Awesome Rawsome Newsletter Archive
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Brenda is hard at work in the kitchen putting the finishing touches on her More Than A Nut Milk Bag Recipe Collection -- more about that below -- and so she has handed the June Newsletter over to me, her faithful editor. It's a gorgeous sunny windy day here in Caspar, and I have onion seedlings to plant and a farmer's market to attend, so I'm going to keep this short.
Readers of this newsletter know that our biggest political goal right now is getting honesty into the labeling of our food. Here in California, we have a chance to vote on this in November. Because elections have become money pits, thanks to Citizens United -- isn't it cute the way politicians give things names that are the opposite of what they really do? -- we can look forward to huge expenditures from the industrial food-like products lobby to convince unwitting and uninformed voters that labeling food honestly would bring about the end of the world. Your mailbox will bulge, and the TV runneth over . . . with lies.
Just last Tuesday, Californians voted on a proposition to tax tobacco products and put the money into researching how to reduce the stunning social costs of tobacco addiction. Like most propositions, it was a little too complicated and had flaws, but its grotesquely well-funded opponents are tone-deaf to irony: More than 90% of the anti-Prop 29 funding came from outside California . . . and the main argument against the proposition was that it doesn't require that the dollar-a-pack revenue be spent inside California.
Nowadays, buzzwords and talking points serve in place of reason and logic in our political discourse, and when we hear words like "doesn't create jobs or fund schools" we need to look for the man behind the curtain. And we owe it to our friends and neighbors to tell them what we find . . .or they'll believe the trash that they see on TV and that inflates their mailboxes.
The fight to pass the GMO-labeling proposition in November will be intense and, at least on the industry side, incredibly well funded. Here is a perfect issue for us -- We the People -- to show the super-PACs and deep-pocketed greed-mongers that they can't buy our votes. Now, this summer, is the time for us to start explaining to our friends how they are being exploited, and that, come November, we Californians have a way to say We're Mad as Hell and We Won't Stand Any More of it!
We know, you're the choir, and we're being tiresome about this issue, but IT MATTERS and we need to balance the millions the profiteers will spend to keep us ignorant with our own home-style neighborly persuasion.
Brenda says, "Help spread the word to say YES
to GM labeling in November."
None of us "fans of Brenda" can forget how she came to embrace raw foods (but if you want a refresher, check out her bio). Anyone who spends time around raw foodies has heard stories bordering on the miraculous about people battling and winning against cancer, heart problems, weight, almost any health challenge. It just makes good sense to consume foodstuffs as close to the source as possible. This wisdom can apply across the whole spectrum of eaters, from growing your own carrots and tomatoes and eating them right in the garden (dirt and all!) to making sure that the sources for all your foods are trusted and close to home. Can you trust an egg laid 2,000 miles away as many as ten months ago? For a typical lowest-price megamart egg, that's about average. If your family insists on meat, can you, in good conscience, feed them on the cheapest hamburger on sale this week? Not if you love them!
Those are supply side considerations, but in recent years we have learned a lot more about the inside: how each one of us reacts to food. In the 1950s, when I was learning about nutrition, "the body" was considered a sort of generic meat-car for carrying our brains around, and as long as the tires were rotated and the oil changed regularly, we'd all be fine. In my lifetime, food fads have come and gone with accelerating regularity, but one obvious fact keeps emerging: we are all different. One contrarian old geezer smokes, drinks, and eats Micky-D two-pounders every day, and is a ripe, vigorous nonagenarian. Another, a conscious eater and health nut, barely fifty years old, contracts what looks like a flu, and dies four days later. Go figure!
Each of us is blessed (and cursed) with a unique set of food tolerances and intolerances, and the only way we find them out is by paying close attention. Some are genetic -- what's good for Mom and Dad is likely to be okay for us, too. Some are undeniably environmental -- those living in a low-income neighborhood have much less access to fresh food. Some intolerances are acquired: there is evidence that if you stop drinking milk, you will become lactose intolerant, because the ability to digest milk products enjoyed by infants appears to be one of those "use it or lose it" propositions.
Until the last few years, neither habit nor culture has encouraged us to pay attention to the way our bodies react to food. We're too busy, and there's simply too much to do . . .and so a food allergy can go undetected for a lifetime. For me, Serbian Novak Djokovic, the world's number one tennis player, is the poster boy for this idea. Raised in a grain-eating culture, he battled his way into the tennis top ten, becoming one of the world's elite athletes, despite the fact that he had terrible breathing problems when he exerted himself. It was painful, watching him get into the semifinals of a Grand Slam tournament, and cave in the fifth set to what looked like hay fever. Two years ago, his nutritionist tried him on a gluten-free diet . . . and he became unstoppable.
For me, the confound comes when a triumph like that becomes a fad. You may have noticed the onslaught of gluten free, celiac-sensitive food products, restaurants, pot-luck entrées . . . we all are meant to suspect we're celiac sufferers.
The litany of food intolerances has lengthened substantially in the last decades -- and that's a good thing. Like environmental sensitivities, adverse reactions to food show us to be an infinitely varied species with a broad range of capabilities and weaknesses. Some people don't get poison oak, and others don't get bitten by mosquitoes. What's up with that? It's in our failures and aversions that science learns more about how we work. At the same time, this broadening understanding of how the human body functions can lead us down false trails, and tease us with revealed knowledge that turns out to be untrue. We need to be our own scientists, and our bodies need to be our primary study.
Here's an example of how the internet can at once inflame, and then debunk, one of these fads-in-the-making. In mid-May, a blogger who calls herself Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist, published an article entitled "How Green Smoothies Can Devastate Your Health." Onoonoono, tell me it ain't so!
