Monday, December 08, 2008

An Interview On Spices, Vegetarianism, and Carbohydrates

The blogger Greg Davis, AKA Modern Forager, has published part one of an interview with Lorette Luzajic, described as the website Gremolata's "resident Spice Girl." This has nothing to do with the 90s girl group, though, much to some people's disappointment I'm sure. She is an expert on spices, which is interesting to anyone who loves to cook with them or eat food seasoned with anything other than salt (not including MSG of course). One of her initial points is that spices are much cheaper in bulk, and that you should only buy the amount you need, since they lose their flavor pretty fast.

She also has talked about life after bread, and eating meant. She was an unhealthy vegetarian because she was led to believe that all meats and animal fats are bad and that all plant-sourced foods, especially things like fake meat made from soy protein isolate, are life-giving. It turned out that gluten was toxic to her, and cutting it out was one of the best things she could do for her health. I had a similar experience -- when I was a strict vegetarian, especially when I was following a low-fat, calorie-restricted vegetarian diet, I had the worse mood swings, cravings, and began binging on (vegetarian) junk food (in secret, most of the time I ate vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy, whole grains, and nuts).

She mentions how the soy industry made it near impossible for her to publish anything that was anti-soy, which was surprising to her, since she'd heard mostly about other powerful lobbies (for example the meat industry). This isn't surprising anyone who has read up on the soy deception all over the place. It is mostly controversial because the soy lobby is so powerful. It is controversial also because so many studies show areas in Asia where soy is a part of the diet have lower rates of certain diseases. However, for the most part, soy is a much smaller part of diets in Asia than it has become here. And usually it is consumed in fermented forms, such as miso, tempeh, and natto. In addition, with any food that has been eaten for a long time, the people who have that diet have adapted to it, so that trying to introduce it to people who have not had it in their diets, like most of the rest of the world, may result in problems.

Overall, this was an interesting and timely interview.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Food Kills

The title of this blog, Food Kills, sounds kind of a joke -- but the author is serious. What's interesting is I've been thinking about posting some of my own notes about what I've read about the dangers of various foods, to point out that there are so many contradictory claims about which foods are safe, which are unsafe, it really is as if food kills -- leaving one with nothing left to eat. For example, many leading medical experts say that saturated fat leads to heart disease, but there are those who say that it's transfat (in hydrogenated oils), or carbohydrates that lead to heart disease. The author of the book, "The China Study," T. Colon Campbell (see a critique here) is convinced that the root of all our health problems (at least those in the Western World) is animal protein, while countless others say that it's grains, or sugar, or refined carbohydrates, or processed foods, or even cooked foods.

There are oxalates in most dark green leafy vegetables, rendering the minerals in them difficult to absorb, yet many say that dark green leafy vegetables are a healthy food, and should displace dairy as a source of calcium. Many fruits and vegetables contain salicylates, which can cause insulin spikes, hyperactivity, and tinnitus, among other things, yet these same foods are promoted as full of healthy antioxidants. Just about every food has people who say that it's poison, and others who say it's fine or even health-giving.

It gets to the point where it's hard to believe any of it, and to sort through it all is more than a full time job. We can only really go by how a food makes us feel, and even then there are doubts, since sometimes a reaction may be delayed. It's amazing how much energy some folks put into it all.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Carbohydrates are addictive - people choose death over cutting them

This poor blog is so neglected. I just don't have much time to post, although I do think of things to say often. I just wanted to post this interesting post by the co-author of Protein Power, about how people who were put on a low carbohydrate diet to fight cancer couldn't do it, even though they'd already been through chemotherapy and radiation. I find this to be true for me, that carbohydrates can be very addictive, and also that the more I eat, the more I want. Especially with grains and sugars -- I gain multiple pounds if I add them in even moderate amounts.

