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August 2004

GREETINGS

Quite a crowd of us had a particularly varied and delicious spread at our special Fourth of July potluck; the weather cooperated as well. And since eating together and enjoying each other’s company is part of what MARV is about, we can call it a successful event.

MARV’s other purpose, of course, is to be present in the community offering information and support for vegetarianism, so I am happy to report that our table and presence at the Outpost Wellness Fest on September 12 is now confirmed. A couple of people will therefore definitely be needed for that day to help man it. Call me at (414) 962-2703 and/or connect with us at the August or September potluck to volunteer for a two or three hour shift.

We will also still be talking at the potlucks about fine-tuning how we do our Pre-Thanksgiving Feast, as well as confirming whether we will start potlucks half an hour earlier beginning in October. Come and contribute your ideas to the planning – after all, MARV works by having all interested parties participate.

M.A.R.V. ACTIVITIES

Sunday, Aug. 1, regular potluck, 5:30 PM, at the Friends’ Meeting House, 3224 N. Gordon in Riverwest. (From Humboldt Blvd., go east on Auer a few short blocks to the parking lot).

The next regular potluck will be on Sept. 5 at the same place and time.

Sunday, Sept. 12, 11 AM to 5 PM, MARV tabling at the Outpost Wellness Fest at Hart Park Pavilion, 7300 Chestnut St., Wauwatosa.

Macrobiotic potluck

The August macro potluck will be on Sunday, Aug. 15, at 1 PM (note the time!) at the home of Ron and Judy Strampe, S63 W15025 College Ave. in Muskego, (414) 422-1370 – phone for directions.

QUOTE OF THE MONTH

"Erin Dunmert, the director of nutritional services at Oncology Alliance in Glendale, notes that 60 to 70 percent of cancers are directly related to food and lifestyle choices."

-- July 2004 Northshore magazine (and three guesses which kinds of foods are good and bad! – see below).

NEWS

Does everyone remember my report a couple of months ago about the Mothering magazine article which argued that soy is unhealthy and even dangerous? Well, they did not print my letter analyzing the article’s flaws, but they did print quite a few other letters with the same general gist, and the article’s author did admit that she had completely mistaken how much soy is generally eaten by Asians. It turns out that adult Asians have traditionally eaten about the equivalent of one to two soy servings per day, so the argument that eating such amounts of soy must be safe because problems would have surfaced by now if it weren’t turns out to be valid after all, contrary to the article’s original assertion. All of us soy-eaters can relax again, it looks like.

Controversy also continues to flare over high-protein/ low-carbohydrate diets. Good Medicine, the publication of Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), ran an article this month on how healthy Dr. Atkins himself really was or wasn’t (based on the argument that he really followed his own diet and it was not good for him so it is not actually good). Chuck reports hearing that the NIH is doing a badly-needed (but necessarily to be long-awaited) study on the low-carb/ high-protein diet’s long-term effects. Vegetarian Voice, the publication of the North American Vegetarian Society, took a different tack with its article about how devastating it will be for the environment if more Atkins diet followers take to eating more meat. Vegetarian Voice also had a whole article on why eating animal protein in the form of fish is bad for fish, the marine ecosystem, human health care (due to antibiotics in fish ponds), and people who eat the fish and the toxins their flesh contains these days. The Natural Ovens of Manitowoc newsy insert in its bread packages pointed out how high-protein diets are very bad for the bones. And Prevention magazine continued to push the difference between "bad" refined carbs versus "good" whole grain ones with their vitamins, minerals, fiber, and stomach-filling and blood-sugar-stabilizing qualities, which help fight diabetes, heart disease, and rectal cancer.

We were on the edge of a quite different and highly local furor early in July: we received an email from Alliance for Animals expressing horror that the Outpost had started selling veal, and wanting a boycott of the place for that reason. We looked into it and found that there is indeed veal on the shelves there for the first time (we think) – but it is labeled "California Kind" veal. It seems that this Californian rancher reasoned that veal will happen, but that the usual way of raising it is really nasty, so he is (uniquely in the U.S.) raising veal according to much more humane European practices. How you respond to this will depend on whether you think that more-humane animal-raising practices should be encouraged or not. Chuck and I do not eat any meat raised in any way, and already weren’t buying much from Outpost any more, so we’re pretty much sitting this one out.

Other recent food-related controversies include a campaign calling for a worldwide ban on marketing junk food to children (probably a good idea given the recent Harvard study which found that fast food fuels childhood obesity); and the continuing brouhaha over mad cow disease, regarding which various entities from PCRM to the USDA’s own inspector general complained in print that the USDA has seriously messed up in not enforcing rules that might have prevented it in the U. S. The FDA, though, finally got around to banning the use of some cow parts in cosmetics.

Another bit of bad food news is the recent realization that many more people are allergic to seafood than had previously been realized. "The Green Guide" had a lead article about dioxin in milk, along with the recommendation that female humans minimize consumption of animal fats until past their childbearing years, so as to decrease the dioxin load that they pass on to their babies. The Food section of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel complained that safe raw eggs are hard to find around here, while 34 cases of salmonella poisoning in Pennsylvania were traced to a local convenience store. And eating animals still isn’t good for the animals either: a West Virginia poultry processing plant actually fired 11 workers for animal abuse.

