Taxing Soda Drinks: Did Philadelphia Do The Right Thing?

Is a tax on soda and other sugar drinks justified in light of government policies that tax tobacco and similar “unhealthy products?” If so, where does the justification to tax “unhealthy products” end? If soda drinks are now taxed,  would donuts and candy bars be next?

The debate on whether or not to tax soda and other sugar drinks has been around for years. Doctors, scientists and policymakers says it could be a powerful weapon to reduce obesity, in the same way that cigarette taxes have helped curb smoking. According to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2012.

A soda drink is a cheap and inexpensive beverage choice when compare to other beverage options, especially water.  An interesting animated short video was written and directed by Ross Bollinger last year on this issue.

In February of this year, a cancer research institute in the United Kingdom issued a report that estimates that a 20% tax on sugary drinks in the UK would prevent 3.7 million people becoming obese over the next decade.

In 2013, then New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, used his regulatory authority, to impose a 16-ounce limit on the size of sugary beverages sold in certain places in New York City.  One year later that controversial ban was overturned and rejected by the New York Supreme Court

Hand Holding Soda Can Pouring A Crazy Amount Of Sugar In Metapho

But that did not stop Bloomberg from pushing his crusade to curb the consumption of soda drinks. Last month, with Bloomberg’s help, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney  successfully passed a citywide tax on soda drinks sold in the City of Brotherly Love.  Bloomberg provided most of the financial support to Kenney’s public campaign to tax soda drinks in Philadelphia.

Philadephia now becomes the first major city in the United States to impose a tax on soda drinks. Berkeley, California was the very first city to do so.  Will this start a trend around the country? The debate is clear:

  • Opponents of a soda tax argue that : (1) soda alone is not causing diabetes, obesity and other public health concerns, (2) sugar drinks are being singled out unfairly and (3) consumers have a right to enjoy sodas without being penalized by, the editorial page of the Hartford Courant described, a “Nanny-State Overreach”.

The debate is controversial to say the least. For example,  presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton disagree on the soda tax.  Sanders opposes the tax because he believes it unfairly taxes low income families. Clinton supports the tax in Philadelphia because the tax monies would go to creating universal preschool programs in that city.

Sugar is a highly addictive substance. Too many consumer products are laced with sugar. Sugar causes greater human harm than the value of its taste in food and drink products. Even if there is no soda tax, society still pays a high “tax” in health care and other costs for the profound negative effects of sugar consumption.

Ellwood Thompson’s supports all reasonably calculated measures to reduce the growing epidemics of obesity and diabetes in today’s sugar food and drink culture. If paying an extra 3 or 4 cents on a can of soda has a measurable and meaningful effect on saving lives and reducing society’s costs in health care, then — besides saving lives — the significant cost benefit is sound fiscal policy.

Of course,  such a tax by itself may have little or no effect on the increasing obesity and diabetes crisis in our country.  The Philadelphia experience will tell us if there is a correlation between this type of tax and its intended purpose. We look forward to learning more in this unfolding debate.




CANCELLED // Summer Suppers at The Beet benefiting Shalom Farms

Unfortunately,  we have cancelled this Summer Supper.  We still encourage you to support Shalom Farms here, and please stay tuned for our upcoming Summer Suppers in The Beet and your chance to support our local farms through a home-made, seasonal dinner with us!



 For the first of our Summer Suppers at The Beet, grab a seat around the table, & join us for a seasonal meal in partnership with & support of our good friend, Shalom Farms.

With produce fresh from the farm, our chefs will create a locally-sourced, seasonal three-course meal meant to nourish our community, showcase our chefs & Shaloms’ amazing produce, and support the programs of Shalom Farms.  Accompanying the fruit and vegetables from Shalom will be proteins provided by a local purveyor and similarly mission-minded friend, Milton’s Local.

The mission of Shalom Farms is to work with communities to ensure access to healthy food and the support to live healthy lives, particularly those in under-served areas.  Through sustainable food production and hands-on experiences at the farm and in the city, Shalom Farms provides thousands in Richmond with access to healthy food.


This three-course meal will feature local, organic ingredients where ever possible, and each course will be paired with beer or wine (your choice.)  The menu is to come, based on what’s seasonally available from Shalom Farms, so stay tuned!  Chefs Todd and Ingrid will work with what is freshest and most exciting, so the menu will be subject to change.  True to our roots, we will have options for both vegans and non-vegan, and every dish will be gluten-free.


1st course | vegan | Grilled Radicchio Salad with chickpeas (V) or

1st course | non-vegan | Summer Tomato Stack with goat and feta cheeses, basil, basil oil and balsamic

2nd course | vegan | Zucchini Carbonara with Twin Oaks Tofu

2nd course | non-vegan | Grilled Pork Chop with bacon-summer vegetable succotash, grits cake, collards and tomato jam

3rd Course | Blackberry Basil Salad with a white wine granita and vegan meringues


$55.00 per individual or $100 per couple*

*Tickets includes 3-course meal and beer or wine pairing with each course. Cash bar for additional glasses.




