Thank you very much to everyone who helped out at the Outpost Wellness Fest. Together we made many contacts and talked with many people; we also began the publicization of our Pre-Thanksgiving Feast. Welcome to those of you who signed our sign-up sheets at the Fest and are therefore receiving this issue of our newsletter as a free sample; you can receive it regularly in future either by subscribing to the paper edition or reading it online (see page 3 for details).
It's now time – already – to go into high gear regarding planning for the Pre-Thanksgiving Feast. We're beginning the process of lining up donors of food. Our speaker has his plane ticket. Chuck and I will poster the East Side, but we also need people to put out flyers in other parts of town. Call (414) 962-2703 to let us know how many flyers you need and we'll mail them to you, or pick them up at the October potluck. I will also be doing the press releases before the end of this month.
In addition, you'll find a Pre-Thanksgiving Feast flyer in this newsletter for your own use. Note that this year you must reserve and prepay to be sure of getting in. We will certainly make every effort to accomodate "regulars" who have uncertainties about their schedules until the last minute, but I don't see how we could give priority to them over those who do reserve in good time – and remember that last year we filled our hall to capacity. Call either Louise and Chuck at 962-2703 or Jody at (414) 764-7262 if you have questions or problems; use this form to mail in your reservation. (This may take a long time to download and display and requires Adobe Acrobat Reader. Be patient!)
Also, call Jody to volunteer to help prepare food the day or two before the Feast. Call
Jody or me to volunteer to help out with setup, serving, or cleanup at the event. One of the ways in which this Feast is fun is that it gets a whole bunch of us doing stuff together!
We now have hosts for both the October and the November potlucks, but not yet for the December one.
My book, Food Pyramid Feast, is now in the Capitol Drive Outpost and also in all four Schwartz bookstores. It would make a great holiday present for people who are not vegetarian as well as for those who are. (I seem to have gotten really uninhibited about promoting the thing.)
Saturday, Oct. 7, 6 PM, regular potluck at Sandy and Paul Forgach's, 8362 N. 49th St., Brown Deer. From Brown Deer Rd. and 51st St., go south on 51st. a couple of blocks, then back east to 49th, turn south, and you'll see the white house on the left. (414) 355-4089.
Sunday, Nov. 5, 6 PM, regular potluck at Jean Groshek's, 2531 N. Dousman St.
Saturday, Nov. 18, The Pre-Thanksgiving Feast, 5 PM, North Shore Presbyterian Church – see enclosed flyer.
Sunday, Dec. 10, 6 PM, regular potluck. This one still needs a host.
Sunday, Oct. 15, 5 PM, Melodie Rossen's, 3850 S. Miner St., 281-0586
Sunday, Nov. 19, 5 PM, Lise Meissner and Marty Malin's, 6522 W. Wright St., Wauwatosa, 453-7326
Sunday, Dec. 17, 5 PM, Allen Owen's, 5310 W. Loomis Rd., 421-1725 or 421-1700 -- Christmas party potluck
QUOTES OF THE MONTH
"I don't eat chicken anymore. I won't eat it. I won't allow it in my house."
-- Rodney Leonard, U.S. Poultry inspection
"Based on my experience in Los Angeles, my advice to the public is not to eat meat."
-- Gregorio Natavidad, meat inspector
There continues to be quite a variety of safety concerns about eating meat. There was a recall at the end of August of smoked Canadian lake trout due to potential salmonella poisoning, and a Minnesota company recalled ground beef patties due to e. coli contamination in early September (this particular blooper resulted in some illnesses but no deaths). The government, however, does not seem to be acting very effectively to control the situation. We reported earlier that after issuing new regulations aimed at ensuring the safety of school lunch meat, the USDA was embarrassed to find itself having trouble getting meat that could pass the requirements – so it has now been reported that the agency is considering loosening its new standards on salmonella. At the same time, food inspection is being made increasingly ineffective. The Agriculture Department announced that meat inspectors should not be doing jobs that the businesses they oversee could be doing, so tasks from checking that scales are accurate all the way to actual inspection of chicken carcasses are now being performed by meat company employees while the government inspectors just watch. This is not necessarily the fault of the USDA, whose budget is now inadequate to do the sort of inspections that are needed. But fixing the blame hardly changes the end result, which is that meat safety continues to drop.
Related to this observation, though, is a nugget from the Pure Food Campaign regarding farm practices and e. coli. We knew that e. coli is produced in cattle guts and contaminates meat during slaughter. A recent study at Cornell University found that virulent strains of e.coli are indeed produced by cattle fed with starchy grains – but that organically raised cattle, which are fed mostly hay instead of grains, generate less than 1% of the e. coli found in the feces of grainfed animals.
Sometimes even vegan items become questionable, though, as witness the recent flap about Taco Bell corn tacos turning out to contain a variety of genetically engineered corn that had been licensed for use as animal feed but not for human consumption....
Some news is scary, such as the discovery by some Australian researchers that scrapie (the sheep form of spongiform encephalopathy/ mad cow disease/ Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease) had been given to mice who then led normal lives but whose ground-up brains after they died turned out to be able to transmit scrapie to other mice – raising the possibility of wider and more complex transmission of the disease than had previously been believed.
