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January 2005

GREETINGS

Welcome to the eleventh year of the MARV-elous Times – each time we rack up another year of continual publication I am thrilled.

Our well-attended December potluck saw discussion and decisions on various issues. We decided, for one thing, that next year’s Pre-Thanksgiving Feast will be vegan (and just as good). We also discussed that we really can’t pull it off without enough volunteers, and this year we were too close to “not enough” for comfort. Folks, if you want to keep doing this (and we’re becoming a Milwaukee tradition, for crying out loud), you (that means “you, MARV People,” will need to pitch in. Remember this next Fall!! Also, (assuming that we do look like having enough volunteers), there was a general consensus that we should aim at holding the Feast at Unity Lutheran Church again. And on a different note, we discussed the possibility of having Dr. Michael Gregor speak here again, possibly for next year’s Great American Meat-Out if we can arrange it.

And may you all be having a great holiday, and a happy New Year!

M.A.R.V. ACTIVITIES

Sunday, Jan. 2, regular potluck, 5 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. Focus will be games night (just for a change).

Subsequent regular potlucks will be at the same place and time on Feb. 6 and March 6.

The January macrobiotic potluck will be on Sunday, Jan. 23 at 5 PM at Robert and Maggie Lintereur’s, 2520 E. Marion St., Shorewood, (414) 906-1619.

The next raw foods potluck will be on Saturday, Jan. 29 at 6 PM in Brown Deer – call Jean Clougherty at (414) 355-7383 for directions.

QUOTE OF THE MONTH

“Most Americans already eat more protein than their bodies need. And eating too much protein can increase health risks. High-protein animal foods are usually also high in saturated fat. Eating large amounts of high-fat foods for a sustained period raises the risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and several types of cancer. People who can’t use excess protein effectively may also be at higher risk of kidney and liver disorders, and osteoporosis.”

-- American Heart Association flyer

OCCASIONAL HUMOROUS BIT

We saw a cartoon with the caption “Dr. Fadkins presents Healthy Holiday Eating;” and a picture of a turkey dressed up as a diet doctor and pointing to a board which proclaims: “(1) Carbohydrates GOOD! (2) Poultry BAD!!!”

NEWS

Mad cow disease has again disappeared from the news, but the deer version of it, Chronic Wasting Disease, is still around: the state of Wisconsin is planning to have sharpshooters use bait and artificial light to shoot deer in Racine, Kenosha, Rock, Dane, Iowa, and Rich-land counties in the hope of reducing the deer population enough to decrease spread and transmission of CWD. Live traps will be used near urban areas; all carcasses will be tested for the brain-wasting illness. It would seem that venison has become a much more iffy food, healthwise, than it used to be, and the proposed remedies anything but surefire.

Another worrisome animal food issue lies in a recent newspaper report of the overfishing of sardines, and its nasty global consequences: apparently, when there are enough sardines these little fish eat up lots of ocean plankton, but when sardine numbers drop, uneaten plankton die and sink to the ocean floor, where they decay and release methane which contributes to global warming, and hydrogen sulfide that poisons fish. This is clearly not good, and is a reason you can give to anyone who suggests that you eat these innocent and environ-mentally useful fishes. And on a different note, did you know that up to now all flu shot vaccines are grown in fertilized chicken eggs? If you are deciding whether or not to get a flu shot, and want to avoid animal products – or are allergic to eggs! – you might want to be aware of this.

As far as the Diet Wars go, food industry experts are seeing signs that the low-carb/ high-protein fad may be on the wane. This was ac-tually reported as a business story, in the sense that companies supplying low-carb specialty foods must now, after riding the fad’s wave, adjust to decreasing demand. But controversy continues in various ways. Prevention magazine, for example, is still touting milk as a good source of calcium, a necessary nutrient which they point out may help protect against colon cancer, according to a Harvard review of 10 studies. However, Delicious Living had a piece about vitamin D which explained that vitamin D is needed for calcification of bones and possibly also to prevent diabetes and multiple sclerosis, yet that even fortified milk is not a good source of vitamin D. Unfortunately, this article recommended fish oils instead. Another Prevention article sang the praises of fatty fish, as helping keep heartbeat regular and blocking blood-clot-caused strokes. We remind readers yet again that milk is not your exclusive source of calcium (the cow got it from dark green leafy vegetables, and so can you) nor is fish for good omega-3 fatty acids (try flax seed oil, or fresh ground flax seed, or hemp seed oil on those same dark green leafies). This last is a good idea anyway, since Prevention also reported on an Iowa State University study which found that the cancer-fighting carotenoids found in green leafies and red and orange vegetables are not well absorbed from your salads unless some fat accompanies them.

Speaking of fighting cancer, the recommendations of the American Institute for Cancer Research are highly veg-friendly, including such suggestions as: eat 5 or more servings of vegetables and fruits each day; eat 7 or more servings of whole grains, legumes, and root vegetables daily; eat no more than 3 ounces per day of red meat (less or none being best); limit (or eliminate) saturated fats (all animal-sourced) and trans-fats. (Other suggestions included getting daily exercise and avoiding tobacco.) Whether they’re doing it overtly and specifically or not, it does seem like the AICR is weighing in against the high-(animal)-protein/ low carb diets.

