Tag Archive | Vegetarianism

heart beets

The excerpts below are taken from, Our daily lives have to be a satisfaction in themselves; 40 Years of Bloodroot, a collection of essays from the writings of Selma Miriam & Noel Furie, published by Emily Larned.

Bloodroot. Each flower and each leaf of this plant grow separately from the others. But the leaves touch and the roots are interconnected. Individual yet interconnected (p.35). A perennial which dies down to the ground each winter and then returns to life in the spring, the roots being the maintaining force of life (p.91). When cut, the root and stem of this plant, native to eastern North America, seep a bright red substance.

Bloodroot. A feminist, lesbian, collectively-run restaurant and bookstore ‘with a seasonal vegetarian menu’ that sits unassumingly by the Long Island Sound in the Black Rock section of Bridgeport, CT.  The name inspired by the qualities of the plant. Has survived…winters (since 1977), sustaining her owners’ feminist vision as well as keeping minds and bodies fed (p.91).IMG_2629

Bloodroot would have to be vegetarian. Only by refusing to use the flesh of other creatures and therefore economizing on the earth’s riches so that more might eat could we call our food feminist (p.92). It is important to explain once again why we, as feminists, are ethical vegetarians. It is amazing to us that so many human animals don’t want to know that other thinking and feeling creatures (the overwhelming majority of them female–poultry) are tortured and killed so that we may eat meat or consume “safely” tested drugs and cosmetics (p.62).

Our vegetarianism stems from a broader base of reasoning than that of personal health. It comes from a foundation of thoughts based on feminist ethics: a consciousness of our connection with other species and with the survival of the earth. Of course, we know that a diet based on grains and legumes, vegetables and fruits is personally healthy. But regardless of how much is learned about food combining, vitamins, basic food group needs, or about problems with pollution or chemical additives to meat, the fact remains that dependence on a meat and poultry diet is cruel and destructive to creatures more like ourselves than we are willing to admit–whether we mean turkeys and cows or the humans starved by land wasted for animal farming purposes to feed the privileged few (p.65).

Bloodroot. The beautiful red-orange color of my dear friend Jodi’s tresses. Jodi was an ethical vegetarian in the deepest sense. She not only expressed her compassion for animals by not eating them, but by loving them, watching out for them and by advocating for them.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing, sunglasses and outdoor

Jodi was an ardent supporter and defender of all the feathered and furry. Every living thing, the cats in her home, the birds in her yard, all the plants in her garden, or on her table, she so cherished and protected. Profoundly pained by cruelty, she scanned the news to inform others of injustices against wildlife around the globe or of lost dogs in the neighborhood.

Sadly, Jodi passed away this summer. Her last labor of love was holding a large garage sale to benefit her local animal rescue shelter.

Jodi was the caring mother, wife, sister, daughter and friend; the one who fed everyone with nourishing meals; and provided the safe harbor for lost waifs and little kitties. She was warm-hearted and light-spirited, though she could be fierce in defense of those more vulnerable. Like the women at Bloodroot, Jodi also served in both formal (and informal) collective restaurants for many years of her life–and too, was an insatiable lover of books. A community of hearts has been broken by the loss of this caring, compassionate, wise, witty, unique and elegant woman–with a twinkle in her beautiful eyes.

I wish I could have taken Jodi to eat at Bloodroot. She would have loved it and felt right at home–though perhaps best if she could be in the kitchen. Not to mention the resident cats who comfortably contribute to and partake in the local ecology.  One of them took the empty seat at the table I shared there in the beautiful garden with my co-workers just last week.

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Everything alive changes. It either grows or fades. Perennials spread; sometimes they die out in the center and need to be divided. Sometimes they die and their seeds continue their race. …Those of us who treasure diversity try to keep as many kinds of life going as possible, and that is how we try to live our lives: encouraging growth and life, a spirit and way of living that is perennial life (p.114).       

To have known Jodi, was to be touched by her grace and her gifts. Those of us who did, know we are each a little better because of her, her spirit and her way of living. And, for exemplifying that a vegetarian way of life does not reside in its potential capacity to protect our own lives, but the lives of many others.

For those who may be interested, it is worth learning more about the living her-story and radical feminist foundations of Bloodroot. It is quite fascinating and has been captured by the collective’s various cookbooks and prolific writings. Its papers are archived within Manuscripts & Archives at the Yale University Library. Emily Larned’s beautiful hand-stitched book that I have used for my references is also a great resource. And incidentally, a documentary about its founders, Selma and Noel, has just been newly released.

