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October 2004

GREETINGS

We had a very nice tabling event at the Wellness Fest, with quite a bit of interest among the attendees. It’s a good start for rolling into Fall and our Autumn activities and changes.

Our big change, as discussed at our potlucks, is that starting this month the potlucks will begin half an hour earlier, gathering at 5 PM and starting to eat at 5:30.

Also, it is now time to move into high gear on organizing and publicizing the Pre-Thanks-giving Feast. Anyone who can put up some flyers in your neighborhood should take some for that purpose at the next potluck, or phone David and Jody at (414) 764-7262 and arrange to get some. I will be postering around the East Side, and will soon send out press releases. In addition, we cannot bring this Feast off unless several people volunteer to help prepare food in the day or two before The Day: please look at your calendars now and prepare to set aside the time for that purpose. And of course we’ll need multiple volunteers to help set up, serve, and clean up afterwards, so start thinking about which of these activities you would most enjoy so you’ll be ready to let us know.

And of course, please send in your own PTF registration pronto! Don’t wait until the last minute! Your own personal flyer and registration form is enclosed for your utter convenience! Do it quick!

It looks like we will once again not be doing anything for World Vegetarian Day on Oct. 1, nor was I able to organize a tabling at Marquette University on Sept. 28 because I only found out about the possibility on the day before. However, I was contacted by someone from Marquette about a program they are starting this year to help those students who are moving into apartments to learn how to eat healthily, and I am scheduled to participate in this program by speaking to their students on Oct. 30; the Marquette people seem interested in vegetarianism and how to do that right as part of food issues and food activism generally, and I will surely be handing out MARV propaganda on the 30th.

Also note that MARV is being specially invited this year to the pre-Thanksgiving potluck that Mary Ann Ihms does at Wellspring in West Bend; this year it will be a macrobiotic dinner and house concert on Nov. 13 at 5 PM. Details follow next month.

M.A.R.V. ACTIVITIES

Sunday, Oct. 3, regular potluck, 5:00 PM, at the Friends’ Meeting House, 3224 N. Gordon Pl. in Riverwest (from Humboldt Blvd., go east on Auer a few short blocks to the parking lot). Bring a vegan pizza OR something else.

Subsequent regular potlucks will be at the same time and place on Nov. 7, Dec. 5, Jan. 2, Feb. 6, and March 6. The November potluck will feature a vegan brownie contest.

Saturday, Nov. 20, Pre-Thanksgiving Feast

Macrobiotic potluck

The October macro potluck will be on Sunday, Oct. 17, at Jean Groshek’s house, 2531 N. Dousman in Riverwest, at 5 PM. (414) 265-2366.

QUOTE OF THE MONTH

"As consumers we vote with our dollar. Every time we buy something we are support-ing some system… The food we purchase, the homes we build, the coffee we drink, the clothes we wear, the vehicles we buy, the life style we choose, the energy we use, the way we relax – all have a global impact."

-- Mary Ann Ihms, Wellspring Seasonal Newsletter, Autumn 2004

especially our food and drink – LRQ

NEWS

As usual, there are various ways in which what we eat and drink can be worrisome – and as usual, animal foods account in one way or another for most of them.

A St. Croix County dairy was fined more than $40,000 for dumping liquid manure last year in such fashion that it entered (and polluted) the state’s waterways. And in a separate but related item, the Associated Press reported that nearly one-eighth of airplanes have drinking water contaminated by e. coli bacteria and its relatives (which of course come from manure polluting waterways). On a different note, the FDA is actually recommending changes in policy in the hope of reducing the rate of salmonella in eggs, which the agency estimates sickens some 118,000 people per year. Yet animal products are not always the subject of government concern: we saw a report about the enforcement of a Wisconsin law requiring that real butter must be served at restaurants as well as margarine – and given how unhealthy the margarine’s trans-fatty acids are known to be, one cannot entirely disapprove. Olive oil on your baked potato, anyone? At the same time, Delicious Living magazine ran a warning on trans fats in food, listing the foodstuffs likeliest to harbor it as some baby foods, breakfast cereals and bars, breaded frozen foods, some flour tortillas (read the labels), frozen potpies, most microwave popcorn, packaged instant noodles, processed cheeses and puddings, and skim or low-fat milk if powdered milk has been added.

Speaking of oil, there was food for thought in an article about the findings of German researchers that what kind of oil is fed to farmed fish determines how much heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids the fish will have: feeding fish with fish oil increases the level of pollutants they carry, but feeding them plant oil lowers their omega-3s. I’m still sticking with hemp seed oil for the dressing on my dark green leafy salad. (Speaking of which, a letter to the current Mothering magazine from a naturopathic doctor called Mothering to task for suggesting that pregnant women could safely get omega-3s from vegetable sources; strangely, however, I know of several successful vegan pregnancies that resulted in healthy mothers and normal-to-bright, sturdy kids.)

