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February 2004

GREETINGS

This comes to you at the onset of February: we need to decide NOW what we will do for the Great American Meat-Out. I personally find myself favoring doing some leafletting at UWM and/or Marquette University – and both would be even better – if we can get in.

Colleges, after all, are places where there tend to be many people potentially open to exploring vegetarianism, some of whom could very probably be influenced by a gentle prod in the right direction, and what the Meat-Out specifically tries to do is supply a prod which is distinct yet gentle. Also, since we have in the past had tables at both Outposts at once, we could surely do two universities on the same day. If we are to do this, though, we would need to get ourselves some invitations very soon. Anyone have any ideas how to do that? And/or other ideas? Phone us with your feedback at (414) 962-2703, or email us at chuckgyver@aol.com, and /or come to the potluck this Sunday, Feb. 1, where there will undoubtedly be plenty of discussion about mad cow disease, to go with current events and a showing of Howard Lyman’s "Mad Cowboy" video, as well as our necessary and now urgent addressing of the Meat-Out Activity Issue.

By the way, has anyone heard a single mention in the media of vegetarianism as a possible response to the discovery of mad cow disease in this country? I have not – and it makes me think that this is something that we might consider mentioning in our Meat-Out event(s), whatever that ends up being; perhaps this should even be a centerpiece of what we do. What do you think?

M.A.R.V.ACTIVITIES

Sunday, Feb. 1, 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 the Meat-Out and the Howard Lyman video.

The next potluck will be on Sunday, March 7.

Saturday, March 20, Great American Meat-Out event to be determined – but mark your calendars now!

Macrobiotic potluck

The February macrobiotic potluck will be on Sunday, Feb. 15, at 5 PM, at Jean Groshek's house, 2531 N. Dousman St. in Riverwest, (414) 265-2366.

QUOTE OF THE MONTH

"’Mary had a little lamb,

But when she saw it sicken,

She shipped it off to Packingtown,

And now it’s labeled chicken.’

"This bit of verse was written in response to The Jungle, the 1906 novel by Upton Sinclair that exposed the appalling practices in the meat-packing industry…What has been going on in that 98-year interval?"

-- parts of a Jan. 1 Letter to the Editor of the NY Times from one Martha Hubbart

OCCASIONAL HUMOROUS BIT

We saw a cartoon in which an uneasy restaurant patron is saying, "Until this Mad Cow thing passes, I’m staying away from beef…" and the suave waiter is replying, "Then may I recommend the mercury-laden fish, with a side of genetically altered corn?"

NEWS

The scramble to deal with the discovery in Washington State just before Christmas of a cow with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE/ mad cow disease) continued in early January. Federal investigators deter-mined that the cow in question did come from Canada, and worked to find others from that herd, as well as that cow’s most recent calf, which will be slaughtered as soon as he’s identified (nothing was said of that cow’s previous calves). The brouhaha spotlighted the ease of traffic in livestock between the U.S. and Canada, causing Japan to declare both nations’ standards too lax to justify importing beef to Japan from either country. Other reaction included: an op-ed article by Eric Schlosser pointing out many flaws in the USDA’s treatment of the matter from the start; considerable whining about the impact on farmers; some jockeying in Congress over requiring country-of-origin labels on meat (quashed by the Secretary of Agriculture); and observations that the meat industry, after fighting certain safety rules tooth and nail for years, is now cheerleading these same rules very blatently and rather late in the game. As ex-rancher-turned-vegan Howard Lyman commented, "Their barn is burning down. They are trying to put the best face on it."

Other bad news about meat included the outbreak of bird flu in Asia, a nasty disease which has caused several deaths and is trans-mitted to humans by poultry they are tending, proving that you don’t even have to eat meat to be in danger from it. Fish is not necessarily much better: a new study from Cornell University found that farmed salmon have levels of PCBs, dioxins, and banned pesticides ten times higher than wild salmon, mostly from being fed on contaminated wild-caught fish; vegetable feeds decrease the levels of bad stuff in the farmed fish. It was noted that the contaminants were found at levels lower than the limits set by the USDA (though EPA standards are stricter). This report was followed by another which found that wild-caught salmon from Puget Sound were just as contaminated as farmed ones. At the same time, Atlantic salmon are dwindling. Maybe people should stop eating salmon?

Fish live in water, and water disputes are again in the news, this time in the form of a victory for Virginia over Maryland regarding who gets water from the Potomac River, while West Texans were furious over plans to allow a group of businessmen to sell state water reserves for their private profit. It is indeed to be hoped that water will remain common property of all, since governments from Pennsylvania to Canada are (finally) moving to ban soda from schools.

A rather different story of concern to every-one was a study by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, which warned that it will be nearly impossible to prevent genetically modified food organisms – both crops and such animals as fish – from getting loose and contaminating the food sup-ply. Different again was the article in Delicious Living regarding concerns about putting food in plastic, which may leach toxins into the food. The safest plastic to use is #2 HDPE, followed by #4 LDPE and #5 PP; the most worrisome are #3 PVC (used for cling wrap), #6 polystyrene, and #7 polycarbonate (used in baby bottles, 5-gallon water bottles, some microwave ovenware, and lining in canned foods. In all cases, food should never be heated or microwaved in plastic: use glass or ceramic, with a ceramic plate on top.

On the other hand, many vegetarian foods are still good for you in various ways.

