Posted by tinako on May 16, 2013
Did you know that there is a worldwide March Against Monsanto happening Saturday, May 25th, mostly at 2 pm? There are 400 people signed up so far to march in my medium city. I see almost 4,000 signed up for Manhattan. You can check for your city here at Occupy Monsanto, but if you don’t find it, try Googling, just in case.
In case you don’t know, Monsanto is the ruthless mega-corporation behind GMOs and Roundup. Their mantra seems to be “Just Shut Up and Eat.” I am not going to try to explain why people dislike Monsanto. You can read about it at Occupy Monsanto, or at Millions Against Monsanto. This company seems to come up with one anti-consumer product or law after another, and they keep winning! If you don’t know why GMOs and Roundup (glyphosate) are a problem, visit the above links, and do not miss this new study.
Here in New York state, we have a very important vote coming up in the next month, a GMO Labeling bill. We’re working very hard to pass it. If you live in NY, please visit GMOFreeNY.net.
If you live elsewhere, Google to find out what’s happening. A lot of states are working on this. Vermont just passed something in one of their houses.
Now is the time to act. Monsanto has threatened to sue any state which passes GMO labeling regulations. Tell everyone, and then march next weekend to send a message to the world that you won’t be bullied by Monsanto, and get involved with legislation, labeling and otherwise, to tell your representatives you want them to stand up to this company.
Posted by tinako on April 29, 2013
I have loved chocolate as much as a anybody. I was a candy-holic as a kid, and by kid I mean through college, and for quantity I mean I’d ride my bike to the grocery store to buy 3-4 quarts, I’d say, from the bulk bins, and finish it off in a few days. After college I wasn’t that bad, but I’d still walk to a convenience store and buy the largest Hershey bar and eat it in a day or two. Maybe I’d share it with my husband. Maybe. I remember a coworker having to give up chocolate 20 years ago – I felt so sorry for her. So I get the appeal.
When I went vegan five years ago, I switched to dark chocolate because there was no vegan milk chocolate readily available to me. I’m not going to say that dark chocolate doesn’t taste as good, though I think many would say that. I at first felt like I was settling for ninth best, but it wasn’t long before I was really enjoying its bitterness, its subtle charms. When vegan milk chocolate became available and I tried one, it was so sweet. Too sweet! And I noticed that when I had finished it I wanted MORE; this in contrast to having a bit of dark chocolate, after which I’m happy and satisfied. Because I realized that having these sweeter bars would A. make me want them more often and B. make me like the dark chocolate less, I knew starting a habit with them would be a bad idea, so I almost never have one, maybe every other year.
I was happy with two squares of 70% dark Ghirardelli baking chocolate every night. I did this for several years, until about a year ago, when we needed to save some money and I realized how expensive this tiny habit was. These bars are $2.50, and I was eating one every four days; that’s $20 a month just in a bit of chocolate. Not only that, but my husband would have the same, so now we were up to $40 a month in chocolate! For those of you with a daily Starbucks habit, this is nothing, I’m sure, but it’s a lot when you’re looking for every dollar you can cut from the budget. $40 is a takeout meal for the four of us!
So I stopped cold. When I did, I noticed three things.
- I really craved this chocolate for a few evenings. I talk about cravings at this post, Care and Feeding of Cravings, and had come across this video by Neal Barnard of PCRM: “Chocolate, Cheese, Meat, and Sugar – Physically Addictive.” I was able to overcome the chocolate craving with a few evenings of mindfulness.
- My complexion improved. There were a few mornings when I couldn’t remember whether I’d put on my makeup. I chalked this up to distraction, but then I realized the reason I couldn’t remember is I couldn’t tell. Most of my acne went away when I cut out sugar, but without chocolate, my face had a clarity, a visual smoothness. It took me a few more weeks to make the connection, but when I eat chocolate, the next day my face is a little blotchy or something, not quite sure how to say it other than I felt I needed makeup. So I don’t wear it any more, just a moisturizer with SPF.
- My blood pressure went down. It had been creeping up over the last few years into the 120′s, and I think the last trip to the doctor it was 128 over something. This is prehypertension:
“Prehypertension increases the risk of heart disease. According to a 2005 analysis by the Framingham Heart Study, men with prehypertension are 3.5 times more likely to suffer heart attacks than those with normal blood pressures. Surprisingly, although high blood pressure is a major cause of strokes, prehypertension did not appear to increase the risk of stroke.” – Harvard Medical School
She said not to worry about it but I decided, why not try to improve it? So I got a blood pressure cuff and borrowed a book, Complete Idiot’s Guide to Blood Pressure, and tried all the suggestions for months, keeping careful records, to no avail. I had none of the risk factors (“A primary risk factor for prehypertension is being overweight. Other risk factors include a family history of hypertension, a sedentary lifestyle, eating high sodium foods, smoking, and excessive alcohol intake.), but I tried to improve. I exercise every day, but began exercising much more, no difference. I eat a whole-foods home-cooked diet, but cut out added salt entirely, no difference. Meditated more, no difference. I cut out alcohol and tea, no difference (Here’s a post I wrote at the time). But when I dropped chocolate, for cost reasons? It dropped twenty points. Ate it again, up it went. It wasn’t a 100% perfect correlation, and it was never right away, always the next day, but it was pretty evident. And to the best of my recall, my bp had been inching up over the time period when I had been developing the chocolate habit. I mentioned it to my doctor, who was dubious until she took my pressure: 109 over whatever.
