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November 2005


GREETINGS

So now that it’s definite that we are holding our PreThanksgiving Feast, it is time to send in your registration! There are now only three! weeks before the Feast itself, and we need registrations in hand some days before that, so if you’re planning to join us, register now. (If not now, when??) For which purpose I am including a flyer/ registration form with this newsletter; the few of you who have registered already might give it to a friend.

While you’re at it, please be aware that we turn out to need just a few more volunteers to help the Feast go smoothly. We could really use one more person to help set up from 3:30 to 5 PM, and one more person in the kitchen from 4:30 to 6:30; one additional volunteer for clean up and another dishwasher would also be really helpful. Speaking as someone who always volunteers at this event, it’s really a great deal of fun, and volunteers are always given a special ticket that allows you to go through the line at your discretion rather than waiting for a color to be called. Call Jody at (414) 764-7262 to join the sport.

On a personal note, I would like to express my deepest thanks to everyone who had me in their thoughts or prayers, phoned me, sent a card or present, and otherwise lent me their support during my surgery and convalescense. It feels very wonderful to be a member of such a kind and caring community.

Other veg-friendly events

There will be no macrobiotic potluck in November, though Allen Owens will host one in December.


Wellspring will again be holding its own Pre-Thanksgiving vegetarian dinner and concert, on Saturday, Nov. 12 at 6 PM at Wellspring, north of Milwaukee but still in the 262 area code. A 5-course vegetarian dinner will be followed by a concert by Holly Haebig and Harvey Taylor. The charge is $25 per adult, $45 per couple, and $5 for children under12. Proceeds benefit the Wellspring Garden Program. Phone (262) 675-6755 to register and get directions.

M.A.R.V. ACTIVITIES


Sunday, Nov. 6, 5 PM, regular potluck at the Friends’ Meeting House, 3324 N. Gordon Pl. in Riverwest (from Humboldt Blvd. go east on Auer a few short blocks to the parking lot). Theme will be games.

Sunday, Nov. 20, PreThanksgiving Feast, 5 PM, Unity Evangelical Church, 1025 E. Oklahoma. Register! Come!

Subsequent regular potlucks will be at the Friends’ Meeting House on Dec. 4, Jan. 8, Feb. 2, and March 2.

QUOTE OF THE MONTH

“Good eating habits play a critical role in preventing and treating many chronic diseases, but are hospitals doing their part by serving healthy vegan foods in their cafeterias and restaurants?”

-- Amy Joy Lanou, in an article in Good Medicine describing a survey done by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine to investigate this subject. Is anyone surprised that they found the landscape bleak?

NEWS

Animal foods are still bad for you. Wisconsin State Farmer ran an article complaining about the continuing Japanese boycott of U.S. beef, though vegetarians understand completely the Japanese reluctance to risk mad cow disease. Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel ran an article about the general lack of deer movement out of the areas of our state where the deer are being heavily hunted in an effort to control chronic wasting disease (the deer version of the same illness). Perhaps many of those deer are affected enough not to be normally mobile? Or maybe they’re just not very bright? On a different note, Russia and Norway were reported to be in a dispute over who was fishing in whose waters. And PCRM reported that while all grilled meats are likely to contain cancer-producing heterocyclic amines, chicken seems to be the worst. Their most recent Good Medicine publication also reported that according to a British study, drinking milk contributes to the risk for both type 2 diabetes and heart disease, while a meta-analysis of 21 studies found a correlation between dairy products and ovarian cancer risk.

Finally, so mainstream a publication as Prevention is now issuing warnings about the Atkins diet, stating that while it does seem to reduce weight and even lower cholesterol in the short term, a recent study found it was also raising blood levels of C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation which may contribute to heart disease down the road.

On the other hand, vegetarian foods continue to be good for you. The same issue of Good Medicine reported on a study which found that consuming soy protein as a regular part of one’s diet helped lower blood pressure, and ran a whole article on a new Swedish study which found that vegans weigh less than omnivores. This seems to be part of a whole different pattern of eating, since in the 50,000 women studied, the omnivores not only consumed more saturated fat, but also more refined grains and less fruits, vegetables, and fiber than the vegans. In another study by PCRM itself, overweight women were randomly assorted into low-fat vegan diet or conventional weight-loss diet, and the vegans lost nearly twice as much weight as the control group – even though they were given no limits on how much they could eat; in fact, those who ate the most carbohydrates lost the most pounds. It is theorized that part of the reason for their success was that their foods were naturally filling so that they could eat fewer calories without feeling hungry, but also that the vegan diet improved insulin sensitivity and thus created a bigger after-meal burn.

Several magazines have been singing the praises of seasonal produce lately. Organic Gardening and Delicious Living both reminded us that red grapes (and red wine) contain phytochemicals, including but not ending with resveratrol, that help heart health but also help fight against cancer. And Delicious Living also featured Brussels sprouts as a seasonal vege-table; it is likely to be freshest when bought on the stalk, can be easily and briefly boiled or steamed, and is loaded with vitamin C and phytonutrients known to reduce cancer risk.

In addition, the Outpost Exchange featured winter squash, a native American crop known to have been cultivated as far back as 3000 BC. While summer squashes are harvested earlier in the growing season, winter squashes are the ones that are harvested in late Fall and can be kept for months in proper conditions – and generally have the bright orange flesh that signals high levels of beta-carotene. In fact, a one-cup serving can provide 73% of your daily vitamin A need, 17% of vitamin C, 13% of your potassium, and 5.7 grams of fiber, in only 70 calories. The easiest way to cook the things is to cut them in half, scrape out the seeds and pulp, and place them cut-side-down on a pan in a 400 degree oven until soft (35 to 45 minutes for small ones, longer for heavier ones like pumpkin and butternut). You can eat them baked, or stuff them and reheat skin side down to warm the stuffing, or puree the flesh for mashed squash or squash soup.