Supper Cancelled


Email Taylor at

Summer Solstice Seasonal Reading

If you’re a perpetual reader like me, I always like to have some (relatively) fun seasonal reading in my rotation to reinforce the shift in seasonal energy and give me some inspiration for new projects that flow with each season. Summer is particularly easy in this regard because there are so many good books that take on the flavor and vibe that summer has to offer. I meet with a lot of clients throughout the summer months that feel like nothing much changes for them season to season in terms of their jobs, their lifestyle, cooking and eating patterns or even their time spent outdoors. Often, this is just the rut they’ve gotten into over time, and even habits of hum drum daily life can be hardest to break. With a few good summer reads, make sure you’re actually setting aside some time every day, maybe 30 minutes, to devote to garnering inspirations from what these resources have to offer and if something really jumps out at you – give it a try! Summer is the perfect month, energetically, to take on new projects and adventures.

Animal Vegetable Miracle – I’m sure I’ve brought this one up before, but it’s my absolute favorite summer book. It follows a family who homesteads for an entire year and documents their journey managing, planting, growing and tending to their garden, the glory of bountiful harvests and the (somewhat enjoyable) difficulty of living sustainably and completely local.

Cooked – Summer is really an ideal time to connect more with your food, cook for yourself and even harvest your own ingredients as herbs, vegetables, fruits and spices are so abundant. In Cooked, Michael Pollan takes that even one step further by addressing our connection with preparing foods, but also our connection with our ancestors and how how our relationship with foods is so intertwined with our past heritage. As we evolve, so to did our foods.

Into the Wild – Summer energy is always high, and the desire to go on outdoor explorations persists through every age group in the dead of summer. Into the Wild documents the true adventure of Christopher McCandless as he leaves behind his modern life to go find home in the wild. If any book will make you want to journey through the beautiful US and disconnect for a while, it’s this one.

The Little Prince – This is a classic book for all ages, but I find it’s most ideal for young kids / young adults to get their creative juices flowing and their imaginations running wild. Most of the year we may be working on things that either constrict or don’t allow much creativity (especially young adults), and taking time to read stories with a sense of adventure and wonder is so important for all ages!

The Botany of Desire – Another Michael Pollan favorite. When summer is here and so many fresh foods are available, it’s interesting to delve a little deeper than just purchasing and eating these foods. Every schoolchild learns about the mutually beneficial dance of honeybees and flowers: The bee collects nectar and pollen to make honey and, in the process, spreads the flowers’ genes far and wide. In The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan cleverly demonstrates how people and domesticated plants have formed a similarly reciprocal relationship. It’s an essential reminder that we are not so different than our plant and animal neighbors.

Take some time this summer season to pay attention to the edible abundance around you, to the change in upward energy that summer offers, and for creative projects to give your imagination an outlet. The body works better in ever regard when we feel creative, happy, safe and inspired, and I encourage you to make extra time for this in every season!


Lindsay Kluge M.Sc, CNS, LDN |

‘Not Your Average’ Chocolate + Beer Pairing



Wednesday, June 15th / 6 to 7:15PM


The Beet at Ellwood Thompson’s


Gearharts Fine Chocolates, paired with local, craft beer from some of your favorites to a few under the radar breweries in Central VA…

Pro Tip: This event is 4 days before Father’s Day for a reason, so take advantage and snag your dad, grandfather, uncle, friend, or just anyone that loves beer and chocolate, and come partake in this pairing, curated by Bethany Frazier of local favorite, Gearharts Fine Chocolates! All beers will be perfectly matched to highlight the complexities of both the beverage and the sweets and are good for fathers, sons, daughters, friends, and neighbors alike!


Chocolate + Beer Pairings Ticket


Contact Taylor at

Prince’s Death: an Alarming Reminder of a Rapidly Growing Opioid Epidemic & What You Need to Know

By Nick Lasky for Ellwood Thompon’s Food Advocates

By now you are likely aware that there is a terrible epidemic piercing through the United States: opioid addiction. Opioids are a class of drugs used to reduce pain and some of the most common forms are heroin and prescriptions painkillers like morphine and oxycodone.

Given the current statistics on addiction, the odds are you either know someone who is addicted, knew someone that overdosed or you know a friend who knows someone that is addicted or overdosed. That’s an epidemic.

This epidemic is killing many young people, and recently, it killed one of the world’s top music icons, Prince. Prince died of an overdose of the prescription painkiller known as fentanyl, a type of synthetic opiate. Unfortunately, Prince’s death serves as a stark reminder of a problem that is snowballing and causing more and more deaths every year that passes.


OverdoseHere is a reality check:

– Since 1999, overdose deaths from prescription opioids have QUADRUPLED.

