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November 2000

GREETINGS

We're now fully in the throes of preparing our Pre-Thanksgiving Feast.

Those of you who are planning to attend really need to get your prepaid reservations in to us NOW. Community calendar listings should just be getting published about the time you receive this, and we've already had phone calls from people who came last year and want to know if we're doing it again; in other words, there's no reason to be sure of getting a seat if you wait until the last moment! In previous years, I've furnished readers with a "round to-it" in case they were waiting until they got around to it to act on this; consider it herewith issued.

Equally urgent is the need for helpers in many capacities. We will know in advance this year how much food others are bringing and how much we need to make ourselves, and it's already clear that, as usual, we'll have to make large amounts of several items. Jody needs a cadre of people to volunteer to cook in volume in their own homes such dishes as three bean salad, green salad, etc., and also needs a few warm bodies to help her with some cooking in her home on the day before The Event. MARV will reimburse you for the cost of supplies. It is just as important to have plenty of volunteers to help at the event with setup, serving, and/or cleanup. We expect to start setting up a little earlier this year at 3 or 3:30 PM instead of 4 PM as previously but whatever hours you can help will be utterly appreciated. Call Jody at (414) 764-7262 to help with food and/or with making the dinner happen the day of. The only way this can work is if lots of us pitch in but pitching in is fun. And in any case, it's less than three weeks away. Now now is the time to stop thinking and grab the phone and sign on.

In other MARV news, our group finally has its very own checking account. In the first years, we didn't always have a positive balance in MARV funds, so MARV was run as a budget line on Chuck's and my checking account, but we have been consistently in the black for a couple of years now, with enough funds to cover this year's Pre-Thanksgiving Feast preparations and the expectation of making money thereon, so it was time to transfer MARV's money to an account of its own. If anyone out there is in convenient reach of a North Shore Bank office and wants to take over handling the money, call me at (414) 962-2703!

Regarding this month's potluck, coming right up on Nov. 5, please note a change of venue. It was going to be held at Jean Groshek's house, but she ended up having a conflict for that day. Therefore the November potluck will be at the Quigley place, and the December potluck will be at Jean's. Anyone want to host the January one?

It turns out that something was done in our area for Vegetarian Awareness Month (October). David and Jody created a big attractive library display for their local library in South Milwaukee, with information about vegetarianism, direction towards vegetarian books (since this was in a library, after all), and pamphlets about vegetarianism and Vegetarian Awareness Month. The pamphlets were taken slowly but steadily through the month by library visitors, and David and Jody are now planning to redo the display for general all-year use and see about placing it in some other libraries around town any suggestions for places?

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M.A.R.V. ACTIVITIES

Sunday, Nov. 5, 6 PM, regular potluck at the Quigley place, 2201 E. Jarvis St., Shorewood, at the SE corner of N. Maryland and E. Jarvis, 1 block N of the intersection of N. Maryland and E. Capitol. 962-2703 Note change of site!

Saturday, Nov. 18, The Pre-Thanksgiving Feast, 5 PM, North Shore Presbyterian Church, 4048 N. Bartlett (1 block north and 1 block west of the intersection of E. Capitol and N. Oakland; park in the Sendik's lot off N. Oakland. Prepaid preregistration necessary! Register now! Phone now to help out any cooking you can do and/or hours you have that day between 3 PM and 9!

Sunday, Dec. 10, 6 PM, regular potluck at Jean Groshek's, 2531 N. Dousman St.

Sunday, Jan. 7, 6 PM, regular potluck. this one needs a host.

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Macrobiotic Potlucks

Sunday, Nov. 19, 5 PM, Lise Meissner and Marty Malin's, 6522 W. Wright St., Tosa, 453-7326 for directions and coordinate food.

Sunday, Dec. 17, 5 PM, Allen Owen's 5310 W. Loomis Rd., 421-1725 or 421-1700. Christmas party potluck.

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QUOTE OF THE MONTH

"Most people are not aware that cancer experts recommend eating little or no meat (no more than....three ounces per day) if you eat meat at all." (emphasis theirs)

-- Health Science magazine, (publication of the American Natural Hygiene Society), Nov./Dec. 2000

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NEWS

Animal foods are still giving people trouble.

For one thing, mad cow disease is in the news again. In France, 73 animals have now been found so far this year who are apparently affected (compared to 31 last year), and authorities announced this month that over 1,000 pounds of potentially contaminated meat had been put on the market in October. And in England, a government report three years in the making acknowledged that from 1986 until 1996, the government had consistently misled the public about the danger by deliberately downplaying the possibility that mad cow disease could be transmitted to humans. Apparently the government sought to prevent "an irrational public scare" (though such a scare seems pretty rational to me). Officials of that period are now reduced to apologetic noises, which are not being swallowed very well given that the cases of new variant CJD which could develop as a result could number anywhere between a few hundreds or thousands up to tens of thousands.

Closer to home, the most recent e. coli outbreak occurred in a Waukesha, WI elementary school lunchroom; the last I heard at least 19 children were affected, 7 of them hospitalized.

The U.S. government meanwhile is proposing to test egg farms for salmonella, and if it is found in the eggs to require those eggs to be pasteurized or used only for cooked foods. At the same time, the federal Dept. of Health and Human Services came out with a report on how Americans can become healthier by 2010; the goals included reversing the trend towards overweight, adding a lot more vegetables and fruits especially brightly-colored ones to people's diets, and trading in white bread for whole grains. At the same time, the American Heart Association is advising people to decrease their intake of saturated fat (equals animal foods and a very few oils) and increase fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes.

