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June 2002

GREETINGS

May was a quiet month for MARV, with no other excitement than another really well-attended potluck early in the month. On the other hand, mid- to late May is when my garden has to be planted, so when I had to be outside was exactly when I would otherwise have been writing this rag, which is why this is a couple of days later than it would normally be. Sorry about that. Won’t happen again until next year. Hopefully, since the potluck dates through September were all listed in last month’s newsletter, no one will have missed the fact that our next potluck will be on the Sunday just a day or three after you get this. In fact, if you haven’t already done so, why not write down the next few potluck dates on your calendars right now, and then I won’t have to worry about anyone missing a potluck because I had trouble getting myself in gear….

Now that regular monthly potlucks at the Friends’ Meeting House are going nicely, we do need to consider whether we want to have additional activities anywhere else as well. Feedback on this? We can talk about it at the potlucks, or call 962-2703.

M.A.R.V. ACTIVITIES

Sunday, June 2, 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 discussion of the protein myth.

Subsequent regular potlucks will be at the same place and time on: July 7, Aug. 4, and Sept. 8.

Macrobiotic potluck

Sunday, June 23, 5 PM, at Jean Groshek’s, 2531 N. Dousman in Riverwest, 265-2366.

QUOTES OF THE MONTH

These two quotes were taken from an article on "The Caveman Diet" which Chuck found on WebMD Medical News on the internet. According to Erica Frank, MD, a vegetarian and vice-chair of Family and Preventive Medicine at Emory University, (quoting the EPA), "The average American intake [of dioxin] is between 300 and 500 times the safe daily dose… Dioxin is a cancer-causing substance and disrupts hormones and the immune system… Dioxin is stored in animal fat." (emphasis mine)

Regarding quorn (see below), "why eat food grown in a vat? asks Frank. ‘I fail to see the point. From a health perspective, and from an environmental perspective, people need to be eating locally grown organic foods. You can get enough protein from plants. The typical American diet has too much protein.’"

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This is supposedly an actual answer that some teenager gave on an SAT exam:

Q. – How can you delay milk turning sour?

A. – Keep it in the cow.

NEWS

We reported last month on the problem of chronic wasting disease (the deer and elk version of transmisable spongiform encephalopathy, the brain-wasting disease which in cattle is mad cow disease and in humans is Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease). It’s still with us. The most recent developments are frantic efforts by various state governments to prevent its spread by forbidding the importation of deer and elk from out-of-state game parks and breeding stations – since it does seem that these were where the problem arose. (Were the game parks feeding their deer on cattle feed? one wonders. If so, does that have wider implications? No one seems to be asking these questions.) One researcher was quoted as considering the risk of catching such a disease from eating the venison one caught as "small, but it’s not a risk I’d want to take…"

Other animal-foods-are-not-good-for-you news includes the announcement by European Union researchers that new scientific evidence confirms their belief that hormones fed to cattle raise some risks for human consumers of that meat. South Korea is reporting new cases of hoof-and-mouth disease among its pigs. And here at home, a Congressional study found that food poisonings in the nation’s schools have risen about 10% a year.

In follow-up to an issue we’ve reported on, the fattening of America continues to alarm authorities. This month there was a long article in the San Francisco Chronicle on children as young as 10 being dangerously obese, to the point of developing diseases like type 2 diabetes (formerly called adult-onset diabetes), and heart disease. Many states and school systems are now trying to ban soda and fatty snacks from school areas in an effort to curb the kids’ weight gain, although it has been pointed out that this will hardly help if parents continue to provide fast-food burgers and pizzas for dinner while letting kids sit in front of a screen all day.

In good news for animals, a recent Humane Farming Association mailing boasts of how its campaigns really are forcing slaughterhouses to finally start following the laws on humane slaughtering, as well as impelling a continuing drop in veal-eating.

On the other hand, it is not good news for animals (or anyone besides chicken-producing companies) that Israeli researchers report the development of a chicken genetically engineered to have no feathers (it will need less feed and time to grow large enough to slaughter, and save a step in the butchering process). I will not be eating it! On the other hand, a different bit of weird-food news involves the development and introduction (by the pharmaceutical corporation Astra-Zeneca) of a meat-substitute called quorn which is made of a fungus combined with other ingredients (including egg whites) and available in places like the Outpost. AP quoted a nutritionist as saying, "It’s got a lot of potential. We just have to make sure ‘fungus’ is not going to appear on the label."

On yet another hand, it is a relief to report that a new study found organic produce to indeed contain far less pesticide residue than commercially-grown food (the main reason that there is any at all seems to be that some very persistent, long-banished chemicals such as DDT are still present in soils). And we saw a report on the growing trend towards organic food in upscale restaurants.

There was another report about soy formulas for babies, which raised some questions about whether or not such formulas might be a problem for the babies’ immune systems. The obvious answer is that babies should have minimal-to-zero formula at all, since they ought to be breastfed anyway. A new Danish study found that extensive breastfeeding may raise children’s IQs. And for those who have joined our readers since the last time I mentioned this, I have pronounced that even though humans are animals, and human milk therefore technically an animal product, breastfed babies of vegan mothers can be considered honorary vegans.

