Episode #115: GMO Labeling, November Holidays, More REAL Recipes



Hello everybody. I’m Caryn Hartglass and you’re listening to the 115th episode of Ask A Vegan.

Time marches on doesn’t it? Things just add up. We have so many podcasts now on the Responsible Eating And Living website; over 300 hours of information. I hope from time to time you visit our It’s All About Food archives and the Ask A Vegan archives, there is just so much information there that I hope is useful to you.

Okay this week was really exciting. The last few weeks actually have been really exciting. We had this hurricane in New York and then we had an election and then we had a snowstorm. The fun just keeps coming in. Today it’s a beautiful, beautiful sunny day and the weather’s been quite mild. It’s a really pleasant change. I hope those that have been challenged by this unfortunate weather we’ve been having are getting a little bit of relief and recovery.

So we had election and I’m pretty pleased with the outcome overall but there are a few things that happened like this GMO proposition 37 in California that did not pass. What does that tell us? There are some organizations that have been promoting people voting yes on this proposition and they’re saying, “okay we didn’t really lose – we lost but the ball is now rolling.” There’s a lot of attention to genetically modified food and the importance of labeling. And it’s just going to be more work but more people are paying attention. Perhaps but it really shows you, for the most part, how corporations can really get what they want by throwing money into the picture. For Proposition 37, it got crushed because $45.6 million was invested in advertising by companies like Monsanto and DuPont and the people that were supporting Proposition 37 raised 8.7 million. So we are talking about 45.6 million versus 8.7 million and when you read about all the advertising that went into voting against Proposition 37 there were really a lot of lies that went into the material. It is just unbelievable that the opponents of this proposition got away with as much as they did. And voters, most of them who are probably intelligent people, are just involved in so many other things, and busy in their lives, just really didn’t get the truth and unfortunately voted this proposition down. Do we have a food movement? Do we have, what do I want to say? Do we have a concerted effort by people teaming up together to give us quality healthy food, food that’s healthy for us, food that’s gentle on the planet, is there a movement? There are pockets – there are people that are interested in organic locally grown food and don’t want to buy genetically modified food – but can we build a movement in order to get regulation that will support our agenda and protect our food supply. Right now it’s still young, or it’s still not strong enough, otherwise this proposition would have been passed. Maybe next year or in a couple of years. But it’s just amazing how much money went in to fight it – $45.6 million. What is it that they were fighting; why was it so important for these companies to invest in order to beat down this proposition. You really have to wonder. What do they think would happen if people knew that their food was genetically modified? Are they hiding something? That’s what I want to know. Okay so that’s unfortunate, but those of us who are informed, those of us who do care, there are things that we can do. Certainly when you buy food that’s organic you know it’s not genetically modified. The unfortunate thing is that genetically modified food can contaminate food that has not been scientifically manipulated in laboratories, because pollen can not be confined. Things float around in the air and one thing can pollinate another and we have seen a lot of contamination already. How do we protect our food supply?

More people are getting interested in organic. I was reading the and article that the USDA put out last month. They had the results of the 2011certified organic production survey and they reported that more than $3.5 billion is, I want to rephrase that, I want to say that certified organic growers in the United States sold more than $3.5 billion organically grown agricultural commodities in 2011. There you go that’s a mouthful. $3.5 billion, that’s a lot of money for somebody like me, when you compared to the farm income of over hundred billion it’s not a lot of money but it is growing and it is a significant piece of the agricultural pie. This report was rather interesting in terms of where the most organic field crops are growing I was really surprised to read this. Wisconsin leads the nation with more than 110 acres harvested in 2011, followed by New York with organic growers harvesting more than 97 acres and I was really surprised to see that California comes in third at with 91,000 acres of organic field crops harvested in 2011. I thought California gave us the most organic food but no it’s Wisconsin and then New York; and California is very close to New York. But we’re growing all over the place and that’s good. And it’s not just plants that were talking about plants that are sold as produce. We’re also talking about animals that are raised for the production of organic milk; and I don’t encourage the production of organic milk or organic livestock I would rather see no animals raised for food obviously but if it’s going to be done organic is definitely better than not. But milk is not a healthy food and people get confused because they think that when they’re buying organic milk it’s healthy, and it’s not we should be, as mammals, consume email as adults let alone the milk of another animal. So there we go with genetically modified food. I was really hopeful that we were going to see some significant change there, but if you want some protection against genetically modified foods you are going to go to another country because it’s not happening here in the United States just yet.

Okay we talk a lot about health on this program and unfortunately so many chronic diseases today, all of them probably, are caused by the poor foods that people eat, the lifestyle that they have and, so many illnesses of pain and suffering could be prevented by just shifting to a healthier diet and I would really like to see that happen, and maybe we will. But in the meantime we have drugs to take care of our problems and we keep seeing new ones on the market. The FDA just approved a new one and they always have these great names – who thinks these things up? I don’t even know if I am going to say this right, it’s Xelianz, it’s X-E-L-I-A-N-Z. Xelianz. This just came out November 6, the FDA approved Xelianz for rheumatoid arthritis. The US Food and Drug administration approved Xelianz to treat adults with moderately to severe active rheumatoid arthritis who have had an inadequate response to or who are intolerant of methotrecsate which must be another drug. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue leading to inflammation of the joints and surrounding tissues. It affects about 1.5 million Americans. And this lovely new drug Xelianz, the pill taken twice daily, works by blocking molecules called Januscanaces which are important in joint inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis. No drug comes without side effects right? This particular drug is associated with an increased risk of serious infections, including opportunistic infections, infections that occur primarily when the immune system is suppressed, tuberculosis, cancers and lymphoma. It’s also associated with increases in cholesterol and liver enzyme tests and decreases in blood counts. Okay, do you want to take this drug? Now I know I imagine that people that are in pain are looking for relief. And unfortunately we don’t hear enough about trying a healthy plant-based nutrient-dense diet first. I know many, many people who have had tremendous relief from rheumatoid arthritis and cured by simply changing their diet. And the side effects to a healthy plant-based vegan diet? I’m pausing here because it’s important to pause. The side effects? Reduced risk of all the other chronic diseases out there. You don’t hear about side effects like tuberculosis and increasing serious infections and cancer from a heathy diet. So yes we have that new drug.

I wanted to say that I base my discussions in my information on my own personal experience. And when I went through a very cancer treatment I went through chemotherapy, toxic chemotherapy and I learned about arthritis and I got my own personal improved understanding. Now I know it’s just one data point, anecdotal, one person; but I really believe in this. I had chemotherapy for four months and after that I started feeling this, I had arthritis I had. I would wake up in the morning with stiffness in my wrists, my hands and in my ankles. Fortunately when I moved around during the day it would go away. But I would get it in the middle of the night and when I woke up in the morning. Then unfortunately I went back for more chemotherapy a few months later, because the first round didn’t work. When they give you chemotherapy they also give you bunch of different steroids and this combination makes the symptoms, the sensation of whatever’s causing the arthritis, the symptoms go away, you don’t feel the pain. There are lots of chemotherapy treatments out today where people are given these toxic chemicals and they don’t feel the pain. The question is what is the long-term effect of being fedtoxic chemicals? It can’t be good. So what I think happened was, I got this arthritis because my body was trying to remove the toxic chemicals from the chemotherapy that I had been on. And then I when I was on my second round of chemo the symptoms went away. Then when I finished that chemo the symptoms came back, because I wasn’t being given the drugs that hide the symptoms. And it took a year for all of that toxicity to be cleared out of my body and for all those aches and pains to go away. It takes time I think if you’re just cleaning up a diet you will feel relief pretty quickly. Toxic chemicals, getting them out of the body takes a lot longer. But I don’t think drugs are the way to go for the most part.

Now that doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in drugs. There are a lot of great drugs out there but we are a little too drug happy and not thinking about what we can do to prevent and eliminate by simple nutrition.

It’s November. We’ve got a lot of holidays going on. I wanted to talk about some. Today is Veterans Day and I was looking it up. Veterans Day, back during World War I, known as the great war, when it officially ended when the treaty officially was signed on June 28, 1919 in the palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. Fighting was ceased seven months earlier when an armistice between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. Eleven, eleven, eleven. And so, that’s the reason we celebrate and it was on November 11, 1918, which was generally regarded as the “end of the war to end all wars.” We’re celebrating those who have fought in wars and those who have lost their lives. I want to acknowledge those people who have done that. But that said, we know that World War I, was not the war to end all wars. We continue to have people continue to treat each other badly. I don’t believe in war. I don’t believe it is a solution. While were celebrating Veterans Day, I want to think about peace. The idea of sending young men and women off to risk their lives. How do we do that? These young people, many of them, they don’t even know what they’re doing. So many of them are traumatized for the rest of their lives. It doesn’t make any sense at all. I want to see us starting to focus on peace, and not talking about war and eliminating war because that still focuses on war and fighting. Let’s focus on peace, being nice to people. What can we do to help? What can we do to be of service to our neighbors, to our community, to our state, to our country, to the world? I put it out there. I put it out there for fun.

Today is Veterans Day but this month’s World Vegan Month. I think it’s interesting that Veterans Day and the World Vegan Day and World Vegan Month are all in the month of November. Because vegan and promoting veganism is all about peace, compassion, and not killing. How do we work on getting the focus from Veterans Day to World Wegan Day, where all of us are celebrating and focusing on what we can do to eliminate exploitation and killing. Focusing on peace, focusing on life, focusing on service, again, I put it out there.

Now it’s also the month of Thanksgiving. It’s one of my favorite holidays. Maybe it is my favorite holiday. I love the idea of sitting around with wonderful food and thinning about being thankful. It’s an interesting holiday because the history behind it is not without problems. Certainly the story goes we sat down with the Indians, those that had come to this country, the United States, to find a new way of life and we met up with the Indians and apparently we sat down with them to a harvest, and we were grateful for the food and then you know the story we go and we end up blowing these people away. How is it we do that? And how is it we have a holiday where we sit around and we’re thankful. We’re thankful for the food, but we don’t think about the harm and the violence that we caused. It’s really quite an odd thing.

I think humans are really good at denial, where we don’t think about the parts that are difficult, the parts that are ugly, the parts that aren’t very pleasant. We have a way of making it seem like the bad parts of us don’t exist. I think it’s something that’s kind of part of our natural software, or our programming somehow. Maybe that’s part of our survival instincts, this denial thing. I don’t know.

Now there is another holiday going on called Diwali and it’s this Tuesday, the 13th of November. It’s actually a five-day festival that starts today and the actual holiday of Diwali is on Tuesday. I found out about it because I have some neighbors who are originally from India and we are going to be celebrating this week. It’s the most important holiday in India and for millions of Indians around the world. It’s known as the Festival of Lights, it’s a very colorful, festive season, candles are burned and fireworks go off and of course there’s lots of wonderful foods and sweets. I like talking about holidays. I like any opportunity to celebrate and certainly learn about other cultures so I’m into be learning a little bit more about you Diwali later this week. If you’ve anything to share about Diwali, if you know about it, please let me know, I’d love to hear about it.

Back on Thanksgiving, we have a wonderful food show at the Responsible Eating And Living website, our Thanksgiving Celebration Feast. It features some of my favorite foods for this season. I hope you give it a watch. Maybe it’ll give you some ideas about what to serve for Thanksgiving this year – instead of a dead bird on the table. Why is it that we sit and we say were thankful for all of these things and we put this thing of death at the centerpiece and don’t even realize what it is? We humans really are kind of nutty, right?

And while we’re being thankful, talking about Thanksgiving, I wanted to put a big thank you out there for all the people that have been supporting Responsible Eating And Living. We are in our end of the year fund drive. We started last month we’ve raised a little more than half of our goal. We want to raise $20,000. We’re still in our fundraising drive. I wanted to mention it because if you can help we would love your support. No amount is too small, no amount is too large! What we’re doing is calling it the Virtual Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser. We have one pancake recipe that we’re promoting during this fundraiser – our sourdough cornmeal pancakes. We have lots pancake recipes on our website and why not? Pancakes can be healthy and a great way to start the day, easy to make and vegan, nutritious and gluten-free. We’ve got lots of those recipes up on the website. I want to thank all of those who have contributed to Responsible Eating And Living. I can’t say thank you enough.

