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July 2002

GREETINGS

The June potluck was a bit more mellow than the past few, but still nicely attended. It was followed later in the month by a potluck picnic at David and Jody’s that was decided on too late to be mentioned here last month, but for which notice was given to everyone who came to the regular June potluck as well as everyone for whom Jody had an address. We’ll work on being a bit more coordinated in future.

Anyone interested in attending the CUFA picnic on August 11 should note that they are requiring advance registration this year, so be warned that you need to make up your mind in advance this time. I am informed, however, that after being thoroughly flooded the last two years, the CUFA folks have learned their lesson and obtained a site with a roof this time, which does make advance registration a bit safer…

This will be our fourth potluck at the Friends Meeting House, out of a series of six planned. We need to start deciding whether we want to continue there; if we do we’ll have to check with our hosts about doing so.

M.A.R.V. ACTIVITIES

Sunday, July 7, 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). Focus will be on raw foods; as usual, bring a raw-food dish to contribute if you are so inclined, otherwise just come and bring whatever.

Subsequent regular potlucks will be at the same time and place on August 4 and Sept. 8.

Sunday, Aug. 11, 12 noon to 4 PM, CUFA 8th Annual Vegetarian Fest Picnic, Grant Park (at College Ave. and Lake Drive), picnic area 5A (sheltered). $4 per person bringing a dish to share, veggie burgers and beverages provided, advance reservations only – deadline Aug. 5. Send name, number of registrants, and phone number with check payable to CUFA to 1812 Mountain Ave., Wauwatosa, WI 53213.

Macrobiotic potluck

July 14, 12 noon, outdoor picnic at Ron and Judy Strampe’s, S63 W15025 College Ave. in Muskego, landmark is a big stone silo in their front yard. (either 414 OR 262) 422-1370.

QUOTE OF THE MONTH

"In two April speeches in Iowa, New York environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., said major hog producers are a greater threat to the United States and its democracy than are Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network. Current law allows all hog waste to be applied to cropland which Kennedy said is okay for small farmers, but on a farm of 100,000 hogs (each of which produces the waste of 10 humans), the resulting air and water pollution is disastrous."

-- the problem is that this tidbit came from "News of the Weird: real news collected from the mainstream press" and presented in The Funny Times as bizarre. But was the collater suggesting that it was weird of Kennedy to say this, or that it is weird that we allow it?

NEWS

There are still various problems with meat-eating to be gleaned from the news.

Israel has reported its first confirmed case of mad cow disease, while New Mexico has confirmed its first case of a deer with chronic wasting disease (the deer and elk version of mad cow). France still refuses to import British beef because of Britain’s mad cow epidemic of a few years ago, causing political waves. And in Belarus, authorities declared McDonald’s food dangerous to health and announced that they will no longer allot land to build more McDo restaurants. Maybe they’re onto something: baseball pitcher Darryl Kile died in his hotel room between two games, at age 33, apparently of a heart attack since the coroner found his coronary arteries to be severely blocked; (news coverage discussed medical treatments for such disease rather than dietary prevention). Back in England, a hog farmer was convicted of causing last year’s foot-and-mouth disease epidemic by failing to promptly report and treat his hogs when they first became ill; he was also convicted of animal cruelty for the way he kept them.

Fallout continues over the discovery of chronic wasting disease in Wisconsin’s deer. A recent survey of state hunters found that 36% are reconsidering hunting, yet that while most don’t object to testing their prey, less than half would be willing to pay for that testing – and 56% are not concerned about eating their prey even though they’re aware of CWD’s presence. Joel McNally wrote a column lambasting the DNR for mishandling the whole matter, and wondering how the DNR’s plan to kill hundreds of thousands of deer is going to work (especially what will be done to all those potentially dangerous deer guts and bodies). The DNR is still planning on this mass killing, and also wants to ban deer feeding in the state.

Other worrisome meat news involves fish. Populations as diverse as cod and haddock off New England, shrimp in the Gulf of Mexico, and the Patagonian toothfish off Australia are endangered by overfishing. Yet lake fish and many ocean fish are contaminated with industrial chemicals like PCBs or with heavy metals like mercury, while shrimp imported from Asian "fish farms" have been found to contain an antibiotic that is dangerous to human health but used because the fish are unhealthily crowded.

Following up on our report about how cocoa is grown, the International Labor Rights Fund has filed a petition with the U.S. Customs Service, asking that it enforce U.S. laws which bar the importation of goods made with child labor, as a response to reports of child labor and child slavery in cocoa production in the Ivory Coast.

