Sunday, December 31, 2006

Influence of Mom & Dad, oh and Joaquin Phoenix

I don't tend to search out celebrities as leaders of the animal rights community. I was looking today out of curiosity, who is famous and vegan. Surprisingly enough, there are quite a few including Carrie Ann Moss from the Matrix movies, Daryl Hannah, Woody Harrelson and my favorite of the group Joaquin Phoenix. Mr. Phoenix has been vegan since childhood. He apparently just finished a documentary on human dependency on animals for food, clothing and more. A summary of his movie EARTHLINGS, which is out on DVD as of November of this year:

"Earthlings is a documentary about factory farming and mankind's dependence on animals for food, clothing, entertainment and use in experimentation, but also shows how moral those relations are.
With an in-depth study into pet stores, puppy mills and animals shelters, as well as factory farms, the leather and fur trades, sports and entertainment industries, and finally the medical and scientific profession, Earthlings uses hidden cameras and footage to chronicle the day-to-day practices of some of the largest industries in the world, all of which rely entirely on animals for profit."

Joaquin refuses to wear costumes made of animals. He wore faux leather items in the Gladiator.

Since Joaquin was raised by his amazing parents as a vegan child, he exercised his refusal to partake in promoting animal products at an early age. Remember his hot brother River (who sadly died of a drug overdose in 1993) who wept at the sight of his girlfriend Martha Plimpton chowing down on soft shell crab at a restaurant?!
The Phoenix children appeared in various commercials in the beginning of their careers as actors, but NOT for products promoting meat, milk or ANY animal product of any kind.

As a child, I grew up eating meat with my family. We ate pork chops, meatloaf, chicken legs and one of my favorite sandwiches was liverwurst on Roman Meal wheat bread with ketchup. I used to eat those lovely colored marshmallows by the half bag...mmm, hooves and by-products. Another tradition was a glass of milk with every meal until I went to college. I made up for the milk with every meal by a new latte habit.

These days, my parents are vegetarians and I am proud to be vegan. Its a huge relief to know during the holidays we don't have to eat a bird or pig as a tradition. I intend to raise my baby as vegan as possible! I have learned so much over the years about maximizing nutrition and taste when it comes to vegan food. The bay area ROCKS for vegan food, supplies and restaurants. All I can do is set an example for my child to follow and possibly my child will lead others as a result.

GO VEGAN! Have something to be proud of at EVERY MEAL! You will never know until you try, just how easy and rewarding this lifestyle is. Simply: embrace change and you will prosper.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Cloning your next meal

Can't you just imagine, your next Cafe Mocha made with milk cloned from the best of dairy cows? Or, your next juicy steak originating from that big ol' steer produced by science? No, I am not talking about the test tube meat post, I am referring to the latest FDA news regarding cloning of cows to produce oh so delicious steak and dairy products. Apparently this testing period has been going on for about 6 years, and the conclusion, after much delay, is that "milk and meat from some cloned farm animals are safe to eat." This has not been formally approved by the FDA, and the technology is still super expensive so its not likely that you will witness science project meats staring back at you in the aisles I avoid at all costs anyway. Joseph Mendelson, legal director for Food Safety (an advocacy group) says that the decision is still half baked because consumer surveys show that most people are opposed to cloning animals in general, let alone for food. FDA officials claim that the food from cloned animals is indistinguishable from the other food, therefore no labeling is required. The FDA collected a substantial amount of data and compiled it into a 700 page "draft risk assessment" that concludes that milk and meat from cloned cows, pigs and goats (and their offspring) were "as safe to eat as the food we eat every day." Even though cloning has been legal since 2001, there has been a voluntary moratorium on selling milk or meat from cloned animals in order to study the issue. Apparently, experts say, some of those products may have leaked into the food supply. That is comforting.
No one yet has succeeded in cloning chickens or poultry. Farmers who have been producing milk or meat from cloned livestock have been either consuming it themselves or throwing it out because of the struggle to get this cloned product passed through the FDA formally. The FDA seems to be interested only in the cloning companies, not so much the agriculture industry, according to Joseph Mendelson.
A survey conducted last summer by the International Dairy Foods Association found that 14% of women would turn away any dairy product labeled as originating from a cloned animal. Another poll by the Pew Initiative for Food and Biotechnology yielded results saying that 64% of consumers were uncomfortable with the whole cloned food idea. Other countries are not attempting this strategy, just the USA. Of course, this could lead to other countries blocking US meat from crossing their borders. Carol Tucker Foreman, director for food policy at the Consumer Federation of America says consumer groups would ask food companies, retailers and restaurant chains to shun products from cloned livestock. Soon we will see milk with a million labels of what is NOT inside. NO hormones, NO cloned animals involved in the making of this milk....etc.
Experts stand by their position that cloning is too expensive to be used to make animals in order to grind them up into burgers or sausages. Farmers and breeders are cloning prized livestock generally so they can breed them in a traditional fashion. This means that most food from cloning will come from the sexually produced offspring of the cloned animals.
Michael Pollan weighs in on this issue and reminds me of an article about the modern pig farms in New Yorker magazine "awhile back. He explains that cloning animals for meat and milk would be one step further down the path that's gotten us into big trouble in agriculture- monoculture. Cloning brings more uniformity to the genetics of commercial beef and dairy herds, and wherever you have a monoculture, its exquisitely vulnerable to all kinds of shocks, in this case disease. To keep a paddock full of genetically identical animals healthy would take more than drugs. This seems like a big thing for the pharmaceutical industry more than anyone. Just because we can do it, doesn't mean we should do it."
The modern pig farm article in the New Yorker discussed how this specific farm thought that breeding pigs and isolating genes to make the pigs LEANER was the best way to go. No they create nothing but these pigs that have little fat content and a super high metabolism. They are kept far away from where the farmers live to lessen the chance of contamination. Farmers and farmhands are required to wear a hazmat suit in order to go in and work with the pigs. If anyone drives a tractor too close to the pig house, the pigs freak out over the noise and even die because of the panic they experience. They have screwed with the pigs genetic makeup so much that they are so far from being a normal pig on a farm with outside pasture to munch on and mud to roll in that they are literally dying from stress as a loud noise strikes or a contaminated person enters their quarters. Consumers seem to shun the skinny pigs. They want fatty bacon, not lean bacon. So now that this specific farmer has bred his pigs to be lean, he no longer has the fat hogs to breed and make the fatty bacon again. Basically, you screw with the pig, you get the um, hooves?? I wish they had horns.
I think Americans REALLY need to stop a minute and take a second to figure out what they can live without. Everyone is so eager to consume MORE food, MORE fur, MORE junk. I find it sad that we cannot do things a proper, healthier way to really enjoy life like the Italians SLOW FOOD MOVEMENT.
"Slow Food U.S.A. is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to supporting and celebrating the food traditions of North America. From the spice of Cajun cooking to the purity of the organic movement; from animal breeds and heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables to handcrafted wine and beer, farmhouse cheeses and other artisanal products; these foods are a part of our cultural identity. They reflect generations of commitment to the land and devotion to the processes that yield the greatest achievements in taste. These foods, and the communities that produce and depend on them, are constantly at risk of succumbing to the effects of the fast life, which manifests itself through the industrialization and standardization of our food supply and degradation of our farmland. By reviving the pleasures of the table, and using our tastebuds as our guides, Slow Food U.S.A. believes that our food heritage can be saved."
Do you REALLY need that super whopper special sauce crap between two buns with a huge order of fries and a super giant size chemical laden soda on ice? Do you need to eat that GIANT bag of cheetos between breakfast and lunch? What about that bloody steak on sale at Safeway for .99 a pound? yuck.
Go to your farmers market, see what is in season, enjoy what is supposed to be enjoyed this time of year. As I type I am eating a delicious pear from Oregon, and damn its just as good as an ice cream or a fatty candy bar. Take pride in what you eat, don't shame yourself dammit!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Mr. Floatie, The Turd that Saved British Columbia

Okay, so its rare that shit saves the day. This turd is the creation of People Opposed to Outfall Pollution (okay, POOP!) who felt down in the dumps about the daily disposal of more than 34 million gallons of raw sewage being released into the fragile Straight of Juan de Fuca.

