As mentioned in our last issue, MARV participated at Howard Lyman’s talk on March 11 at UWM with informational literature, and also quite a few of us were there to swell the crowd (and buy his book). There were quite a reasonable number of other people (mostly students) as well, and since he is a fine speaker it made a very nice event to be part of.
We also, as planned, worked with the UWM student group Alliance for Animals to do a Meat-Out event on March 16 – and welcome to those who are receiving this newsletter because you signed our "for further contact" sheet! As you’ll see inside, you can subscribe by snail-mail, or just find us each month on our website. And anyone is always welcome to come to our potlucks. Anyway, from MARV’s point of view it was a very successful Meat-Out event, with several pages of pledge signers and many conversations; also, a rather lurid PETA film was shown behind our table (set up by AfA), and many vegan snacks were given away. We should consider doing this again next year.
Looking forward rather less far, we had better start thinking now about where we should hold this year’s Pre-Thanksgiving Feast. Same place? (expensive! and therefore raises less funds than it should). Someplace else? (Where?) As always, communicate with us at the potluck, or by phone (414) 962-2703, or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, we need to decide really soon if we want to do the Eating For Peace Veg-A-Thon that I mentioned last month, where people get sponsors to pledge money (to be sent on to UNICEF) for each day of June 1-21 that they go vegan.
Sunday, Apr. 4, 5:30 PM, regular potluck at the Friends’ Meeting House 3224 N. Gordon Pl. (from Humboldt Blvd. in Riverwest, go east on Auer a few short blocks to the parking lot). Focus will be Community Supported Agriculture.
Subsequent regular potlucks will be at the same place and time on May 2, June 6, Aug. 1, and Sept. 5, with a different time and venue for our July 4 potluck, which will be a holiday potluck picnic at David and Jody’s place in South Milwaukee across from the park, and therefore with an option of watching the holiday fireworks after we eat.
The next macro potluck will be on Sunday, April 18 at 5 PM at Pat O’Neill’s house, 2431 N. Bartlett, (414) 964-9759.
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
"In fact, the only two doctors [Ornish, Esselstyn] in the United States whose documented studies have successfully reduced heart disease – the number one killer of Americans – advocate strict vegan diets… [Esselstyn’s] studies found people who consume animal products are 40% more vulnerable to cancer. In addition, meat-eaters are also at increased risk for other ailments, including stroke, obesity, appendicitis, osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetes, and food poisoning."
-- from a Boston University student newspaper report by Jessica Van Sack
As usual, there is a variety of animal-food-is-bad-for-you news items.
The Food and Drug Administration, along with the EPA, have now added to their cautions about eating fish by recommending that pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children should eat no more than one serving per week of albacore ("white") tuna due to these animals’ high levels of mercury, which could damage the nervous system; the younger and smaller a person is, the greater the chance of harm. The current Green Guide (a bimonthly newsletter) ran an item about which fish are worst and least bad, but did not mention the safest option: avoiding eating fish altogether.
Remember the Sizzler restaurant e. coli out-break that actually killed several people here in Milwaukee? 14 people have filed lawsuits; the meat-packing company appealed their right to do so; and an appeals court has now found that the company can indeed be sued. Stay tuned.
Animal foods are not only bad for people, of course, but for food animals as well. In this regard, it is not good news that our state legislature is considering a bill which would allow a state review board to override local decisions limiting livestock operations’ size – for it is well-known that it is the huge, "modern" operations that badly mistreat the animals, damage the environment, and overuse antibiotics.
And mad cow disease is still a major news issue. On the one hand, publications that assume people eat meat – in this case Prevention magazine – are down-playing the danger yet simultaneously recommending eating only the safest cuts of beef: avoid brains and intestines and processed beef products and stick with boneless whole-muscle cuts, they say. The Green Guide went a step further by suggesting grass-fed organic animals as one’s safe source of flesh. On the other hand, The New York Times Sunday magazine ran a long and very balanced article on an accountant who believes she has found a cluster of CJD (the human variant of mad cow disease) among a group of people who all ate at a particular New Jersey racetrack’s restaurant. Meanwhile, the US Dept. of Agriculture is working with the meat industry to assure us that banning meat from "downer" (unable to walk) cows will keep us safe. A Humane Farming Association mailing I received points out that diseased and disabled sheep, pigs, goats, and fowl really should also be excluded from the human food chain. It’s times like this that make me glad I don’t eat flesh at all, an option that I still have not seen printed in any mainstream publication on this issue.
Other news concerns water, a vegan item to be sure. We reported last month on concerns about plastic from plastic bottles leaching into bottled water and thus making it less than wholesome (number 1 and 2 plastics are the least worrisome, while number 3, 6, and 7 are the worst). This month, Prevention looked at the potential for tap water to contain germs, lead and other heavy metals, nitrate from fertilizers in the groundwater, unhealthy by-pro-ducts of chlorination, and potentially carcinogenic chemicals, and recommended filtering it before drinking. Similarly, the current Green Guide discusses the ecological damage that can be caused by bottling huge amounts of surface and groundwater, considers the various contaminants that can get into bottled water as easily as tap water, looks at the concerns about plastics, and also recommends filtering your tap water rather than buying bottled (this is the cheapest option, too).
