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October 2003

GREETINGS

Full details on the Pre-Thanksgiving Feast are herewith presented in the form of the flyer for that event, which is enclosed with this news-letter. Note the registration form on the bottom Ė and USE IT! Right away! Before you put it off to do later, which then suddenly becomes frantically almost-too-late Ė this is once again a pre-registration only event.

Also, we repeat last monthís message: Jody really needs more people to help with bulk cooking in the day or two before the Big Event. Call her at (414) 764-7262 Ė itís never too early to tie down your good intentions.

Over the next seven weeks (yes, weíre that close!), our major energy will of course be going to the Pre-Thanksgiving Feast. Press releases will go out, and flyers will be posted and mailed to previous attendees and health food stores. Iíll be doing some posting around the East Side; anyone who can post flyers in other parts of town should come to the Oct. 5 potluck to pick some up, or call Jody and David (764-7262) to ask for however many you can use.

Meanwhile, though, do keep the idea of a catered Meat-Out event for next Spring on your mental back burner, since December will be the time to make some decisions about that and start moving on it if weíre going to do it.

On a personal note, your editor would like to thank everyone who called, wrote, sent out thoughts or prayers, or helped Chuck and me during the past month. Youíll all be glad to know that my surgery went very well, I turned out not to have cancer after all, and Iím recovering nicely. (And did my excellent diet help my good recovery? Thereís no way to ever prove it.)

M.A.R.V ACTIVITIES

Sunday, Oct. 5, 5:30 PM, regular potluck at the Friendsí Meeting House, 3224 N. Gordon Pl. (from Humboldt Blvd. in Riverwest, go east on Auer a few short blocks to the parking lot). The topic is healthy school lunches, including a very short video.

Subsequent regular potlucks will be at the same place and time on Nov. 2, Dec. 7, Jan. 4, Feb. 1, and March 7.

Sunday, Nov. 23, Pre-Thanksgiving Feast, South Shore Park Pavilion. See enclosed flyer and note the registration deadline!

Macrobiotic potlucks

There will be no October macro potluck. The November macrobiotic potluck will be at Lise Meissner and Marty Malinís place, on Nov. 16 at 5 PM, 6522 W. Wright St. in Wauwatosa, (414) 453-7326.

OCCASIONAL HUMOROUS FEATURE

Someone sent me a clipping about a tongue-in-cheek idea for a new survival-type reality TV show: each contestant would drive a circuit all around Wisconsin in a pink Lexus with a bumper sticker which declares that, "Iím a vegetarian, I hate the Packers, I donít believe in fishing or hunting, and Iím here to confiscate your guns and close your taverns."

The idea would be to see if anyone survivesÖ

 QUOTE OF THE MONTH

"Over-fishing, explains Julie Packard, director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, is Ďan environmental problem whose solution is in peopleís hands every time they buy seafood.í"

-- Multinational Monitor, Sept. 2003

(and of course especially if they choose NOT to buy seafood at all!)

NEWS

Under the heading of bad news about the animal-food industry (not to mention political outrages) it was reported that the Environmental Protection Agency is considering a plan to allow huge animal-confinement operations to buy immunity from federal lawsuits for air pollution merely by paying a $500 penalty and agreeing to voluntary monitoring of the air pollution with which they seriously sicken all their neighbors. (State governments could still sue them.) On the other hand, PETA announced it would drop its lawsuit against Kentucky Fried Chickenís website statements regarding their treatment of animals, after KFC modified its statements. Fish and waterways remain in the news, with scientists who are working to save the beluga sturgeon challenging a UN organizationís declaration that Caspian Sea sturgeon are recovering, and a whole Multination Monitor issue devoted to the ecological havoc that over-fishing is creating in the seas. In this light, I was particularly annoyed to find a whole article in the Outpost Exchange on what a healthy food (some) fish are. One might speculate that this could have something to do with the Outpostís new fish counter; in any case, I sent them my now-standard problems-with-fish-and-fishing letter; weíll see if they publish it.

Related to fish issues are water issues; this month I caught an item about three southern states abandoning efforts to negotiate a settlement on use of water in their shared area; and an item about a water-filter ad campaign that was abandoned under criticism of its disparagement of New York Cityís excellent tap water. And Prevention magazine ran an article on how you can help ensure that your own water is safe to drink simply by smelling and tasting it: if your senses say thereís something wrong, there probably is and you can take appropriate steps.

Alas, there was some bad news about good foods. One item reported on the terrible toll that this yearís drought took on Midwest crops. Another, which particularly strikes home to us vegetarians, is that the Amazon jungle is now being clear-cut for the growing of soybeans!! The problem is that the world at large, including many of us, want non-bioengineered soy, which means buying either organic Ė or Brazilian. This raises demand for Brazilian soy, and Brazil naturally wants to increase its revenues by growing more, and this seems to mean putting erstwhile jungle into agricultural production. We used to be able to feel superior about not eating beef grown on former rainforest; now where do we stand?

In fact, though, this aspect of international agricultural trade might best be viewed in the light of globalization issues generally, regarding which there was considerable recent food news because of the World Trade Organization meeting in Cancun this past month. The visible issue was the subsidies that developed nationsí governments give their farmers, with a view to keeping them in business. Developing-world farmers and governments, however, complain that these subsidies feed global trade in such ways as to undermine their own prices and ability to keep their own farmers going, while small-scale farmers even here complain that subsidies favor huge industrial-style operations at the expense of local and organic family-size farms. What finally happened was a break-down of talks when delegates from poorer nations walked out; this was considered a blow to the WTO and globalization generally. For vegetarians, it perhaps indicates a need to start reflecting not only on what foods we choose to eat, but also on where our food comes from. Some of us have specifically considered social justice one of the reasons for not eating meat. We may have to start looking a bit closer at the sources of our food.