Lastly, if so inspired, please consider a donation in Jodi’s memory to her local animal shelter, Free to Be Me Animal Rescue.

Peace and Blessings, Elyn  (Yes, it has been a long while.)

Original sources: Bloodroot: Brewing Visions, Lesbian Ethics Vol. 3 No.1 (Albuquerque, NM, edited by Jeanette Silviera)
The Bloodroot Collective. The Second Seasonal Political Palate. (Bridgeport, CT: Sanguinaria Press, 1984)
The Bloodroot Collective. Perennial Political Palate. (Bridgeport, CT,: Sanguinaria Press, 1993)
Bloodroot

MyPlate Plate

 

My Plate Haiku                                                                             

Call any vegetable Pick up your phone /Think of a vegetable Lonely at home / Call any vegetable And the chances are good/
That a vegetable will respond to you.

Call and they’ll come to you Covered with dew /Vegetables dream of responding to you Standing there shiny and proud by your side / Holding your hand while the neighbors decide / Why is a vegetable something to hide? by Frank (Zappa)

the tables turned

Or, how I was outed at Trader Joe’s.

So you know how the employees at Trader Joe’s are all chipper and friendly? Well, my checkout clerk on that Friday afternoon was no exception. It was the end of a long work week, and though I was tired and anxious just to get home, there was still the shopping to get done. I wove my way quickly through the store, stocking my cart well. As I rounded the final corner from the far aisle, I was glad to see that there was an open checkout lane. With the late hour and the subsiding commuter traffic, this was likely to be my last stop for the day.  refreshment-768743__180

The checkout set up at Trader Joe’s is unusual. Your cart goes one way, while you go the other. Rather than allowing for the often awkward and yet inward zen task of unloading your own groceries, here, by receiving your full cart, the clerk both unloads and scans for you. Here you come face to face with your clerk more immediately and this results in your connection unfolding both more quickly and more intimately–and usually quite cheerfully. They maintain greater contact with your food–that which you have selectively chosen to feed yourself and maybe your family–than at most regular markets.

Having just turned over custody of my cart, I suddenly found myself in a conversation about cats. Apparently, if not for her mother’s allergy, my adorable, young clerk would have a cat because she loves them. I quickly realized that the cat food I was purchasing had prompted the comment and suddenly I was revealing that I had two cats. Most people I work with every day don’t know that about me.

I tried to bring the topic back to groceries by offering to help bag, but that resulted in a friendly argument. She counseled that I take the checkout experience as an opportunity to relax while I insisted that I did not find bagging to be stressful and that my help would expedite matters and could get me home sooner. I won that one, but clearly, in the process, our professional/client relationship had deepened. While I usually conduct my nutritional assessments and evaluations in the privacy of an office, this dedicated professional offered her services right in the checkout lane. As my purchases transferred rhythmically from her hands to mine, she hesitated and looked me in the eyes, and said, “Oh, I thought you were a vegetarian.”  I looked down as she passed me the plastic-wrapped piece of salmon that was swimming along solo in the long queue of plant-based products.

I stuttered and stammered. Believe you me. I have stood on many a grocery-style line with a keen eye going through the contents of the carts around me. I am a nutritionist so I am apt to assess for the number of essential amino acids, calculate the percentage of the daily value for manganese and vanadium–and to make judgments. But, here, the tables were turned. The little punk of a young woman had my number. The words fell clumsily from my mouth as they tried to follow orders from command central. I could have just said it was for my cats. But, instead, I explained that I was a vegetarian, but that on occasion I do eat some fish. “Oh”, she corrected, “A pescetarian.” I balked as I felt I was being assigned to the wrong religion, maybe like being called a Methodist when you were, in fact, a Lutheran.

The arena of eating patterns does not make easy allowances for any gray areas. You either are or you aren’t. But still, I doth protested. The date of this encounter coincided with my 40th anniversary of becoming a vegetarian. It was a long time ago–I was a teenager– but I am pretty certain that it was in the month of May. During these forty years, I have only once eaten meat when I chose to have a few bites of turkey at a NOFA conference in Vermont. And, a spoonful of times I have had a chicken stock soup when feeling in need of some extra fortitude.