Then there was Bill Clinton’s heart surgery and the attendant discussions of what caused him to need it. Some claim diet is the main factor in heart disease, while others feel that bad genetics are a dominant cause. Personally, I’d guess both: one’s genetics certainly can play a big role, but one’s lifestyle is also major, as Dean Ornish has proved – and Clinton was known to be on the South Beach diet, which is a high-protein/ low carb kind of thing. So it’s for good reason that this type of diet remains controversial: the AP reported on the findings of researchers who reviewed dozens of diet studies and concluded that headaches and weakness experienced by people while on low-carb diets could be warning signs of trouble down the road; also, Prevention magazine advised that people who get constipated while on such diets (another of the commonest complaints) need fiber as well as extra water. Besides, Prevention also reported on a survey of people’s carbohydrate and protein eating habits, which found that the leanest people in the survey ate the most fiber-rich whole carbs while the fattest were the ones who ate the most animal protein and fats. And on a different tack, an article in the journal Environmental Science and Technology reported that a wide variety of foods in grocery stores are tainted with a toxic, manufactured chemical flame retardant called PBDE, which has not even been studied yet to see if it is harmful. But vegetarians will be glad to know that the affected foods were all ones full of animal fat. Yet this makes it even more worrisome that a recent Neilsen poll found that 85% of consumers are not eating even the 5 servings per day of vegetables and fruits that the USDA recommends, since if people ate more veggies it would presumably both substitute for some of the animal-fat foods and also help protect against potential bad effects from the chemicals in them.

Finally, on the subject of controversies, water issues here in Wisconsin include both policy disputes in a Chicago hearing regarding whether water should be sent from the Great Lakes to thirstier places, and legal actions against the Milwaukee Metro Sewerage District for illegal dumpings of waste into the lakes and for altered reports about it.

On the other hand, vegetarian foods are still good for you, and many people will particularly rejoice to learn that there is further evidence that the flavonoids in dark chocolate were found in a study to improve the flexibility of arteries for several hours (though eating chocolate continually would probably make one so fat as to negate any benefits – dang!) Similarly, drinking too much beer would not be good, but a study of beer-drinking dogs found that the polyphenols in really dark-colored beers greatly helped prevent blood platelets from sticking together to form clots. And those of us for whom it’s an issue will also be glad to know that the first study to look at soy foods for cooling hot flashes – as opposed to isolated soy-derived supplements – found that the whole food does work. (It also works much better if you exercise as well.) Another bit of good news is that the antioxident lycopene, found in tomatoes, can apparently stop a smoking-related precancerous mouth lesion from developing into cancer – which should not really be a surprise, since lycopene is already known to help prevent prostate, colorectal, lung, breast, and cervical cancers.

Another way in which vegetarian foods are healthy involves fats and oils: a study published earlier this year reported that the study subjects with the best cardiovascular disease risk pro-files were those who ate a moderate amount of fat – but only the right kind, which is monoun-saturated fats from such foods as almonds, avocados, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, olives, olive oil, canola oil, peanuts, pecans, and sunflower oil.

Delicious Living magazine’s featured seasonal vegetable was kale, a dark-green leafy full of vitamin C, beta-carotene (= vitamin A), folacin, calcium, iron, and fiber, which should be eaten promptly before it goes yellow. Kale needs a bit more cooking than a more delicate leaf like spinach, and the magazine suggested sauteing in olive oil until tender with chopped onions and minced garlic, then splashing with lemon juice.

CONNECTIONS

Perhaps it’s the time of year, but various food-related opportunities for activism and meeting-up with groups and causes are surfacing.

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On one note, the Slow Food movement partially shares company with vegetarians. To the extent that both groups value promoting and protecting really good-tasting heirloom varieties of vegetables, and organically grown food, and getting together to enjoy food at leisure and in each other’s company, and even (for some of us) artisan cheeses, we’re fellow travellers; to the extent that Slow Food pro-motes raising and growing heirloom breeds of food animals, we part company. Still, if you’re interested, the Slow Food movement’s national phone number is (212) 965-5640; their website is http://www.slowfoodusa.org; and their email address is info@slowfoodusa.org.

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Closer to home, downtown Milwaukee’s Hilton Hotel will be the site for the 8th annual conference of the Community Food Security Coalition, which will take place Oct. 16-19. CFSC seeks to promote and support efforts to work locally and nationally to create avail-ability of decent food at decent prices for all Americans. The convention will include side trips to Chicago and Madison as well as Milwaukee projects and sites, and quite a few workshops. If you’re interested, call their office at (310) 822-5410; their website is http://www.foodsecurity.org.

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One of the CFSC’s side trips will be to Wisconsin’s Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, located in East Troy, which will be holding its own Urban-Rural Food System Conference on Nov. 12-14. This one is titled "Celebrating Diversity: the Key to Healthy Farms, Food, and Families," and its keynote speaker will be the co-founder of Slow Food USA. There will be workshops, tours, a far-mer’s market, various food-centered fun, and exhibitors and book sales. (But nothing on the postcard I got about how much of that food might be vegetarian – maybe they need to hear from us!) If this interests you, or you want to ask them leading questions, call them at (262) 642-3303 ext. 4, or go to http://www.MichaelFieldsAgInst.org.

World Farm Animals Day is coming right up, although the flyer I got in the mail did not mention the date. If you’re interested (and if there’s still time), look up further info at: http://www.WFAD.org. or phone (888) FARM-USA

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Finally, Natural Ovens of Manitowoc, local bakers of healthy breads and cookies including much whole grain, always include their news-letter with their breads, and have recently been asking people for success stories of long-term weight loss: how they did it and maintained it, did their tastes change, was exercise involved. etc. If you have a story or want to get in touch with them, go to http://www.naturalovens.com, snail mail address is Natural Ovens Bakery, P.O. Box 730, Manitowoc, WI 54221-0730, and their phone number is (800) 558-3535.