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July 2000

GREETINGS

Our summer and fall schedule is filling up fast. MARV has regular potlucks in early July, late August, and September; all of these now have hosts. In addition, many of us are regular attendees at the CUFA picnic, which will be in early August this year, and which we usually help publicize. And we are now registered to take part in the Outpost Wellness Fest on Sept. 10; we do need volunteers to help table. After that will come gearing up for the big Pre-Thanksgiving Feast. In between September and November, however, falls something called World Vegetarian Day, which takes place on October 1 each year, as I was reminded while reading the most recent Vegetarian Voice magazine (which is published by North American Vegetarian Society, of which MARV is a listed affiliate). We have not in the past done any-thing for this event, but perhaps we should. What do people think? Call (414) 962-2703 with comments and/or ideas, and/or come to the next potluck to share your thoughts on this.

On the subject of our events and meetings, it has been suggested that interested members should check out rummage sales for cheap (10-cent or 15-cent apiece range) yet nice-looking plastic/Melmac-type plates for use at the Pre-Thanksgiving Feast, so that we would no longer have to buy disposable plates. MARV can reimburse you. It looks like we will be in the same hall as the last few years, which has a capacity of 200, so 200 dinner-size plates ?plus dessert-size plates? is what we’ll need. If you have collected any, bring them to the July 9 potluck at Jody and David’s house, where they will be kept until needed.

M.A.R.V. ACTIVITIES

Sunday, July 9, 4 PM, regular potluck at David and Jody’s house, 1000 Lake Drive, South Milwaukee, opposite Grant Park, 764-7262

Sunday, Aug. 6, CUFA Picnic in Grant Park, site #7, noon to 4:30 or so. Take College Ave. to Lake Drive, turn south and take the first entrance into the park. Food will be supplied, potluck dishes welcomed. Small fee. Flyer coming soon

Saturday, Aug. 19, 6PM, regular potluck at Elissa and Rick’s in Shorewood

Sunday, Sept. 10, Outpost Wellness Fest, 11AM-5PM. Call 962-2703 to volunteer to table for a portion of this time.

Saturday, Sept. 16, 6 PM, regular potluck at the Quigley place.

Sunday, Oct. 1. World Vegetarian Day. ???

Saturday, Nov. 18, Pre-Thanksgiving Feast

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Macrobiotic Potlucks

Sunday, July 16, noon, at Emily Feddersen’s on Lake Michigan, 6506 Silver Beach Rd., North Cedar Grove, 262-285-3331 for directions

Sunday, Aug. 20, 3 PM, the Strampe’s, S63 W15025 College Ave., Muskego, 422-1370.

Suncay, Sept. 17, 5 PM, Pat O’Neill’s, 2431 N. Bartlett Ave., Milwaukee, 964-9759

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QUOTE OF THE MONTH

"A pregnant woman’s body responds [negatively] to the smell and taste of meat because this category of food in general can be dangerous."

-- Dr. Paul W. Sherman, prof. of neurobiology and behavior, regarding a Cornell University study of morning sickness

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NEWS

As our Quote of the Month indicates, some researchers did a study of what foods produce aversions/nausea and cravings during pregnancy, especially during the early months when nausea is most common. Far and away, the strongest aversions were produced by meat, fish, poultry, and eggs, followed by a considerable margin by caffeine-containing drinks. Furthermore, the study also found that women with significant nausea in early preg-nancy had significantly fewer miscarriages and stillbirths. The researchers concluded that the foods likeliest to produce aversions were also the ones likeliest to cause danger to the mother and/or damage to the embryo/fetus through infection or toxic hitchhikers in the foods. How interesting that all animal foods except dairy were the worst offenders.

Other indications that meat is still not real good for you include the continuation of concern over mad cow disease in France, which is now beginning a nationwide testing program for it based on concerns that France’s mad cow incidence may be much more wide-spread than previously believed. And the situation with the beef processing plant in Texas which cannot pass health inspections has developed new wrinkles. We reported last month on how a judge in that state ruled that the USDA could not shut the plant down for failing inspections since the meat may have been contaminated on arrival, which would mean that the problem is not the packing plant’s fault (even though this means that the plant can continue to send contaminated meat out to be eaten). Since last month, the USDA tried asking this plant, Supreme Beef Processors, to shut down voluntarily. It also has turned out that this plant supplies about 15% of the ground beef that goes to the school lunch program. The USDA’s most recent move has been to set new rules to require scientific bacteria tests on meat it buys for schools – but the agency admits it doesn’t know if it will be permitted to implement them. The agency is also sending a review team to Supreme Beef, since if unsanitary conditions other than bacterial contamination are found, it will be able to shut the plant.

A final datum in this category involves homocysteine, a substance found in the blood. It is now beginning to be suspected as a contributing cause for all kinds of nasty degene-rative health problems, from miscarriages and birth defects through strokes, heart attacks, and Alzheimer’s disease. The mechanism appears to be that homocysteine causes some damage to artery walls, and that it is this damage which gives cholesterol a spot to start building up on. The interesting point is that homocysteine is produced by the body – as a normal breakdown product of eating animal protein. This might help explain why vegans have so much less heart disease than others.