And some news is just strange. One such item is the report that the USDA is considering certifying some pigs free of trichinae, so that people could finally eat undercooked pork without fear of getting trichinosis. Another is the article in the September Vegetarian Times in which "zone diet" doctor Barry Sears generously reveals how to do the zone diet by overdosing on soy instead of meat. It's still a really seriously unbalanced diet which I would not advise anyone to stay on for long.
Soy has in fact been the subject of much and highly varied hoopla. First, over the last few years, came many reports of its health benefits. More recently, rumors have been surfacing that maybe it's not so healthy, or perhaps only its more traditional forms (such as tofu and tempeh) are healthy while the highly processed soy-based meat substitutes are questionable. Since I have yet to see a single scientific study cited against soy, I'm not convinced there is any problem at all. Still, it does make sense to eat many kinds of food, each in moderation, rather than overdo any one kind.
This is probably true of other good vegetarian foods as well. Researchers from the University of Essex found that eating garlic does cut cholesterol levels, but only by an average of 4% among the people they studied (as compared to 5% drops from dietary changes alone and 17% from statin drugs). They therefore disrecommended eating garlic to lower cholesterol. I would instead recommend that eating garlic be one of several simultaneous tactics rather than be considered the single thing to do
Wine is another food that has generated confusion or controversy. Evidence continues to mount that people who drink wine do seem to help their hearts, yet it is also clear that heavy
drinking is not good for you, and that wine – in moderation – is the only form of alcohol to have any benefit. Chocolate similarly has now been found to have really good antioxidents, yet eating enough to get fat will surely negate any advantage you might get therefrom.
And while a study of oat bran fortified cereal found that it gave no apparent protection from colon cancer (suggesting that fiber in the diet may be overvalued), in another recent study women who ate lots of whole grains had about one-third lower risk of strokes than those who ate little or no whole grains – suggesting that eating high-fiber foods is indeed beneficial.
Meanwhile, there seems no controversy that such vegetarian foods as garlic, onion, gingerroot, and shitake mushrooms have immune-system-boosting powers. And the October Prevention ran an article with a whole list of foods that help keep you healthy. Macadamia nuts, for example, are high in monounsaturated fat and can help lower bad LDL cholesterol. Olives, also rich in monounsaturated fats, have phytochemicals as well that help fight cancer and heart disease, as does peanut butter. Cranberry juice prevents e. coli bacteria from latching onto urinary tract walls. If you eat dairy, ricotta cheese has one-third the fat and five times as much calcium as cream cheese. Blueberries are high in antioxidents and have helped reverse memory loss in rats. Wheat fiber in whole wheat berries can help reduce estrogen levels and thus possibly help reduce breast cancer risk. The concentrated lycopenes in tomato sauce help fight prostate, lung, and stomach cancers. And both spinach and parsley can help save your eyesight by helping to prevent age-related macular degeneration.
There seems to be quite a lot of controversy these days about what is and isn't part of healthy eating. And yet another area of dispute and concern is calcium.
Since osteoporosis in the elderly and broken bones in teenage athletes are now pandemic in the U.S. population, it is surely reasonable to pay some attention to the problem of getting people to eat the calcium (and magnesium and vitamin D and phosphorus) necessary to have and retain normally strong bones. But prob lems arise both in trying to figure out what is enough and with trying to figure out how much of what foods should be eaten to get it.
There are still many unanswered questions about calcium absorption and metabolism, so scientists really are not sure how much calcium is the right amount for people, especially since how much you need varies with age, sex, and other diet choices. So when the National Institutes of Health held a symposium not long ago, each scientist who spoke on the subject came up with a different recommendation, almost all of which would be impossible to satisfy without using either supplements or dairy. These scientists' suggestions, however, were made for people eating a typical Ameri
can diet – which includes a great deal of animal protein. Animal protein, especially meat, is known to cause excretion of calcium, often to the point of creating a negative calcium balance (eliminating more than is taken in). How much calcium you need if you're minimizing or eliminating animal protein from the diet has not even been discussed, although it is known that populations of vegetarians or mostly-vegetable-food eaters can have much stronger bones than omnivores despite significantly lower calcium intakes. Bottom line is that I have no idea what to tell people regarding how much calcium to eat to keep their bones strong – though I certainly can advise a vegetarian or vegan diet.
In light of this situation, I found a recent Jane Brody article absurd and interesting by turns. She starts out from the (unstated) assumption that since we must all increase our calcium intakes drastically, we must all therefore get lots of milk and other dairy foods. She then goes on to explain away all the objections to doing so – but in the process she actually validates them. She admits, for example, that some studies do show a relation between milk-drinking and cancer, but counters that others do not and that skim or lowfat milk can decrease cancer-causing fat and make the milk okay; she admits that there is some evidence of a role for cow's milk in triggering juvenile onset diabetes but counters that using formula in which the milk is heavily processed instead of feeding straight milk to young children should reduce the risk – and so on.
So what should you do? For the time being, I'd say breastfeed the baby, avoid going overboard on dairy foods, eat lots of non-dairy calcium foods including calcium-fortified soy and/or orange juice plus leafy greens, whole grains, etc., keep away from soft drinks, and don't eat meat!
Next month, I hope to tackle the soy issue.