And the news is finally getting out about meat, milk, and osteoporosis. US News and World Report featured an article reporting on a U. of California endocrinologist, Deborah Sellmeyer, who tracked over 9,000 older women and divided their diets by how much or little blood-acidifying meat and cheese they ate. She found unequivocally that the greater the acid load of the diet, the more bone fractures they experienced during the study's 7 years. Another endocrinologist was quoted by US News as considering it too early to conclude that a diet rich in meat and cheese is bad, but other physicians were also quoted who did say that people concerned about osteoporosis ought to switch from meat and cheese to vegetables and fruits. Grains can be somewhat acidifying, while cheese is very much so but milk and yogurt are relatively neutral; fruits like oranges and tomatoes may taste acidic but come out basic in digestion. Even a recent publication by Prevention magazine on healthy aging for women now includes "Eat less meat" in its osteoporosis section, and at least mentions calcium-fortified orange juice and soymilk and calcium-processed tofu as good calcium sources. (Others are dark green leafy vegetables except spinach and chard, and whole grains and some nuts.)

On a similar note, fatty fish are still being touted for the omega-3 (and omega-6) fatty acids which are now known to have many health benefits but vegetarian sources are ground flaxseed, flaxseed oil, walnuts and their oil, hemp seeds and oil, canola oil and soybean oil. The article I read on this cautioned against using supplements of omega-3s, however, since supplements could give you a potentially dangerous overdose of them.

At the same time, vegetarian foods are still good for you.

A researcher studying monkeys in Panama found that their diet of lots of dark green leaves plus a variety of fruits gives them enormously high levels of the vitamins and minerals we need for health, including huge amounts of calcium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin C, protein, and one of the omega-3 fatty acids.

Cranberries, especially cranberry solids rather than juice, turn out to have excellent cancer-fighting properties.

The lutein in spinach, broccoli, kale, etc. is known to help prevent damage to the retina and lens of the eye, and it has now been found that a bit of fat makes a big difference in being able to absorb and use the lutein (take-home lesson: use dressing on the salad). Studies are underway to find out whether lutein supplements would help or hurt; meanwhile, eat your leafies.

Also, some foods that can be fattening are now being touted as good for you nonetheless, (such as pizza because of the tomato sauce though there are other ways to get tomato sauce!). Olives, also fatty, are nonetheless rich in good antioxidents. The flavonoids in dark chocolate help prevent heart attacks by preventing platelets from sticking together to form clots. Some oils useful in salad dressing have health benefits (as noted above). And nuts are full of good vitamins, minerals, and protein as well as being really fatty. The current fashion in food advice is therefore no longer to go ultra-lowfat, but rather to limit fatty foods to moderate amounts of the good ones only.

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CONNECTIONS

Pat O'Neill will again be offering her macrobiotic cooking class series. This time it will be held on Nov. 5 and 12, and Dec. 3 and 10, 2-5 PM, with a complete meal to follow and much good information about macrobiotics in addition to the recipes and cooking demonstration. The fee is $20. per class. Phone Pat at (414) 964-9759 for more info or to sign up.

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DIALOG

One area for controversy and discussion continues to be the infiltration of bioengineered crop products into the food stream. Something like two thirds or more of foods on grocery shelves, especially any kind of processed food, is now likely to have some ingredient that may be genetically modified, and since few are labelled the only way you can avoid them is to buy only 100% organic whole foods and those few items that are labelled as GMO-free or that you're sure about. Concerns about GMO foods' safety for humans are starting to surface, such as the recent scandal in which corn was found in human foods even though it had been licensed for animal but not human consumption due to \the possibility that it might cause allergic reactions in humans.

The Organic Consumers Association is launching an action against 15 major food corporations on this issue. To be involved, call them at (218) 726-1443 or see their web site at www.purefood.org.

One of the foods likeliest to be bioengineered is soy, though in fact makers of soy products are sensing consumers' concerns and increasingly labelling the GMO-free ones voluntarily.

But this raises the issue of the safety of normal soy, a subject that's surfaced of late and which I promised last month to look into.

I did find a website with all kinds of scary statements about soy. It claimed to be run by a group of concerned citizens with no connection to anyone who has an interest in the matter but there was no way at all to check that claim. What really made me question the site's credibility, though, was the way in which it tried to support its allegations. It would make a really damning statement about soy's possible dangers, and as backup give a reference to a single scientific study; clicking on the link thereto would call up only an extremely fragmentary bit rather than a complete paper. And there would be only one reference for each accusation, not a list of them.

One needs to understand how scholarship works. As a Ph.D. in English and ex-wife of a biology Ph.D., I know that in any area of study, ideas are proposed, tested, questioned, revisited, proven, disproven, expanded, and refined over time until out of a great body of investigation the shape of some facts becomes reliably clear. Any single datapoint is meaningless by itself and only single datapoints were cited on this website, while the FDA is looking at sheafs of studies in deciding to let food product makers print health claims on their soy foods. It's probably wise to eat only modest amounts of any food, but from what I've seen so far I'm not abandoning soy.

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