On the other hand, it also remains true that vegetarianism is good for you.

Oxford scientists have found that vegans had significantly lower blood levels of the growth factor IGF-1 than even dairy-eating vegetarians, let alone omnivores – and since a high IGF-1 level is known to increase the risk of both prostate and breast cancer, this would suggest that vegan diets which exclude dairy may be protective.

Another study, reported in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, found that chili powder, and to a lesser extent black pepper and turmeric, protected bacteria from destruction by radiation; it suggested that if these results carry over to healthy human tissue, then spices might someday be able to help people undergoing chemotherapy.

Prevention magazine reports that not only can the soluble fiber in beans help lower cholesterol, but that bean eaters may also have more flexible arteries, which would help protect against high blood pressure and heart attacks. In particular, the phytoestrogens found in soybeans and soy products may be the cause of this benefit, and half a cup per day may be enough to help.

It also seems that a component of rasp-berries may kill cancer cells, since what makes a cell cancerous is that it starts to grow and reproduce without ever dying off – and this raspberry chemical may enable cancerous cells to start dying again.

Yet another study has found that the people who eat the most vegetables and fruits have lower risk of stroke than others. This study, reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that broccoli/ cabbage family vegetables were the most protective, followed by citrus juice, leafy greens, and citrus fruit.

In a related but different matter, the most recent Prevention also ran an article on the appearance of supplements that contain vegetable concentrates as a pill, with the entice-ment that just by taking these pills you can get the benefits of eating vegetables without having to actually eat vegetables (since there are quite a few Americans who exhibit far less

resistance to pills than to broccoli). However, the article pointed out that while there is "tons of evidence" that actually eating vegetables helps keep you healthy, there is no research at all suggesting that vegetable powder in a pill confers any benefit whatever, partly because a great deal of processing is necessary to pro-duce the powders yet the processing probably destroys most of the nutrients, and also partly because you’d have to eat anywhere from 5 to 70 capsules to get the benefit of a single serving of vegetables. Their conclusion comes down (again) to: just eat food.

Finally, regarding what kind of food to eat, there was an article in the most recent Green Guide, published by Mother and Others For a Liveable Planet. This article started by noting that pesticide residues are found in commercially-grown produce, sometimes in dangerous amounts, and especially so for children. The question was addressed of which foods are most important to buy organic if one can’t go organic completely and needs to choose the worst offenders to avoid. Their list of the ten foods that are likeliest to involve dangerous levels of pesticides, either as residues in the food and/or as destructive agents in the envi-ronment during growing, is: peaches, apples, pears, winter squash, green beans, grapes, strawberries, raspberries, spinach, and potatoes. They recommend buying organic pro-duce as a first choice, then seeking IPM food (Integrated Pest Management agriculture uses chemicals minimally), then if you can’t do either, to buy locally from farmers’ markets, which at least avoids pesticides and insecticides on produce shipped long distances.

DIALOG

We reported recently that the World Bank has plans to fund the development of cattle feedlots in China, an abysmally stupid move both from the standpoint of enabling everyone to be fed and from the standpoint of healthy nutrition. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is now asking people to write to their representatives in Congress and ask them to cosponsor H.R 2969, a bill to prevent U.S. funds from being used in environmentally destructive World Bank projects – which include livestock loans. Write to: The Honor-able [your representative’s name], U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. 20515. PCRM is also asking us to write to the president of the World Bank asking for a quick cancellation of the China-Smallholder Cattle Development project on grounds that it will be detrimental to human health, animal welfare, and the environment. This address is James D. Wolfensohn, President, The World Bank, Room MC12-750, 1818 H St. NW, Washing-ton, DC 20433; or fax 202-477-2733.

On a completely different subject, at the June potluck there was some discussion of aging, and of how much one can do about one’s health condition versus how much a person just has to accept some of the deterioration that comes with age or injury.

It seems to Chuck and me that the answer is neither that we can completely control our

physical condition nor that we just have to accept growing debility as inevitable. Many lifestyle choices become self-fulfilling prophecies, for good or ill, such as eating unhealthily because you figure it doesn’t really matter. In fact, people who do try their best to eat well and exercise and keep themselves appropriately challenged mentally and physically do retain their health and faculties much better and for much longer than people who do not try, and there are many remarkable stories of people who recovered from very bad physical conditions by embarking on a serious program of diet changes, exercise, etc. One study found that women in their eighties in a nursing home could still build muscle and improve balance through weight training. The body never loses its ability to heal, regenerate, and gain in its condition – and should never be given up on.

On the other hand, it’s equally certain that we heal more slowly as we age, and become more prone to physical problems and ailments that may result from long slow exposures to unhealthy influences, or gradual loss of self-repairing mechanisms, or repeated injuries over the decades. There are people who do everything they can to heal themselves but who cannot bring themselves back to "good as new." The toll taken by the passage of time and/or accumulated insults is real.

In short, our ability to stay young has limits, and some losses can’t be completely prevented or corrected. Yet we never know how much vigor we can retain or reclaim until we really do all we can to keep or restore it. We need realistic expectations – but it is realistic to include optimism in the equation.