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August 2002

GREETINGS

The July potluck was also a bit more mellow than our Winter and early Spring ones – and we’ve reminded each other that attendance usually drops off in Summer and picks up again in the Fall. We do note that our Summer attendance at the Friends’ Meeting House is about what our Winter attendance used to be in people’s homes. This is only one reason that we quickly reached consensus that we should discuss with our hosts continuing to meet there for at least another six months; this is now in the works. And we do remind everyone that having a monthly potluck at our now-regular site does NOT prevent anyone from hosting an additional potluck event at their home – just let me know far enough in advance to get it into this newsletter (for example, for late October, get me the information by mid-September).

The other decision we addressed at the July meeting was where to hold this year’s Pre-Thanksgiving Feast. On this matter, the general agreement was that we should see if we can go back to North Shore Presbyterian this year, since that church only has a conflict with our event every other year. For subsequent years, we could either explore other sites, or consider moving our event one week earlier – but this is a set of decisions that don’t need to be made quite yet.

M.A.R.V. ACTIVITIES

Sunday, Aug. 4, 5:30 PM, regular potluck at the Friends’ Meeting House, 3224 N. Gordon Pl. (from Humboldt Blvd. in Riverwest, go east on Auer to the end to see the parking lot).

Topic will be the wonders of dark green leafy vegetables; bring a leafy green dish OR anything else (we do need some variety).

The next regular potluck will be the same time and place on Sunday, Sept. 8.

Sunday, Aug. 11, noon to 4 PM, CUFA’s 8th annual Vegetarian Fest Picnic, Grant Park (at College Ave. and Lake Dr. in South Milwaukee), picnic area 5A (sheltered). $4 per person bringing a dish to share, veggie burgers and beverages provided. Advance registration required and possible through Aug. 5: send name, number of attendees, and phone number with check payable to CUFA to 1812 Mountain Ave., Wauwatosa, WI 53213.

Macrobiotic potluck

Sunday, Aug. , at a time, at a place with an address and a phone number.

QUOTE OF THE MONTH

"Five Reasons To Eat Meat:

1) It tastes good.

2) It makes you feel good.

3) It’s a great American tradition.

4) It supports the nation’s farmers.

5) Your parents did it.

Oh, sorry…those are five reasons to smoke cigarettes. Meat is more complicated."

-- start of a July 6 Time Magazine article entitled "Should We All Be Vegetarians?"

NEWS

Meat-eating is still bad for you. The breaking news as I write is the second-largest meat recall in history, 19 million pounds of e. coli-contaminated hamburger meat from ConAgra’s plant in Greeley, Colorado (much of it sold in April and May and was eaten before being recalled). So far there have been 19 reported illnesses from this one but no deaths. Somehow, it is not very surprising that this news came shortly after a report about a government audit which found the USDA’s new meat inspection program poorly designed, badly supervised, and riddled with problems.

In a different matter, a prominent British newspaper, The Guardian, ran an excellent article on what is in chicken nuggets and where they come from. It makes them sound as nice as hot dogs: i.e., inedible remainders ground up, doctored up, and engineered into something only appetizing if you don’t think about it. Meanwhile, Britain and France are still sparring over whether France should be fined for continuing to refuse to import British beef.

Back on this side of the Atlantic, the EPA warned recently that fish in 28% of U.S. lakes are contaminated with mercury, dioxins, or other toxic chemicals, based on the fact that state regulators had issued 2,618 fishing advisories or bans in 2001. And the problem of chronic wasting disease (CWD, the deer-and elk version of transmissible mad cow disease) in Wisconsin’s deer continues, with the DNR proceeding with a program to kill all the deer in the area where CWD was detected, and an article in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel about a local hunter who liked to feed his friends on what he bagged until two or three of them were recently diagnosed with nvCreutzfeldt-Jacob Disease, the human form of the illness.

Speaking of brain-wasting fatal diseases, the NY Times recently published an article on evidence which is accumulating to show that the same dietary measures which help prevent heart disease may also help protect against Alzheimer’s. Researchers are finding that people who eat lots of vegetables and fruit that supply vitamins A, C, and E, while minimizing or avoiding red meat, so as to prevent high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, are much less likely to develop Alzheimer’s.

Perhaps it’s items such as these that prompted Time Magazine to run a big cover article on "Should You Be a Vegetarian?" Though it did not end up answering an unequivocal yes to the question, but did accurately describe different kinds of vegetarianism and semi-vegetarianism, and the various reasons why people embrace it. Even better was the fact that when it identified groups of people for whom a restricted diet might raise concerns, it did not say they should eat animal foods, but rather pointed out what they must do to make vegetarianism healthy.

On a completely different note, I actually found some reports of vegetarian foods that may not be good. A WHO meeting examined the discovery that a cancer-causing chemical can be found in such vegetarian foods as potato chips, french fries, and some other fried foods. And milk may not be meat, but an article in the NY Times Science section, revisiting the lack of calcium in American children’s diets, happily reported that the new flavored (and sugared, and fattening) milks are much more acceptable than plain milk. The survey that found this is being conducted by the Department of Agriculture, using dairy industry funding….

Then there is the issue of industrial agriculture and and bioengineering. Corn is a plant, certainly, but writer Michael Pollan had an op-ed article in the NY Times pointing out that the way we grow corn in huge monocropped, chemicalized fields, is not good for the environment, and furthermore has resulted in a glut of corn which then becomes used for the food additive corn syrup – which is a now-very-prevalent sugar that is part of our epidemic of obesity and diabetes. And the subject of corn brings up the problem of bioengineered corn contaminating corn’s gene pool, as well as a similar effect on canola; this has now led to a lawsuit by some 1,000 farmers against Monsanto and Aventis, claiming that these firms’ seeds have contaminated their organic fields, seeking restitution for lost profits, and seeking to block introduction of genetically modified wheat.