Mr. Floatie, above, a walking, talking seven foot poop succeeded in embarrassing political officials responsible for this mess which resulted in the British Columbia Ministry of the Environment ordering the city to stop the dumping of raw sewage by June of 2007.
More of the story at:

Stereotyping this blogger

This morning I was enjoying the UTNE Reader while sipping my Tully's vanilla soy latte in a mug. Oh so environmentally aware I am. I honestly feel guilty these days if I use a paper "to go" cup. I wonder if those around me pinpoint me as some typical Marin County liberal who reads all of the leftist magazines but is far from walking the walk. I honestly feel self-conscious when reading magazines like these because they create a persona of the reader without any dialogue between the reader and the onlooker. I am far from liberal and I am far from being a conservative! I don't automatically vouch for abortion as a right to choose for women just because I am one. I believe that adoption CAN be a viable solution when a "mistake" happens. (I know, SHOCKING) I listen to a variety of radio shows for ENTERTAINMENT, like Howard Stern, Michael Savage and various NPR programming. I also feel strongly about animal rights issues and hate the idea of big corporations recklessly running our economy and destroying our planet for the love of $$. The American way is sometimes very frustrating but I realize that I am extremely lucky to have been born and raised here. The last thing I want is to give you a bunch of cliches. I am sick and tired of hearing the same old crap which is a product of too much information via television, radio, and Internet. Everyone is an expert with a bumper sticker on their car that says it all.
The thought I had today was that of this blog creating a personality for me via technology. A story in the Utne Reader explains that all of this "techno-enthusiasm" (meaning that we are all so connected, so global and informed as a result of cell phones, computers, etc.) is creating a communications culture that has decreased the time available for us to sit and think, uninterrupted. For example, my husband and I saw a bobcat walking past our house the other night. The first thing Darryl did was reach for his cell phone to tell SOMEONE about this hilarious scenario we just went though. I suppose we could have just laughed about it, but that wasn't enough. There is a strange trend in media culture for people not to know what they think until they get a sense of what everyone else thinks. SCARY! It seems as a feeling emerges, people share the feeling to see if they have the feeling. Sometimes they don't have the feeling until they check if other people have it too. This kind of behavior used to be associated with adolescents, with their need for validation. (Utne Reader, Jan-Feb 2007, Our Blackberries, Ourselves)
I know that sharing my thoughts with my readers helps me to sit down and think about what complex issues are in my life at the time. But, will the readers sit and form their own opinions or do we just get online and read stuff we already agree with and learn nothing new??? I seem to have similar conversations with people in person and online through this blog because food is such a hot topic and ALWAYS will come up no matter who I talk to. But does the listener form the same opinion about me as my reader who doesn't get the benefit of my witty sense of humor and relaxed attitude when sharing my knowledge of food politics, animal rights and environmental concerns? Probably not. But, what is great about this opportunity is the ability to reach out to like-minded people who I may never get to meet otherwise and the possibility of touching someone's life who is new to the subject matter and lives many miles away, where we never otherwise would have crossed paths.
Living a vegan lifestyle is mostly upside. The occasional nuisance can bring you down, and the support I get from responses or comments from other vegans or friends that read this blog is totally necessary! It keeps me runnin' like the Doobie Brothers say.
My goal in writing this Politics of Food blog is really to get people to think for themselves. Although you are reading what I am learning from various media or experiences, I expect the words to take up a bit of space in your brain and then sprinkle over your life like the 7000 pounds of confetti in times square for New Years, whenever relevant. Hopefully my personality comes through in doing so, and the stereotyping going on throughout the day is stomped out by having an actual conversation with that judgmental onlooker.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Didn't go to church.....AGAIN!

But, here is a glimpse into various religions and their views on consuming animals. Thanks to Eric, my brother-in-law for forwarding this article my way as I am poorly educated on the subject of religion and interpretation of various religious texts. The entire article can be found at:

According to the Bible, there were plenty of animals, but none were used for meat. The Garden of Eden was rich in grains and nuts, and once Adam and Eve fell from grace, God provided a field of vegetables and herbs to eat.
It wasn't until the FLOOD (yeah, remember the flood with Noah and the animals on the ark) that vegetation was destroyed and people were allowed to eat meat. Interestingly enough, meat had to be drained of blood which started the Jewish Kosher laws.
Several passages in the Bible left some Christians and Jews feeling morally obligated to choose a vegetarian lifestyle. Some say that their body cannot act as a temple when eating meat because they view it as a sin, therefore God cannot work through them as a result, unless they cut unhealthy foods like meat and excess sugar from their diets.
Seventh Day Adventists are orthodox in their views and roughly half of them are vegetarian. When God created people, meat was not an offering. He must have known what was healthiest for his creation to eat! The Mormon Health Code called the Word of Wisdom recommends meat only in the winter, or of cold or famine. Use sparingly.
Apparently Jesus was a vegetarian. He did multiply and eat fish (oookay!) but according to PETA, those stories were relayed WAY after they happened. Isn't that the entire Bible? Its not as if it was written in real time?? I like using PETA as a religious reference in my blog.
Hindus don't eat much beef as they see cows as being reincarnated human souls....Hare Krishna's only eat foods that Krishna will accept and he doesn't accept meat, fish or eggs. Hallelujah!!!

Judaism and Vegetarianism:
"Here you are faced with G-d's teaching, which obliges you not only to refrain from inflicting unnecessary pain on any animal, but to help and, when you can, to lessen the pain whenever you see an animal suffering, even through no fault of yours." (Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, Horeb, Chapter 60, Section 416)

Latter Day Saints, Veg Mormons:
..."Next, we learn from Gen.1: 29, 30 -- 'And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree, yielding seed, to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.' From these verses wo learn, that the earth yielded neither noxious weeds nor poisonous plants, nor useless thorns and thistle; indeed, every thing that grew was just calculated for the food of man, beast, fowl, and creeping thing; and their food was all vegetable; flesh and blood were never sacrificed to glut their souls, or gratify their appetites; the beast. of the earth were all in perfect harmony with each other; the lion ate straw like the ox -- the wolf dwelt with the lamb -- the leopard lay down with the kid -- the cow and bear fed together, in the same pasture, while their young ones reposed, in perfect security, under the shade of the same trees; all was peace and harmony, and nothing to hurt nor disturb, in all the holy mountain.

Christians and Vegetarianism:
In Genesis 2:15, God instructed Adam to “till” and “keep” the Garden of Eden, and by analogy we may see caring for God’s Creation as our sacred task. The typical meat eater’s diet can easily consume up to 14 times more water and 20 times more energy than that of a vegetarian. Indeed, current use of land, water, and energy is not sustainable; resource depletion threatens to cause hardships for humankind this century. Already, 40 percent of the world’s agricultural lands are seriously degraded.
Jesus said that God feeds the birds of the air (Matt. 6:26) and does not forget sparrows (Luke 12:6). The Hebrew writings forbid inhumane slaughter or cruelty towards beasts of burden (Exod. 23:5; Deut. 22:6–7, 25:4). Yet, in the United States, virtually all food derived from animals is obtained through intensive factory farming methods. Nearly ten billion land animals are slaughtered each year, over a million every hour, and the number of aquatic animals killed for food is far greater. These animals suffer greatly from stressful crowding, barren environments that frustrate their instinctive drives, amputations without anesthesia (including debeaking, dehorning, tail docking, and castration), and other painful procedures (Bernard Rollin, Ph.D., Farm Animal Welfare).

Slaughter typically involves terror and, often, great pain (Gail Eisnitz, Slaughterhouse). Illustrating the industry’s callousness, animals too sick to walk are painfully dragged to slaughter rather than humanely euthanized. Typical of the industry’s attitude, John Byrnes wrote, “Forget the pig is an animal. Treat him just like a machine in a factory” (Hog Farm Management).

I wish that I knew of a church that really did preach veganism. I would be there partying it up for Midnight Mass EVERY Christmas Eve. I know you cannot take the Bible literally because it is essentially a storytelling device. I feel hopeful that I am not alone in preaching the good word on leaving the animals be.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Totally BACKIN' me UP!

Intoducing, Campylobacter jejuni!

It appears that Consumer Reports just released a study proving that WAY TOO much of our chicken supply is riddled with salmonella or campylobacter (a foodborne pathogen that'll cause some MEAN diarrhea) Even the organic options were not looking so good. GO VEGAN after reading this darn article.

"If you eat undercooked or mishandled chicken, our new tests indicate, you have a good chance of feeling miserable. CR’s analysis of fresh, whole broilers bought nationwide revealed that 83 percent harbored campylobacter or salmonella, the leading bacterial causes of foodborne disease.
That’s a stunning increase from 2003, when we reported finding that 49 percent tested positive for one or both pathogens. Leading chicken producers have stabilized the incidence of salmonella, but spiral-shaped campylobacter has wriggled onto more chickens than ever. And although the U.S. Department of Agriculture tests chickens for salmonella against a federal standard, it has not set a standard for campylobacter.
Our results show there should be. More than ever, it’s up to consumers to make sure they protect themselves by cooking chicken to at least 165° F and guarding against ­cross-contamination.
Think premium brands are safer? Overall, chickens labeled as organic or raised without antibiotics and costing $3 to $5 per pound were more likely to harbor salmonella than were conventionally produced broilers that cost more like $1 per pound.
Moreover, most of the bacteria we tested from all types of contaminated chicken showed resistance to one or more anti­biotics, including some fed to chickens to speed their growth and those prescribed to humans to treat infections. The findings suggest that some people who are sickened by chicken might need to try several antibiotics before finding one that works."

Article in its entirety:

What you can do to encourage the government to quit "wingin' it" with food safety standards, sign this petition demanding something be done about this problem:

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

2017, A Meat Odyssey

Test Tube Meats are the next big thing to appear between your buns. No more factory farming or animal abuse...just some glass beakers and tubes of stem cells growing into your burger or chicken patty. The latest issue of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN magazine explains current projects underway.
Morris A. Benjaminson, a biology professor at the Touro College School of Health Sciences and president of Zymotech Enterprises in Bay Shore, N.Y., is pursuing his idea of growing animal skeletal muscle tissue into a fillet or steak in small chambers. Morris and his team extracted stem cells from fish embryos and used them to grow muscle cells by stimulating them electronically, mechanically, hormonally and nutritionally. With adequate funding and some adjustments will soon yield what will be a tasty fillet mignon! The success story as of late is the tiny mass of tissue that looks, smells and cooks like a fish fillet. This technique could yield in a mass production of boneless chicken breasts for a fraction of the cost of a commercial farm, without possibilities of salmonella and other contamination found in supermarket poultry. Not to mention, NO CRUELTY! No animals harmed, as it is possible to take a muscle biopsy from a live farm animal and culture the isolated muscle cells. If stem cells are used, these would likely be from a farm animal embryo.
Dutch researchers at Utrecht University are using pig stem cells to produce vat-grown pork. Their goal is to feature a minced meat for use in burgers, tacos, sausages and pizza toppings within the next couple of years.
Jason Matheny, a doctoral student at University of Maryland runs the nonprofit group called NEW HARVEST. Their vision is that of "meat sheets" made up of layers of animal muscle and fat cells. They plan to use inexpensive nutrients like plant or fungal sources that could potentially bring the price of meat down to $1 per pound! Omega 3 fatty acids could be added in addition to other heart healthy ingredients. NEW HARVEST predicts certain products such as chicken nuggets or burgers will be available within several years but it will be at least a decade until the technology is developed to actually produce a steak or a lamb chop.
The NEW HARVEST website is SUPER interesting! Check it out for info on why this test tube idea is attractive and makes a heck of a lot of sense. Meat Farmers will have to dust off their science textbooks or rely strictly on growing veggies. I suppose they will still need animals for dairy needs. (even though we could easily live without it!) Here is a paragraph about the project at NEW HARVEST:
"One novel line of research is to produce meat in vitro, in a cell culture, rather than from an animal. The production of such "cultured meat" begins by taking a number of cells from a farm animal and proliferating them in a nutrient—rich medium. Cells are capable of multiplying so many times in culture that, in theory, a single cell could be used to produce enough meat to feed the global population for a year. After the cells are multiplied, they are attached to a sponge-like "scaffold" and soaked with nutrients. They may also be mechanically stretched to increase their size and protein content. The resulting cells can then be harvested, seasoned, cooked, and consumed as a boneless, processed meat, such as sausage, hamburger, or chicken nuggets."
We can support this cause or look at more sad photos about the reality of cruel practices like raising calves to be veal on your plate.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


I read this story today in the Farm Sanctuary "Thank You" email and just about cried when I saw how cute this damn lamb is.
His name is CHICO and he was rescued by two girls who got to know him and couldn't deal with seeing him off to slaughter.
"Before leaving, the two friends wrote letters to the camp, urging the director to spare his life and release him to their care. They had not heard back from the camp by the time the girl and her family came to the shelter for a visit. Thankfully, though, our education department staff learned of Chico's plight from the girl, and Farm Sanctuary eagerly agreed to help save him.
Not long after, the farm camp agreed to relinquish guardianship. Chico was brought to the shelter from the camp in the family mini-van, riding in the back with the two girls, who comforted him the whole way. Their caring words assured him that he would be going somewhere very special, and that no harm would ever come to him. Excited for the first few hours of the drive, he bleated curiously and looked out the windows. By the end, he was sleeping peacefully in the back. The life Chico was meant to live had finally begun, and the girls learned a very important lesson. Speaking up for farm animals in need can make a true impact that can forever change their lives for the better. Now, Chico's long life can be full of salt licks and head scratches, and romps through the rolling fields at Farm Sanctuary with his other rescued sheep friends."
Read the full story here:

I know this is a food politics blog but.....I was hiking today with my dogs listening to my ipod. I thought about all of the confused folk out there who will get 20 ipod gift cards and have no idea what to buy with them. I have a mix of suggestions, a.k.a my favorite records of 2006.
In no particular order, here are some winners for you to consider: (band, album name, description)
1. White Rose Movement, KICK, for those who like to boogie to brit rock electro with a 'tude.
2. The French Kicks, TWO THOUSAND, mellow indie rock with feeling.
3. Mew, AND THE GLASS HANDED KITES, a more theatrical version of Pinback - and yes, he does pull of the vocals live....its AMAZING!
4. Sound Team, MOVIE MONSTER, for those that love Spoon or the Strokes
5. The Rapture, PIECES OF THE PEOPLE WE LOVE, just plain good. Emotion and fun rolled into one. Again, the vocals are impressive and lyrics will make you cry if you really listen!
6. TV on the Radio, RETURN TO COOKIE MOUNTAIN, this is wacky in the best way. Captain Beefheart of today.
7. Grizzly Bear, YELLOW HOUSE, mellow and impressive tunes for the coolest of kids only.
8. Beck, THE INFORMATION, every song on here (except for one that sounds like Eddie Vedder took over the microphone) is good.
9. Swan Lake, BEAST MOANS, okay, the first song on here is just insanely great. The mix of sounds makes my brain overload on happy juice.
10. Human Television, LOOK AT WHO YOU ARE TALKING TO, kinda Red House Painters-ish, just plain pleasant as heck.

Last item of the day: SALMON FARMING IN CHILE
I know salmon is downright delicious. It used to be my favorite when I ate fishies. I suppose I did not know the extent of what it takes to feed these carnivores?! What is odd is that the farmed salmon eat WILD caught fish. (huh? The salmon are good enough to eat wild caught goodies but humans should eat the farmed junk?) It takes 3 pounds of wild fish to produce 1 pound of salmon! If you add the fish caught to make oil added to the meal, the figure is much higher. Chile is home to the largest unchecked salmon farming industry. Many Chilean farmed salmon are raised in high densities, often with 100,000 to 200,000 packed into pens where they swim around in a poopy antibiotic soup. This leads to major disease breakout which means more antibiotics are necessary, resulting in antibiotic-resistant strains of disease. The vicious cycle continues as more powerful antibiotics are needed to fight these diseases. Other marine life also ingest uneaten pellets meant for the salmon in addition to some fecal matter from the salmon. Chile's salmon production of 600,000 tons of fish sewage is equivalent to that of greater Santiago - Chile's largest city housing 6 million people. EEEWW!
Salmon feces and uneaten pellets on the ocean floor release arge quantities of nitrogen into the water, in turn exacerbating red tides (marine algal blooms whose toxins harm marine life and make shellfish poisonous to eat.)
I wish I could recommend safe salmon but I don't know if I can!? If you want more info about the ocean and what we need to do to save it from turning into a pool of poop check out the following:

Monday, December 18, 2006

Should I ALWAYS buy organic?

Kirsten Johnson Painting via Cloud King
I frequently shuffle through the produce section looking for primarily local but also organic goodies to bring home. Most often then not, organic items are more expensive than conventional. Surprisingly, organic selections are sometimes NOT necessary when it comes to certain fruits and veggies. Back in February, Consumer Reports put out a helpful piece on what items should always be organic purchases while others are not worth the extra money.

What Apples, bell peppers, celery, cherries, imported grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears, potatoes, red raspberries, spinach, and strawberries.

y The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s own lab testing reveals that even after washing, some fruits and vegetables consistently carry much higher levels of pesticide residue than others. Based on an analysis of more than 100,000 U.S. government pesticide test results, researchers at the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a research and advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C., have developed the “dirty dozen” fruits and vegetables, above, that they say you should always buy organic if possible because their conventionally grown counterparts tend to be laden with pesticides. Among fruits, nectarines had the highest percentage testing positive for pesticide residue. Peaches and red raspberries had the most pesticides (nine) on a single sample. Among vegetables, celery and spinach most often carried pesticides, with spinach having the highest number (10) on a single sample. (For more information on pesticide levels for other types of produce, go to .)

What you’ll pay About 50 percent more on average for organic produce, but prices vary based on the item and the time of year. A Consumer Reports price survey conducted in the New York City area in October 2005 found a premium of 24 percent on organic strawberries and 33 percent on grapes and spinach. Organic Idaho potatoes cost 101 percent more than conventional. When you buy organic produce in season at a farmer’s market or directly from local providers, however, you might avoid paying a premium at all.

What Meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy.

Why You greatly reduce the risk of exposure to the agent believed to cause mad cow disease and minimize exposure to other potential toxins in non-organic feed. You also avoid the results of production methods that use daily supplemental hormones and antibiotics, which have been linked to increased antibacterial resistance in humans.

What you’ll pay Often double the price of nonorganic, though you might save money by buying direct from local farms. For instance, in December 2005 the Organic Trade Assocation reported that in Iowa, organic ground beef was available for $4.25 a pound and beef tenderloin for $16 a pound.

What Baby food.

Why Children’s developing bodies are especially vulnerable to toxins and they may be at risk of higher exposure. Baby food is often made up of condensed fruits or vegetables, potentially concentrating pesticide residues. Michelle Faist, a spokeswoman for Del Monte, says that even though its baby foods are not organic, pesticides and heavy metals are kept below government-recommended levels.

What you’ll pay Varies widely by store.
What Asparagus, avocados, bananas, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet corn, kiwi, mangos, onions, papaya, pineapples, and sweet peas.

Why Multiple pesticide residues are, in general, rarely found on conventionally grown versions of these fruits and vegetables, according to research by the EWG. So if you’re buying organic only for health reasons, you may not want to pay 22 percent extra for organic bananas, let alone more than 150 percent for organic asparagus--the premiums we found in our price survey of several New York City area supermarkets.

What Breads, oils, potato chips, pasta, cereals, and other packaged foods, such as canned or dried fruit and vegetables.

Why Although these processed products may have lower levels of contaminants in them, they offer limited health value because processing tends to wash away important nutrients. The process of milling organic whole grains into flour, for example, eliminates fiber and vitamins, though they are sometimes added back in. The more a food is processed, the less health value its organic version offers, especially in products such as cereals and pastas with labels that say “made with organic ingredients.” Read the list of ingredients and you might find that while the flour is organic, the eggs aren’t. The processed foods with the most added value are labeled “100% Organic” and “USDA organic.” Price premiums vary. In our survey, organic Heinz ketchup cost 25 percent more than the conventional product; organic minestrone soup was only 8 percent more.

FYI: Wheat seems to be no different in nutritional value when conventional OR organic.

Don't Bother buying the following ORGANIC:
What Seafood.

Why Whether caught in the wild or farmed, fish can be labeled organic, despite the presence of contaminants such as mercury and PCBs. Some wild fish such as bluefish are very high in PCBs, and tuna and swordfish are laced with mercury. The USDA has not yet developed organic certification standards for seafood. In the meantime, producers are allowed to make their own organic claims as long as they don’t use “USDA” or “certified organic” logos. California, however, recently passed a law that prohibits the use of any organic labeling on fish and other seafood until either state or federal certification standards are established.

What Cosmetics.

Why Unless a personal-care product consists primarily of organic agricultural ingredients, such as aloe vera gel, it’s pointless to buy organic in this category. Most cosmetics contain a mix of ingredients, and USDA regulations allow shampoos and body lotions to carry an organic label even when water is the primary ingredient, Hydrosol may also be listed as a primary ingredient in organic products even though it may be primarily water infused with only a small fraction of organic plant material. While the USDA claims that organic labeled-cosmetics follow the same standards as food, we have found indiscriminate use of synthetic ingredients and violations of food-labeling standards. “Many of the ingredients in personal-care products didn’t grow out of the ground but in test tubes--they’re chemicals,” says Lauren Sucher, director of public affairs at the EWG. Just because a product has the word “organic” or “natural” in its name doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safer. Only 11 percent of ingredients found in personal-care products, organic or not, have ever been screened for safety. In fact, when the EWG conducted its own safety rating of these products (available at ), scoring them on a scale of 0, for those posing lowest level of concern, to 5, for the highest concern due to potentially unsafe ingredients, those with scores of 4 or more included benign-sounding Naturessence All Day Moisture Cream.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Weird Fish Restaurant in SF RULES!

Last night we oiled up our insides at Weird Fish where VEGANS, VEGETARIANS and FISHY folk can mingle and enjoy exciting dishes. As a vegan, I must admit when there is something fried on a menu AND it happens to be animal free I get super excited. For example, we ordered fried YO YO's as an appetizer, which are fried pickles! Oh so tasty and unique. I had a hard time choosing between the sweet potato taco with the option of ALMOND CHEESE as a topping with rice and beans OR the fried, marinated tofu OR the Po' Boy (portabello slices fried with slaw and some cocktail sauce.) I decided on the po' boy without slaw (it had some mayo in it) and the roll and sauce was so tasty that I didn't miss the slaw much. I am sure it tasted even better with it though. I also ordered a side of fries (half russets, half sweet potato) which were perfectly salted and crispy. As a pregnant lady, I have to pass on the tempting wine/beer list but the ginger lemonade tasted very lemony and not so ginger-y which I like. Not too sweet, not too sour, it was a perfect complement to the salty, deliciously fried food.
I cannot express how nice it is to have more than one choice of items on a menu to be thrilled about. I totally bypassed the salad section and didn't even have to consider those to get something that fit my dietary needs. I love salad, don't get me wrong, but sometimes on a cold ass night in San Francisco, all you want is warm comfort food served by super nice people that are not too pushy or sassy. The host, under lots of pressure, brought the waiting folk drinks and didn't seem at all stressed about the number of people waiting to get in outnumbering the total number of tables inside!! The hostess I called earlier that night was down to earth, really great....I felt like I was talking to a friend whose house I was coming to later on for dinner!
The tables are beautiful, the decor is simple and nautical but elegant at the same time. The bathroom is cute and the sign out front with the horse/fishmaid is oh so mystical. The menu's are well done, easy to read and informative as they alert customers of the sustainable methods practiced by Weird Fish. Organic and local foods are used to provide customers with the best tasting food of the season. YAY! Go check it out:
WEIRD FISH, 2193 Mission St., San Francisco,CA,94110
Oh, and you can call ahead to put your name on a list either 20 minutes ahead of time (for 2) or about 35 minutes for a table of reservations though.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Clean Schemes

Its been a long hard road to find environmentally friendly and generally healthy alternatives to the usual household cleaners. Since I became pregnant, I insisted that all cleaners I had were to be tossed out and replaced with "natural" or "safer" products. A friend of mine named Jody who is a big motivator from across the country asked me to write a bit about this chemically laden problem.
Most of us basically use what Mom did when we were kids. Obviously Mom knows best! Sorry Mom, but formulas for natural alternatives to heavy cleaners are easy to find and not expensive. Being a wee-bit phobic of germs, I sometimes worry that dirty stuff is still lurking on my hands or floor after using the gentle, non-toxic options, but I think I will opt for germs instead of cancer.
The following is an overview of junk found in popular household cleaners that should scare you a bit, found from the Bi-O-Kleen website.

DISINFECTANTS: (example, Lysol) The most common chemical used to kill bacteria are phenol (a particularly hazardous class of chemicals), quaternary ammonia, pine oil, and sodium hypochlorite, otherwise known as chlorine bleach. Using chlorine bleach is particularly hazardous because they react with ammonia or acids to release toxic gases. There are thousands of accidents each year caused from mixing bleach with other cleaning products. These are all corrosive and toxic chemicals.

TUB & TILE CLEANERS: (um, the scrubbing bubbles you see on TV) These products dissolve dirt without scrubbing. The reason they can do that is because they usually contain glycol ethers or chlorine bleach. This is yet another strong and hazardous chemical which is used in most of today’s bathroom cleaners for mold and mildew. The warning label may read something like this, "Not recommended for use by persons with heart conditions or chronic respiratory problems". "Do not mix with acids, ammonia or other household cleaners". "Use only in well ventilated areas". So what are glycol ethers? Well, they have been known to cause birth defects in laboratory animals (not tested by Bi-O-Kleen), and pregnant or nursing women should avoid using these kinds of products. They can damage red blood cells or bone morrow, causing anemia. And using these products in small confined spaces, such as bathrooms, makes some inhalation of glycol ether inevitable. Like chlorine bleach, it is readily taken in and absorbed through the skin, even when no damage to the skin itself occurs (that is why you can taste a lot of these products in your mouth).

TOILET BOWL CLEANERS: (should be sold with gloves, mask, and eye protection) There are a variety of toilet bowl cleaners out on the market. You have liquids, crystals, and tablets. The most hazardous cleaners are usually the liquids and crystals often marked DANGER. They contain strong acids and are toxic and corrosive. They can burn skin and eyes on contact.

DRAIN CLEANERS: (drain-oh oh) Accidental consumption, even the smallest amount, can cause severe damage or death. Inhalation and skin contact can cause damage to the skin, eyes and lungs. Drain cleaners are another temporary solution because they often end up damaging and corroding drain pipes, making for a bigger mess in the future.

LAUNDRY DETERGENTS: Commercial laundry products contain most of these ingredients including: metasilicates, borax, free silica, cationic fabric softeners, borine, petrochemical surfactants, toxic algaecides and sanitizers, artificial fragrance and coloring, and fillers. When you are washing your clothes with these kinds of products, you are wearing them against your skin all day, absorbing any left over residue your wash did not rinse away. These cleaner are also hard on your clothes, washing machine and dryer, leaving residues behind that build up each time you wash causing corrosion of washing machines and dryers, and fading and thinning of clothes.

Not only the chemicals present problems, what about the animal testing? Corrosive products dousing bunnies and mice? How does that feel in your eye lil guy? Check this website where you can type in product names and find out if they test or not.
Here is a list of some products tested on animals:

BRILLO PRODUCTS - Clean Shine - Country Air - Crystal Shine - Fabulous - Fine Care - Laundry Soft - Nice N' Fluffy - Plumbers Aid - Power Scrub - Swiss Pine - Tile Action - Touch of Glass - Xtra detergent - Brita
Clorox products
- Combat - EverClean - EverFresh - Formula 409 - Fresh Step - Glad products - GladWare - Lestoil - Liquid-Plumr - Pine-Sol - S.O.S. - Scoop Away - - Soft Scrub - Tilex- Tuffy

After trying many brands, I FINALLY found one that I feel completely devoted to and highly recommend. Bi-O-Kleen is my favorite overall.
They have amazing automatic dishwashing powder (lasts FOREVER) for your dishwasher that completely cleans my glasses, no spots left behind.
Also, their clothing detergent ROCKS! Its the best and also is concentrated and a great deal.
I recommend all of their products but specifically the above are my favorites.
Here is their website, I buy their stuff at WHOLE FOODS.

Take it from me, a germ phobic chic who actually enjoys cleaning.....go natural!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Global Green Party Observations & Frustrations

A picture speaks 1000 words.
This past Tuesday, I was lucky enough to attend the Global Green Ecofabulous party in San Francisco. Global Green's mission is clean transportation, building green cities and schools, promoting recycling and clean water. As a VEGAN, these parties are always an opportunity to meet like-minded people AND maybe Orlando Bloom (I did get to see his cute lil' face close up) and Leonardo DiCaprio who hosted the event. Shamefully, Leo never even emerged from the VIP room upstairs. I did notice someone across the street covering up the huge Victoria's Secret picture of Giselle (his ex-girlfriend) in her bra. I saw the picture at the beginning of the night....about an hour later I see some woman placing a huge piece of butcher paper or something over the picture. Hilarious!

Complaint number 1: On the "green carpet," I noticed quite a few patrons of the party donning fur lined hoods and collars on their coats and plenty of leather. Most people pulled up in taxi's but some in their large SUV's and Towncar limo's. Two of the girls were self proclaimed "party crashers" who attend celebrity strewn events in San Francisco and write about it on some website. They obviously had no clue what kind of party this was because they were all decked out in their furs. Gross. Here they are, sweet talking a man out front.

Complaint number 2: The party was catered by WHOLE FOODS (where I always shop for groceries and most of my personal supplies.) I suppose Global Green thought this was going far enough. The menu consisted of: chicken skewers, lil' roast beef sandwiches, tons of brie cheese and some other cheese not sliced, just chunked on the plate. There were bruschetta, one with tomato and cheese, the other with salmon and cheese. Another plate consisted of pineapple, strawberries, kiwi, melons and some sliced baguette that was chewy and not good by itself. But, this was all I could eat being vegan and pregnant. I ate a few bites of fruit and bread as to keep from passing out. They had Hint water which I liked. That was the only positive on the food and drink side. May I remind you that none of the fruits listed above are in season. Let's guess how far those fruits had to travel to get to the party. UM, clean transportation huh? Those Costa Rican pineapples had to be transported by plane and truck which is clearly a HUGE waste. Why not teach your patrons a lesson on LOCAL SEASONAL foods!?! There are plenty of choices when it comes to locally produced cheese. Why not inform these people who are learning about GREEN CONCEPTS why its important to consider not only YOUR mode of transportation but how far your food travels to get to your plate?? OR, teach them about "fabulous" vegan foods? Millennium Restaurant would have been so honored to feature some of their foods at this event. They are strictly vegan and unbelievably delicious!

Complaint number 3: The fashion show disappointed me. There was one dress i loved. It will run you $3200. That sucks. The rest of the clothing was uninspired and really just run of the mill. I admire anyone willing to put up with the fashion industry, especially those using eco-friendly fabrics, but I expected more I guess.

I did meet someone very sweet named Maria who runs a clothing company called Marfar Designs. She makes tee's made from hemp and organic cotton. We discussed how difficult it is to meet people in San Francisco and that everyone is so damn clique-y. You gotta prove yourself to these Franciscans before they will give you a chance. Well, good luck Maria and Go VEGAN! (She guiltily admitted her leather boots were uh, real.)

Last but not least, thanks to the guy in the background of the top photo. He proved why a percentage of the population of environmentalists immediately turn people off from learning about the cause. He tried convincing me of creating "positive realities" in order to really turn this world around. So vague, so hippy-dippy that I honestly was ready to puke. I promise we are not all like that. I would never even call myself an environmentalist. My favorite quote of his was in response to a story I told him about giving a class I taught a list of the factory farms to avoid when shopping at the grocery store. Here it is: "You see, I totally disagree with that because you are giving them something they CAN'T buy instead giving them a list of some really GREAT FACTORY FARMS!" Aw, hell. Walk away Keri, walk away.

Monday, December 11, 2006


As a professional dog trainer, I often use the term "desensitize" to describe the process of the dog recognizing something or someone to a point that no longer yields a reaction albeit barking, crying, jumping up, biting. As a new vegetarian or vegan, the usual reaction to others eating meat or questioning WHY they cut animals out of their diets is a visceral one. I would get really fired up, defensive or even cry when people would challenge me. I clearly needed desensitization. Its not something that happens overnight. After about 8 years of vegetarianism, 3 years of veganism, I know that the calm and knowledgeable approach usually makes much more of an impression than a "passionate " one. I think PASSION is a given when you are vegan. Cutting out all animal products including leather, dairy, all meats, certain sugars (ridiculous but most run of the mill sugars like C&H are processed through animal bones to remove the naturally occurring brown sugar cane color) and more speaks for itself when it comes to being dedicated to a cause.
A good example of this calming of the mind/body when it comes to what others choose to do happened yesterday at Whole Foods. My husband Darryl and I had to do some shopping, so I told him to get his lunch and sit and read the paper while I shop because I really don't mind at all. I ran into our neighbors who are vegan (awesome!) and told them to go chat with Darryl as he is eating his short ribs or something up front reading his paper. He has an exciting new job for TESLA MOTORCARS so I knew they would want to hear all about it. He told me later in a faux scolding tone that he was NOT eating short ribs, he had a veggie sandwich with cheese! I was so proud.