Trouble is, I'm running out of low carbohydrate foods that appeal to me -- what with cheese giving me migraines, most nuts being migraine triggers for me, the one nut that isn't, almonds, coming up as an allergen in my blood allergy test, and eggs also coming up as something I'm allergic to. That basically leaves meats and non-starchy vegetables, which I have done before (as an anti-yeast diet), but I can't really afford enough high-quality meat to fill me up (and cheap meat just grosses me out). Oh, and green vegetables are high in oxalates, in general, which seem to be a problem for me. At least, my symptoms match some of the oxalate problems on the Low Oxalate website.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Unschooling Vs. School -- a teen's experience

I just wanted to post a shout-out to this blog I read today from a teenager who has written about his experience going to school for the first time (as a ninth grader) after unschooling the previous 8 years or so. He sounds like a really cool person, and is a great writer. He talks about his firsthand experience with loss of motivation caused by going to school, and about how easy it was for him. It confirmed my experience that most of what I learned I learned outside of school.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

"Why I Don't Support the Troops"

This letter from a reader of the Berkeley Planet newspaper got me to thinking about how I feel about the military. I see all the time those yellow ribbon things saying "support the troops" and remember even peace activists saying "support our troops by bringing them home." I have never felt that way. I just realized that the reason that I didn't like the strategy of saying that you can support the people in the military and at the same time not support war is that I think that anyone who is in the military has signed up to participate in war. How is this any better than becoming a gang member and shooting other gang members? I know that there are people who feel that the military is a way out of poverty, but there are other, more constructive ways. I support anyone who is willing to work for peace, and that does not include soldiers. If you want to use a gun, take up target shooting or something.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Things that bug me

These are things that bug me constantly, bouncing around in my head and torturing me incessantly. I hope that writing them down will help get them out of there, because some days I just want to whack them out!

1. My son has no sibling. I never thought I would raise a child without a sibling, but that's how it's worked out. I grieve for the sibling he has never had. I am constantly envious of anyone I know who has more than one child -- even strangers on the street. I spend a lot of my time thinking about how it sucks to be "fertility challenged" and getting too old to even see the reproductive endocrinologist. I am consumed with self-hatred for bringing a child into the world without any workable plan to give him a sibling (such as doing IVF instead back then and freezing some embryos to save for a sibling). I spend much of my time researching (fruitlessly so far) a cure for PCOS. I am simply miserable that I've had no luck (and had a miscarriage recently to boot).

2. My son will never know his maternal grandparents, and I do not have my mom to help out, talk to, back me up. I feel incredibly lonely and abandoned without her here. I am insanely envious of people who have their parents, and especially resent them complaining about them when they have no idea how hard it is to parent your child with no parents of your own to turn to (even if they may interfere too much, it's still something, love or whatever, for the child). I was recently at a birthday party where the birthday child had not only both his grandmothers there, but also two of his great-grandmothers. I was again, so consumed with envy, and angry for my son. My son will never ever have that. He's met his paternal grandmother, who is quite ill, once in his life, for a few days, which he barely remembers, and she is really quite out of it at this point. She hasn't even sent him so much as a frigging birthday card since he was a baby. I hate it that it angers me to see grandmothers doting on their grandchildren. I'm not angry at them, I'm angry at myself for having a kid knowing he'd never have that. And angry for him, and sad for him, that he won't have that extra love in his life. And angry at my mom for dying. And angry at myself for not doing more for her when she was alive so that maybe she would have lived. I feel overwhelmed that he's only got one generation, not two or three, to love him. Nobody who has their parents still alive can possibly understand how crappy it is. And I don't actually know anyone else who is in this position.

3. We live in an apartment. There are good things about it, like lots of other kids (although some of them are mean), but mostly it sucks. I hate it that we can't walk out our door and still feel at home. I hate it that we have nowhere to grow things. I'm so jealous of all the moms I meet who have homes. I hate myself for being jealous. I never expected to raise a child in such a place. It feels very wrong to me. But housing here is too expensive for any other options. Unless I go to work and put my son in daycare and full day kindergarten, which I hear is a nightmare. I feel trapped.

4. My son has terrible teeth. I don't even know how many fillings he's had now, there are so many. I hate that. And I have no idea what to do about it. I hate that.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Friday, May 30, 2008

Co-Sleeping is Safe

I wanted everyone to know that I co-sleep with my five year old son, and I have since he was a newborn baby. In fact, he and I have never slept apart in the entire time he has been alive. I know it's safe. Millions of families around the world know it's safe and have co-slept for millennia. Yet, there are forces out there who want people to believe that it is not safe so that they can sell more stuff -- cribs, cradles, bassinets, and of course bottles (since forcing your baby to sleep in another room makes breastfeeding a lot harder, and often pushes women to use bottles and formula to make the baby "sleep through the night"). The crib and formula manufacturers are colluding with the government and the medical establishment to try to outlaw co-sleeping.