But it is true that I have eaten fish and seafood. I have had years where I did not eat any, and in recent years have largely avoided it due to myriad reasons, but more than not it has been there as a backup. Some of these were times of surrender like when I needed to appease my mom; or when traveling made vegetarian options hard to find. But, more often it was a conscious choice–albeit a choice of exception. I mainly choose “pesce” when eating out–especially when at a seaside location; when I feel like my body needs a denser or “yang” protein; when I think that I might benefit from a dose of fish nutrients; or when it will just be nicely satisfying. A fish-based soup on a cold winter’s night might fit this bill. I eat fish maybe once per month. That piece of salmon that I just put into my shopping bag was likely to find itself shelved in my freezer for a while and might eventually be consumed by Pete–a 41-year long vegetarian who also just occasionally eats fish.

There is no arguable rationale, but I still clamor to consider myself a vegetarian. I carry an identity with this definition and it guides my ethical and social compass. In some ways, it does serve as my religion and it begs many questions regarding behavior as religion is apt to do. It is most certainly my favorite cuisine and I bask in nature’s brilliance and creativity of plant offerings. Nutritionally, it seems to serve me though I have little data for comparison. Forty years of many types of beans, kernels of grains, colors of vegetables, with nary a need for a table knife most certainly buys me membership in the club–maybe within an “essentially vegetarian” or “low pescetarian” category. At least, I should not have to be explaining myself or justifying this to a random check out clerk, right?  Even if her parents are vegan and she’s been vegan her entire life as she then did go on to share with me at the end of my babbling. I would peg her at twenty-two years at best, so I still have a few nuts and seeds on her.

Still, the encounter did make me ponder my attachment to this aspect of my life and what it represents. Though maintaining a non-carnivorous diet is a lot easier than it was forty years ago, with vegetarian and vegan options now more widely available and even commonplace, the whole matter of who we are as eaters has become way more complicated with many different belief systems to be an adherent to. What did I need to defend and what else would I defend so stridently?

As I finished up my bagging duties, she said, “Oh, I see you didn’t purchase many dairy products”, further assessing the plant-based percentage of my diet. She actually got a good glimpse and did a pretty good analysis. Such work is much easier from that platform instead of relying on diet recalls or scribbled and food stained dietary records as I traditionally have had to do.

I paid for the consult, I mean groceries and loaded the bags back into the cart. I started for the exit thinking we were done. But, there was one more thing. “Oh”, she giddily exclaimed as I walked away, “I love your socks!” Once again she had surprised me. I realized I was wearing a funky yellow paisley pair that was peeking out from the bottom of my skirt and through the top of my shoes. I smiled. Maybe we could just be friends.

In health, Elyn

MyPlate Plate

MyPlate Plate

My Plate Haiku

Do you carrot all for me?

My heart beets for you, with your turnip nose and your radish face,

You are a peach. If we cantaloupe, lettuce marry.

Weed make a swell pear.

Author unknown

vegan envy

“As some of you already know, it is Meat Week here on Morning Edition”. So starts Steve Inskeep in a report on NPR last week– which means that a few million people did actually know. But, coincidentally, or as I prefer to think, karmically, it was also Vegan Week here in my little village, and my, what a Vegan Week it was.  

For a little background on Vegan Week, visit my post, Be Kind to Animals, which gives the history of this event– which was until recently known to about seven people. However, this time around, the Village Veganistas  took on a few new cocktail-concocting guests. One evening we were barely contained in our host’s small home as our table grew to eleven. And, the next night we literally spilled out onto the porch as our numbers increased even more–along with the temperature. The word was out. Our giddiness, fueled by the exquisiteness of  the meals–plus the fresh strawberry cosmos and daiquiris–could no longer be contained. The curious fringe came circling, like lions ready to pounce on some new meat–but alas, all that they found was some kale salad with fennel and cannellini beans, vegan egg rolls and some rice stuffed cabbage. Ah, but they pleaded to stay and begged for more.

As I listened in on Meat Week’s offerings with its stories of the evolution of carnivores in America, my single compartment stomach churned and felt a little queasy. Reported was that Homo sapiens evolved as meat eaters– which apparently accounted for the increased size of our brains. Even so, eating meat was essentially a game of catch as catch can for many a good year. The advent of animal husbandry increased access to and consumption of meat, but for the most part, it was tendered to the reigning aristocracy. It was here in America, due to the vast amount of pastureland plus some good old ingenuity, that meat became amply available–and at a cheaper price– thus elevating meat-eating to a national pastime.

