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March 2006

 

GREETINGS

Yes, we are doing things for the Great American Meat-Out. First, on Thursday, March 16, the UWM student group Alliance for Animals will be tabling from 10 AM to 4 PM coupled with a vegan brat fry from 11 to 2, and we will join them with our propaganda. Second, we are set to do a midday tabling at Alverno College again, on Monday, March 20, the official Meat-Out date itself. We could use a couple of volunteers to help with these two tablings – phone me (Louise) at (414) 962-2703 to join the fun. I emailed Wisconsin Public Radio, on which I spoke and answered questions last year, but have not heard back from them.

Otherwise, it is at least of interest to note that the number of vegetarian potlucks available seems to have increased, with macrobiotic and raw foods folks and Urban Ecology Center all offering options – though of course I do recommend the MARV potluck especially! But it is definitely pleasant to be able to meet with like-stomached folks more than once a month.

M.A.R.V. ACTIVITIES

Sunday, March 5, 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 “Eating of the Greens” in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.

Subsequent regular potlucks will be on April 2 and May 7. 

Thursday March 16 and Monday, March 20, Great American Meat-Out tablings.

Other Veg-friendly Potlucks

The macrobiotic potluck will again be hosted by Lise Meissner and Marty Malin, at 5 PM on Sunday, March 19, at 6522 W. Wright. Call (414) 453-7326.

The next raw foods potluck will be on Saturday, March 25, at 6 PM at the Cloughertys’. Call (414) 355-7383.

The Urban Ecology Center’s next vegetarian potluck will be on Thursday, March 16 from 6:30 to 8 PM. The UEC is at 1500 E. Park Pl. on the edge of Riverside Park, west of N. Oakland. Call 964-8505.

The UEC will also hold an open house and seasonal food tasting along with its Community Supported Agriculture event, on Saturday March 25 from noon to 4 PM, at the same location.

QUOTE OF THE MONTH

When nutritionists said you should eat a low-fat diet, they meant fruit, vegetables and whole grains, not cookies, cakes, and chips.”

-- Bonnie Lieberman, nutrition director for Center for Science in the Public Interest, responding to the discovery that low-fat processed foods do not in fact help people lose weight.

NEWS

As usual, there is a variety of reasons why animal foods are bad for you. One of them involves hidden dairy products, to which some people are allergic (or opposed). A Michigan company recalled some sausage products due to their inclusion of nonfat milk which is not mentioned on the label, and McDonald’s is facing at least three lawsuits now that new FDA rules required it to reveal the presence of wheat gluten and dairy ingredients in its french fries. On a different tack, the New York Times reported on an increasingly common practice of supermarkets selling meat in sealed packages containing carbon monoxide to make it look red and fresh much longer than normal (but which does not stop it from harboring the microorganisms of decay).

On the mad cow disease front, Japan’s January reinstatement of its ban on importing US beef was followed in February by a govern-mental investigation which found that mistakes were made both at packing plants and by USDA inspectors: because the veal that triggered the new boycott came from calves under 30 months old, their spinal material would have been okay to sell to Americans, so apparently no one realized that it must not be shipped to the Japanese. In a related matter, Wisconsin’s DNR is proposing to kill as many deer as possible around an Almond, WI deer farm where chronic wasting disease was found.

Other stories involve pollution from animal agriculture. A dairy farm in Iowa was named in a lawsuit for allowing manure to pollute a creek. Wisconsin’s DNR continues to work on regulating air pollution from agricultural sites. Yet at the same time the Bush administration plans to exempt thousands of animal-raising operations from having to obey such laws in exchange for their help collecting data on how much pollution they’re generating. (!) Nonetheless, I did also see coverage in Wisconsin State Farmer on devices called manure digesters, which it is hoped will help solve the manure problem by cost-effectively turning manure into useful and non-polluting products.

Some bad meat stories are just bizarre, like the report of a widow who recently lost a law-suit against a Benihana restaurant at which her husband injured his neck while dodging a flying sizzling shrimp, which injury she felt led to his death.

Schools are still wrestling with what children drink. In New York, only skim milk and 1% will be available from now on, and Connecticut schools are planning to limit the sale of sugary drinks – though it is not clear that these measures will in fact make children thinner. In other beverage news, a Danish study found that shoppers who bought wine also tended to buy healthier selections of food than those who bought beer, suggesting that it may be the food rather than the choice of alcohol that makes wine-drinkers healthier. In any case, the Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board issued a statement that all beverages and also juicy fruits and vegetables can count as part of one’s water intake, which is a great relief to people like me who enjoy tea and juice and fruit but can’t make ourselves drink the plain water that has been so strongly advised the last few years.

Lastly, bird flu continues to make headlines. It has now spread through China, Indonesia, Hong Kong, India, Turkey, Iraq, Nigeria, Ger-many, Austria, and France, and although it has not yet hit England, the Tower of London ravens are under protective quarantine. Human cases have almost all been in people who had very close contact with the domestic birds that they raised for food, and therefore efforts to control the disease’s spread by slaughtering flocks tends to hit poor people very close to home. Authorities are still scrambling to find appropriate responses.

On the other hand, plant foods remain good for you. A Tokyo study found that antioxidents in coffee seem to help protect against liver cancer. And Delicious Living featured chocolate, mentioning its heart-healthy flavonoids as well as its apparent ability to increase good HDL cholesterol while supplying small amounts of magnesium, potassium, protein, phosphorus, calcium, and iron.