Yes, Darryl eats meat. With his new job though, the environment is downright environmentally aware and I notice some changes happening in ME and HIM even though I already think about this subject quite a bit. I try to use my cloth bags when shopping EVERY time, not just once in awhile. Now that I am back on the coffee wagon I bought a mug to bring with me so I don't waste a cup everyday by throwing the paper cup, plastic top AND lil' collar in the trash. I usually get one large shopping bag when I am buying clothes or gifts and put them all in that bag. I eat at home more often on plates instead of using TO GO boxes out at restaurants or grocery stores.
It is amazing how much waste we generate. All the products we use in one day? Write out a list one day, and be prepared to be blown away! Check that list against websites like the National Anti-Vivisection Society for animal testing. Check out what harmful chemicals exist in the cleaners you use at home. Is there trans fats/ hydrogenated oils or high fructose corn syrup in your food? This is just shameful!!! One day at a time, learn a bit about yourself. You'd be surprised at who you really are.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Cow or Pig, NOT Beef or Ham


Adopt a Sanctuary Cow or a Pig Today and Receive the Candle Cafe Cookbook!
This holiday season, help spread compassion by participating in Farm Sanctuary's Adopt a Farm Animal Project! Whether you are sponsoring an animal for yourself, or giving the gift of sponsorship to a friend or loved one, you will be helping to support a rescued farm animal in need. Plus, for a limited time only, if you sponsor a pig or a cow, you will receive the much-loved Candle Cafe Cookbook as part of your benefits package!
To order, click here or contact FARM SANCTUARY at 607-583-2225 ext. 225, or email

The CANDLE CAFE RULES! Its in NYC, I usually try to go whenever I am in the area. Their dishes are so satisfying and they have a huge variety of top notch stuff. Some of the best vegan food I have ever had. So sponsor an animal and get the cookbook for nuthin!

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Big Apple Bans Transfats in Restaurants

Damn, sometimes I am amazed that something THIS major happens in a big city like New York. People of all sorts live there, meaning that a lot "goes" without question. For example, New Yorkers who want to change the sex on their birth certificate can do so without question. Interesting enough. Yesterdays paper dropped another bomb consisting of a major municipal ban on TRANS FATS in restaurants. My day began in a the best of ways. I write these entries, hoping to educate others on their rights when it comes to food an health. Knowing that something SO HUGE like banning trans fats in restaurants can happen in New York gave me hope to continue this method of gentle nagging!
So here is the deal. As of July 2007, only tiny amounts of trans fats will be allowed in every restaurant including fast food or fancy food. Trans fats are chemically modified food ingredients that raise levels of BAD cholesterol which is linked to heart disease. Basically, trans fats have a longer shelf life than other fats and they are mainly used in baked goods, fried foods, salad dressings, and margarine. About 10% of NY restaurants will (likely fast food & places that have a standard menu) face the requirement of posting caloric content of all their menu items nearby the ordering area by the cash registers.
Now, I know restaurant owners are angry because suddenly they need to find new suppliers (most products they use already arrive with trans fats, they don't just add them while cooking) and change some recipes around. This was my favorite quote in the NY Times article from Dec. 6 by Dan Flesher a National Restaurant Association spokesman: "This is a misguided attempt to social engineering by a group of physicians who don't understand the restaurant industry." Correct me if I am wrong, but don't physicians make money from sick people? Social engineering? Sorry if this group of health department officials decided that obesity is finally a problem and needs to be handled. Here is another WAAHHHH moment by O'Neil White, a baker at Sweet Chef in Harlem. "Things without trans fats are harder to get and more expensive."
Oh, don't worry Mr. White in Harlem, I believe that economics works in your favor here. The entire state of New York is now in need of products without trans fats. I am sure there are many suppliers AS WE SPEAK rearranging their ingredients to meet the demand of their NY customers. This makes these ingredients/products easier to find, amounts plentiful, prices will fall.
Chicago is next on the list of trans fat warriors. I am sure California (I hope) does the same. Its sad that people cannot decide for themselves that they are overweight and need to avoid foods made with trans fats. That is where the health department has to step in and remind us:
Approximately 127 million adults in the U.S. are overweight, 60 million obese, and 9 million severely obese.

Approximately 30.3 percent of children (ages 6 to 11) are overweight and 15.3 percent are obese. For adolescents (ages 12 to 19), 30.4 percent are overweight and 15.5 percent are obese.

Dearest Restaurant owners: Thank your lucky stars someone stepped in to make a change. The people who pay for YOUR food on your family's table are going to die if they keep eating JUNK you serve them. A dead customer is NOT a paying customer.

I am also thinking now of the vegan/vegetarian restaurants laughing all the way to their lunch breaks because they don't have to change ANYTHING on their menus!

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Joanna Newsom - New Low

7X7 Magazine, based in SF, featured this disgusting photo of Joanna Newsom with a fox fur (minus the face!?) on her head. What you can't see is the paws that dangle down which appear in the actual magazine...somehow got cut out in this online photo. I am glad I have never been able to stomach her music because if I did, I would be puking with anger that someone I admired was wearing a dead animal on their head for a photo shoot. Oh so cute Joanna.

Fish & Fires

For some reason I knew there would be an interesting tidbit for me to share in the NY Times today. Tuesday is my favorite day for reading the Times because of the Science section. An interesting study by Erin N. Kelly, a doctoral student in Alberta Canada, yielded some unexpected results. This project started out as an examination of how mercury in water, invertebrates and fish in the Canadian Rockies varies with elevation. It just so happens that a huge forest fire ablaze at the time created a new element for Ms. Kelly to study. She and her adviser came up with the idea that it might be interesting to see what happened with mercury concentrations in the lake. The findings? Well, the fire increased the concentration of mercury in rainbow trout fivefold. The culprit? Nitrogen and phosphorus ended up in the lake and increased the production of algae, which led to more young fish (primarily rainbow trout.) Adult fish began eating the younger fish which meant the amount of mercury in their diet went WAY up. "Its possible that forest fires could cause concentrations in fishes to go over consumption guidelines," Ms. Kelly said.
I don't know if you guys living in the bay area notice that the weather is a little bit TOO mild these days. Today I marveled at the fact that I needed no jacket as I emerged from the hair salon in San Francisco. Its a little scary. It seems that the average high temperature for December according to is 56 degrees. Today was 64 degrees and its the beginning of the month, so maybe this is normal and I just forget. Global climate change increases the number of forest fires. This could also ramp up the mercury levels in freshwater fish.
For SEAFOOD LOVERS, check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium website as they have a guide to the east/west coasts safest fish.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Sunday Funny #1

I HAD to post this picture my husband took for me of IAN'S Miniburgers with the superhero character at the bottom screaming out "I'm a SUPERFIT KID!!" What in the hell is that for? Apparently if you buy lots of Ian's products and you partake in this contest, you earn points.
There are 4 burgers in a box, 2.5 oz each.
A serving is 2 burgers which yields:
360 calories
12 grams of fat (4 grams saturated fat)
25 mg cholesterol
sodium 450 mg
42 grams of carbohydrates
5 grams of sugar
22 grams of protein
No vitamin A, C or calcium but it does provide 30% of daily iron needs.
A wimpy 1 gram of fiber is provided.
Kudos to the company as they do have something right, there are no preservatives or artificial colors or additives. The beef patty is from Coleman Farm/Ranch and they seem as eco-aware as ranchers can get.

Lets just quickly compare the beef miniburgers with a Burger King Veggie Burger (w/o mayonnaise) made with Morningstar Farms Garden Veggie Patties (175 gram serving vs. the 130 gram serving of the miniburgers)
300 calories
7 grams fat (saturated is 1.5)
870 mg sodium
46 grams carbohydrates
14 grams protein
4 grams dietary fiber
35% iron needs
10% of Vitamin A needs
8% of calcium needs
6% Vitamin C needs

BOCA burger has a great feature on its website where you can compare the nutritional stats of a boca product with its meaty counterpart.