The rest is a mere hundred plus year old history that brings us to today and the 30 million cows we now have in this country. Some standard meat factoids are that: it takes 20-30 pounds of feed to produce one pound of beef; it takes 53 gallons of water to produce one hamburger; one-third of all crops grown are fed to animals; two-thirds of the water that we use is for agricultural purposes; cattle raising contributes to vast deforestation and air and water pollution; and, Americans eat 270 pounds of meat, per person, per year.

Two hundred and seventy pounds? Per person? Per year? That is like 10 ounces per day. The world average is 102 pounds and all those people in India are consuming only about seven pounds. Only folk in tiny Luxembourg  eat more, but Australians are right up there as well. Though people are eating less beef, chicken has quickly taken its place because of the work of Frank Purdue and others who fostered industrialized chicken production only a few decades ago.

Apparently though, there is a turnaround trend occurring and people are starting to eat less meat. It seems that this is mainly due to economics but also to concerns about health, the environment and animal welfare. This news left me ruminating. How primal is this need for meat?  Could a week of eating a diet entirely devoid of animal products provide some answers to this evolutionary debacle?

This is about our seventh seasonal celebration of Vegan Week. We are usually corralled to gather when my next door neighbor Carrie clears a spot on the table of her own busy life to find the space for our culinary, dietary and social intention. I was actually quite surprised then when the summoning email arrived this time, as Carrie is a candidate for the NY State Assembly. She is already busy campaigning around our district, making appearances at various, sometimes hot dog hawking, events. But true to her commitment to community, she did not forget the Veganistas.

This Vegan Week held now the excitement of  Carrie’s candidacy. We sometimes had to save a plate for her as she arrived late due to some campaign work. But that was not the only thing that marked this week. All the meals that we share are incredibly good, prepared by some excellent cooks. However, on Thursday night, unassuming and sweet Danielle, a relatively recent addition to the circle, brought Vegan week to new culinary heights. Her menu began with a vegan version of the traditional Italian soup pasta fagioli. She used those adorable little ditalini noodles accompanied by a homemade, perfectly fennel-seasoned gluten sausage. We were just getting over that flavorful experience when we beheld her main course, a Seitan Picatta.  

This dish consists of a baked potato cake, topped with a tofu-based creamed spinach and a seitan cutlet with a lemon and caper wine sauce. She obtained the recipe from “Chef’s Table, The Kitchen of Angel Ramos” the head chef at Candle 79, a vegan restaurant in Manhattan. Danielle’s execution was exquisite. She made her own seitan cutlets which were the most tender I have ever tasted. The presentation was beautiful as well. After our first bites–we squawked like happy free range chickens. Oh, and yes, dessert. A perfect chocolate cake. Our newbie guests were amazed.

Couldn’t this great fare appease us modern Homo sapiens? Exquisite taste with a  slightly chewy bite?  Might less meat possibly expand our “knowing man” taxonomy to also include ‘homo ecologicus, homo amans, and homo poetica”–ecological, loving and makers of meaning?  Let’s chew on that at the Interdependence Day BBQ.

According to Meat Week, 7 billion hot dogs will be eaten in the US this summer. Given that about twelve ordinarily carnivorous individuals consciously chose to avoid any animal derived products on this last week of June, let’s make that 6,999,999,988.

In health, Elyn

http://www.npr.org/series/155829629/meat-week

http://aglaw.blogspot.com/2012/06/meat-week-on-nprs-morning-edition.html

http://abcnews.go.com/US/video/chefs-table-seitan-piccata-creamed-spinach-10015233

Carrie Woerner for NY State Assembly http://www.carrie2012.com

My Plate

My Plate Haiku

Deep scarlet red beets

Reveal your sweetness to me

Slip out of your skins.

by Elyn

The Twinkie Affair

Today, I was about to sit and write about a little train of thought that had been following me around this week. I thought I had some more serious things I wanted to discuss, including returning to the subject I raised in To She Who Loves Us Before She Meets Us, on the consequences of taking away women’s power in the birthing of babies. But, I figured I would just tap out this other idea first even though I was questioning its relevance, significance, and general cohesiveness.

I had planned on talking about the very interesting work of an old friend of mine, whom I had recently reconnected with. Quite coincidentally, just as I had cleared away my other duties of the day and was gearing up for a mid-afternoon snack to fortify my writing, I got an email from this very friend, asking if I had seen Mark Bittman‘s tofu recipe in the NY Times today. She sent me the link.