If you have co-slept, please do this survey to help support safe co-sleeping.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Autism is Reversible!!

There's a movie called "Autism Yesterday" out that they showed at a local Unitarian Church here recently -- I didn't see it, but I did look at the trailer. It talked about the environmental causes for autism (vaccines, toxics, etc.), and apparently talked about some of the folks who have found that their children no longer showed signs of autism after various alternative treatments (diets, detox, etc.). I am interested but skeptical. I wonder if it's available free somewhere? I'm not paying $20.00 to be sold some supplements by some company. But maybe Generation Rescue, the maker of the movie, really is just a group of concerned parents (as their website states they are). They do have Jenny McCarthy on their side. And I do know people who have reversed their children's autism spectrum disorders with diets, supplements, or a combination of things. Amazing are the moms who have gone through multiple treatment plans and finally gotten their kids healthy enough that they can eat a semi-normal diet without any problems.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Gluten Intolerance

I still don't know if I have true gluten intolerance but I've been avoiding it 100% lately anyway just in case, since DS's and my dental problems have gotten worse again, and there's the fertility problem that has always haunted me. Neither he nor I were ever officially diagnosed with anything, but I have suspected gluten, diary, and salicylates (and amines) for quite a while. DS won't comply 100% with gluten-free -- at least not when we're at other people's places where it is served. I ran into this blog entry about sourdough bread being OK for people who are gluten intolerant, and it intrigued me. Perhaps I could make some and bring it along (brown rice bread is kinda icky):

We have been doing bone broth for a couple of years now, but have been less consistent the past few months. Soups are nice but ds doesn't always want them (although if I bring a thermos of soup along, he generally will eat some of it).
I was actually making sourdough spelt bread (supposedly the gluten in spelt is easier to break down through fermentation than the glutens in wheat), but then got lazy and started buying sourdough spelt, and then started buying regular spelt.

Our main symptom is tooth decay, which is pretty hard to observe unless you are a dentist, but it's pretty obvious something we were doing was wrong, because now ds has to have an abscessed tooth pulled (making him minus five teeth!). We have gone back to 100% gluten free, but I'm not convinced it was enough. The only time we halted the tooth decay was on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), a super difficult diet based on an old diet for celiacs that has been replaced by the gluten free diet for the most part.

There are still some celiacs that have found that gluten-free wasn't enough to give them gut healing, and they are on SCD. But most people on SCD are people with Crohn's disease, colitis, or autism. It is similar to the paleo diet, which eliminates all grains, beans, dairy, sugar, and "farmed" foods, but it allows some beans (later in the diet) and doesn't allow many root vegetables (except beets, onions, carrots, and ginger). I think what worked with us was the lack of sugar and starches, both of which are hard on the teeth, but I'm not sure, because it allowed some dried fruit and those are also supposedly hard on the teeth. It also doesn't allow any canned vegetables, and only fruits canned in their own juice (i.e. pineapple), which generally isn't a problem for us except sometimes I use canned beans. Big no-no on SCD, and really they do cause gas and reflux for me. Anyway, I am waiting to see if removing the gluten will halt tooth decay before doing anything further (and really, it's pretty much impossible to eliminate everything we're both sensitive to and also do SCD).

Sunday, February 17, 2008

What exactly is normal, anyway?

I grew up in a very odd family, so I never had any misconception that I was normal. We had neighbors who were fairly normal, although their youngest son was born with all kinds of birth defects due to his mom having had German measles when he was a baby. They were God-fearing Christians, which is what all normal people were in my hometown. The dad worked, the mom stayed at home and kept the house clean and all of them very well fed (the parents were rather overweight, although both boys were fairly slim -- it was the daughter who gained the weight, as usual). The dad had a workshop and was always fixing something or renovating something. They sang hymns at their organ, prayed before meals, and got a spanking if they misbehaved. We lived in a dirty house, were Unitarian, and were never punished for anything. Also, our place was definitely not being kept up and my dad's main hobby was reading. I always felt like they were the normal family, and we were the freaks. This was confirmed for me when I started school in the first grade (my mom had created her own Montessori Pre-K/Kindergarten for me just so I could start a year earlier than Kindergarten).