Happy eating...K

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act and Animal Cruelty

This Friday while sitting in Jury Duty, I picked up a SF Weekly newspaper to fight the boredom. The first article I read by Matt Smith about Boycotting Feinstein involved a new proposed law that would put activists in jail for hurting a company's bottom line. Michael Markarian, executive vice president of the Humane Society of the United States says, "The language of this legislation was too broad and vague, and could be interpreted to infringe upon lawful practices, such as protest, whistleblowing, or boycotts." Here is what Feinstein has to say on the AETA website:
Senator Feinstein Statement:

“The tactics used by animal rights extremists have evolved in the face of our current laws, and consequently, the scope of their terror is widening,” Senator Feinstein said. “We need the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act to fight these tactics, including the latest trend of targeting any business and associate working with animal research facilities.

“Just three months ago, extremist activists acting in the name of animal rights attempted to firebomb the home of a UCLA primate researcher. The home where they placed their bomb actually belonged to a 70-year-old neighbor of the scientist. Thankfully, the device did not ignite. But it did lead another prominent UCLA researcher to quit in fear. We must recognize that scientific research is not only a legitimate career, but also an invaluable facet of medical advancement, conducted by respectable professionals deserving our support. The deplorable actions of these eco-terrorists threaten to impede important medical progress in California and across the country.

“Unfortunately, this type of activity has been going on for awhile. In August 2003, two bombs were placed at the Emeryville offices of Chiron Corporation, a pharmaceutical company in the Bay area that employs 4,400 employees as our nation's 2nd largest manufacturer of flu vaccines.”

Matt Smith explains, Feinstein says that the above behaviors such as violence, threats, vandalism or harassment assaults are already illegal. Her bill criminalizes ordinary protest activites that weren't illegal before.

I think back to the experience Marion Nestle had writing her book on Food Politics. She explains that not ONE person she spoke to allowed her to formally quote them as saying what they said with a name responsible for those words. She explains in great detail how powerful lobbying leaves citizens out of the loop when it comes to fair and balanced law-making. There is a sneaking suspicion that large corporations relying on animal testing to produce "safe products for humans" played a role in this new "bipartisan legislation."

The commentary regarding affecting the bottom line of a company via activism confuses me because a simple act like boycotting with signs out in front of KFC. No violence, no physical harm, just signs that explain how KFC chickens are factory farmed and abused. This might steer people away from eating there. This somehow affects the daily profits, is this potentially going to end some folks in jail?

What frustrates me is that there are plenty of ways in todays world to test products without using animals.

10's of millions of animals are tested on annually. A majority are rats and mice. The following is an example of cruel testing taken from the National Anti-Vivisection Society website:
The Draize test is the most well known eye and skin irritancy test. It attempts to measure the harmfulness of chemicals by observing the damage they cause to the eyes and skin of animals. In the Draize test for eye irritancy, solutions of products are applied directly into the eyes of conscious rabbits. During the test period, which usually lasts at least seven days, the rabbits may suffer extreme pain, and blindness often occurs. At the end of the test period, all the animals are killed in order to determine the internal effects of the toxic substances. The Draize test for skin irritancy consists of immobilizing an animal while test substances are applied to shaved and abraded skin. (Skin is abraded by firmly pressing adhesive tape onto the animal’s body and quickly stripping it off. The process is repeated until several layers of skin have been exposed.) The Draize test was introduced about 50 years ago by Food and Drug Administration toxicologist John H. Draize. Since its inception, the test has been strongly criticized for its extreme cruelty and inability to provide reliable data that can be extrapolated to humans.

A couple of the most commonly used non-animal product safety tests include:

Murine Local Lymph Node Assay (ILNA), a method for assessing the allergic contact dermatitis of chemicals. The peer review panel concluded that the ILNA is a valid alternative to currently accepted guinea pig test methods, and that the ILNA reduces the number of animals required for testing and eliminates animal pain and distress.

Corrositex, an in vitro (test tube) method for assessing the dermal (skin) corrosivity or burn potential of certain classes of chemicals using a collagen matrix barrier as a kind of artificial skin.

More details on Animal Testing/Cruelty an be found at:

For a tiny price of $12, you can get this book on their website:
"Personal Care For People Who Care is the most comprehensive listing of companies that do and do not test their products or ingredients on animals. The 200-page 12th edition contains over 600 listings of cosmetics, household, personal care and companion animal products from which to choose. The book is easy-to-use and small enough to take with you whenever you shop."

Friday, December 1, 2006

Fun with Starbucks Nutrition Information

It's winter, everyone looks forward to their first cup of coffee in the morning to warm up their innards. I personally can't stomach Starbucks drinks because the soy milk they use is too sweet and the other substances (either coffee or chai) are usually a bit skimped on. My sister and I would marvel over the frappucino, even if we wanted one we knew how OFF LIMITS it was because of the amount of junk inside. So here you go, my favorites on the nutritional list provided by Starbucks for you to NOT READ. Every drink is in the medium GRANDE size to make this easy and nicely relative.
#1 - The White Chocolate Mocha with soymilk - 370 calories, 9 fat grams, 62 carbs!
#2 - Strawberries and Creme Blended Creme - 440 calories, 2.5 fat grams, 92 carbs.
#3 - Double Chocolate Chip Creme - 450 calories, 9 grams of fat, 83 carbs.
#4 - Tazo Green Tea Creme - 420 calories, 5 grams of fat, 86 carbs.
#5 - Java Chip Frappucino - 370 calories, 9 grams of fat, 69 carbs.
#6 - Caramel Apple Cider - 300 calories, 0 grams of fat, 72 carbs.
#7 - Hot Chocolate - 300 calories, 7 grams of fat, 54 carbs.

Don't forget options -
Whipped Cream on a grande drink adds 100 calories, 9 grams of fat, 2 carbs.
Caramel topping adds on 15 calories, .5 grams of fat, 5 carbs.

The safest choices at the BUCK are the following:
Brewed Coffee, cappucino or lattes (tall sized), cafe americano.

Gross Ingredients with Fancy Names

EEEW! So here are some yucky ingredients that you may not recognized because they are named in a creative manner to keep you from knowing. These can either be found in food,vitamins, beauty products or medicines.
ANIMAL RENNET - primarily found in cheese - A substance obtained from the stomach linings of young calves which contains a coagulating enzyme.
There is a plant version, just look on labels for specifics.
CARMINE (aka E120 - cochineal) - Natural red color comes from the ground up then dried female cochineal beetle. It is sometimes used to color lip gloss, lipsticks and other cosmetics. You can also find this lovely red dried up beetle in some pinkish colored yogurts or food products.
CYSTEINE - Also known as l-cystine, research indicates that the source of cysteine is human hair. Cystine is an amino acid needed by humans, which can be produced by the human body. A very small quantity is used in less than 5% of all bread products. Often the hair of third world women is used.
GELATIN - Gelatin is made from the bones, skins, hoofs, and tendons of cows, pigs, fish and other animals. It is animal protein used especially for its thickening and gelling properties.
DUODENUM - from the digestive tracts of cows and pigs. Can be found in vitamin tablets.
ESTROGEN/ESTRADIOL - from cow ovaries and pregnant mares' urine.

I need to eat my dinner so I am going to stop here to get my appetite back.