After returning from snacking, cleaning the cat litter box, emptying the compost and bringing in the spring water, I curled back up on my computer and found myself in the Dining and Wine Section of the Wednesday Times. I did not see the tofu recipe but was quickly sucked in by a few other articles.

One was about a spontaneously created cafe in the Hurricane Irene flood-ravaged town of Schoharie, NY. My life was touched some by the hurricane so the story of survival in Schoharie is meaningful to me. Apparently, miraculously, food provided by angels from near and far has swirled its way into the town, first amassing under a cluster of trees and then with the coming of winter in a local DAR Hall. The combined offerings–which just still keep arriving– give those whose homes and lives were affected a free lunch and a sense of continued community. Just as spontaneously as this epicenter of nourishment created itself, so did a sign that named the cafe, Loaves and Fish.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/11/dining/makeshift-cafe-sustains-storm-ravaged-schoharie-ny.html?pagewanted=all%3Fsrc%3Dtp&smid=fb-share

Next, were an amusing piece about a vegetarian New Yorker on assignment in the Midwest–the meat capital of the country; and, also–though no mention of tofu–a Mark Bittman editorial on the decrease of meat consumption in the past few years. Of course, those would speak to me.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/11/dining/a-vegetarians-struggle-for-sustenance-in-the-midwest.html?emc=eta1

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/10/were-eating-less-meat-why/?emc=eta1

Just as I was about to get back to work, one more thing caught my attention. By the time I hit the publish button tonight, this may already be old news to you, but apparently, Hostess Foods is declaring bankruptcy and the fate of the Twinkie is in serious jeopardy. Before my eyes, I could tell the food world was in a tizzy. The article actually interviewed a renowned baker and pastry chef who I know from my own little community. That seemed silly. What would he have to say about Twinkies?

English: Hostess Twinkies. Yellow snack cake w...

Image via Wikipedia

http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/11/imagining-a-world-without-twinkies/?ref=dining

But me?  Don’t I have to say something academic, relevant or amusing about the Twinkie affair? And, don’t I have to say it really soon or my writings will be considered as fresh as a stale pastry? Unlike Twinkies, my words do not contain the ingredients that will ensure their shelf life into the next millennium. Instead, they will be moldy by Monday. Well, here it is.  You have heard it here probably second, third or fourth. I have no quick or witty assessment of the situation and I will probably defer to those who do.

It is a dilemma that stories from the food, nutrition and eating world amass very quickly. My queue of articles that I want to address or reference gets longer and longer every day. Pete saves podcasts for me or reads me articles straight from his Kindle; friends from afar send me links to interesting or absurd articles; radio stories infiltrate my driving commute; my professional networks post really relevant material; and, blogs I follow are deserving of mention. On top of that are the real life stories that I am privileged to hear from my clients every day. No story is purely personal. There is always a larger cultural context. There is much to react to. I cannot keep up.

So, for now, I must continue at my own small town pace. I thank you for your patience. I’ll get back to the piece that includes my old friend, a Mayan elder– and, actually, now that I think about it, it may have everything to do with Twinkies; back to the mommas–and, as I have promised before–all the menopausal women. I am attaching a few things that I have been sitting on that may be of interest to you now. Time for dinner.

From my high school boyfriend’s brother: An article about the problem of valuing food as a commodity. http://monthlyreview.org/2012/01/01/food-as-a-commodity

From the blog, The Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss: The story of a personal trainer who spends six months overeating to purposely gain weight and six months trying to lose it in hopes of understanding the experience of others better–so that he may help them.  http://www.fit2fat2fit.com/

From my high school friend: An NPR story about a woman very openly sharing her weight story and her awareness of the role of shame in her struggle.  http://www.npr.org/2011/07/25/138606501/one-womans-struggle-to-shed-weight-and-shame

And, from Michael Pollan himself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JH-Qv3f73x4&feature=relmfu

In Health,  Elyn–A once upon a time Twinkie eater. How about you?

my plate

My Plate Haiku

Spread peanut butter

On whole grain sweet dark bread

Raspberry jam-yum.

by Barb–who is currently doing an Ayurvedic cleanse and dreaming of this.

be kind to animals

It is Vegan Week in my anachronistic village.   Almost a year ago, when I first began to disperse my little stories about food and eating, I was about to join with a few neighbors in adhering to a foodscape that did not include any animal products for one week. To celebrate this intention, we  were to share dinners–with a different person hosting each evening.

