Part I: Eric Toensmeier, Project Drawdown
Eric Toensmeier is the award-winning author of Paradise Lot and Perennial Vegetables, and the co-author of Edible Forest Gardens. He is an appointed lecturer at Yale University, a Senior Biosequestration Fellow with Project Drawdown, and an international trainer. He has studied useful perennial plants and their roles in agroforestry systems for over two decades. He is the author of The Carbon Farming Solution: A Global Toolkit of Perennial Crops and Regenerative Agricultural Practices for Climate Change Mitigation and Food Security.
Part II: Gary De Mattei, Autumn in NY
Gary De Mattei is the co-founder and Creative Director of Responsible Eating and Living. Gary is an actor, director, producer, filmmaker, writer, teacher and trained chef. He is the founder and Artistic Director of the nonprofit theatre company, The Artist’s Theatre Repertory Ensemble (TheATRE). Before moving to New York in 2008 Gary worked extensively in Bay Area theatre as an actor, director, writer, producer, teacher, and arts administrator. He was the co-founder and producing artistic director of Theatre On San Pedro Square (TOSPS) in San Jose from January of 2000 to April of 2008. During that time Gary produced plays and musicals that showcased local, national and international theatre artists. Gary was the Theatre Department Chair at Presentation High School in San Jose. During his tenure at Presentation Gary directed plays and musicals and taught acting. His theatre department was awarded the prestigious Best High School Musical Award from the American Musical Theatre. Gary is a Bay Area Theatre Critics Award nominee for his portrayal of Fiorello H. LaGuardia in Foothill Music Theatre’s production of Fiorello. A proud member of Actor’s Equity Association, Gary trains at HB Studio in New York under the guidance of his acting teacher Austin Pendleton. For more about Gary go to his website, GaryDeMattei.com.
Since 2009, It’s All About Food, has been bringing you the best in up-to-date news regarding food and our food system. Hosted by Caryn Hartglass, a vegan since 1988, the program includes in-depth interviews with medical doctors; nutritionists; dietitians; cook book authors; athletes; environmental, animals and health activists; farmers; food manufacturers; lawyers; food scientists and more. Learn about how we can solve many of the world’s problems today and do it deliciously, here on It’s All About Food.
Hi everybody I’m Caryn Hartglass and thank you for joining me today for It’s All About Food. Very excited about today’s program. I think it’s very important the topic and the project we’re going to be talking about. I’m going to bring on my guest Eric Toensmeier who is the award-winning author of Paradise Lot And Perennial Vegetables and the co-author of Edible Forest Gardens. He is an appointed lecturer at Yale University, a Senior Biosequestration Fellow with Project Drawdown, and an international trainer. He has studied useful perennial plants and their roles in agro forestry systems for over two decades. He’s the author of the Carbon Farming Solution, a global toolkit of perennial crops and regenerative agricultural practices for climate change mitigation and food security. Eric, thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to speak with us.
Eric Toensmeier: Sure. Thanks for having me.
Caryn: Yes, now I was very excited when I first heard about drawdown climate change… it is something that is…I’m trying to find words to describe it but we need a lot of urgent work in this area if we want our species to continue comfortably living on this planet. And our current administration – governmental administration here in the United States – seems to want to turn things backwards when it comes to protecting the environment. And it’s scary, it’s sometimes depressing, and when I heard about Project Drawdown and read the book I felt hope, I felt inspiration, and I really appreciate everything that’s happening with this work, so thank you.
Eric Toensmeier: Well that was one of the goals of the book is to lay out that there are lots and lots of solutions. That many of them are already being done on a large scale and they are already actually growing rapidly, and don’t necessarily have to wait for governments or are not waiting for our government to move forward.
Caryn Hartglass: You know I spoke with Carl Pope a few months ago about the book, The Climate Hope, with our former New York City Mayor Bloomberg and I was inspired with that book to hear about all of the things that are related to business that are…that will work in our capitalistic society, meaning that they will be affordable and economical to make changes that improve environment. But Project Drawdown goes a lot further, and gives us many ideas on the household level as well as the commercial level and so many things that we can do worldwide.
Eric Toensmeier: Yes, yes we do. It’s really it’s a very interesting project to have been a part of because you have some things like composting that are very much a household level sort of activity or LED lights. Then you move to…let’s say more industrial scale… looking at alternative concrete. Most of us in our home maybe that’s not something we’re going to do everyday is use a different recipe for concrete. And then we have some things that are really at a much larger scale, like forest protection which is maybe more of a national level issue but there’s something for everyone in there. Hopefully meaningful for everyone.
Caryn Hartglass: Something for everyone to feel empowered and make a positive difference that hopefully will help.
Eric Toensmeier: Yeah. And now more than ever that’s important.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, because so many of us feel like it doesn’t matter what we do or what we say. But it does.
Eric Toensmeier: It really does.
Caryn Hartglass: Ok, so this isn’t really about food and I want to focus on food. You’ve got a number of categories in Project Drawdown – energy, women and girls, buildings and cities, land use, transport materials, along with coming attractions. And there are so many things we could talk about. Let’s concentrate on food because this show is called It’s All About Food.
Eric Toensmeier: Sure.
Caryn Hartglass: And even when we focus on it’s all on the food portion all of these other topics still impact food.
Eric Toensmeier: Absolutely.
Caryn Hartglass: Because of the climate changes our way to manufacture, our way to grow food and create food, is affected tremendously.
Eric Toensmeier: Absolutely. And transport it, and keep it cool so it doesn’t go bad, all of those things are the very neat aspect to the projects to the degree in which we were able to look at integrating all these solutions and not just looking at one on it’s own in isolation but how will they help or hurt each other.
Caryn Hartglass: And before we go further, I want everyone to know that you can get all of this information at the website drawdown.org. It’s all there.
Eric Toensmeier: Yes, indeed. We have not only the individual solutions, but also a sector summary for the food sector so you can read through in great detail and look at charts and rankings and a lot of the calculations that went into the results that are reported in the book.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah I love data and this is a very complicated project. I have not gone into the charts and tables, but I’m sure there were a lot of assumptions made. I know it’s hard to collect uniform kinds of data worldwide, but still, it’s a very important starting point.
Eric Toensmeier: The available data…yes.
Caryn Hartglass: Can we talk about… the number one ranked solution…and you rank them by a number of different things so even before we talk about the number one, can you just talk about how all of the solutions are ranked.
Eric Toensmeier: Sure. So essentially for each of these solutions, there was a research fellow who did sort of a great big literature review and we’ve developed these Excels models that you can enter lots of data into. So let’s say for the carbon sequestration rate of such and such a practice, we might have ten or twenty or thirty data points from different places in the world and it sort of runs meta analysis and gives us a good plausible number to work with that kind of data entered. So we tried to cast a very wide net for data to get fairly conservative numbers to work with.
Caryn Hartglass: The number one solution, which I think will surprise most people, is refrigerant management.
Eric Toensmeier: Yes. Well it wasn’t the sexiest of all of our solutions. Ultimately we rank them by the total number of gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent reduced between 2020 and 2050. So over a thirty-year period which ones have the biggest impact? Number one is refrigerant management. If you think back to when we were dealing with the ozone hole and we switched the kinds of gases we used in refrigerators and air conditioners from something that caused ozone destruction to something that doesn’t. A set of gases that don’t. Unfortunately, we switched them from something that has absolutely unbelievable impact on climate change. Some of those gases are two thousand times more powerful than carbon dioxide, so the issue with refrigeration, which very much touches on food, is to… One, develop replacements for those gases. And two, with all of the units that are out there now, when they reach their end of life, we need to safely and carefully remove the gases that are in there without leaking a bunch of it, and either treat them or reuse them. So that’s a massive global project right there.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s massive! I remember talking to someone from Greenpeace about this on the program maybe six or seven years ago. They had a program about refrigerant management, and I was just floored to find out about it. And the worst part is the end of life scenario. I live in New York City…I see people putting stuff out on the street all the time, and it can be an air conditioner. And more and more people are getting air conditioners. They’re less expensive over time and what happens when they’re done. So this is definitely a big issue and I just hope we can manage it. I’m sure enough different all over the world.
Eric Toensmeier: It’s different in different places, and it’s related to food waste production as well because in much of the world food is wasted not because people didn’t feel like eating it but because of a lack of refrigeration so it’s closely tied with another solution. The good news on refrigerant management is… an agreement was made. An international agreement was made last year that has pretty good teeth. So there is an international working agreement on refrigerant management -the Kigali Accords of 2016.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, what was amazing with the ozone hole in the environment is that was agreed upon by countries very quickly on what we were going to do about it. That happened fast.
Eric Toensmeier: Uh huh.
Caryn Hartglass: And we’re not acting as fast with a problem that seems to be just as dangerous if not more so.
Eric Toensmeier: I have notice that as well, yes.
Caryn Hartglass: Why aren’t we as scared anymore?
Eric Toensmeier: It may have something to do with the power and scale of the fossil fuel industry as compared to the ozone producing industry. I suspect it may be related to that.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes. Too much money. So you mentioned food waste and that’s number three of your solutions. And you’ve got how many total solutions are in this book? There are eighty?
Eric Toensmeier: We ranked eighty. Yeah. So food waste is a really really really big deal. It really is.
Caryn Hartglass: And you know part of it is what we leave over that we don’t need in the refrigerator but there’s much more involved in food waste. Right?
Eric Toensmeier: There is. The first piece is that we are wasting globally somewhere around let’s say thirty to forty percent of food. Which is the great big problem. One issue is that food much of it ends up in landfills where it releases methane, which is a powerful greenhouse gas. But also you’re talking about a very big piece of the world’s farmland being used. And emissions associated with the agriculture that ends up being wasted, so we end up needing much more farmland than we should. And as the population increases, the demand for food increases. We have the clearing of land, clearing a forest and plowing up grassland for agriculture, which is a massive source of emission. So by reducing food waste that contributes in part to preventing deforestation. Part of the impact is from reducing the emissions from the agriculture, part of it is from reducing emissions from landfills, and part of it is from reducing deforestation. So it really has a very powerful impact across those different parts the food system.
Caryn Hartglass: Number four is my personal favorite. As a vegan, I want everyone to eat more plants. And number four is a plant rich diet. Thank you for putting that in there.
Eric Toensmeier: Yes. Well, you just can’t avoid the math on that really, can you?
Caryn Hartglass: No you can’t.
Eric Toensmeier: And it’s not that we’re saying that everyone should be vegan. And although the numbers on that are clearly very good. And it’s not that we’re saying that there are no climate clear methods of livestock production. But clearly most people should be eating plants. When you look at, let’s say, for every kilo of beef, you would need ten kilos of feed if you were going to feed that animal on a feedlot. So you’re eating for ten. That just doesn’t make sense. And with the amount of meat in the diet around the world increasing in many places as population increases, you just can’t. It’s not possible to feed people that much meat unless you massively deforest what remains of the world’s land. And the emissions from that are just utterly unacceptable. So clearly very very high rank and just slightly behind reduce food waste.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s right.
Eric Toensmeier: And ahead of solar. Ahead of solar.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes. It’s amazing. Yes. Reducing food waste – three. Plant rich diet – four. I feel like Robert Goodland. He’s deceased. He died three years ago. He was the lead environmental advisor at the World Bank Group for a long time, and he co-authored an article in the World Watch Journal that had to do with the impact of livestock on global greenhouse emissions. I’m sure he’s smiling down on this Drawdown Project.
Eric Toensmeier: It really goes back to diet for a small planet as well. It’s not a new concept that livestock are very resource intensive. It’s just suddenly in this context it gets more publicity you might say. And important idea gets more publicity.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, but the numbers help. The numbers help that you provided.
Eric Toensmeier: They do.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah I mean diet for a small planet that came out in the seventy’s. Here we are almost like thirty-five years later and we’re still trying to get people to understand that message.
Eric Toensmeier: Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: All right, after plant rich diet, I want to talk about trees. Now a lot of people when they talk about climate change they simply say we need to plant more trees. And I’ve learned in this book how really really amazing trees are. My favorite expression was the “wood wide web”.
Eric Toensmeier: Uh huh.
Caryn Hartglass: Which came in the hidden life of trees article.
Eric Toensmeier: Uh huh.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s really fantastic. But there are so many different things that are related to climate change and trees. There are lungs, really. And there are so many solutions related to trees can we touch on some of them?
Eric Toensmeier: Absolutely. We really can’t mitigate climate change without them. So the broad categories of ways we cut touch on trees – one, is protecting forests that exist now – forests and mangroves – and so on. And peat lands. Forests and peat lands. The number one is to keep it in the ground. Keep the forests in the ground. Protect the vast amounts of carbon that are locked up in these ecosystems. Then we have some solutions related to restoring forests. On degraded land, bring forests back there. And we have some sort of forestry-type solutions. Planting timber trees, planting bamboos. And then there’s a number of solutions that are agricultural solutions that involve trees. Incorporating trees on the farm, which fall under the heading of agroforestry. So you might be integrating them with annual crops, which we call tree intercropping. They might be planted out on pastures, which we call silver pasture. The trees themselves might be the primary crop, as in our tropical tree staple solution. Or they may be really complex mixtures of different species of trees, like multi-strata agroforestry. So the classic example of that would be shade coffee or shade cacao growing under larger native trees, but can also embody more complex systems. One I visited recently had avocados and macadamias as the tallest trees. And then in the middle with a layer of bananas, and below that was coffee. Which is a very delightful system and if that’s what we have to do to mitigate climate change, I’m all for it. I’ll just say that.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s beautiful! It’s absolutely beautiful. The multi-strata scenario.
Eric Toensmeier: We’re still figuring out how to that here in cold climates. But many of these are very widely practiced today. They’re just not really fully appreciated or understood. The scale at which these things are practiced isn’t really widely appreciated. Nor is the rate at which they’re growing, which is quite impressive. So we try to give these tree base solutions their due. Not that other agriculture solutions aren’t very important as well. But the general trend is everywhere you can add trees without impacting the productivity of the farm you should. And in many cases it increases the productivity of the farm. Sometimes quite substantially.
Caryn Hartglass: One of my least favorite words these days is efficiency.
Eric Toensmeier: Uh huh.
Caryn Hartglass: And many times we sacrifice so much for efficiency. And I like to put “efficiency” in quotes. Because we’re doing so much damage, when we’re trying to do something fast to save money make more money whatever it is, and so I’m wondering where do trees fit it with our giant agribusiness. The large farms, mono cropping, that sort of thing. Or do we just try and change that?
Eric Toensmeier: Sure. Well, Drawdown, as a general principle, our approach is to try and kind of find each farm where they are and move them a step forward. So the next step for many, let’s say large American farms in Iowa, is probably not planting out a high density of trees all through their farm. It might be adding cover cropping; it might be applying compost and so on. With that said, there are many examples around the world of very large annual cropping operations, incorporating trees that at pretty high densities. Rows of trees that their tractors and equipment can fit between ergonomically. In China for example, we have twelve million hectors, which is, let’s say, something like twenty-five or thirty million acres of Princess trees intercropped with annuals. These are trees that are late to leaf out in the spring. So mostly they’re growing wintergreens like wheat under them that mostly mature over the winter. So there isn’t actually that much competition for sunlight, and the rows are spaced. The rows of trees are spaced far enough apart to minimize competition. And what they find is that you’re able to get the same production of the annual crops, plus timber. And building with wood is a really important solution because that wood itself in a building represents sequestered carbon. And when you plant new trees again in the field, or allow those other trees to resprout, they begin actively sequestering carbon again. So we do have large-scale models, even in cold climates, of integrating trees with annual crops. And I feel like that’s the wave of the future. That if you want trees – I’m sorry – if you want carbon, you want agroforestry. You want more trees on the farm. And maybe that starts with a border planting or a windbreak, and it slowly works it’s way to this end of the farm over a long period of time. There’s places where it’s too dry, there’s places where it’s too cold…it’s not a one size fits all prescription. But as a general guideline more trees and agriculture is essential for us to do the job that’s ahead of us.
Caryn Hartglass: Early in the book there was the mention of the oxygen depleted dead zones. And I’ve read about them. I had no idea that there were over five hundred of them.
Eric Toensmeier: Uh huh.
Caryn Hartglass: This is just devastating. And it’s primarily due to petrol chemical fertilizers putting too much nitrogen into our water supply. Along with pesticides and herbicides. What are the Draw Down solutions?
Eric Toensmeier: Excellent question. The first one is nutrient management. What’s really interesting – not in a good way – but what’s really interesting about chemical fertilizers is that they are routinely over applied. So people are putting down more fertilizer than they need. Often because the price is very low, sometimes there’s government subsidies, and so on. A sort of like risk management strategy. You think, okay well I’d rather put out too much than too little. Because if there’s too much, I’ll still got my crop. And what happens when people over apply fertilizer is that it ends up in waterways and cause of all this damage and it off gases as nitrous oxide, which is 290 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.