Recent research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that calcium intake in pregnant teenagers directly affected how well their fetuses grew; a Prevention article predictably evaluated only various dairy foods as sources of calcium, but of course calcium-fortified orange juice, calcium-fortified soy milk, and most dark green leafy vegetables, as well as almonds, figs, and even blackstrap molasses, are excellent sources as well. Meanwhile, a study of 31,000 veterans found that a diet rich in vitamin D helped prevent potentially pre-cancerous polyps from developing in the colon, so get some sunshine on you in summer, and drink vitamin-D-supplemented milk or soymilk or take a supplement in winter).

Delicious Living’s featured vegetable this month is fennel, rich in vitamin C, potassium, and folate. DL also sang the praises of maitake mushrooms, which are classified in modern herbalism as generally helping the body adapt to stress and fight off disease; fresh or dried maitakes can be part of your diet as much as two or three times a week.

Prevention magazine is still singing the praises of nuts: this time they reported a Purdue University study which found that eating 500 calories worth of nuts a day for 8 weeks did not cause weight gain – the researchers figured that the nuts left the nut-eaters feeling fuller so they snacked less on other things, while gaining the benefit of the nuts’ fiber, protein, and healthy fats.

Another Prevention item was a report on why drinking green tea is known to cut cancer risk; it seems that two chemical compounds that are found in the green tea help deactivate a receptor inside cancer cells which can get them growing.

As February arrives, the good antioxidents in dark chocolate are getting their usual hype, though with the usual caution not to over-indulge to the point of gaining weight. And Prevention points out that shortages of iron and folate can leave a person too dragged out for romance – so eat beans, dark green leafies, and whole grains, which provide these nutrients. As for getting in the mood, we are informed that the antioxident resveratrol in dark grapes and red wine is under study as possibly helping to reduce cancer risk as well as to promote heart health.

Another good family of antioxidents is the carotenoids, found in red-, orange-, and yellow-fleshed fruits and vegetables; Prevention re-minds us that these are good for your skin as well as important immune-system boosters. In the summer, think strawberries and tomatoes, but this time of year think winter squash, carrots, and beets.

Another Prevention item reported on which kinds of orange juice had the highest levels of immune-system-supporting vitamin C: in an Arizona State University test, juice reconstituted from frozen concentrate ranked highest, with juice in a screw-top wax paper carton coming in second and juice in nonresealable wax paper cartons a distant third, while Prevention’s own test placed fresh-squeezed orange juice higher than all of the above.

Finally, Prevention ran a long article on how to get yourself (or your children) to eat more vegetables, since their nutrients are indispen-sable yet Americans have such a hard time eating them. Suggested strategies included eating young "baby" varieties, eating the sweeter ones like carrots, peas, and sweet potatoes, sneaking them into other dishes (such as stews, soups, and casseroles), enhancing them with dips, and improving their taste with judicious seasoning.

CONNECTIONS

I got a phone call from an Illinois woman who asked me to pass on her information. Rose Hayes describes herself as a certified living foods/ raw foods chef, having studied at the Living Light Culinary Arts Institute in California, run by Cherrie Soria, a raw foods vegan chef. (This rang no bells with me, but might with you.) Rose asked me to inform anyone who might be interested that she teaches classes in vegan raw-food cookery in her home in Rockford, Illinois. Her next class will be on Feb. 7 from 10:30 AM to 12:30, and will feature raw recipes using essential oils. She charges $25. per person. You can phone her at (815) 877-4244 or (815) 222-5687, or contact her by email at sems@jvlnet.com.

Another non-mainstream phone call came from a fellow named David in Madison, Wisconsin. He wanted to tell me, and ask me to pass on, information about a vegan, kosher alternative remedy that his company makes. He described it as being along the same principles as homeopathy, but where homeopathic remedies take natural substances and dilute them until the resulting remedy is believed to contain the signature of the substance without measurable quantities of it, his company’s process is to take the "magnetic signature" of the substance and get that into either a sugar or a lactose tablet. He would like to know what vegetarians would think of this, and gave me his phone number, (608) 345-6333, and his company’s website: www.celletech.com. Look it up and contact him if you’re interested.

THE VEGGIE TABLE

Chuck and I went out for dinner with friends who live in Waukesha, so I have non-East-Side restaurant to tell you about!

Ching Hwa is to be found at 1947 E. Main Street in Waukesha. Though not especially distinguished from the road, its décor once inside is noticeably nice – the upper end of predictable Chinese motifs and artistry. Yet the prices are not especially high, as the décor might lead one to expect – a most pleasant combination! The menu is extensive, and though the chef’s specialties and appetizers seem to be aimed at meat-eaters, one of the soups (Spinach Bean Curd Soup) is listed as "a vegetarian’s delight" and there are six entrees listed under vegetables. Chuck had the snow peas with black mushrooms, while I decided to save the House Vegetable Deluxe for another day and went for the Budda’s Delight, which included fried tofu. It was delightful, and my taste of Chuck’s dish was very good too. Hot tea and a plentiful bowl of white rice come with the meal; we took home leftovers from the generous entrée and so had no room for the choice of cold lychees or various glazed fruits which make up the deserts. It’s a place we would definitely eat at again.

Ching Hwa is open for lunch on Monday through Friday from 11 AM to 2 PM and on Sunday from 11 AM to 2:30. Dinner hours are Monday through Thursday from 5 PM to 10, Friday and Saturday from 5 PM to 10:30, and Sunday from 5 PM to 9:30. The phone number is (262) 544-1983.