Vegetarian foods, however, remain good for you. An Outpost Exchange article on soy concluded that it has beneficial effects on cholesterol levels and thyroid cancer risk, while one study which found a correlation between tofu-eating in older men and cognitive decline was contradicted by other studies which found soy helpful to brain function. There is controversy over whether women with estrogen-sensitive cancers should eat soy, but no clear answers, since research so far indicates that soy’s isoflavones both inhibit and accelerate growth of breast-cancer cells. The bottom line still seems to be that ordinary amounts of dietary soy are safe and even good for most people, depending on your concerns.

At the same time, Prevention reports that compounds in some fruits and vegetables, as well as soy, slowed or stopped growth of some tumors in lab research. Another article reported on new research showing the benefits of dandelion root tea, both for helping the liver to detoxify the body, and for stimulating cancer-fighting immune cells. The most recent word from the very mainstream American Cancer Society is to eat mainly plant foods while limiting red meat, sweets, white bread and other refined grains, getting regular exercise, and permanently losing excess weight. Meanwhile, a new study found that a cup of black or green tea helps blood vessels relax so that blood can flow freely. Kiwis have been found to have twice the vitamin C of oranges, while people with higher skin levels of carotenoids (the compounds that make fruits and vegetables orange, yellow, or red) are more resistant to sunburn. And the antioxidents found in leafy greens, and also zinc (in peanuts, sunflower and sesame seeds) help prevent age-related macular degeneration. Prevention also visited the "stone-age diet" idea – and pointed out that not only did cavemen eat wild game rather than feedlot animals, but they also ate mostly vegetables and fruit while getting a lot of exercise.

THE VEGGIE TABLE

By reviewer Jan Taylor

Lula’s Café, featuring East African and Italian cuisine, opened earlier this year at 2921 N. Oakland Ave. The recorded soft background music enhanced the bright, cheerful atmosphere.

There is no waitstaff. You place your order at the counter with the owner, Omar Gagale, a very pleasant man who certainly knows East African cooking.

The vegetarian section of the menu featured three entrees, priced from $7.50 to $7.95.

I ordered Saharo, which was a very generous serving of cauliflower, eggplant, and mixed vegetables in a delicately spiced tomato sauce served over rice. This was accompanied by a lettuce and tomato salad with a light dressing.

Lula’s is open seven days a week from 11 AM to 9 PM. The phone number is (414) 962-1183.

CONNECTIONS

One of the reasons that we wait all year for midsummer is fresh local vegetables and fruits, and one of the best places to find them is area farmers markets. These have become increasingly popular in the last few years, and our area now has quite a few of them, as follows:

Milwaukee County

Bradley Village Commerce Center, N. 43d St. and Bradley Rd., 5/15-10/30, Wed., 9AM -6PM

4700 Packard Ave., Cudahy, 7/23 – 10/22, Fri., 10AM to sellout

Cathedral Square Park, Kilbourn and Jefferson Sts., 6/5 – 10/16, Sat., 7:30AM – 12:30PM

East Side Open Market, Oakland and North Aves., 6/1 – 10/26, Sat., 10AM – 2PM

South Shore Park, Bay View, 7/6 – 10/26, Sat., 7:30AM – 12:30PM

Fondy Mkt., 2200 W. Fond du Lac Ave., year-round, Mon.-Fri., 8AM – 2PM

USBank, 4015 S. Howell, Sat 7/27,8/10, 8/24, 9/21, 8:30AM – 12:30PM

Mitchell St. Farmers Mkt., 1002 W. Maple, 7/1 – 10/26, Mon., Wed., Fri., Sat 9AM – 4PM

New Mitchell St. Mkt., S. 12th and W. Mitchell, 6/2-10/27, Fri. and sun. 9AM – 5PM

Riverwest, Garden Park at Locust and Bremen, 6/2 – 10/27, Sun., 11AM – 4PM

Sherman Perk Coffee parking lot, 49th and Roosevelt, 6/2-10/27, Sun., 11AM – 3PM

S. Milw., St. Mary’s catholic church, 1304 Manitoba Ave., 5/5 – 10/27, Sun., noon – 4PM

Gengler Park, N. 50th and burleigh, 7/7 – 10/13, Wed., 11:30AM – 5PM

N. 49th St. at Lisbon Ave., 6/6 – 10/31, Sun., 8AM – 3PM

State St. and harwood Ave., Wauwatosa, 5/27-10/28, Thurs., 9AM – 2PM

Zeidler Union Square, between 3d, 4th, and Michigan Sts., 7//3 – 10/30, Wed., 10AM – 4PM

Will’s Roadside Mkt., 5500 W. Silver Spring Dr., June – Oct., daily, 10AM – 6PM

W. National Ave. at 65th St., West Allis, 5/1 – 11/27, Tues., Thurs., Sat., 1 – 8PM

Racine County

Elmwood Plaza, 3701 durand, Racine, may – Oct., Tues. and Fri., 8AM – noono

700 State, Racine, May – Oct., Sat., 8AM – noon

Waukesha County

Brookfield Civic Center, City Hall, 2000 N. Calhoun Rd., 5/11 – 10/26, Sat., 7:30AM – noon

Bank St. and St. Paul Ave., 5/11 – 10/26, Tues. and Sat., 7AM – 1PM

The National Health Association sent me a postcard announcing a seminar with health lectures and food demo on Saturday, Sept. 14 in Chicago at the Best Western,162 E. Ohio St and N. Michigan Ave. Time will be 9 AM to 4 PM, with a vegan lunch included. Cost is $60. for members registering early and $75 for non-members registering early, $70. for members registering at the event and $85 for non-members there. For info or to register, contact the NHA at (813) 855-6607.