Caryn Hartglass: Wow.
Eric Toensmeier: So dialing back the fertilizer is number one. Just applying the amount you need is number one, which actually saves farmers money. So that’s one solution that looks at this. We also have a regenerative agriculture solution. Which looks at annual cropping systems and how fertility can be provided on the farm with green manures, with compost applications, and various kinds of organic fertilizers. So we can shift away from… And also agroforestry solutions…also nitrogen fixing trees which themselves provide fertility. So there are number of ways to get around this issue. And also buffers, which are part of our agroforestry system, involve basically a strip of perennial vegetation like trees along waterways, which help too. Basically, their roots suck up the excess fertilizer and use it to grow, and keep it from entering the waterways, so we actually have four or five different solutions that look at this particular issue.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, there are eighty exciting solutions that are presented in this Drawdown Project. Now, how is this information getting out so that people can really incorporate them?
Eric Toensmeier: Well we’re doing some radio interviews with me. And Paul Hawken, who is the editor and the mastermind, wrote much of the content that’s really is his vision and his baby that we’ve all been contributing to. He is on the road constantly. And a number of our staff are on the road and at conferences, and so on. Pounding the pavement so to speak for these solutions. There’s been coverage on television; there’s been coverage in magazines. We found lots of interest in the business and investment communities. We found some interest in the policy world and I think being on the New York Times bestseller list has been a really big thing in terms of generating additional publicity. And quite a few people have copies of this book at this point.
Caryn Hartglass: Fantastic! I’m just thinking in my own small world here living in New York City. For example, I live in a co-op building, and I was reading about the green roofs and the cool roofs, and thinking about how difficult it is to make change in my own building here. And there are so many of us living in New York City. We need help making change.
Eric Toensmeier: On the other hand I would just like to celebrate what a fantastic job all of you are doing and having very low transportation emissions by living in New York City.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, that’s one of the reasons I live here.
Eric Toensmeier: Well done in that regard…very well done in that regard. And I think people maybe don’t give cities enough credit for that.
Caryn Hartglass: I know we complain a lot about our subway system here but it’s the best in the country and it’s over one hundred years old and it takes a lot of repair. And I would love to see the entire country filled with improved rail systems.
Eric Toensmeier: There is much, much room for improvement in the area of transportation…absolutely. Well, to me it comes back to what Al Gore has said, which is that the question is political will. And I think that’s true at the building and the block level of state and national and international policy level. What we’re doing with drawdown is not laying out a political roadmap so much as providing a toolkit to people who are in those conversations, and who are part of those decision making processes is to say, well this is what we get to fight about now, or this is what we get to fight for now.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, it’s a good beginning. I don’t want to keep you much longer, but you did mention Al Gore. And why isn’t he talking about plant-rich diets, even though he’s eating one?
Eric Toensmeier: I’m afraid I can’t answer that. I don’t know, and I have not met him, so I couldn’t comment on that. We’re certainly all in debt to him for all the marvelous things he’s done. And our hope with Drawdown actually is to bring attention to a number of these things that really have not been getting talked about much. Like refrigerant management, like the agroforestry kinds of systems, to cast light on these neglected powerful solutions. One that I really am a fan of and advocated for getting in the book is womens’ smallholder solution. We find that globally, female farmers receive a tiny fraction of the total amount of loans and technical assistance and other kinds of resources for farmers. And were female farmers to be brought to parity with men, it would greatly increase world food production to the point that it would actually avoid deforestation in a pretty significant way. It would be producing so much more food on the farms that there would be that much less land that would have to be cleared.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, absolutely.
Eric Toensmeier: So that hasn’t been in the public conversation much either. But it’s really important. Really important!
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah it’s really important. I think of Wangari Maathai and all of her efforts in Kenya building, planting trees.
Eric Toensmeier: Absolutely.
Caryn Hartglass: When people told her she couldn’t, and she did.
Eric Toensmeier: She sure did.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes. Well Eric, thank you so much for taking the time today to talk to me. I’m very excited about this Drawdown project. It gives me a lot of inspiration and hope, and a plan of where we can go to make great change. Thank you for joining me on It’s All About Food.
Eric Toensmeier: Thanks so much for having me.
Caryn Hartglass: Take care. All right, let’s take a quick break and we’ll be back with the second part of our show.
Transcribed by Alexis Ellis 12/20/2017, D Fisher 11/10/2017
TRANSCRIPTION PART II:
Caryn Hartglass: Hi, everybody. I’m Caryn Hartglass and thanks for joining me for the second part of this show, It’s All About Food.
That was really something else, the first part of this show. Talking about Project Drawdown and the New York Times bestselling book based on everything that is on the website: drawdown.org. I hope you visit their website. I hope you can find numerous solutions to incorporate in your own life so that we can all work together to turn around global warming and get control of our climate.
And now I want to bring on one of my very favorite guests—
Gary De Mattei: Yay! Whoo! Whoo-hoo!
Caryn Hartglass: —one of my favorite people on the planet—
Gary De Mattei: Yay for me!
Caryn Hartglass: —and that is REAL co-founder, Gary De Mattei. Not only did he help me found our non-profit, Responsible Eating and Living, but he is an actor, a producer, a director, a chef extraordinaire, and… a bit of a nut. (laughs)
Gary De Mattei: Yes, I am a nut. That’s for sure. Actually, I’m nuts and seeds.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s right, nuts, chews, seeds, and whatever.
Gary De Mattei: Well, you have to have beans, greens, nuts, and seeds.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, you’re quoting Dr. Joe Fuhrman’s G-BOMBS: “Greens, beans, onions, mushrooms—
Gary De Mattei: Bleh!
