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August 2006

 

GREETINGS

We had a pleasant if mellow regular potluck in July, and a great picnic two days later on the Fourth -–Thanks, Jody and David, for hosting it!

Believe it or not, it is now time to start planning for the PreThanksgiving Feast – assuming we’re going to have one. Holding it again – and I hope we do, since it is our fundraiser and a great event that lots of people look forward to all year – depends on having our members sign up to pitch in and help make it happen. We have a Volunteer List that we need to get filled out before we make our reservation, because it is neither fair nor feasible for only a small number of people to do all the preparation and work.

We need volunteers for the following jobs: postering (done about 3 weeks before The Day), bulk food prep (you make a large amount of something in your own kitchen, using a recipe Jody will supply and getting paid back for your supplies), preparing the table decorations, set-up (in the hour-and-a-half before we open the doors), announcements, line attendant, kitchen crew (2 shifts, so all kitchen crew also get to eat), dishwashers, and dining room clean-up. For most of these jobs, several people are needed; about 20 of you have to sign up for something so that we can pull this off.

To volunteer, phone me (Louise) at (414) 962-2703 or Jody after Aug. 8 at (414) 764-7262, or come to the August potluck and sign up in person, since the sign-up sheet will be there.

It’s fun! Let’s do it!

M.A.R.V. ACTIVITIES

Sunday, Aug. 6, 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 Thai foods, so bring a Thai dish or whatever else you like.

Subsequent regular potlucks will be on Sept. 3, Oct. 1, and Nov. 5

?Nov. 18 or 19: PreThanksgiving Feast!?

Other Veg-Friendly potlucks

The next macrobiotic potluck will be at Emily Federsen-Keelty and William Keelty’s place on Sunday, Aug. 20 at noon (note the time) at 6505 Silver Beach Road North. Call (262) 285-3331 for directions.

Call the Cloughertys at (414) 355-7383 to find out about a raw foods potluck.

The Urban Ecology Center’s vegetarian potluck will be on Thursday, Aug. 17 at 6:30 PM. at 1500 E. Park Pl., just south of Locust St. and east of Oakland Ave. Call (414) 964-8505.

QUOTES OF THE MONTH

The basic principles of good diets are… simple: eat less, move more, eats lots of fruits and vegetables, … go easy on junk foods.”

The meat industry badly wants to overcome your worries about cholesterol and cancer, your queasiness about eating animal flesh, your qualms about how food animals are raised, and your suspicions about what meat might have in it – and to keep production costs low enough so you will not be deterred by its price.”

-- bits from Marion Nestle’s new book, What to Eat.

NEWS

Among the bad animal food news this month are problems about U.S. beef. In Japan, opposition parties blasted their government’s plans to lift a ban on U.S. beef imports, citing mad cow concerns; a few weeks later there was a report that Japan found banned U.S. beef products in what was supposed to be a shipment of turkey and pork. And then, on July 21, the US Dept. of Agriculture announced that since so few mad cows have been detected here, they’re going to cut testing from 1000 a day (about 1% of all cows slaughtered) down to about 100 per day. (Do they expect this to make the Japanese more confident?)

The conservation group Defenders of Wildlife issued a report on mercury levels in tuna, including findings that tuna from places like Ecuador and Mexico (where dolphins are killed in the tuna-fishing process) are higher than even the U.S. government considers acceptable.

Bird flu news included reports that other Asian nations are moving to control it, but it’s getting out of control in Indonesia, and that the National Zoo in Washington. D.C. has removed ducks and chickens from its Kids’ Farm exhibit as a precaution. But only Vegetarian Voice, the magazine of the North American Vegetarian Society, went so far as to point out that the problem as it applies to humans is entirely the result of raising poultry for food.

Those who do dairy should be aware that there is quite a flap going on regarding certain organic dairies: Horizon and a couple of others are being accused of cutting a lot of corners, to the point of being quasi-organic at best. Outpost is now scoring the items in their dairy case, with 5 cows meaning great and 1 cow meaning “organic factory farm,” or you can go to www.cornucopia.org for a full report.

And speaking of dairy, a study not funded by the dairy industry found that people could lower their blood pressure by exercising and following a diet rich in vegetables, fruit and whole grains plus some source of calcium, potassium, and magnesium – which are all found together in low-fat milk, the food used in the study; calcium alone didn’t do the trick.

In other food news, Delicious Living reported on a University of Liverpool study which found that four food additives often used together in children’s snacks (aspartame, MSG, blue dye 1, and yellow dye 10) synergize when they get together into chemicals that could cause hyperactivity. On a different note, Chicago is considering a new prohibition on the use of cooking oils containing transfats (the bad artery-clogging fats) in the city’s restaurants, while a Harvard study found that french fries (deep-fried often in just such oils) raised type two diabetes risk. And Muhammad Ali has launched a line of children’s snack foods that will supposedly be healthier, causing one commentator to respond that maybe snacking all day is itself the cause of obesity, more than what is snacked on.

Meanwhile, there is plenty of good plant food news. The Outpost Exchange featured blueberries this month: they provide potassium, iron, fiber, and vitamin C as well as being a top source of anthocyanins, which seem to help keep the mind sharp; they may also help prevent cancer and protect urinary tract health. Delicious Living also mentioned berries, including blueberries, cranberies, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries, as top antioxident foods, but for its produce of the month named basil, a dark leafy green with lots of iron, calcium, and betacarotene as well as folate, vitamin K, and so on; use it in pesto to get a good serving. And barley was the subject of a column in the Journal-Sentinel Food section, being described as both tasty and full of valuable soluble fiber and whole grain goodness (pearled barley is not a whole grain, but other available forms of it are including dry milled, barley bran, and barley flakes).