It ain't exactly so. In a patient, well-researched article in her Raw Family newsletter published in late May, one of our raw food sheroes, Victoria Boutenko, served up the research. Sarah hitched her wagon to the facts that "A 2000 year old mummy from Chile was discovered through x-ray analysis to have an oxalate kidney stone about the size of a golf ball!" and "75-90% of kidney stones are oxalate related with 10-15% of Americans afflicted at some point during their lives." Victoria cites authority rather than happenstance:
Diet Charts from|
"The First Green Smoothie"
by Victoria Boutenko
What's the take-away for us mere mortals? Beside the fact that you can find any opinion you like on the internet, often unsubstantiated, we see that a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. Sarah is confused by the fact that most kidney stones indeed do consist of oxalate crystals . . . but apparently only about 20% of us are able to manufacture these stones -- not a skill one needs to acquire -- and, again thanks to Victoria's good research we learn that "According to the research conducted by Leiden University Hospital (The Netherlands,) 'dietary excesses in animal protein and/or salt have been implicated as risk factors in calcium oxalate kidney stones formation.'" (Raw Foodie Vegetarians are now permitted to take a quick victory lap.) The final conclusion suggested by Victoria's helpful research is that we shouldn't be too quick to jump on the latest fad, but should instead proceed with caution whenever we make a major change in our health regimen.
Other people can tell us what works for them, but only you can be sure what feels right to you.
We would be wrong to forget the current hassle about food going on in Washington around the Farm Bill. For decades, this venerable pork-barrel legislation has enriched huge factory farms, subsidized political cronies, misrepresented human nutritional needs -- remember that old food pyramid that showed us how to support agribiz while preparing one's body for heart problems?
Well, the old chestnut is up for renewal, and the politcking is going on as you read this. If you have an ounce of energy left over to involve yourself, you can get information here and here. Let your senators know you want to help level the playing field for family farms and quality local food.
Last month, Brenda dropped a hint that she was collaborating with Chef Meagan Ricks on a comprehensive answer to the common question, What else can I do with my More Than a Nut Milk Bag? As I write, Brenda is in the kitchen (despite her plaint that it's a gorgeous day in the Napa Valley) putting the final touches on the recipes. Last Thursday she hosted a raw food potluck to test the recipes, and reported, "I've been tasting them around and the conclusion is unanimous -- everyone loves all they've tasted, and that pleases me!! I think, in addition to love, there is magic in the recipes. It wouldn't surprise me in the least. :>)"
As her editor and book designer, I'm itchin' to get to work turning the manuscript into a pretty little book you can hold in your hands, because I know that the recipe tips, notes, and preparation lessons are going to be priceless. Brenda wants me to send a long a big Thank You to the recipe testers that volunteered in response to last month's invitation.
Here's a partial list of the recipes in the collection:
Beverages & Juices
Milks and Creams
Teas and Lemonade
Crackers / Pizza Crusts
Brenda couldn't resist pitching in a few last details of her own:
Last month I wrote about remineralizing my garden, and early results are in from this year's efforts. On the principle that a picture is worth a thousand words:
Loyal readers will remember that we mentioned CNN "Last Heart Attack" documentary by Dr Sanjay Gupta that featured President Bill Clinton. Michelle Pfeiffer, among others, was inspired by this piece, and has offered up an interview in support of her new found vegan diet on VegSource.com I don't want to push, but I am vegan for many reasons, and I do think it's worth considering. Without a script, Michelle isn't the best talker -- Michael, you'd cringe from all the ummms and dead air -- but it's a fair presentation.
VegSource.com also features my hero Dr. T Colin Campbell's rebuttal to a woman who's all about debunking his China Study. The whole controversy is too thick to review here and now -- got recipes to perfect! -- but for anyone looking for an interesting food dialogue, here's the link.
A competing website in the vegetarian scene, VegNews.com, has a great story following up on the Gupta / Clinton story. In a TV interview, the ex-president cited his second heart surgery as a major wake up call, and adds, "Getting rid of the dairy was great, getting rid of the meat . . . I just don't miss it."
I'm looking forward to Raw on the Rawk, the Raw Living Food Festival on Salt Spring Island, near Vancouver, British Columbia, August 10-12. The sponsors of the festival are opening the Rawsome Living Foods Café and Juice Bar on June 23rd, and that's where my classes are scheduled to take place. Getting there involves some ferrying and other unusual methods of transport, so if you want to go, make your plans soon.
Lunch in Lydia's Garden, 2010
Big news flash! Last July I did a story on Lydia's opening her Petaluma location. Lyudia has just announced her decision to close her original locale in Fairfax. Too sad -- it's such a cute funky place, longtime part of that downtown community, where she's operated for many years. She hosted a lovely luncheon for my Japanese Living Beauty group in 2010. Anyway, she's announced a big closing party for June 16th, and the Fairfax doors close at the end of the month. I'll be headed down to the Fairfax location soon for one last visit, makes me sad. Ahhh, change.
I know that this decision reflects the better facilities in Petaluma -- the new kitchen is HUGE -- and she is undoubtedly touching some mainstream lives at the new place, located in an office park just off Highway 101. Lydia's place in the Sunflower Center, 1435 North McDowell Road, is open every day all day and into the evenings with local speakers, programs, yoga and music. Quite a different vibe than Fairfax, and undoubtedly a good business move for her.
Ahh summer, a season I'm partial to. The season is off to such a great early start this year -- my favorite color, green, everywhere.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your continued support and interest in my work. I'm too excited to bring the More than A Nut Milk Bag Project to its next step to be out of the kitchen. Back I go for more play and tasting.