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April 2006

 

GREETINGS

I am pleased to report that we again had a successful MeatOut. The Alliance for Animals vegan brat fry with which MARV teamed up got canceled and changed to a bake sale when snow forced a move indoors, but there was still reasonable traffic and interest despite mid-term stress among the students. At Alverno we had a good deal of interest and quite a few sign-ups and pledge takers. To all of you who are receiving this as a free sample because you signed something, welcome, and we hope to see you some time. As this news-letter indicates, we do have monthly potlucks as well as our big PreThanksgiving Feast in November.

Besides our own event, FARM (the MeatOut organizer since its inception in 1985) reports that this year’s MeatOut was the biggest and best ever, with tablings, walks, proclamations, feedings of passersby, and billboards across the nation, and in 28 other countries as well.

As newsletter editor and mail-out person, I would like to make a personal plea to those of you whose renewals of your snail-mail sub-scriptions are overdue. If you are planning to continue getting this in paper form, please renew promptly. I do not like to drop people who have been with us for years, but MARV can’t really carry you for free indefinitely – it’s not fair to those who do resubscribe properly. For those of you who have decided to take this newsletter on the internet instead of by snail-mail, please let me know that this is your choice so I can quite dunning you!! Phone me at 414-962-2703 or email us at our new internet address: chuckgyver @ispwest.com

M.A.R.V. ACTIVITIES

Sunday, April 2, 5 PM, regular potluck 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). Theme will be East Indian food. As always, bring either an East Indian dish or whatever else inspires you.

The next regular potluck will be on May 7. Its theme will be a vegan chocolate chip cookie contest.

Other Veg-Friendly Potlucks and Events

The macrobiotic potluck will be on Sunday, April 23 at 5 PM, hosted by Christine Lang at 2244 N. 115th St. Call (414) 607-0029.

The next raw foods potluck will be on Saturday, April 29 at 6 PM at the Cloughertys’. Phone (414) 355-7383.

Raw foods lecturer Paul Nison will give a free lecture on Thursday, April 20 at 6:30 PM at North Shore Presbyterian Church, 4048 N. Bartlett Ave. in Shorewood. Reservations required; call (414) 431-3377, ext. 110

The Urban Ecology Center will hold its next vegetarian potluck on the same date and time, Thursday, April 20, at 6:30 PM. The UEC is at 1500 E. Park Place on the edge of Riverside Park, west of N. Oakland Ave. just south of Locust. Call (414) 964-8505.

QUOTES OF THE MONTH

To counter bird flu fears, KFC is developing a marketing plan to assure consumers that eating their chicken is safe. You will not get the bird flu from eating Kentucky Fried Chicken. You might get heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity, but not the bird flu.”

-- Jay Leno on “The Tonight Show”, 11/10/05

“Even the firehouse carnivores [at Austin TX Firehouse 2 where one whole shift went vegan-at-work to help one of their number control his cholesterol] benefit from the vegan cookery, routinely scavenging leftovers. As Edward Roel, a driver on [a different] shift, admitted, ‘They taste good.’”

-- New York Times, 3/26/06

NEWS

This month’s mad cow disease news is that Canada found a fourth case of the disease, and a third U.S. case was confirmed in Alabama. The Canadian cow was born three years after Canada banned cattle protein from cattle feed, raising questions about the effectiveness of that measure. The American cow, tested because she was symptomatic, was more than 10 years old and hence older than such feeding bans, and was more elderly than the usual age of slaughter before the disease showed itself. This suggests that cattle slaughtered at the typical young age could be infected – and infectious – but have no symptoms that prompt testing.

Other Bad Animal Food news involves poultry. One news item reported that the chances of chicken being contaminated with salmonella have climbed significantly in the past few years – but that the USDA does not have recall authority for chicken as it does for beef, leaving no effective recourse for control-ling it. Unless Congress acts to give the USDA such authority, people who buy chicken are stuck with taking the chance of getting an illness from it that sickens about 1.4 million people per year and kills 400.

The major poultry story this month, however, is still bird flu. It is now widespread on three continents, with birds being sickened in many parts of Asia , the Middle East, Europe, and Africa, and human cases reported in Asia and the Middle East all the way to Turkey and Azerbaijan. So far about half of the 187 people who have contracted the disease have died of it, which makes it a fairly vicious illness; on the other hand, it does seem that the virus would need to undergo considerable mutation to become easily transmitted from one human to another. The main impact so far, in fact, has been among people who own flocks of birds that now need to be slaughtered or confined to try to control the disease’s spread, and whose economic situations are suddenly in peril. But stay tuned.

Other food news involves various beverages. Regarding water, that most basic and vegan of drinks, it is guardedly good news that the fourth World Forum, an international conference of industry, governments, and non-governmental organizations, is turning away from privatization of water supplies. Another water story focused on Mexico City, where Aztec dikes, levees, and canals once kept the place green but were ignored since the Spanish conquest, leaving the city facing bad water shortages. One small hopeful gleam: in the last 25 years a section of one of the old Aztec lakes which had become desert has been restored to lake.

Last month we reported on a study finding red grapefruit to help lower cholesterol. This month I read a report that grapefruit juice can interact with a number of drugs to make them way too powerful. Drug-takers, be careful! We’ve also reported on the presence of beneficial flavonoids in coffee, but a Costa Rican report found that people with one form of a gene that governs how fast caffeine is metabolized can increase their risks of heart attack if they drink more than four cups per day.