Caryn Hartglass: Everybody knows Gary doesn’t like mushrooms, right?— “Berries and seeds.”
Gary De Mattei: But I’m getting my mushrooms in a supplement.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s right, ImmuneBiotech.
Gary De Mattei: So I’m actually taking mushrooms now. (laughs) Course not the kind of mushrooms some of you out there are thinking right now, but I’m taking the legal variety of mushrooms.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes. Just in review: one of my favorite solutions happens to be number four in Project Drawdown, and that is eating a plant-based diet.
Gary De Mattei: Yay!
Caryn Hartglass: And that’s something we’ve just been pushing and putting out there since Responsible Eating and Living’s been founded.
Gary De Mattei: Although you’ve been doing it a whole lot longer than that, Caryn.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, I’ve been doing it for like forty-five years. (chuckles)
Gary De Mattei: And I want to inject something in here. I want to congratulate you on not only the interview that we’ve just heard about Project Drawdown but also all the interviews that you do here on this program. I am here as a representative of autumn. (chuckles)
Caryn Hartglass: (chuckles)
Gary De Mattei: It’s autumn approaching.
Caryn Hartglass: (singing) Autumn in New York.
Gary De Mattei: At Responsible Eating and Living, it’s autumntime and as the creative director, I always try and tie in recipes and things of that nature with the seasons. We’ve got a couple of great recipes that have just gone out in our newsletter. Hopefully you are registered to receive one of our newsletters because we’re going to be talking about the newsletter today.
There’s a couple of great recipes that are perfect autumn recipes, and you need to start gearing up for that, right? Because the weather’s going to get colder, the leaves are going to change, you’re going to need some more choices to co for your family that are appropriate with what’s seasonal. If you’re like me, you like to go out and grab the seasonal vegetables and things that are in season to share with your family. The harvest’s coming in, and it’s just a great time of year for food and for—
Caryn Hartglass: —and for cozy soups.
Gary De Mattei: And for cozy soups, thank you.
Caryn Hartglass: A couple of the recipes are soups using mung beans.
Gary De Mattei: Right. But I wanted to finish this.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh, I’m sorry.
Gary De Mattei: Congratulations on you for all of the marvelous interviews and guests that you’ve had on this program. Especially today’s and last week’s. Let us know a little bit more about last week’s guests.
Caryn Hartglass: Right, it was a couple of weeks ago. Dr. Dean Sherzai and Ayesha Sherzai, they are medical doctors. They specialize in Alzheimer’s and cognitive impairment. They have a brand new book out and I’m sure it will be a New York Times bestseller. It was released on the 15th of this week (September 15). It’s called The Alzheimer’s Solution. I hope you’ve heard the interview with them. If you haven’t, please check our archives for that.
Gary De Mattei: And it’s all about the recent findings about the impact of lifestyle changes like diet, exercise, sleep, stress reduction, and healthy challenges for our brains support the premise of this new book, right?
Caryn Hartglass: Right. And surprise, surprise: eating a plant-based diet is one of the key components to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s by 90%!
Gary De Mattei: 90%.
Caryn Hartglass: 90%.
Gary De Mattei: And they don’t tell you, do they, anywhere else?
Caryn Hartglass: They don’t tell you anywhere.
Gary De Mattei: As a matter of fact, you were one of the first people to grab this couple and interview them about their book. So I just wanted to congratulate you for that.
Caryn Hartglass: Thank you.
Gary De Mattei: I think it’s something that needs to be said, and you’re just really doing amazing work here at Responsible Eating and Living.
Caryn Hartglass: Thank you. I’ve been hustling for this program.
Gary De Mattei: Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: Because I really want to bring the best in food news to you, the audience.
Gary De Mattei: Yes, our loyal listeners. And if you’re a new listener here at Responsible Eating and Living, welcome to It’s All About Food, Caryn’s weekly podcast on the Progressive Radio Network. Yay, Progressive Radio Network!
Caryn Hartglass: Yay! Thank you. (chuckles)
Gary De Mattei: Progressive Radio Network, we always want to give a shout-out to them and to Gary Null, the founder of that great organization. So, welcome.
Caryn Hartglass: Welcome.
Gary De Mattei: And Caryn’s program is not only live on Tuesdays, it’s also archived at the responsibleeatingandliving.com website, which you can now—and have been able to for the past several years—download the app so you don’t have to type it in every time you want to.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, get the REAL app. Go to responsibleeatingandliving.com. Go over to the right side, scroll down a little bit. You can get the app for iPhones or any Android. It’s right there, it’s free, and we use ‘em all the time.
Gary De Mattei: Can you also get it at iTunes?
Caryn Hartglass: Yes!
Gary De Mattei: Okay. It’s free.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s free—did we say that it’s free? Ha!
Gary De Mattei: Just like all of our information.
Caryn Hartglass: Everything is free!
Gary De Mattei: It’s free. And we’re a non-profit so you won’t see any pop-ups. You know how you go to lots of websites that have recipes and then all of a sudden there’s like this really annoying pop-up? Well, no pop-ups here. We do have a button that says “Donate to REAL”, but just ignore that.
Caryn Hartglass: (chuckles)
Gary De Mattei: But it is next to that.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, we have the anti pop-up promise. No pop-ups.
Gary De Mattei: It is tax deductible, (mumbling) if you ever did want to donate.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes. Now one of the reasons why I wanted to talk to you today other than the fact that it’s (singing) autumn in New York—
Gary De Mattei: (singing) Autumn in New York.
Caryn Hartglass: —is that I think the arts and creativity are essential components—
Gary De Mattei: (applauds) Yay!
Caryn Hartglass: —when it comes to bringing political messages, messages about society, and that includes messages about food. Yesterday, we went to see a play in Manhattan called 1984. It’s based on the 1949 book by George Orwell that many of us had to read. I read it, I think, in junior high school
Gary De Mattei: I know you read it and I know that I read it, but do you know that it’s one of the most lied about books that people say that they’ve read but they haven’t?
Caryn Hartglass: Ha! Really? (laughs)
Gary De Mattei: Yes, really.
Caryn Hartglass: How ironic!
Gary De Mattei: Yes, that’s serious. It is normal.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s funny because the book itself is how we’re lied to all the time.
Gary De Mattei: Exactly, there’s the irony there.
Caryn Hartglass: But a lot of people have been reading it recently.
Gary De Mattei: Yes, yes.
Caryn Hartglass: Because they’re connecting the dots with the situation our society is in today with what was going on in this book.
Gary De Mattei: So if you say you’ve read it but you really haven’t read it, you should read it.
Caryn Hartglass: Read it. Or see the play.
Gary De Mattei: If you’re in the tri-state area—or if you’re anywhere in the world and you have access to getting here soon ‘cause it’s unfortunately going to close—come to New York and see it. And it stars a vegan, Olivia Wilde. It also stars the incredible Reed Birney and the brilliant Tom Sturridge. The supporting cast is amazing, and the direction by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan is stunning. The whole production is just…
Caryn Hartglass: One of the reasons I wanted to bring it up is because one of the items in the story is reducing everyone’s vocabulary. They come out with these new dictionaries with “newspeak”, which is reducing the amount of words we have in our language. And most of us know that expanding on the vocabulary, expanding on our words is a way to better express ourselves and have a better understanding of everything that occurs on the planet. Makes us more knowledgeable, intelligent.
So what they try to do in the story of this book is reduce everyone’s vocabulary so that “rebellious thoughts”, thoughts against the government, are reduced and ultimately eliminated.
Gary De Mattei: Right.
Caryn Hartglass: And believe it or not, this connects to food.
Gary De Mattei: It does.
Caryn Hartglass: But before I get there, I want to talk about… a word.
Gary De Mattei: A word, okay.
Caryn Hartglass: A word which describes this play, and that is “dystopian”.
Gary De Mattei: Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: How many of you know what dystopian means or can spell it? D-y-s-t-o-p-i-a-n. Gary, can you tell us what dystopian means?
Gary De Mattei: I will be happy to. Well, quickly, it’s defined as the opposite of utopia. Everyone knows what utopia means, right? Or at least has a feeling, thought when you talk about utopia. Dystopian is relating to or denoting an imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad. Typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one. Let’s say that again: environmentally degraded one.
Caryn Hartglass: We are living in an environmentally degraded society today.
Gary De Mattei: Right. It ties in with Project Drawdown, and it ties in with giving people the wrong information about why there’s something called Alzheimer’s, and how it can be corrected with a proper diet, a proper plant-based diet.
Caryn Hartglass: In the story 1984, they talk about eliminating words, and they even eliminate the word “bad” and use “ungood” to describe all things that are bad. This way they go from two words to one: “good”. The opposite of good is “ungood”. The opposite of dystopian is utopian or utopia, a paradise. Yet when we have a word for each, it just expands on the comprehension and I think it allows for subtle differences.
Gary De Mattei: Right. Also, a really important thing to point out is we’ve already been dumbed down—and that’s basically what we’re talking about. We’re being dumbed down by technology, and 1984 addresses that in a big way. But we all hold these little things in our pockets; you’re probably listening to this program with a screen. 1984 talks about looking up from your screens, and that was chilling to hear that because it applies today.
But also the dumbing down of words can easily be translated into Twitter and the emojis that have now taken over.
Caryn Hartglass: Memes.
Gary De Mattei: Memes! Memes are so… I’m… They make me mean.
Caryn Hartglass: (laughs)
Gary De Mattei: I’m not wild about memes. I don’t use memes.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, the thing about Twitter and the 140 characters: people tend to read headlines and not read the entire article, and react to the headline without even knowing what’s in it.
Gary De Mattei: Right.
Caryn Hartglass: Because we’re so inundated with so much information. But that information is not necessarily truth. It’s just a lot of stuff.
So here I’m connecting the dots with the vocabulary with when it comes to food. And for decades—this is not new, this is not new “fake news”—we’ve been fed fake news about food for a long time. We’ve been fed vocabulary to distort our comprehension about food. So when we look at—
Gary De Mattei: Images have distorted our comprehension about food.
Caryn Hartglass: Images too. But when we have something on our plate which is a bloodied, murdered piece of cow flesh and we call it—
Gary De Mattei: Steak.
Caryn Hartglass: —steak or something else.
Gary De Mattei: They call it steak and we play some really interesting music, underscoring the commercial about the steak on your plate. A song maybe by composer Aaron Copland that says, “It’s What’s for Dinner”. It gives you all these images of things that are untruths.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, or bacon. There are so many bacon lovers out there and yet why don’t we call it what it is: an intelligent mammal’s murdered piece of flesh after they’ve lived in filthy, horrific conditions?
Gary De Mattei: Yes.
Caryn Hartglass: We don’t do that.
Gary De Mattei: We don’t do that ‘cause there’s an industry connected to it, and I think we’re talking about money. It’s going to stop people from buying it. Talking about censorship—this is an old adage, but if slaughterhouses had glass walls, everybody would be vegan. I know many of you have heard that. And yet, there are many of you out there—I’m sure not listening to this program—that don’t care.
So that was the scary part about 1984, that it really showed us face-to-face what drives this and why these things happen. Because there’s a lot of you who do care, but there’s a lot of people who don’t. And they don’t want to be “messed with”; they don’t want to have information. They don’t want to have the truth.