Food for Life distributes food on an internati...

Image via Wikipedia

This idea had sprung from the fruitful minds of two of my neighbors–extraordinary women though just ordinary carnivores.   One beautiful, sunny summer day, Carrie and Sharon had taken a day trip to the Culinary Institute of America, where it just so happened that in the bookstore, or perhaps more aptly, cookstore, of all things mind you, it was a vegan cookbook that caught their eye and nipped them in the tongue.  The drive home stirred up their giddy excitement of deciding to live in the colorful, ingredient-rich world of the herbivore–for a week.  They laid out the table and one night invited me–the vegetarian next door–over for a beautiful and delicious repast.

We all live within the confines of some dietary codex whether we are conscious of it or not and we get quite cozy there. My own vegetarian diet has certainly lost some of its philosophical punch throughout the decades that I have been living it and my food choices can be mundane.  So, even though I have days when my eating may easily by coincidence be vegan, when the opportunity arose to be part of the spontaneously conceived next seasonal Vegan Week, I chose to participate.

Our little neighborhood group now has a few Vegan Weeks under our belts.  We stroll leisurely over to each other’s homes, sit and relax, eat amazing food, discover nuances and ingredients that a truly vegan dietary requires, hear how badly someone is dreaming of a big, juicy burger and home we go–with no dishes to do.  We once shared a vegan picnic at our local performing arts venue.

I realize that for the meat eaters in the group, going vegan is a big and abrupt change–and they have all been really good egg-replacement-products about it.  They have to plan all their meals differently, buy some special ingredients and do without that big chunk of  flesh on their plate.  By week’s end, they begin to feel the effects of the dietary change usually in a positive way.  They seem to appreciate the change though admit that it is not easy.

However, even for me, for whom the omission and inclusion of these foods is not as extreme, the very act of dietary consciousness applied to each bite is profound.  Ordinarily, one does not experience this, unless related to a religious ritual like Lent, Ramadan, keeping Kosher or fasting.  Or, when going on a diet.  Personally, this week brings up a lot for me to think about.

To begin with, it heightens my vegetarian consciousness.  It makes me think about my relationship with the animal world as it relates to the procurement or processing of eggs, dairy, and even honey.  How many big resources of the animal kingdom does it take to bring me the little gifts my vegetarian choices allow?

It then makes me wonder about choosing to eat for health, kindness, philosophy or sustainability;  and the difference between feeding my mind, my taste buds or my body.   Is there compatibility or dissonance between these concepts? Though I am a very happy plant eater, I must see if  my body feels it needs some of the energy provided by animal food; and, I have to decide if I am comfortable with some of the substitution processed foods sometimes used in a vegan diet.

Lastly, it makes me very mindful of the fact, that everyday as a nutritionist, I am asking each and every client who sits before me, to make a commitment to some form of conscious dietary change–and usually, not just for a week, but possibly for the rest of their lives.  As vegan week was approaching I was doing a lot of doubting.  I have had a lot going on lately, and was not sure that I had it in me to pull up the resources I would need to get it together for hosting, extra cooking, special shopping–let alone the sacrifice and consciousness required.  This made me appreciate that this is the same resistance that even just the thought of scheduling an appointment with a nutritionist raises.

Interestingly, last November, just after my first Vegan Week, Carrie and I went to see the film, May I Be Frank, about a guy from Brooklyn, whose life is changed when he accidentally steps into a raw food, vegan cafe called Cafe Gratitude in San Francisco.  I wrote about this in my post, Meditation v. Medication.  A few months later, Carrie was in San Francisco. She ate at the restaurant, texted me a photo of her gorgeous meal and came home with a copy of the cafe’s beautiful cookbook,  I Am Grateful.

As my resolve to do the week was weak, I curled up with my now own copy of the cookbook for some culinary inspiration–much like I had done the first time round with Mark Bittman.  The story of this film, the restaurant, the cookbook and the people behind it, Terces and Matthew Englehart is quite remarkable and I invite you to get a glimpse or a taste of what they present as possibility for both eating and living.  As the restaurant’s name suggests, gratitude is the foundation of their purpose. Each recipe is named with some affirming attribute like, I am Ravishing, I am Whole, and I am Courageous.