June was Dairy Month, so various articles about calcium inevitably appeared over the past few weeks. The one in the Outpost Exchange started with the obligatory bow to dairy but then went on to point out that dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, and fortified soy products are also excellent sources (as are almonds and calcium-fortified orange juice as well). This column also pointed out that calcium intake is only part of the equation, and that avoidance of smoking, high salt intake, and caffeine, while getting weight-bearing exercise and foods with magnesium and vitamin D, all help your calcium balance. The writer didn’t come straight out with the fact that eating animal protein is a definite negative in this regard, but did at least mention that vegetarians have denser bones than meat-eaters, and that their lower intake of animal protein might be a factor. Another treatment of the subject was Vegetarian Voice’s report on a conference held in Washington D.C. and billed as a Calcium Conference but actually paid for by the dairy industry and essentially used by the presenters as a dairy-boosting occasion without allowing any discussion of any other way for people to get and keep their calcium. VV itself ran counterbalancing articles on the problems and health concerns of dairy consumption, including growing evidence of links with type I diabetes, atherosclerosis, and some cancers, not to mention lactose intolerance and allergic reactions; there was also treatment of vegan calcium sources, and bone health beyond calcium intake.

Different perspectives, assumptions, and levels of awareness concerning calcium foods and maintaining one’s bones are typical of food issues in general. I also found a frustrating article in Delicious! magazine about protein. On the one hand, the author did acknowledge that either too little or too much protein can be a problem, that Americans tend to get too much, and that relying at least partly on plant-based protein foods rather than animal foods can help one’s protein intake be more balanced; she also used the weight-based World Health Organization guidelines for determining individual protein needs rather than the too-generalized US RDA. On the other hand, she suggested that "active" people need much more protein (25-50% more) than sedentary ones without mentioning any supporting studies, gave an extremely inadequate amount of extra protein needed during pregnancy, and perpetuated the thoroughly out-dated notion of needing to combine incomplete plant food proteins to make them count.

Yet another issue of continuing debate is the value of organic food, although as far as I can tell the preponderance of evidence in its favor continues to accumulate. Most recently, a paper at the American Chemical Society meeting in May reported researchers’ surprise at finding that organic oranges, though typically a bit smaller than conventionally grown ones, have 30% more vitamin C. And June’s American Airlines inflight magazine had an article on high-profile chefs who are embracing organic food for their restaurants; it explained why increasing numbers of people from all walks of life are becoming convinced that organic is healthier, both for its increased vitamin and mineral content and its absence of chemical residues. This article’s list of foods to buy organic even if you can’t go organic completely was: apples, apricots, bell peppers, butter, cantaloupe, celery, cherries, cucumbers, grapes, peaches, peanuts, pickles, popcorn, radishes, spinach, squash, strawberries, and green beans.

Beans can even be controversial. Health Science magazine ran an article explaining that for fiber and protein without fat, soybeans are not nearly as good as most other kinds of dried beans, and that the others also have more flavonoids (beneficial antioxidents) than soy. Not one word of the article acknowledged that there may be other reasons than protein content for eating soy, such as avoiding hot flashes and maintaining bone health. The article did mention the presence of genistein and isoflavones (believed to be soy’s active ingredients for these functions) in other kinds of beans – but they don’t work for me, while soy does. And Prevention had a really confusing article featuring a food guru’s 8-week diet makeover: on one hand, one of the questions Prevention listed for determining if you need help was "Am I a vegetarian?", while on the other, one of the guru’s tips was to replace two meat-based meals per week with bean-based ones…

In any case, there is the continuing news that vegetarian foods are good for you. The same Delicious! magazine ran an article on the nutritional wonders of hemp oil and hemp seed, which contain the same kind of good essential fatty acids that fish are touted for providing. Apparently hemp not only contains EFAs, but

is virtually unique in providing the ideal ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 that the human body needs. Blueberries are still being praised for their antioxident content, exceeded only by pomegranates and rose hips, and for the fact that animal studies at least have found blue-berries in the diet to help keep the brain functioning well. Strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are nearly as high in antioxidents as blues. At the same time, there is increasing evidence that eating food is better than supplements: two recent studies seemed to find that a diet rich in the antioxident vitamin E helped prevent Alzheimer’s, but that pills alone didn’t. And tea, which is also being discovered as rich in antioxidents, apparently becomes much richer if you actively dunk your teabag for 3 minutes instead of just letting it lie in the cup.

Finally, the NY Times Science section had an article on what zoos feed their animals to keep them healthy. The diet for primates is of particular interest, since humans are primates, very closely related, genetically speaking, to gorillas and bonobos (pygmy chimps). And what these animals are fed to keep them healthy is colorful and varied plant foods: broccoli, bananas, cabbage, collards, corn, celery, grapes, kale, green beans, lettuce, melons, onions, papaya, pear, spinach, turnips, and figs. (A gorilla is vegan? But where does it get its muscles?)

CONNECTIONS

There is still time to decide to go to the North American Vegetarian Society annual conference on July 31 through Aug. 4, if you wish, and still time to get a deal on the price if you want to be MARV’s designated delegate there. Call me at 962-2703, and/or call them at (518) 568-7970 or contact them at navs@telenet.net

DIALOG

Despite the nutritional value of hemp seeds and their oil, and the equally enormous industrial value of hemp fiber, the U.S. government remains adamant on keeping illegal the growing even of non-marijuana varieties of hemp; the DEA is even trying to crack down on food products containing hemp seed and oil. Websites with information on this issue include:

www.abouthemp.com,www.votehemp.com, and www.hempfood.com.