In the first grade, I discovered that most of my classmates had been saved (which I still don't quite understand but it has something to do with telling your church you believe Christ is your personal savior). Also, I was about the only girl who never wore dresses (I had refused once because I felt a bit vulnerable without pants on, and my mother never tried to get me into a dress again), the only white girl with short hair (there were only like two other white girls in the class, all the rest were African American), the only one who had a mom over 30 (they used to ask me if she was my granny, since she was probably the same age as most of theirs). I was one of two or three who started out already knowing how to read and write, but that wasn't really an issue. My clothes, bought in the boy's department at JC Penney or sometimes hand made by my mother (which got me picked on), were more of an issue, as was my lack of wearing underwear (my mom never wore it so she never thought to buy it for us kids).

Then, when I was 10 or 11, my father, who had started to drink and have rages, quit working because his pain disorder, which was at the time undiagnosed but later would be known to be fibrocitis or fibromyalgia, was preventing him from doing his job. He really got a lot worse after that, what with drinking more and more vodka (the doctor he was seeing actually suggested he start drinking to help with the pain, since the pain medications that he'd tried didn't help). We were on food stamps for awhile because we no longer had much of an income what with my mom having been a stay at home mom for 18 years at that point. She applied for benefits, and got us on Social Security Disability with a lot of fighting, I'm sure.

That just set us apart more. A drunk, disabled dad and a mom who was going back to school to try to start supporting the family is not something most people experience. I used to lie (my mom started it actually) and tell people my dad was still a professor when in fact he spent most of his time lying around drunk or walking to the liquor store (my mom refused to buy it and wouldn't let him drive anymore). I had already been picked on for my clothes, and how incredibly messy our home was (especially my room -- at one point it was like three feet deep in old toys and clothes, with just a path to the bed), now there was no way I could have anyone over, risking that they see my dad, who usually wore nothing but a pair of boxer shorts and a blue bathrobe (which he often neglected to tie shut), staggering around or falling down and thrashing around in all the empty vodka bottles.

So I had no real friends. Sure, my mother got me into a special gifted program that allowed me to switch elementary schools. I was still the same weird kid, even among some nerds who were definitely not as weird as I was. Anyway, not long after, a couple of kids from my old school came too, and told about the time one of our classmates had come home with me and seen my house and described it to everyone). There were several charitable good Christian girls who took pity on me, particularly one named Lee, who always included me in her sleepovers and such, which made me feel a bit better, but I was never myself around those kids. I knew if any of these kids got to know who I was, they would not like me, and would again pick on me. I could never have a party or sleepover at my place, so I was always the guest, and I think they knew something must be wrong. So they always kept their distance, too.

Fast forward a few years to tenth grade. I went on a diet of some sort, lost a few pounds, and started seeking out boys. I had been attracted to this one boy, Steve Nation, but I was not really his type -- he preferred smaller girls with dark hair (I had light brown hair and was always one of the tallest girls in my class). He had a friend, Manuel, who I thought was cute, too, but he never asked me out. Then, we had a square dancing segment in our gym class, and my square dancing partner, another Steve (not the same one), asked me out. He said something about taking me to a video game place, which I'd only been to like once before (this was long before XBox or even Nintendo, so going to an arcade was really the only way to play video games). So I said yes, even though I didn't find him in the least bit attractive.

On our "date" if you could call it that, instead of taking me to the arcade he drove out to this undeveloped, woodsy part of town (it's probably underneath a mall now), and took my virginity. I didn't really enjoy it, but thought it was cool anyway since I thought all the cool kids were having sex (some of them were but not as many as I thought then, I'm sure). The next day, I told all kinds of people about it, which alienated me from the charitable Christian girls even more, and made Steve pretty mad too (but he had already totally ignored me in front of the school before I'd ever said anything to anyone). Now I was not only weird, I was also a slut to boot! Boy, what mess!

Later, during the summer, I was involved in even more crazy stuff, including having a sexual experience with a boy (younger than me by at least a couple of years) my best friend had just lost her virginity to, being "gang banged" while so drunk that I blacked out everything (and later puked all over the place), being used sexually by the boarding boys at a prominent boys' school nearby, and being escorted home by the police in the middle of the night. Definitely not an Honor Roll student sort of thing, even though I was on the honor roll. I would have been the valedictorian of my high school by the way had they not fudged the numbers, and even then I still got to be the salutatorian (I wish I'd made a speech condemning the whole system, but at the time I thought they were just trying to be fair to the other kids, since most of my grades were from another school where Advanced Placement classes gave you 5 points for an A and 4 points for a B).