Thus informed, I planned my menu which included the cafe’s I Am Giving Marinated Kale Salad and was on my way.  I am glad to have the question of what am I grateful for placed before me right now. In this moment, I am grateful for all who share their stories with me and who are open to some dietary consciousness change;  of incredible food and the creative people who know what to make with it; and, for my charming neighbors for choosing a culinary theme that includes and nourishes me on many levels.

Is there any particular diet or food change you would like to consider being conscious of making now?  Would you like to know what we ate this week?  What are you grateful for?

http://veganhomecooking.blogspot.com

http://lifeseedsnutrition.com/2010/11/17/meditation-v-medication/

https://lifeseedsnutrition.com/2010/11/14/so-whats-the-dilemma/

http://www.cafegratitude.com/

http://mayibefrankmovie.com/

In health, Elyn

my plate

My plate Haiku

Food made joyfully

As a gift of time and self

Feeds body and soul

– Anne Marie

so, what’s the dilemma? summer rerun

Julia Child

Image via Wikipedia

Hello, here is a rerun of my first post which relates to my most recent post.  Reading or reviewing it may give both of us a reminder of what I am exploring on these pages.  Please feel free to visit some of my early posts which you may have missed.  I hope you are enjoying summer’s bounty.  Elyn

While mainly musing about my blog and trying to decide how to best begin to describe what my dilemma is, a copy of Mark Bittman‘s, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian blocked my path.  I say blocked because at 995 pages and weighing in at about 5 pounds, it is a boulder of a book and boulders don’t simply cross paths.

Last week, despite a 30 plus year vegetarian lifestyle, I was seeking some inspiration– as I was to be soon hosting my neighborhood vegan week dinner.  One day,  just prior to closing, I ran into my local library looking for a good cookbook, and Bittman’s book insisted that I choose it.  I could not argue and lugged the tome home and curled up with the most comprehensive compendium of my culinary clan that I had ever laid eyes on.  One does not flip through the pages, instead one takes about a one inch hunk of paper and hurls it over to see what else lies within.

An idea came flashing.  Perhaps instead of my ponderous and not very amusing idea to outline the conundrums and frustrations I face in my profession, I could instead, a la Julie Powell who made her way through every recipe in Julia Child’s, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, start cooking and blogging my way through Bittman’s vegetarian bible.  Page 38, the first page of actual recipes–simple green salad.  Sounds easy enough, but there are then three sub-recipes for greek, lyonnaise, and endive salad.  Would I have to prepare all of those too?  That could really slow things down if I had to get to page 907.  Should I call it Elyn and Mark?  Would it take me three years or four?  These seem like rightful dilemmas.  Do they not?

By the next morning’s dawn, reality came slapping me in the face.  6:30 am.  Bleary-eyed and making my daughter’s avocado, cheese and spinach sandwich for lunch.  NPR reporter in lighthearted radio voice informs me that 84% of parents fed their kid (ages 2-11) fast food in the past week according to a new report published by the Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.  I grabbed for the closest writing implements…pen and paper napkin.  Here’s what I hastily got: advertising geared to children by fast food companies has increased 34% since 2003; despite the increased availability of healthier options, 80% of diners(?) are given french fries automatically; marketing promises have not been kept; something about apple dippers(?) and many kids meals still tally up to 1400 calories.

Oh boy, another day at the office.  But, I wasn’t even at the office yet.  By the time I did arrive, a co-worker had forwarded me additional gory details of the report in a Wall Street Journal article.  The reality is though, I don’t need to read such reports. The data presents itself to me on an almost daily basis. By 10:45 a 13-year-old girl weighing 284 lbs. and with frighteningly high insulin levels portending diabetes was sitting before me.  There I was outlining the grim details to this middle schooler and her mom.  They got it.  They weren’t idiots.  But, they (and me) were up against some heavy outside forces–including billions of advertising dollars.  And that is a big part of my dilemma.

So, for now I will assign the Bittman project to the back burner.  I have other work to do, other people’s stories to tell and other battles to fight.  Perhaps best for the moment, I can just gently heave over a copy of Mr. Bittman’s book to this family.  It could serve as both a nutritional guide and exercise weight in one. Now there’s a marketing idea. Diet and exercise. That’s all it takes, right?