Other good vegetable food news includes the discovery, reported recently in the Archives of Internal Medicine, that a raw food diet does not raise the risk of osteoporosis: even though the raw foodists in the study tended to be thinner than average and have lower bone density, their bone turnover rates were normal and they had no greater fracture risk than others. In their usual dairy-boosting fashion, Prevention reported on a study which found that eating dairy helped reduce PMS – but when you look at the details, it was the calcium and vitamin D (for which there are of course non-dairy sources) that was doing the trick. Vitamin D may also help prevent the development of type 2 diabetes; think supplemented soymilk and time in the sun if you don’t do dairy. A little hot pepper in tomato juice seems to help reduce one’s appetite and thus serve as a diet aid if taken half an hour before a meal. Seasonal cranberries are actually nutritious as well as a Thanksgiving tradition: they have polyphenols which may help one’s arteries to be more stretchy. Other polyphenol sources include chocolate, strawberries, pomegranates, and black and green teas.

On a different note, Prevention reported that sexual dysfunction in women was found to be related to metabolic syndrome which can im-pair the cardiovascular system; their recommendation was a calorie-controlled and low cholesterol diet with plenty of fruits, fiber, and vegetables (which sounds suspiciously vegetarian, though the article did not mention this.)

Meanwhile, magnesium in the diet can help prevent inflammation of the sort that can lead to heart disease; magnesium-rich foods include soy, beans, seeds, whole grains, bananas, dried apricots, avocados, and dark green leafy vegetables. A similar set of foods are good sources of vitamin B6, which seems to be helpful in protecting DNA from tumor-causing damage and thus in preventing some cancers. Beans, bananas, and broccoli were mentioned as good sources.

Dark chocolate is again being named as high in antioxident polyphenols and thus heart-protective. And Prevention had an article on iron deficiency, which is apparently common among Americans and leaves people tired and weak. Dietary sources include dark green leafy vegetables, dried fruits, and beans – but since vegetable-sourced iron is harder to absorb than meat-sourced iron, vegetarians should try to eat a vitamin C food along with their vegetarian iron source to enhance absorption. On the other hand, a lack of energy might denote a lack of B group vitamins rather than an iron deficiency. The “It’s So Natural” column in the Outpost Exchange suggested getting B vitamins from brewer’s yeast, whole grains (and rice bran and wheat germ), seeds, nuts, potatoes, almonds, mushrooms, soybeans, molasses, spinach, cauliflower, and even citrus fruits. The article also named magnesium as a nutrient that can help energy levels, with nuts, leafy green veggies, molasses, soybeans, sunflower seeds and wheat germ named as good sources, as well as cayenne, dandelion leaves, peppermint, and alfalfa sprouts.

CONNECTIONS

As of October 15, the new Milwaukee Public Market will be a year-round venue for buying all sorts of nifty foodstuffs. It will actually feature a complete mix of products for all kinds of cuisine, including free-range and organic poultry, for example, but also offering organic vegetables and fruits from Fields’ Best, natural grains, rice, dried fruits and legumes from Oskri Organics, and so on. It is in Milwaukee’s Third Ward, on the corner of Water St. and St. Paul Ave., and there is adjacent free parking.

The most recent E Magazine (to which I have subscribed ever since they did a cover story on the need for environmentalists to be vegetarian) did a feature story on coffee. The main point was the major environmental and social impact of how coffee is grown. Coffee trees are naturally rainforest understory plants, growing in the shade of intact and wonderfully diverse ecosystems, but much of the world’s coffee is now grown in monocultures in full sun. This is ecologically devastating, and further, the peasants that work them are not paid enough for a decent life while being heavily exposed to very dangerous pesticides and herbicides. There is a solution: shade-grown, often organic, fair-trade coffee is increasingly available, and buying that can really help push things in the right direction. Companies that provide it include: Audubon Coffee, Café Canope, Café Campesino, Caffe Sanora, Dean’s Beans, Equal Exchange (my personal favorite), Jim’s Organic Coffee, Peace Coffee, Thanksgiving Coffee Company, and Wild Forest Coffee.

DIALOG

The recent PCRM article on the subject of hospital food, and my own recent experience, have brought my attention to this issue.

In my own case, I knew going in that it would be hopeless to expect a hospital kitchen to supply me with my usual whole foods, organic vegetarian diet – they might have been able to figure out vegetarian, with a little help, but the rest would be completely beyond them. I arranged ahead of time to have Chuck bring me food in accordance with the type of diet they would have me on (typically after surgery they move one from clear liquids on to thick liquids and then soft foods; I went home before we got to normal diet). The kitchen was commendably concerned that I was not taking trays from them at all. But it does make one wonder about the average hospital patient’s nutrition: just when one needs super nutrition most, to heal from illness or injury, the Standard American Diet seems to prevail.

I have some ideas about how hospital kitchens could feasibly improve their performance, which I will suggest if Froedtert actually calls me after reading the survey I filled out. They could offer patients an organic fruit bowl. They could offer soymilk as a beverage option. They could buy a pallet of Natural Ovens 100% whole grain bread, keep it in the freezer, and toast up some slices for anyone who requested it. They could offer a vegetarian/vegan entrée as an option at each meal – probably non-vegetarians would request those at times. What do you think? What would you add? I’d love to hear from you (962-2703).