A lot of that has to do with the way we’ve been raised and going back generations. “This is what my grandparents ate.” “This is what my great-grandparents ate.” “These recipes were handed down to us, generation after generation, and this is what we’re going to do.” To paraphrase Gary Francione: it’s difficult to go vegan because eating animals is like breathing out and breathing in. So it’s not your fault.
Caryn Hartglass: No.
Gary De Mattei: We’re not passing judgment. One of my regrets about going vegan is I didn’t do it soon enough.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, which is why we encourage anyone who’s considering going vegan or eating more plant foods: do it now. Do it sooner rather than later. Because you’ll be so much happier.
Gary De Mattei: Yeah, and you’ll realize that it all connects. Like health care.
Caryn Hartglass: Let’s talk about health care.
Gary De Mattei: Let’s talk about the recent health care battle going on in your family. Another thing about your incredibleness—that’s probably not a word, but I’ll make it up: you’ve been doing quadruple duty recently the last few weeks. Your family has been going through some health crises, and your dad was just diagnosed with a health crisis. So you’ve been borrowing your parent’s car and driving back and forth to Long Island to take him to lots and lots of doctors, appointments. Caryn, remarkable job.
Caryn Hartglass: Thank you, Gary. You know, a lot of us go through this when we have aging parents. My dad is eighty-nine and my mom is eighty-four, and I’m very lucky to still have them alive. I want to think that their diets have improved somewhat, having three vegan children in their lives.
Gary De Mattei: Yes, your brother and sister are both vegan.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. But there are plenty of foods that they both eat that I don’t think they should.
Gary De Mattei: In other words, they’re not vegan.
Caryn Hartglass: They’re not.
Gary De Mattei: They show no signs of ever wanting to be vegan, and that has to be and has been a source of frustration for you.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes.
Gary De Mattei: But you love your parents unconditionally. It’s not that you’ve given up on them.
Caryn Hartglass: (chuckles) I’m always lecturing!
Gary De Mattei: You’re always lecturing them on what they’re eating and how it can reverse some of the crises that they’re now going through. So let’s talk a little bit about your experience in last few weeks with diners, drive-ins, and dives because that’s where your parents like to eat.
Caryn Hartglass: After we go to a doctor’s appointment, I take them out for a meal and they tend to like diners.
Gary De Mattei: Because they get a lot of food at a diner and it’s not expensive. It’s cheap industrial food that’s probably government subsidized. It’s all of the meat, eggs, and white-floured foods that a lot of—
Caryn Hartglass: And there’s nothing I enjoy on the menu at any of these restaurants. (chuckles) But something Gary and I have been doing a long time, especially with our parents, is we just go along with wherever they want to go.
Gary De Mattei: Right, we don’t want to put up a fuss.
Caryn Hartglass: And we either eat beforehand or we eat afterwards. We might order something small just to be sociable.
Gary De Mattei: Or we talk to the chef, cook, waiter, or whatever.
Caryn Hartglass: Sometimes, depending on the space.
Gary De Mattei: As far as the diner, drive-in, and dive, no. They don’t really want to flex. So what is the one key menu item that everyone can relate to?
Caryn Hartglass: I go for the house salad. I don’t want to go for anything cooked. Because I don’t trust them. I don’t know that they even know what’s in some of the foods that they serve.
Gary De Mattei: A lot of people don’t.
Caryn Hartglass: This way, if I’m ordering raw vegetables, I can see them on my plate.
Gary De Mattei: Right. Especially you folks out there who are plant-based and/or vegans, you can relate to ordering the salad when you have to take parents out to a diner, drive-in, or dive.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. So I get a house salad. One tip when ordering house salad: I do not recommend getting any of the dressings. The house dressing or any of the other dressings, they can have all kinds of things in them like high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, egg products, dairy products, artificial ingredients, colors—things that you don’t want to put in your body.
Gary De Mattei: Exactly.
Caryn Hartglass: What I recommend is either you ask for lemon to squeeze lemon juice on the salad or I typically ask for vinegar. These dinners typically have cruets of oil and vinegar, and they easily put it on your table.
Gary De Mattei: So let’s talk about recently—most recently—your latest experience, which you actually wrote a piece about it and it’s on our website and I want you all to read it. Caryn took her dad—your dad has been very down and out. Understandably, he was diagnosed with something very serious and it has depressed him a lot.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, my dad’s not a guy who’s been known for depression. Ever. He just accepts reality and moves on. I think I got that from him.
Gary De Mattei: Right.
Caryn Hartglass: And now he’s acknowledged that he’s depressed because of these health issues. He’s always been up for eating out and eating in a restaurant, and I would ask him after every appointment, “Where do you want to go?” The last few days, he’s like, “I don’t care. Doesn’t matter.”
Gary De Mattei: That is not like your dad.
Caryn Hartglass: Not like him at all. But the last time, a couple of days ago, he wanted to go to the International House of Pancakes. It happened to be across the street.
Gary De Mattei: IHOP.
Caryn Hartglass: So I took my parents there, and I ended up writing a piece about it; as Gary said, you can see on the homepage of Responsible Eating and Living.
Gary De Mattei: How long has it been since you walked into an IHOP?
Caryn Hartglass: Oh gosh, probably forty years.
Gary De Mattei: Okay. So Caryn returns to IHOP.
Caryn Hartglass: (laughs) I discovered a lot of things while I was there. Of course, I ordered the house salad. It looked very nice in the picture, it wasn’t as nice when it arrived.
Gary De Mattei: It never is, it never is.