Now this week been doing a lot of cooking and I want to talk about some of the recipes. We did a Middle Eastern theme and I started with the Mezze Platter. What I love about this is, it’s a great bunch of dishes that can be used for sides or an appetizer. You can bring them to a party. Everybody knows what hummus is. You know there was a time in this country where nobody knew what hummus was, but now it’s really, really popular. It’s a great staple and for vegans and vegetarians, it’s really a great food, because there are so many places now that serve it up at parties and events and it’s something that you know that you can eat. I personally prefer to make my own hummus at home for a number of reasons. Most of the hummus available in the stores has preservatives in it, artificial preservatives, things that I don’t want to put in my body. And they also tend to be very salty and oily. If you make it at home, you can control that, and either putting a little salt or no salt at all, putting in a little olive oil or none at all. I like the sesame tahini that goes into the hummus, the garbanzo beans and either lemon juice or lime juice. This time I put in a bell pepper. I have some lovely organic bell peppers. I tried it once with red pepper and then I had an orange pepper. It’s a really subtle, lovely flavor that comes through in the hummus. I really like it. Then Baba Ganoush, this is such an easy thing to make. When I’m making these few salads that I am talking about, hummus and Baba Ganoush and some other things that I will get to, I basically do it all at the same time. I started with the Baba Ganoush, where I took an eggplant – very simple – I don’t peel it, I don’t do anything, I just put it in a baking dish, put it in an oven at 400° and leave it alone for 40 minutes. If I remember, I might open up the oven and carefully turn the eggplant around, but it’s not critical. That’s it, it’s very simple. While it’s cooking and getting hot I prepare these other things, like hummus. I take out of food processor, I put the hummus it – the pepper, the garbanzo beans. You could use canned beans. I like to make my own beans the day before, cook the garbanzo beans in water until they’re soft. l Last week, I was talking about Eden and their beans. They have salt-free beans that are in cans that don’t have that BPA lining which we’re discovering is a kind of a toxic thing to have. Eden is a great choice for garbanzo beans if you just want to make your hummus from canned. I like it because they do have the no-salt option. Just put all in the food processor and whir it up. You can add fresh garlic or parsley if you like, a little cumin to flavor it up and the sesame tahini. It’s all done, you scoop it out, put it in a container, a serving dish or if you want to save it for later put it in a covered Tupperware, glass container. Then you don’t have to wash the food processor right away – that’s the great thing.

I also made some Baked Falafel and ah, I love this. I used to love falafel to point. Falafel is like a little meatball, it’s made from garbanzo beans, fava beans and they’re puréed with a lot of wonderful herbs and spices. Depending on where you go the proportions or flavors might vary a little bit, but most of the time the falafel will have parsley and cilantro, coriander, cumin. Sometimes they are spicier than others, but typically it’s a purée of these ingredients, the beans and the herbs and then put in a ball and deep-fried. It’s the deep frying, I am not really not into fried foods anymore and when you’re so not used to eating fried foods and you have them they don’t feel very good in your tummy. In fact, I remember I had spent some time in Israel a long time ago and they have falafel stands everywhere. When I first got there I thought okay, I’ll be a tourist. I’ll try a falafel and the oil was so old that it was fried in and so rancid I ate like a bite of the sandwich and couldn’t keep it down. Now that may or may not happen in the restaurants that you go to, but I prefer to stay away from fried food. Just by making a mix of the garbanzo beans, if you want you can add in fava beans too, and different herbs, blend it all up in the same food processor that you made the hummus in, without cleaning, it makes it a lot easier. You make this dough almost you can form into patties or balls and put them on a baking sheet in the oven and bake them up. They’re really good, they don’t need to be fried. Probably by the time you’ve gotten this done, the eggplant’s finished and you can take it out, carefully, it’s hot, let a cool little bit. You want to remove the skin and the eggplant will be really soft. The skin just peels right off. So easy you can scope the inside out, put it in the same food processor without cleaning it because all the ingredients are really the same. You can add some fresh lemon or lime juice and sesame tahini. Whir that up into a lovely, creamy smooth, light Baba Ganoush. Then scoop that out into a serving dish. You can just cut up some fresh parsley, cucumber, tomato, squeeze a lemon on it, and you have a lovely cucumber salad – and you’re pretty much ready to go, serve all these things up together.

I made some Soft Buns, so instead of using pita bread, which is fine, but I try to say away from wheat, I just whipped up a bun recipe to put the falafel on and these other sides. The primary ingredient for the bun that I used is garbanzo flour. Garbanzo beans are just magical. I like making a lot of different dishes from basically the same ingredients. I think it works better when you’re digesting fewer ingredients together. You can really be creative making very different things from the same foods. Garbanzo beans are really good like that.

The other thing that I worked on this week was a recipe for baked apples. It’s funny when I was a kid the first baked apple I ever had, my mom made it, and she made it for a friend of hers who had type I diabetes. This was a long time ago when most people didn’t have diabetes. It was kind of unusual. This is when diet soda first came out. My mom found a recipe probably in some magazine like Good Housekeeping or something like that, where you would core the apples and pour a little diet cherry soda in the apple and bake it. She did that for her friend because she didn’t want to give her anything with sugar. We got to have some of these and I thought they were gross because I really didn’t like that flavor of the artificial sweetener in the diet soda – something that most people are very used to today, because diet soda is a really popular thing.