Then there are some tidbits about milk. Wisconsin State Farmer reported that milk’s share of beverage consumption is declining; unfortunately, the reason is increasing use of un-healthy soft drinks. If you do want to use dairy products, you might want to look at Grass Point Farms’ new “certified humane” butter, milk, and cheese; it guarantees that the cows were grazed on grass in a natural and ecologically friendly way – especially since grass-fed cows’ milk definitely has more omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid than that of grain-fed cows. On the other hand, if you want a reason not to drink milk, the dairy industry’s claim that drinking milk can help with weight loss has been refuted by one of the first long-term studies of that relationship. And another study found that soy milk was more effective than cow’s milk as part of a weight-loss diet.

And on a different note, there was the report referred to in the quote of the month above: in an Austin, Texas firehouse, one member of Team C got bad news about his cholesterol level (over 300), which got his attention since every male relative he had had developed deadly heart disease in their fifties. However, another Team C firefighter is the vegan son of medical researcher Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, and in response to his suggestions all five team members have gone vegan on the job. The vulnerable man at first went “flexitarian” but when that didn’t work went the whole way to vegan – which did. The team now has a fun-sounding web site: www.engine2.org

There are also, of course, various news items about Plant Foods being Good for you. A new study done by several teams of scientists working together investigated the relationship between dietary fiber and fat intake on becoming overweight. And they found that both high-fiber and low-fat diets were the ones that really helped with weight control, while low-fiber high-fat diets contributed to weight gain. Fiber, of course, is found in whole plant foods, but not at all in animal foods. Other items in the most recent issue of Good Medicine, the publication of Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine, focused on cancer: red meat and processed meat increase the risk of pancreatic cancer; phytoestrogens in beans and vegetables seem to reduce risk of lung cancer; and flax-seed helps fight breast cancer.

Broccoli is a Good Food. Prevention magazine listed broccoli, nuts, olive oil, and (alas) fish as heart-protective foods (Vegetarians can substitute flax seed, hemp seed oil, and dark green leafy veggies for the fish). The Outpost Exchange reminded us of the cancer-fighting properties of cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, and radishes); a different article discussed how so-called superfoods can be properly used in a balanced diet. The foods labeled as super were beans, blueberries, broccoli, oats, oranges, pumpkin, soy, spinach, green and black tea, tomatoes, walnuts, and yogurt (and salmon and turkey); other candidates are kiwi, sweet potatoes, dark chocolate, cinnamon, rosemary, parsley and sage. And Delicious Living magazine’s article on superfoods chose broccoli and broccoli sprouts, green and black tea, shiitake mushrooms, flaxseed, wheat germ, and olives.

Speaking of tea, Prevention warns that bottled teas’ antioxident levels are 10 to 100 times lower than tea you brew. Another warning is that soy only helps prevent heart disease and breast cancer if it is eaten as a substitute for meat, not as an addition to a carnivorous diet. Finally, dark chocolate has been found to contain chemicals that enhance mental clarity.

CONNECTIONS AND ACTIONS

FARM will hold its annual national conference on animal rights on Aug. 10-14 in Washington, D.C. You can get discounted registration if you sign up before May 15. I have a couple of registration postcards, or call FARM at 888-275-3276, or go to their web site: www.ARConference.org

Food corporations are still trying to gut organic standards. The latest outrage is a sneak attack in which industry got Congress to add an amendment in the middle of the night to a bill; it would allow giant food corporations that have bought up producers of organic food pro-ducts to add nonorganic ingredients, synthetic additives, antibiotics, etc. to these products and still call them organic. Contact the Organic Consumers Association to help fight back, at (218) 226-4164 or www.organicconsumers.org

Many other organizations are also working on various aspects of food policy. A nice smattering of them include the following:

The National Farm to School Program works on connecting food growers to school kids and their cafeterias. Reach them at www.farmtoschool.org, or phone 530-756-8518, ext. 32.

There is a Food Security Learning Center at www.worldhungeryear.org, or 212-629-8850.

Organic Valley Family of Farms is a coop that is doing work on saving family farmers; their number is 888-444-6455, or find them at http://organicvalley.coop

And you can find farmers’ markets at www.localharvest.org and www.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets.

VEGGIE TABLE

Chuck and I have friends in Menomonee Falls who enjoy an odd phenomenon: a local restaurant that has changed hands and therefore cuisines several times in their experience. I reviewed it a while ago when it was a Chinese restaurant, and its décor still partly recalls when it was a German restaurant, but now it is a Thai eatery. We ate there recently, and found its new incarnation to be very good.

Sa Wat Dee Thai restaurant has a quite extensive menu, including both Thai and Chinese dishes, of which a handful of items are vegetarian. Possibilities include som tum (a bean sprout and papaya salad), vegetable fried rice, vegetable subgum or chop suey, vegetable Cantonese chow mein, vegetable lo mein, and six items on the “vegetarian menu” section. The menu notes that only vegetable oil is used in their cooking.

Asterisks on the menu warn which dishes are spicy-hot, and as I accidentally discovered, that means very hot (though also tasty). But I was able to order an excellent moo shu vegetable platter with no heat at all, which I enjoyed that night and again when I ate the other half of it as lunch two days later – serving sizes were generous.

Sa Wat Dee is located at N88 W16718 Appleton Ave. in Menomonee Falls; the phone number is 262-253-4848, and the fax number is 262-253-7373. They have a daily lunch buffet from 11 AM to 2 PM, and are open Monday through Friday from 11 AM to 9 PM and on Saturday and Sunday they serve dinner from 3 PM to 9 PM.