version at

More good news! Winter solstice has passed, and the days are slowly lengthening. Garden catalogs are arriving almost daily in my mailbox. Spring is still a dream, but it is on the horizon. And while the Chicago winter has a loooong way to go, I encourage you to make the most of this January and enjoy what the natural world has to offer. Check out our print and online calendars for events you can partake in to fully enjoy the winter world, be it a nature hike, bird walk or other outdoor activity. Or head over to one of the many amazing conservatories in our area and enjoy the warmth and humidity of the indoor plants. It’s also a great time of year to volunteer and help others in our community that could use our assistance.

Here’s to a healthy, prosperous and wonderful new year!