Oh, about that best friend. I met Stacy at my church, the UU church (which is kind of a liberal, Protestant, intellectual church), and we started hanging out not long before I lot my virginity. I first spent the night at her house when I got dumped by a boy who lived near her, and we spent almost the whole summer that year together, usually at her house or out in some boy's place or in the back of a car or whatever. She accepted me. For the first time in my life, I felt a connection to someone who liked me just the way I was. It was amazing. I still am amazed, really, because I still have all that self-doubt and self-hatred buried inside me, and I still have a really really hard time believing anyone can really like me. But I am so glad I finally found a friend. All those years, 15, with no friends, were so hard, then you, Stacy, came along and showed me that I could be me without worrying about whether people were going to hate me or not. Thank you.
But I still don't know what normal means, unless it means not having a personality. It seems like everyone I meet who I get to know has some oddness in them. Do I attract them or is everyone a little weird?

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Public School Beef recall

This is just too gross:
Cafeterias in Seattle elementary schools will serve waffles and scrambled eggs on Tuesday instead of waffles and sausage. For lunch Thursday, mu shu chicken will replace mu shu beef.

To be safe, school officials won't serve any beef until they learn more about the U.S. Department of Agriculture's investigation into allegations that a large supplier of beef to the national school-lunch program used meat from "downer" cows — those that cannot stand or walk.


The concern arose after the release of a video that shows slaughterhouse workers at Hallmark Meat Packing using forklifts to prod or move animals. Westland Meat, which grinds meat, gets meat from Hallmark.

The video, produced by the Humane Society of the United States, raised concerns about animal cruelty and whether meat from "downer" cows is being used in school lunches.

No health problems from Westland meat have been reported. But nonambulatory cows may have a higher risk of being infected with mad-cow disease, E. coli and salmonella, according to the Humane Society.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Salt caves for health

This article says that people are going to salt caves to breathe the salt air to heal themselves. I remember people used to go to the seaside to get healed from various illnesses (tuberculosis, etc.). Is this the same idea? That salt air is healing? Seems odd. I'd much rather sit on the beach than in a cave, salt or otherwise.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Joys and Sorrows

At the local Unitarian Church (one of the three that is 20 minutes or so away), there is a time for sharing joys and sorrows, when people can stand up in front of the congregation, speak about something (or more than one thing) that brings them joy or sorrow (or some of each), and light a candle (or two). I have only done it once, and that one time was mostly because C wanted a chance to light a candle (or to see me do it, rather). I think I lit it for my brother Charlie, but I'm not sure. Anyway, I'd like to post a bit of a joy and a bit of sorrow today.

My joy is that I really am enjoying my Christmas gifts this year -- my husband gave me a gift certificate to a local bookstore that sells crystals and cool books, and also one for a spa. I'd been asking for them for awhile, but finally he gets it that I don't want stuff so much as experiences. Plus, I can't exactly return a gift certificate, LOL (I'm pretty bad about returning things). I loved the spa treatment I got, and I've gotten a beautiful rose quartz pendant that I still have to find the right necklace for. The silver chain I have that I like the length of seems to give me a rash (as so much metal does). I'm thinking maybe a ribbon would be nice?

My sorrow is that my brother's mother-in-law just died of cancer. I didn't know her well, but it's sad that his kids now have no grandparents living (C has only one, so he's almost as bad off). She died of lung cancer, despite the fact that she'd quit smoking years ago (once a smoker, always a lung cancer risk, apparently). She had been ill for quite some time, and had actually outlived the doctor's prediction by six months. But regardless, I feel bad for my brother and his kids, and understand that his wife is pretty bummed out about it. Also, it brought up a couple of things -- my missing my mom (it doesn't get better with years, that was a lie), and also the fact that his wife is a total witch and I can't really feel much sympathy for her. I am jealous that she got to be almost 50 before her mom died, mine died when I was 30. Is that selfish? I don't know, but my blaming her for my mom's death sure didn't bring my mom back. All it did was lose me my brother.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

More Peace Quotes

I'm not up for writing a lot about myself but I love to write what others say:
"I like to believe that ordinary people in the long run are going
to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed,
I think that people will want peace so much that one of these
days governments had better get out of the way and let them
have it."
~ Dwight D. Eisenhower