There were also various news items this month about the value of vegetarian foods. Delicious! magazine ran an article on the benefits of sea vegetables, which are very high in important minerals (including iodine) and in vitamins C, E, and B-complex. These foods are prominent in macrobiotic cooking, and can easily be added to soups and stews.

Delicious! also had items on some of the bio-chemistry of exactly why broccoli and its kin (brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower, cabbage) help prevent cancer, and on the benefits of eating nuts, which are indeed quite fatty but which contain heart-healthy magnesium and whose fats are now considered heart-healthy ones. Another of its articles looked at iron, and on the need to get enough but not too much of it. Dried beans and peas, leafy green vegetables, whole grains and fortified cereals, as well as dark molasses, nuts, seeds, and dried fruits, are vegetarian sources; also, eating vitamin C foods with one’s iron sources helps absorb the iron. Another reason to eat beans, published in the American Heart Association’s journal, is that they contain folate, which helps to prevent strokes. Other high-folate foods are citrus fruits, whole grains, and especially dark green leafy vegetables including the likes of spinach.

The NY Times Science section printed an article on what we already knew: vegetables and fruits with strong bright colors contain all kinds of immune-system boosting plant chemicals, and the brighter the color the more goodies they contain, and the more different colors of produce you eat each day the better for you. Also, evidence continues to accumulate that drinking lots of green and black tea, which contains similar plant chemicals called flavonoids, does seem to help protect against heart attack, while something in the pectin in citrus fruits may help guard against prostate cancer; and the fiber, beta-carotene, folate, and vitamins C and B6 found in plant foods may help protect against gastric and esophageal cancers.

THE VEGGIE TABLE

By guest reviewer Jan Taylor

There’s a new Middle Eastern restaurant in town. The Sultan’s Family Restaurant, at 3800 W. National, opened earlier this spring.

The atmosphere is pleasant, with large photographs of Arabic scenes on the walls, and recorded Arabic music playing softly in the background. They have live Arabic music on Friday and Saturday nights starting at 9 PM.

Although the menu does not have any veggie dinners, it has many vegan appetizers and many vegan salads, as well as a side order of saffron rice with peas and carrots. Beverages include lemonade, orange juice, tea with mint/sage, Turkish coffee, and American coffee.

I figured that one appetizer and one salad would constitute a filling lunch, and I was right. From the appetizer list I chose Baba Ghanouj, a deliciously-seasoned eggplant puree, served with pita bread, at $3.95. To accompany it I ordered Tahini Salad: finely chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce and parsley, with a tahini and lemon juice dressing, at $3.50.

(Next time I have to remember to ask them not to put olive oil on top of the Baba Ghanouj. Apparently this is common in Middle Eastern cooking. I have often seen hummus served with a puddle of olive oil on top.)

Sultan’s is open Monday through Friday from 11 AM to midnight, Saturday from 8 AM to 2 AM, and Sunday from 8 AM to 10 PM. The phone number is (414) 647-9920.

CONNECTIONS

Summer conference time is upon us: in the past month we’ve received notice of no less than three such affairs of possible interest.

The North American Vegetarian Society (of which MARV is an associated group), is holding its 28th Vegetarian Summerfest 2002 on July 31 through Aug. 4 at the Conference Center at Pitt-Johnstown University of Pittsburgh, in Johnstown, PA. There will be many prominent speakers, educational sessions on a variety of subjects, vegan meals, and many opportunities for networking and social interaction. A special discount on the price is offered to anyone who wants to be our group’s designated delegate. I’ll bring to the next potluck some flyers and registration forms that NAVS sent me, or call me at 962-2703, or call them at (518) 568-7970, or contact them at

navs@telenet.net

The National Health Association (formerly Natural Hygiene Society) is holding a seminar on Saturday, June 8, in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. If you happen to be interested, phone them at (813) 855-8052.

Finally, FARM, the Farm Animals Reform Movement which brings us all the Great American Meat-Out, is holding its annual conference on June 28 through July 3 in Washington, D.C. This is more animal-rights oriented but also promotes vegetarianism and includes many exciting speakers, vegan food, workshops, networking, and so on. Contact them at 1-888-FARM USA, or on the internet at

www.animalrights2002.org

DIALOG

Part I

The Organic Consumers Association warns that the new National Organic Standards Board is being heavily pressured to allow intensive animal confinement to be labeled "usda organic". It would help them resist that pressure if they get lots of letters protesting the idea. Write to National Organic Standards Board, c/o Katherine Benham, Room 4008-South Bldg., 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, D.C. 20250, or fax her a letter at (202) 205-7808.

Part II

With concern and controversy about what people should eat and how much they should eat and rebellion against the idea of eating healthily (a recent book dubbed moralistically right eating "orthorexia" and considered it a disease-state), I have come to an insight on this whole issue.

It seems to me that while a person is eating, one might have any of three thoughts. One is, "I am eating the right things in the right way at the right time, so I am doing right." Another might be, "Yum – more – yes!" A third might be both at once. And it seems to me that if you are only doing the first, your eating habits might be healthy but you might also be a little out of touch with your own self and sense of pleasure. If you’re doing the second, you’re probably on a standard American diet and heading for disease and death. But if you’re doing both at once – eating healthy foods while utterly enjoying them – then you are probably on the right track.