I stayed away from baked apples for very long time because, because of this, because my memory was “that’s a weird thing.” I have since become re-accustomed to baked apples. When you use and organic, quality apple there’s not a whole lot you need to do to it to make the baked apple really be spectacular. This recipe that we just put up on the ResponsibleEatingAndLiving.com website is very simple. A cored, organic baked apple, we use the Fuji, it’s kind of tart with a certain amount of sweetness. It’s an Apple that I like a lot. It has a little bit of a crunch to it. I chopped up almonds, raisins, pretty fine, and sprinkled in a little cinnamon and nutmeg, tossed that together, and filled the apples with that. Put them in a baking dish. Put a little water in the bottom – about a half inch and then bake them until they were soft. These are really really delicious. You can use almonds, but if you have an allergy to almonds you don’t have to use almonds, you can use any nut or seed, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds. That combination of nut, seed and dried fruit is really very nice. And you don’t really need a lot to make it special. Then it makes a nice juice in the bottom that you could drizzle on the same plate when you serve the baked apple. It’s such a simple simple treat and lovely. You can serve it as a dessert, you can serve it as a breakfast or any time. It’s just good food.

I also like to serve it with a little dollop of our homemade yogurt. I’ve been talking about this for a while, but I’ve been working on making homemade yogurts different kinds, and then turning them into vegan cheeses. And my last batch of yogurt I made just from almonds. Where as before I made yogurt from soy milk adding in a little cashew or adding in little almond to make it thicker and richer. I made it this last batch just with almonds. And it was really, really amazing. If you let it get really tart, meaning you can make yogurt in about four hours, but you can let it sit, not being refrigerated for longer and it will get tarter, it’ll get a stronger flavor. If you like it could be really good. I made this creamy almond yogurt and it was really nice contrast with the baked apples.

The last recipe I am working on is a noodle pudding. Noodle pudding is traditionally made with egg noodles and cottage cheese, sour cream, cream cheese, lots of eggs, it’s a cholesterol nightmare. I just made my first batch, which am really pleased with. W made an “egg noodle”, an egg-style noodle from a Tal Ronnen recipe and it uses a little silken tofu in the homemade pasta recipe to give that egg good feeling in texture and taste. It worked out really nicely and then I use some of this almond yogurt that I made as my substitute for the sour cream, the cream cheese, and cottage cheese, and it really really was delicious. I’m looking forward to posting recipe for that but not quite ready yet so don’t look for it until I tell you to.

Maybe you heard about Bill and Lou. This is really an interesting story that’s going on and generating a bit of news and attention. Bill and Lou are oxen. They are a team that have been haying and tilling with students learning about farming at Green Mountain College’s farm in Vermont. Bill and Lou have been doing this for about 10 years. Unfortunately Lou had a leg injury this summer and is now retired and Bill won’t work with other animals. What the officials have decided is they want to slaughter these animals and serve them up in the dining hall. There is a lot of outrage about this decision. I find it really interesting. Certainly I would like Bill and Lou to live out their lives naturally at a sanctuary with people that care for them and care about them. It’s unfortunate because, so many reasons, but we have around 60 billion land animals every year that are raised for food and tortured and slaughtered – what’s the big deal about two? The thing is every one of them is a big deal. Every one of those 60 billion is a big deal. When we focus on two – Bill and Lou, give them names, I think people pay attention. But what I would like to see, what I would like people to learn from this, is, that Bill and Lou deserve to live out a natural life as to all of those other animals. That we should not be eating them and we should not be slaughtering them. But it’s becoming quite a controversy. And I can understand how school officials and people that normally eat meat would think that it’s no big deal slaughtering these animals. They’re teaching students about sustainable agriculture, locally raised foods, and slaughtering these animals just fits right in that picture. But if people are going to ultimately “see the light” and realize that animals do deserve to live and not be exploited and not be eaten, maybe it’s through situations like this. N,ow the other thing is Bill and Lou, they’ve been working, plying fields for about a decade. But they have been given a decent life, my understanding is. Where as animals in factory farms, most of them have probably gone mad because they’ve never really been given life – they been confined and crammed. You just you can’t stay sane in that type of situation. So we would like to see these two animals that are sane and sentient, given a natural way to end their lives rather than being slaughtered. I’m glad that this is getting some attention because animals need attention. They need to be making press. People need to be thinking about what they’re eating. My heart goes out to Bill and Lou and the 60 billion land animals are slaughtered every year. Hopefully sooner than later this will all come to a compassionate end.

That’s about it for today. Thank you so much for joining me and again, as I say every time, I really love hearing from you, your comments, your questions. Send me an email at info@realmeals.org. Let’s continue the conversation. I’ll be back next week with another episode of Ask A Vegan. Have a great week.

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