Caryn Hartglass: The tomatoes were anemic, the lettuce was pale. They brought a cruet of oil and vinegar, and I want to tell you I never touched the oil for numerous reasons. One is that it could be a genetically modified plant oil, genetically modified vegetable oil, which I don’t want. You don’t know how long that oil’s been sitting out. We refrigerate all of our oils because oils go rancid.
Gary De Mattei: Yes. I recommend that you refrigerate your oils too.
Caryn Hartglass: Absolutely. So I didn’t touch the oil. But when I went and touched the bottle of vinegar, ah! It was sticky and filthy and disgusting. (chuckles)
Gary De Mattei: (chuckles) I’ve been there.
Caryn Hartglass: And that leads you to wonder what else in the restaurant is filthy and disgusting.
Gary De Mattei: Yeah, lots of things. Trust me because I’ve worked in the restaurant business. I’ve owned restaurants and managed them. And yeah, there’s a lot going on.
Caryn Hartglass: When I was writing this piece, I discovered that they often add some pancake batter to their omelet.
Gary De Mattei: (imitates buzzer)
Caryn Hartglass: If you’re an egg eater and you can’t eat wheat or gluten, beware at IHOP. Because there very likely is wheat and gluten in your egg omelet.
Gary De Mattei: Right. I’m not going to give away the piece—your piece is really great. But the bottom line of it is International House of Pancakes is anything but international.
Caryn Hartglass: (chuckles)
Gary De Mattei: I mean, there are no international pancakes—
Caryn Hartglass: —represented on the menu. No. You just have one version of fluffy pancakes, and then you can add chocolate chips and other things.
Gary De Mattei: And what are some of those pancakes—an anonymous segway into how people can find recipes and make their own.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh yeah!
Gary De Mattei: Some international pancakes, Caryn.
Caryn Hartglass: The French buckwheat crepes, the Indian garbanzo bean flour socca, the Indian lentil flour dosa, the Asian rice flour pancakes—often savory rather than sweet, but you can make all kinds of things. We have recipes at Responsible Eating and Living for all of them.
Gary De Mattei: All of them, and then some.
Caryn Hartglass: The way that I got out my frustration while sitting there as my parents enjoyed their omelets and their pancakes with the high-fruck—
Gary De Mattei: Fructose.
Caryn Hartglass: You know what I want to say. (laughs) The syrups that contain all of these ingredients.
Gary De Mattei: The high-expletive-tose syrup.
Caryn Hartglass: I was tweeting. I was tweeting to IHOP, sharing my #IHOPMoment.
Gary De Mattei: IHOPMoment.
Caryn Hartglass: And they actually liked one of my tweets.
Gary De Mattei: (chuckling) They liked one of your tweets.
Caryn Hartglass: Now it wasn’t the insulting tweets. It was the tweet saying: “Please add vegan menu items.”
Gary De Mattei: I don’t think you were even insulting them even. Just pointing out the obvious.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, I would say: “Come to the 21st century. Add vegan menu items. Add gluten-free menu items.” And we can help because we’ve got so many vegan, gluten-free pancake, waffle, and crepe recipes for you.
Gary De Mattei: Yeah, REAL consult. For free like everything else on our website. But it’s true that a lot of the larger chains out there now are going in this direction. They are getting vegan menu items. They are doing gluten-free menu items. They are really coming up to the 21st century, and IHOP is stuck somewhere back in the mid of last century.
Caryn Hartglass: So that’s IHOP. Something that I want to bring up while we have two and a half minutes left is to thank you, Gary. Because while I’ve been running around the doctors with my parents, staying over at their house from time to time, and then when I come home really rushing to get all of my work done, you have been here supporting me with some wonderful food and keeping me well-nourished so that I can do what I need to get done. I really appreciate that.
Gary De Mattei: Are you going to cry?
Caryn Hartglass: I’m-I’m getting choked up.
Gary De Mattei: Really?
Caryn Hartglass: Yes.
Gary De Mattei: Gimme a kiss.[smooch, smooch]
Caryn Hartglass: (laughs) Thank you.
Gary De Mattei: You’re welcome, and thank you for everything that you do for the world and our little family here in our little organization, Responsible Eating and Living. Which is now, as I’ve mentioned at the top of the show, having its autumn. A great time of year for recipes, food, and the harvest.
Keep looking at our page because we’re going to be posting a lot more wonderful stuff and a lot, a lot more great interviews are coming up. Get our newsletter, and thanks for being a support.
Caryn Hartglass: We have two new recipes with mung beans and the reason why we’re using mung beans is that they’re not the most popular bean out there, at least not in the United States. But they cook up very quickly like lentil beans so they’re a very convenient bean to use. We have two great soup recipes for that.
So we have just a minute left. I just want to say thank you. Thank you for joining us here on It’s All About Food.
Gary De Mattei: Happy holidays if you celebrate the Jewish holidays.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh, the Jewish high holidays are coming up, and we have some wonderful recipes for the Jewish high holidays. Check them out at responsibleeatingandliving.com in our Recipes index.
Gary De Mattei: Lots of plant-based recipes for the Jewish high holidays.
Caryn Hartglass: Send us comments and questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re here. We’re here to help you.
Gary De Mattei: And go see 1984!
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, or read the book. Because, folks, we have to stay on top of things. We have to stay educated and we have to resist.
Gary De Mattei: Resist.
Caryn Hartglass: We have to insist on what is right, what is true, and what is best for all of us.
Gary De Mattei: And look up from your screens.
Caryn Hartglass: Look up from your screens.
Gary De Mattei: 2+2=4! Don’t let anybody tell you any different.
Caryn Hartglass: (chuckles) That’s right. Thank you for joining us. I’m Caryn Hartglass with Gary De Mattei. This has been another episode of It’s All About Food. Remember, have a very delicious week.
Transcribed by HT, 10/2017