An article in Clinical Cancer Research described a small study that found pomegranate juice to be a potential weapon against prostate cancer, while Prevention reported on a study which suggested that ginseng helps prevent cancer in general. For lung health, on the other hand, the research suggests that eating beta-carotene-containing vegetables and fruits, such as cantaloupe, red bell peppers, watermelon, tomatoes, apricots, carrots, and sweet potatoes, are of assistance in keeping the lungs young and functional. And the flavonoid epicatechin, found in dark chocolate, apples, dark grapes and red wine, all help the heart. But according to a Q-and-A in the NY Times Science section, chocolate just does not have enough aphrodisiac qualities to count as aphrodisiacal.

Prevention also reported on the best foods for strong bones. Nutrients needed include not only calcium and vitamin D, but also protein, magnesium (found in oats, brown rice, pumpkin seeds, and artichokes), potassium (in orange juice, raisins and bananas), vitamin K (dark green leafy vegetables), and vitamin B12 (vegans, take your supplement!).

Delicious Living did an article on water, with many interesting tips. One is that different people need different amounts of water, so instead of counting glasses, you should make sure that you urinate every 2 to 4 hours, and check that when you do it is light yellow or clear and not dark yellow (which does signal dehydration). Another good point the article made was that yes, you can eat your water, in the form of juicy fruits and vegetables, as well as soups and teas and nonsweetened fruit juices (a great relief to someone like me who can’t stand the taste of plain water). The problem of the variability of purity of both tap water and bottled water was addressed, with the conclusion that which is better may depend on where you live and which brand you select. The idea that “oxygenated” water is possible, let alone valuable, was debunked. And it was pointed out that bottled waters “fortified” with vitamins, minerals, and so on are likely to deliver nasty additives and sugars as well, and are therefore not likely to be a good deal. Sports drinks are not as good as plain water unless you’re exercising fairly intensely and for more than 60 to 75 minutes at a time.

CONNECTIONS

I no longer have space to give a complete listing for all the Framers’ markets. Instead, here are their names and a contact phone number so you can find out where and when to visit the ones of interest to you:

Brookfield, (262) 784-7804; Brown Deer, 354-6923; Cudahy, 483-8907; East Side Milw., 906-8975; East Town Milw., 271-1416; Fondy 444-6067; Fox Point, 352-0555; Germantown, (262) 250-4750; Grafton, (262) 377-1650; Greendale, 423-2790; Hales Corners, 708-0584; Hartford, (262) 673-7193; Howell Avenue, 881-1185; Menomomee Falls, (262) 251-8797; Milw. Public Market, 336-1111; New Berlin, (262) 549-6680; Riverwest, 265-7278; Sherman Park, 875-7375; South Milwaukee, (262) 835-4386; South Shore, 744-0408; Waukesha, (262) 549-6154; West Allis, 302-8652; Westown (Zeidler Union Sq.), 276-6696; and Will’s Roadside Stand, 527-1930.

DIALOG

Several different articles in the recent Vegetarian Voice touched in different ways on a similar theme, that of making wise food choices.

In one article, nutritionist Brenda Davis addressed the issue of vegan junk food. She pointed out that even though being vegan does mean giving up many kinds of snacks, candies, ice cream, and so on, an uncomfortable side effect of the growth of vegetarianism has been the development of vegan processed and convenience foods and desserts. And even though they may be cruelty-free, and may make things easier for potential new vegetarians, these items are still just as bad for you as the fast foods and sweet or fatty snacks that they’re replacing. Davis recommends choosing a diet that is mostly composed of simple whole foods – vegetables, legumes, whole grains, fruits, nuts, and seeds, while enjoying vegan convenience and snack foods only sparingly, using whole soy foods (edamame, roasted or baked soybeans, tofu, tempeh, and soymilk) much more than the more processed ones, and making sure to get vitamins B12 and D, and calcium, zinc, and iodine.

Another article reviewed Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s new book (co-authored with his son) on The China Project. Here again, what was learned by the China project was that a healthful diet is one of whole foods chosen mostly from the plant world, and that it is not just the animal protein in the Standard American Diet that makes it so bad but also the harmful fats, refined sugars, and fiberless processed foods.

Again, an article on carbohydrates by a vegetarian chef and author makes the point that carbs in themselves are not necessarily bad for you or fattening, but refined carbohydrates are indeed both those things while the whole carbs found whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and beans are truly part of healthy eating. A healthful diet (or rather, lifestyle) involves eating good whole foods and minimizing if not completely avoiding the sugary desserts, white flour, white rice, and so on.

And a review of Dr. Michael Greger’s book Carbophobia! also visits the issue of carbohydrates, and which ones are bad and good.

I’m starting to see a consensus among nutritionists, and it is that we need to sort out which carbohydrates are bad for us and which are good. As I’ve discussed before, when Chuck’s and my daughter and son-in-law went on the Atkins diet, it actually improved what they ate by eliminating the refined carbs in soda, white flour, etc., even though it added all that horribly saturated-fat-full meat. Until the highly processed low-carb snack foods came out, the Atkins diet was at least a whole foods one.

And that seems to be the answer that keeps coming up: eat whole foods, minimally processed or not processed. They have the best package available of protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and carbohydrates in useful, nutritious, and good-for-you forms. Nutrients yet to be discovered are still there, while nutrients we know about are in the forms most available to the body. It’s a strange feeling to see science start catching up with what was my gut-feeling all along.