Other news about food controversies centers on the continuing problem of the food industry selling sugar to children, to the point where the average American child eats five pounds of it each month (mostly from soda, juice, and sweetened “fruit drinks.” Among the recommendations for countering this trend was avoiding feeding children refined carbohydrates, which produce a blood-sugar jump-and-dip a lot like sugar itself, and thus promote over-eating. Related to this concern were stories that studies found obesity correlating with shrink-age of brain tissue and dementia, and that immigrants to the U.S. show increases in obesity the longer they stay here. Yet at the same time, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization re-leased a report showing that hunger remains a world-wide problem, with efforts to reduce it not doing very well. In light of such news, we are glad to see Prevention report at least that the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is actively encouraging people to go meatless every Monday. It’s nice also that a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article about “cheaters’ chili” (i.e., a quick-when-unexpected-guests-arrive meal) is a vegan recipe.

Water is in the news again, this time due to a news article about Waukesha officials asking to be a test case for diverting Great Lakes water to ease that county’s thirst; it’s probably good for the Great Lakes ecosystem that this proposal has a rocky road ahead. One also wonders what the Waukeshites are thinking, since a different article discussed plans to treat Great Lakes water in Racine so as to prevent further out-breaks of cryptosporidium

Other food news includes the warning that hurricane damage in Florida is likely to result in this year’s citrus crop being extremely small, and on a cheerier note, the discovery that the ancient Chinese may have been drinking wine (in the form of a mixed fermented beverage of rice, honey, and fruit) as early as 9,000 years ago, and an article exploring caffeine addiction – the stuff can have a strong enough physical hold on people to affect their behavior quite substantially, and was described as a mind-altering drug that 80% of Americans use.

On a different note, an article on eating to hold off the flu included tips to eat plenty of red and orange fruits, leafy greens, vitamin E (from peanuts, olive or canola oil, almonds, sunflower seeds, and hazelnuts), omega-3 fatty acids (see sources above), iron (beans and greens are good sources), zinc (whole grains and seeds), and B-12 (take a supplement if you don’t eat animals).

A different treatment of the subject of fighting colds and flu was an article in Delicious Living which featured elderberry as a traditional remedy and preventative that Israeli researchers have confirmed is effective. Ex-tract or syrup of elderberry can be taken at the rate of 1 to 2 teaspoons of elderberry syrup per day during cold and flu season to ward off these illnesses, or 1 teaspoon of extract or 2 teaspoons of syrup 4 times a day to treat the illness once it develops; fresh elderberries should be avoided.

A different but equally plant-foods-boosting article in Delicious Living focused on the mineral magnesium, which recent research suggests can help prevent diabetes by helping prevent blood sugar from getting too high. Good sources of magnesium were listed as acorn squash, avocado, toasted wheat germ, dry roasted almonds, shredded wheat, cooked spinach, broccoli, and kiwi fruit.

A different topic was addressed by an Outpost Exchange article: inflammation and what foods can be eaten to help reduce it and keep it at bay. Many bright-colored vegetables and fruits are the sources of phyochemicals that are now known to fight inflammation – and they’re all plant foods, such as squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, beets, cherries, peppers, blueberries, red cabbages, broccoli, and kale, for example. Also, many herbs and spices turn out to be sources of inflammation-fighting plant chemicals; rosemary, oregano, basil, turmeric, garlic, and ginger were mentioned. This brings up spices used in seasonal treats, which Delicious Living addressed. Ginger, for example, has proven anti-nausea effects, and its active ingredients help stimulate digestive juices, whet the appetite, and neutralize stomach acids; ginger may also help control chronic pain, including arthritis. And it tastes good in cookies and gingerbread! Cinnamon turns out to have antiseptic properties, and to help lower blood sugar and control cholesterol (though putting it in buttery sugar cookies might not help much). And finally, another article gave readers further justifications for eating seasonal goodies: chocolate (the darker the better) contains polyphenols and flavonoids that help prevent heart disease; cranberries supply immunity-enhancing vitamin C and can help prevent/ treat bladder infections; ginger (as just noted) fights inflammation and stomach upset; nuts provide protein, beneficial fats, vitamin E, trace minerals, and fiber – and almonds are a calcium source while walnuts supply omega-3s. Pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, and sweet potatoes support the immune system. And red wine contains heart-protective polyphenols, and has been shown (in moderation, of course!) to raise good cholesterol and decrease risk of heart disease. And when you’re done pigging out on all these great seasonal foods, some nice peppermint tea will help reduce the tummy ache.

THE VEGGIE TABLE

Chuck and I went to the Riverwest Co-op Café to try it out, and the report is good.

Opened quite recently, the café is friendly and informal in atmosphere, with half a dozen or so small round tables and local-looking art on the walls. Although open into the evening, it is more of a lunch or quick-bite kind of place than a dinner venue. But the menu will make it of considerable interest to the MARV community. There is a Soup of the Day and a Grain Dish of the Day, coffee, various teas which will be brewed up for you in a nifty little socklike cloth, eight different smoothies, and about half a dozen kinds of vegan bakery, in addition to the 10 different sandwiches. Only one of these features tuna, one egg salad, and one cheese; the other seven are vegan and vary from barbequed tofu to hummus, tempeh spring roll, black bean and veggie burrito, tamales, and various other vegetable-based concoctions. I tried the hummus wrap and tea; Chuck had the barbequed tofu and a cup of vegan potato soup. Both were delicious, although Chuck’s was fattier than he’s used to, and next time he’ll ask for mustard instead of veganaise mayo. Since everything is made fresh on the spot, substitutions will be easy, and the menu mentions that smoothies can be made with cow’s milk, rice milk, or soymilk as you prefer.

Riverwest Co-op Café is at 733 E. Clarke St., phone number (414) 264-7933. It is open at present from 10 AM until 8 PM, though they hope to expand these hours. It is definitely recommended.