Eating red grapefruit (but not white) helped lower the cholesterol of people in an Israeli study. A report in Healthwise reminds us that beans are a great source of protein, complex carbohydrates, B vitamins including folacin, iron, zinc, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium – and cheap, too. Wis. State Farmer reported on the breeding of a new variety of oats which has extra of the beta glucan that occurs in oats naturally and helps lower bad LDL cholesterol; the same paper, although greatly involved with the dairy industry, actu-ally reported as well on the “Joy of Daily Soy,” pointing out that nutritionists recognize fortified soymilk as a great source of cholesterol-free protein, calcium, and vitamin D.

Delicious Living featured mustard greens as a good in-season vegetable to “pair with robust flavors” while providing vitamins A and C and lutein and folacin. The same magazine also ran an article on healing the heart; unsurprisingly, it advocated enjoying plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, especially highly pigmented (preferably organic) produce such as dark leafy greens, carrots, beets, and berries. It also recommended healthy oils like canola and olive, and also nuts, omega-3 fatty acids found in flaxseed and hempseed, soyfoods for the plant sterols, and soluble fiber from legumes, whole grains, vegetables and fruits.

Prevention had some brief but good advice for fighting cancer: eat more yellow, orange, and dark green leafy vegetables and less grilled meat. They also had an item on diabetes risk, naming diabetes promoters as sugar-sweetened soft drinks, diet soft drinks, refined grains, and processed meats, and naming diabetes fighters to be wine, coffee, cruciferous vegetables, and yellow veggies.

CONNECTIONS

In case you can’t get to the Community Sup-ported Agriculture event at the Urban Ecology Center mentioned on page 1, but still want to join a CSA, the members of the Milwaukee CSA Initiative are listed as:

Backyard Bounty, Laura Comerford, 920-892-4319, ljcomerford@hotmail,com

Elderberry Acres, John and Renae Mitchell, 262-473-2956, ourfarm@idcnet.com

Full Harvest Farm, Chuck Frase and Terry Vlosak, 262-673-6760, fullharvestfarm@yahoo.com

Future Fruit Farm, Bob, Ellen, and Selena Lane, 608-924-1012, futurefruitfarm@hotmail.com

JenEhr Family Farm, Kay Jensen and Paul Ehrhardt, 608-825-9531,jenehr@aol.com

Nature Creek Farm, Dan Conine, 920-994-2365, dconine@dotnet.com

Pinehold Gardens, David Kozlowski and Sandra Raduenz, 414-762-1301, info@pineholdgardens.com

Rare Earth Farm, Steve Young, 262-285-7070, rareearthfarm@verizon.net

Springdale Farm, Peter and Bernadette Seely, 920-892-4856,springdalefarm@excel.net

Stella Gardens and Farm, Michael Fields Agric. Institute, www.michaelfieldsaginst.org

Tipi Produce, Beth Kazmar and Steve Pincus, 608-882-6196, tipi@ticon.net

Wellspring Gardens, Mary Ann Ihm, 262-675-6755, wellspring@hnet.net

Chuck and I have really enjoyed the fresh, local, seasonal, organic CSA produce we get from our farm. Consider giving it a try.

DIALOG

One big news item in February that didn’t fit in the news section above involved diet. Specifically, an eight-year study which was part of the Women’s Health Initiative found that placing women on a low-fat diet did nothing to cut their risks of health problems such as cancer and heart disease. It made the front page of the NY Times.

The resulting uproar was predictable. A few people who read the study were delighted to be told that they could just eat whatever they want to after all. And the response from some health professionals and writers was to announce that now we know that it is not useful to recommend low fat diets as a path to health. A writer for the NY Times Science section penned a long piece placing low-fat diets among the long and illustrious history of diet fads; she wrote about a kind of primal need that people seem to have to try to control their lives and health by con-trolling or restricting our diets, with the low-fat fad being just another example of this – and apparently another useless one. Coming from a slightly different angle, an op-ed piece in the same paper suggested that what we really need to do is eat what we enjoy, and enjoy what we eat: it mentioned an interesting study which found that when study participants were fed food they enjoyed, they got more nutrients out of it than when they were fed the same food as an unpleasant mush. This piece did not go on to suggest that perhaps people should try to develop enjoyment of foods and diet that would be good for them, since the whole brouhaha is about apparently discovering that what we thought was good for us isn’t, particularly.

However. This study also came in for some heavy and well-deserved criticism. For when the details are examined, it turns out that the “low-fat diet” group were not on a very low fat diet. In fact, they were asked to eat 25% of calories from fat, as compared with 35% in the high-fat group, and furthermore, they were not able to maintain even 25% and ended up averaging 29% of calories from fat. So there is good reason to think that they were not on a low-fat enough diet to make a difference, nor was there enough difference between the two groups’ diet for a real difference in results to show up. Furthermore, it came out that no distinction was made in what kind of fat was eaten: saturated animal fat, trans-fatty margarine and processed foods, or healthy oils and nuts. Would a difference in health risk have shown up if the low-fat group were actually getting only 15-20% of calories from fat, and all of it from good fats, as opposed to a control group eating a standard American diet of 35-40% fat from animal foods and processed foods? We may never know the answer to this question, since this study was apparently extremely expensive and therefore not likely to be repeated. Other studies that do show diet making a difference, such as those of Dr. Dean Ornish (who did speak up on this issue) have the disadvantage of being much smaller and hence less authoritative.

Given both the flaws in this study and the primal nature of food and pleasure, this has all brought me back to a conclusion I had already reached: we need to find ways of eating foods that we find both healthy and delicious.