Sometimes one gets good and bad food news in the same place: the Northshore magazine article quoted above listed foods that encourage cancer ( red meat eaten frequently, a diet high in animal fat, charred meat, and soy supplements), while also listing cancer preventers as deeply-colored fruits and vegetables, cocoa, green and black teas, flax seed, and soy foods. Similarly, while meat-eating is noted as clearly bad for the bones, I saw various reports this month of how eating plenty of vegetables and fruits is definitely good for them. There was also a news report of a study which found that resveretrol, the nice compound in red wine and dark grape juice, extends the life of worms and flies (but don’t hold your breath while you stay tuned for follow-up about people!).

Meanwhile, many vegetarian foods continue to be simply good for you. Four or more daily servings of fruits and vegetables lowered breast cancer risk for women who had a gene that raised their likelihood of that disease. And British supermarkets will soon carry pizzas made of foods thought to help one’s sex life: tomato sauce, garlic, and basil for a base, topped with artichoke, asparagus, hot peppers, onions, ginger, cardamom, chocolate, and bananas (though I think I’d rather eat some of those ingredients separately, myself…) And Prevention reported on Spanish researchers who found that eating walnuts for a few weeks helped increase artery pumping action while decreasing sticky compounds in arteries that could lead to artery-clogging plaques.

Kiwifruit, it has been pointed out, is high in vitamins C and E, as well as magnesium, potassium, and fiber, while tomatoes, which are just coming into season, are full of vitamin C, potassium, fiber, and the carotenoid lycopene that helps protect against both prostate cancer in men and heart disease in women, as well as probably helping prevent lung and stomach cancers and even cataracts (so everyone should eat their tomato sauces). Vine-ripened local ones taste best for fresh eating, while for sauces and ketchup, where the stuff is concentrated, organic is safest.

In case you need to hear it again, eating for strong bones includes such plant calcium sources as almonds, sunflower seeds, dark green leafy vegetables, butternut squash, green beans, sweet potatoes, tofu, dried figs, oranges and calcium-supplemented orange juice, papaya, raisins, and corn tortillas.

A preliminary study from Florida (where else?) found that eating grapefruit (or drinking grapefruit juice) three times a day actually did help people lose weight. And a Prevention reader wrote in that eating a spoonful or two of hot, spicy salsa helps stop her food cravings.

Finally, Prevention had an article on the Okinawan people, who tend to live both long and healthily. Their "secrets" seem to include: eating lots of vegetables, including dark leafy greens, seaweed, onions, green peppers, bean sprouts, and sweet potatoes, eating mostly whole grains, and eating fruit regularly. They also stop eating each meal before they feel completely full, stay active, connect spiritually, and practice being laid back. And they eat soy foods every day.

CONNECTIONS

PCRM is asking people to take two actions. One is to contact the FDA and ask it to grant a petition filed by the Vegetarian Legal Action Network, which would require manufacturers to name the sources of "natural flavors" in foods. The docket number for this (very important to mention) is 99P-5106; the address is Dockets Management Branch, FDA, Room 1061, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20852; email is fdadockets@oc.fda.gov.

The other action is to write to your Representative in Congress asking that person to support HR467, the Food Ingredient Right to Know Act introduced by Congresswoman Nita Lowey; it would require that foods containing spices, flavoring, or coloring derived from animal products to bear labeling stating that fact.

For anyone interested in veganics, the craft of gardening organically yet without any animal product inputs such as manure, Vegetarian Voice offered some resources. One is Bill Bey of Unexpected Farm, 3188 Unexpected Rd., Watkins Glen, NY 14891, wrblbb@localnet.com. Another is Howard Scheps in Ann Arbor, Michigan, veganorganic@hotmail.com. A third is Amy Duggan and Olga Schifani, Center for Vegan Organic Education, P.O. Box 13217, Burton, WA 98013, info@veganorganiced.org

Vegetarian Voice also followed up their article on why not to eat fish with a report on vegan fake-fish foods. Should you wish to read their reviews of various such products, contact NAVS, Box 72, Dolgeville, NY 13329, (518) 568-7970, email address navs@telenet.net, internet address www.navs-online.org. If you want to try some of these products yourself, look at May Wah Healthy Vegetarian Food in New York City, (877) 668-2668, VegieWorld, or try VegeCyber.

And if anyone is yearning to visit Brazil vegetarianly, the 36th World Vegetarian Congress will be held there on Nov. 8-14. The email is info@svb.org.br.\

THE VEGGIE TABLE

Chuck and I noticed an eatery going in at Oakland and Locust, where a shoe store had been, and when it was open we checked out the menu and found many vegetarian possibilities.

Chin’s offers fast-food Asian cuisine. The décor is Asian/Industrial but pleasant enough. Two of the appetizers are vegetarian/vegan, as is one of the salads. There are a variety of stir fries, including vegetable and vegetable-with-tofu, for which you choose which of several sauces you prefer; four or five of these sauces/ flavors are vegetarian, and they vary from mild to spicy. Other vegetarian selections include three of the six noodle bowls. We were happily surprised to be asked, when we ordered, whether we wanted brown or white rice, just as if brown rice was a normal option, and the menu promises no MSG. Beverages include strawberry lemonade, sodas, teas, bottled water, bottled beer, and wine by the glass.

We both found our selections quite tasty, and distinctly different from each other. I took a chance on a "mildly spicy" dish, and was pleas-antly surprised to find that its spiciness level was exactly right. Chuck’s meal was consi-derably more oily than what he usually eats, though, and we also noticed that the tofu had been deep-fried in its pre-preparation. That much fat is a negative for him, though it pro-bably appeals well to what most Americans prefer. There are 5 locations, two in our area: 2907 N. Oakland Ave., (414) 967-9757; and 17550 Bluemound Rd., Brookfield, (262)754-9955.