– Heroin-related overdose deaths have more than TRIPLED since 2010.

– Every day 78 Americans die from an opioid overdose.

What is going on?

One of the main driving factors in these shocking trends is likely the large increase in the prescribing of opioid painkillers. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, “since 1999, the amount of prescription opioids sold in the U.S. nearly quadrupled, yet there has not been an overall change in the amount of pain that Americans report”.

When you look at the fact that BOTH the amount of prescription opioids sold and the number of prescription opioid-related overdose deaths have quadrupled since 1999, then you begin to see a pattern.

What is very alarming is the addictive power of these painkillers. Fentanyl, for instance, a drug typically reserved for terminal cancer patients, is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine according to the CDC. It’s unclear how Prince got his fentanyl, but recently there has been an outbreak of illegally made fentanyl, which has caused a surge in the number of fentanyl-related overdose deaths.

Once a person is  get hooked on opioids it can be very difficult to get off of them. In 2014, nearly two million people in the United States were abusing or dependent on opioid prescription painkillers.

The statistics speak for themselves. This is a very serious problem that we as a society can no longer ignore. Education and becoming aware of the different resources available can make a big difference even if it means you are somehow able to help just one person.


  • The most commonly overdosed opioids are Methadone, Oxycodone (such as OxyContin), and Hydrocodone (such as Vicodin).
  • DO NOT consume alcohol or other drugs if you are taking opioids unless your doctor says otherwise. Mixing other substances with opioids can have a seriously detrimental impact on your health and especially your liver.
  • Follow your doctor’s instructions exactly while taking pain medications. If you are aware of a family member or friend who is prescribed pain medication and you know they are abusing their medication, call their doctor and start a conversation.
  • 10 Common Warning Signs of Prescription Painkiller Dependency 
    1. Usage increase
    2. Change in personality
    3. Social Withdrawal
    4. Ongoing Use (after condition has improved)
    5. Large amount of time spent obtaining prescriptions
    6. Change in daily habits & appearance
    7. Neglecting responsibilities
    8. Increased sensitivity
    9. Blackouts & forgetfulness
    10. Defensiveness
  • YOU ARE NOT ALONE  if you are seeking help for yourself, a friend or family member. Check out the resources below to see where you can get started.


The Stop Overdose website, developed by the University of Washington’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute, offers education, training, and answers to frequently asked questions about preventing and reversing overdoses and getting the opiate overdose antidote naloxone (Narcan).

SAMHSA (Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration)

1-800-662-HELP (4357)
TTY: 1-800-487-4889

NCADD (National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence)


There are several different resource options on the website including finding a local affiliate and taking a self test to see if you are addicted)


Pups & Pints on the Patio with Barkworthies

Happy Hour becomes Yappy Hour!
​ ​Our 1st was such a hit, we’re bringing back our puppy social once a month!  Round up your four-legged friends and your two-legged buds to enjoy a social pint on our patio.  We’ll have treats for each pups from our friends at Barkworthies, a local maker of all-natural, nutritious dog treats and chews!
June’s Pups & Pints event will benefit Richmond Animal League, the area’s oldest non-profit “no-kill” organization committed to reducing the homeless pet population in the Richmond area. Founded in 1979, RAL provides temporary housing, medical treatment, sterilization, and quality care to over 1,700 companion animals each year until they are adopted into permanent and loving homes.
Enjoy happy hour prices at our bar in The Beet for the pup parents, plus live music for all!   You & your dog will both have something to wag your tails about.
WHERE: Ellwood’s Patio
WHEN: Thursday, June 9th | 5-8PM

Hemp Happy Hour & Film Screening


Let’s set the record straight about hemp!

Join us for an evening of networking and discussion around all things hemp.  And by that, we mean non-drug, industrial hemp that can be made into nutritious super-foods,  textiles, sustainable building materials, and more!


Wednesday, June 8th / 6 to 9PM


The Beet at Ellwood Thompson’s


American Hempsters
When you hear “hemp”, the connotation for many is marijuana, but American Hempsters want to change the conversation and challenge you to think of agriculture, industrial applications, and empowering the small-scale farmer.

This events marks the start of Hemp History Week, a national campaign that aims to educate and promote hemp as an agricultural resource to be grown in America.  We’ll have speakers from the hemp industry, including Marty Phipps of Old Dominion Hemp, discussing their experience in the industry and the emerging markets that offer a great opportunity for American Farmers and Entrepreneurs.  American Hempsters will be offering samples of ‘hempasta’, a hemp flour pasta made in collaboration with local favorite Bombolini Pasta.  To better understand the industry, obstacles, and opportunities faced by hemp advocates and growers, we’ll also show two brief films to help entertain and educate: Hemp for Victory and Owe Aku Bring Back the Way


FREE | RSVP here!


Contact the organizer, American Hempsters, at