Then there are what I am coming to think of as the Diet Wars. The combination of unhealthy eating and inactivity is fast becoming the leading cause of death in this country, a fact that is getting much attention – instantly followed by dissension regarding how to reverse the trend. McDonald’s has announced the end of supersized portions – but will that really change what people eat? Congress is considering a bill that would prohibit fat Americans from suing the fast-food industry for allegedly making them fat. Lo-carb diets continue to be wildly popular, with over 50 million Americans following them to some degree. Yet nutritionists and pediatricians, including the ones who write Prevention, worry in print that avoiding such healthy carbohydrates as (whole-grain) bread, potatoes, rice, vegetables, and fruit may deprive people (and especially growing children) of needed energy and vitamins and minerals; Prevention points out that carbs are fuel/ energy, and we need them – or at least the right ones, i.e., whole foods. And at the same time, articles continue to surface discussing the difference between bad fats (i.e., saturated animal food fats) versus healthy fats, the kind in canola oil, olive oil, flax seed oil, hemp seed oil and many nut oils and nuts.
Meanwhile, another study has surfaced showing that children who ate some dairy gained less excess weight than those who avoided it, although the study did not address whether the dairyless children got fat from drinking sodas instead, or whether eating calcium actually helps keep weight normal, as has been alleged. If you think it is the calcium, be sure to get calcium from dark green leafy vegetables, figs, almonds, whole grains, and calcium-fortified soymilk and orange juice. And then there was a news article on "part-time" vegetarians: appa rently there are many millions of Americans who eat meat occasionally but are vegetarian most of the time – and are therefore helping vegetarian options in groceries and restaurants to thrive, while at least greatly decreasing the number of animals eaten. I think this is pretty much a good thing. For of course, it is still the case that plant foods are good for you. A Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center study found that eating plenty of fruits and vegetables can cut esophageal cancer risk by 15 to 29%. And if you top your cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, cabbages) with sunflower seeds, which are rich in immune-system-boosting selenium, you greatly enhance these veggies’ known cancer-fighting properties. Folate is in the news again: it is already known to prevent certain central nervous system birth defects if adequately present in the mother’s diet during pregnancy, and now it seems that this exposure during gestation also prevents a cancer called neuroblastoma in young children. In addition, new studies suggest that adequate folate in the diet helps prevent strokes and heart attacks (at least in part by lowering homocysteine levels in the blood). Dark green leafy vegetables are your prime source, with whole grains a secondary source. Another immune system booster is maitake mushrooms, which can be added to soups and stews, or when fresh to stir-fries. Sage has antioxident and anti-inflammatory properties, and seems to boost the memory a bit. We’re just coming into asparagus season: yet another fine dark leafy green vegetable. A Delicious Living article on men’s health recommended lycopene-containing foods: tomato sauce, watermelon, and pink or red grapefruit, as well as vitamin E foods (dark green leafies again and nuts, seeds, and oils). And finally, there is new proof that organic vegetables and fruits have more health-promoting antioxidents than ones grown with chemicals.
The Humane Farming Association asks people to tell the US Dept. Of Agriculture to ban the use of meat from all diseased and "downer" (unable to walk) animals, not just cows. Send letters to: USDA Food Safety Inspection Service, Docket 03-025IF, Room 102 Cotton Annex, 300 12th and C Street S.W., Washington D.C. 20250-3700, or email them at: FSIS.Regulations@usda.gov.
I received a phone call from someone who was looking for a person or people to share the order of a case of umeboshi pickles. His name is Joel Ottenstein, and his phone number is (414) 961-1196, if you are interested.
FARM (Farm Animals Reform Movement), the people who organize the Great American Meat-Out, also holds an annual Animal Rights National Conference. This year’s will be in Washington, DC on July 2-8.Phone 1-888-ASK-FARM (1-888-275-3276), or go to their website at: www.AR2004.org.
As noted above, our potluck focus in April will be on Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). For those who are unfamiliar with CSAs, they are farms which sell subscriptions to whoever wants to buy a share. You pay a fee at the beginning of the season, which gets you a delivery once each week, for about 20 to 24 weeks between June and Fall, of a box of whatever that farm harvested that week. The benefits and delights of CSAs are many. For one thing, subscribers share the farmer’s good and bad luck: floods or droughts decrease what you get, while bumper crops’ abundance is shared as well; this helps keep small farmers in business. It also means that your produce is as fresh as it can be, and local – not shipped thou-sands of miles. And the CSAs around here are organic as well. And it’s fun: Chuck and I love getting our weekly surprise package of good stuff to eat.
In case you can’t make it to the April 4 pot-luck, the list of local CSAs this year is: