Recently while watching the usual talking heads sound off after a presidential debate, I began to wonder which of the candidates had strategies to address the pressing health issues that affect black people every day. Yes, I strongly believe we should leave Iraq and stay out of Iran. But I also care whether the new president is willing to help stop handguns from being dumped in inner-city neighborhoods. Where does he—or she—stand on the disparate drug-sentencing laws that lock up so many black men? And what’s the plan for erasing AIDS in the United States?

In this issue, our cover story profiles Michelle and Barack Obama, black America’s new first family of politics. Not only does Michelle tell us how they balance Barack’s historic presidential run with the responsibilities of parenting their young girls, the Obama camp details Barack’s position on five areas of black health the mainstream media will never ask about.

Nor is mainstream media, often fixated on prescription-med findings and debacles, likely to help you learn whether the $9 multivitamins at the grocery store are as good as the $25 ones at the health food store. Or whether it’s realistic to try to get off your prescription meds by taking herbs or other holistic remedies. Real Health wanted to know if complementary and alternative medical practices live up to their hype and, if so, which approaches are best and whether we can integrate them into traditional medicine. So we asked a roundtable of prominent holistic health experts how we can best benefit from this fast-growing field.

We also asked a nutritional expert how to make Sunday brunch or family dinner at the local buffet more healthful. Nothing beats buffet for value, variety and great grub we can’t get at home. But is it possible to throw down without throwing out healthful eating habits? Real Health invited one real family of four to try to master the buffet’s temptations.

As we enter gift-giving season, you’ll probably hear echoes of the uproar over lead-contaminated toys—but are these really our children’s biggest risk for lead poisoning?

Here’s hoping you have a safe, happy and healthy holiday season.