Other recent food controversies included the disappointment of French chocolatiers at a new European Union rule allowing more vegetable fats in chocolate, and the permission granted to Proctor & Gamble to drop health warnings from their products that contain the fake fat olestra/ Olean. Donít be fooled: the stuff is still bad for you, leaching vitamins and minerals, and making sensitive people sick; they just donít have to warn you about it any more.

On a different note, a NY Times science-and-health section article reported on discoveries of how calorie-rich foods really do act physiologically to calm and comfort people. This does not mean, of course, that you should binge on triple-fudge ice cream when youíre stressed out, but a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich on whole wheat (with its healthy fats and some whole carbs) would be an example of nutritious food that would actually work.

A Delicious Living article was able to cite considerable scientific evidence that there really are potential hazards from the pesticide residues in non-organically grown food, as well as superior nutrition in organic produce. Their list of highest-residue conventionally grown produce: peaches, apples, strawberries, pears, nectarines, cherries, red raspberries, imported grapes, peppers, spinach, celery, and potatoes; their list of lowest-residue conventionally grown produce is: avocado, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, radishes, broccoli, okra, onions, cabbage, eggplant, pineapple, plantain, mango, bananas, watermelon, plums, kiwi, blueberries, papaya, and grapefruit. The same magazine also ran an article on how to eat for maximum mental function and energy, aimed at back-to-schoolers but apropos for anyone. The advice included eating a high-protein breakfast within an hour of waking, lunching on mostly protein and good fats rather than fast-food refined carbs, eating every few hours, and snacking on solid foods like fruit, nuts, whole grains, peanut butter, and lower-fat proteins like cottage cheese, yogurt or hummus.

Other good vegetarian food news was found in a couple of Outpost Exchange articles. One discussed the "endless" benefits of eating flax; these include soluble fiber which helps lower bad cholesterol, insoluble fiber which aids digestion/ bowel function, omega-3 fatty acids which fight inflammation/ arthritis and may aid mental function, and lignans which may help protect against some cancers. 1-2 tablespoons of ground flax seed per day added to other foods will provide these benefits.

Another article looked at mushrooms. They turn out to be a good source of selenium, which helps the immune system function and also re-duce the buildup of bad LDL cholesterol; they provide potassium for maintaining a normal heart rhythm, fluid balance, and muscle and nerve function; and they have plenty of B-complex vitamins which fight stress and help the nervous and digestive systems work, as well as helping maintain healthy skin and vision.

Prevention has now figured out what Iíve been saying for 25 years: refined carbohydrates are bad for you, raising blood sugar levels and triglycerides, while whole carbs are actually good, preventing these problems while supplying far more vitamins, minerals, fiber and even protein than refined grains. Another item reported a study which found that drinking 5 cups of black tea per day changed subjectsí immune system T cells into a much more powerful form. In a different article, raisinsí fiber was mentioned as helping escort cholesterol out of the digestive system (if you eat cholesterol-containing foods), while garlic supplements reduced artery-damaging homo-cysteine in test subjects by 12 % in a year. And there was an item about how pumpkin seeds seem to contain a compound which helps pre-vent benign prostate enlargement in men.

Another Prevention article recommended eating fruit and dairy to help lose weight. In one study dieters who ate three apples or pears each day did better, presumably because the high-fiber, low-calorie fruits filled them up. In a different study, obese people who ate fat-free yogurt lost more weight than other dieters eating the same number of calories but no extra dairy foods; the hormone cortisol in the dairy was thought to be the cause. (Prevention does tend to reveal a general pro-dairy bias.)

Speaking of dairy, I have reported before about the DASH (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) diet, which uses a nutritional regimen to effectively reduce blood pressure without needing drugs. I now have a couple of new factors to report about it. One is that it turns out to actually be really effective only when strict salt restriction is part of the picture: people for whom it has really worked have kept sodium intake down to 1800 mg. per day (the RDA is 2400, but most Americans get many times that). The other wrinkle involves the dairy. The DASH diet is basically a good balanced vegetarian diet using Food Pyramid pro-portions of the different kinds of food Ė but it does include numerous servings of low-fat dairy every day, a problem for vegans. I have now found out why. According to my Nutrition Almanac, increasing calcium, potassium, and vitamin D intake helps the body excrete sodium. So if you want to try the DASH idea and want non-dairy sources of these nutrients, get calcium from whole grains, dark leafy greens, and calcium-fortified soymilk and orange juice; get vitamin D from reasonable sun exposure and enriched soymilk; and get potassium from whole grains, vegetables, dried fruits, legumes, and sunflower seeds.

Finally, Prevention too notes that some foods can really affect oneís mood, recommending a low-fat, low-protein, high-carb snack to help when youíre feeling down; they suggest jam on toast or muffin, or fat-free chocolate syrup drizzled over fruit.

CONNECTIONS

If youíre interested in the Slow Foods movement, which advocates retaining culturally and regionally specific foods and leisurely dining as a culturally sustaining social activity, there are starting to be some Slow Food events in our area. To find out more about them, contact Deborah Deacon at ddeacon@wi.rr.com, while information about Slow Food membership can be found at www.slowfoodusa.org.