In health, Elyn

my plate

Haiku:  Food made joyfully/As a gift of time and self/Feeds body and soul     By Anne Marie

forks on the road

I am just back from a motoring vacation with my college roommate Julie, down through the Shenandoah, Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains with extra stops in Asheville and Chapel Hill, North Carolina. As a sign of a good vacation, I successfully left my work responsibilities and chronic nutritional thoughts behind. I mainly needed to be concerned about not feeding the bears in exchange for them not feeding upon me. We were blessed with an unfettered and peaceful journey. Our path was not heavily trodden while we were there, and seeing relatively few people I did not have to stop and consider how and what they were all eating. Personally, I was being nourished with a lot of fresh air, incredibly beautiful scenery and the contents of our coolers–plus the loving offerings of our hosts along the way.    

Often when I am trying to be “off duty”  like a NYC taxi cab, someone or something stops me and commands or demands my food or feeding attention. Like recently, when I went to volunteer at an early morning shift during the fund drive of my local public radio station. I had been positioned at my phone station for no more than seven minutes, when the lovely octogenarian volunteer seated to my right, leaned over to inform me that there was an obesity problem in this country. As evidence of this he pointed out to me a large bodied woman seated across the room. I would ordinarily still be asleep, but here I was explaining kindly that you cannot superimpose a societal condition or criticism upon an individual. One must be careful to not make assumptions about another’s corporeal experience. Thankfully, I did not have to  reveal my identity as a heavily dilemma-ed nutritionist. He understood my point and graciously thanked me for this broader and more sympathetic understanding.

But, on this trip, I avoided such common encounters. If I had ventured out a little differently in search of southern hospitality I probably would have had some interesting observations and conversations. Under different circumstances I would have been open to considering the trip more of an anthropological study in regard to cuisine and culture, but not this time. The only incursion into my personal space was when omnipresent McDonald’s once again found me even far from home.  (see post Morose Meals and Human Bites ). This time they taunted me with a billboard of gargantuan iced drinks in bright colors with the words “Global Chilling”. I swallowed my disgust, feigned benign disinterest and sped by.

I will say, that food wise, one of the main intentions of my trip was to visit the city of Asheville. About twenty years ago, in an issue of the magazine Vegetarian Times, I read an article describing Asheville as one of the top vegetarian-oriented places in the country.  Against a backdrop of the mountains and art deco architecture the photos of this beautiful city enchanted me. Though the food culture in this country has changed radically since that time, and natural food and vegetarian options are available in many, even unexpected locations, I still considered Asheville a sort of mecca that I needed to make pilgrimage to.

Though my time in Asheville was very short, I walked its grounds, smelled it aromas, and ate of its bounty.  I even gave my leftovers to a street kid who asked me if I had any food to offer as I walked by clutching the compostable to-go container. I was really reluctant because it was the best tofu enchilada with mole and black beans that I had ever had. After a quick internal struggle, my vegetarian heart fluttered and I gave that baby over. As promised, the city was overflowing with quinoa, tempeh, seitan, shiitake mushrooms, jicama and locally sourced herbal blends.

It had been recommended to me to eat at a restaurant called the Laughing Seed Cafe. Some details of time, place and meeting a friend shifted my loci a few blocks over which resulted with us eating at a relatively new restaurant called Boca, which was wonderfully delicious. But, I was able to see the Laughing Seed, which describes itself as Revolutionary Vegetarian and to get a copy of its Take-Out Menu.

Now, back home, I am curled up on my couch with the menu. Each of its many offerings sings to my soul as does the small print explanation of its name. Apparently, legend has it, that the Indonesian Laughing Seed plant was sacred to the people of the Spice Islands. When eaten, the people were intoxicated with laughter and were able to speak with the gods. This wondrous food satisfied the appetite, creating a sense of fullness and well-being which lasted for many days.

We did not enter a highway rest stop with its fast food offerings until the very end of our trip just after we crossed back into the Empire State. After being accosted by the blasting of the hand dryers in the bathroom, I stood amidst the throngs waiting in line at the various concessions.  Back in my jurisdiction, I was apparently back on duty. I watched the people rush by with their coffee drinks, fries, candies and hamburgers. I don’t really go back to work till tomorrow, so I will leave this just as an observation.

I just wanted to welcome myself back since I have been gone for a little while. I hope y’all have had a nice holiday weekend.

In health, Elyn

http://www.laughingseed.com

my plate

Haiku:  The Farmer’s Market/Each egg at the dairy stand/A different color     by Enki