So, my face looks better, my risk of heart disease is down, and I don’t crave it any more. I have no reason to eat it. Once in a very great while I have a square of it (that’s not enough to affect my bp or cravings), and I feel free to eat chocolate desserts. So that’s the “mostly” part.
Posted by tinako on March 15, 2013
This connection took me completely by surprise. I have been asking friends and family how they experience satiety, the sense that you’ve had enough to eat, and found there was a wide variation. One friend says she has never felt satiety, that she always wants more. A family member tells me that to him satiety is on or off, and that it doesn’t kick in for a while after eating. My son and I, on the other hand, feel it slowly coming on as we eat – we feel a stretching sensation in our stomachs and know from experience at what point we need to stop or we will feel ill later. Is the knowing satiety, or is it the ability to stop eating? There was a time (before I ran) when I would eat myself sick and continue to eat – did I experience satiety or just a stomachache?
I also figured satiety was something people were ignoring, or the call for food was overpowering will. My friends and family are often surprised that food just doesn’t have much of a hold on me. For this reason I’m rather humble about my ability to maintain my weight – somehow my wiring has made it easy.
A recent article in the New York Times has astonished me. In The Appetite Workout, two studies are cited opening a window onto a new view of satiety, and it’s all about exercise-induced hormones. The article is short and well-written, so I won’t summarize it.
But they weren’t measuring people’s sense of how full they were. They were measuring how much they ate. In this case, at least, satiety is not the awareness but the action.
By the way, I run, but my son doesn’t, and we’re both normal weight, but at 13 he still has less control over what he eats than I do, since I shop and he is penniless.
Posted by tinako on March 5, 2013
My daughter decided to go vegan almost three years ago, and in an effort to support her, I have looked for children’s books in which there is a sympathetic awareness of animal exploitation. In the past I have often had to put down a book she chose, Syd Hoff being a frequent offender, apologizing that I just couldn’t read it because I didn’t like how the animals were portrayed. Teachable moments are great, but it is probably no fun for her to have the story constantly interrupted by a discussion. I loved Syd Hoff as a kid – Danny and the Dinosaur and all that, but now I realize that the deepest wish of the animals in the books is to be exploited. The wild horses are sad because no one is riding them, and the zoo animals just want to be looked at. I can’t take it.
So I have a very small, not-at-all comprehensive, list of books that we have read together that meet our new needs. I’ll keep adding to the list. They aren’t perfect; they may show affection for one species and sweep another under the carpet. Some just show a love between people and farm animals and exploitation just doesn’t happen, or just show animals in a positive light, but most of them have in common that they walk that narrow edge between the love of animals and the use of them. They dare to look on both sides of the wall.
- Harald and the Stag – Carrick. Picture book but better for school-age and up I think. A middle-ages boy saves a stag from hunters.
- Babe, Ace, Pigs Might Fly, Pretty Polly – Dick King-Smith LOVES pigs. Chapter books. The farmers in these stories confront their own beliefs and habits in the face of extraordinary animals.
- Catwings – Leguin, chapter books. I actually found these insipid, but my daughter loved them. No special anti-exploitation message, but they aren’t offensive either.
- Charlotte’s Web – White, chapter book.
- Most books by Bill Peet
- Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, O’Brien
Books I thought might be good but stopped reading:
- Misty of Chincoteague – I loved this series when I was young. Though I understand the kids question the pony round-up, there was too much unexamined, off-hand exploitation of other species in the first few chapters. I have a feeling most horse books will be like this – it’s easy for authors and their readers to love a horse.
Posted by tinako on March 5, 2013
I few years ago I saw a video of Jeff Novick giving an 80 minute presentation of a simplified method of reading U.S. food labels to get past the health hype and find out if it’s good for you. Yes, it’s 80 minutes, but he was an engaging speaker explaining things fully and giving lots of practice examples. He’s an ex-Kraft Inc. nutritionist with a geeky sense of humor, and anyone was sure to learn something that will improve your health.
Unfortunately, I can’t find the full length presentation anymore. However, I did find an article about his method at Oprah.com. I found the tip on salt particularly helpful.