Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Fear of Living with Nature

A recent NY Times article ponders over the sudden down-sizing of the bee population. Quite frankly, I don't see what the confusion is about. We look at bugs as pests and keep animals in cages, far from the sight of the human population— where we can't see or hear what happens, only eat or ignore it. We've grown so far from the earth, that we are no longer a part of it. We can't even see that our own little beehives are victim to human embezzlement. We are dependant on our "reliable" food system to provide us with the nutrients necessary to thwart disease and prolong our survival. We depend on this system—and are ENTITLED— to eat foods without having to worry about pesticides that may be carcinogenic, or cattle on antibiotic and growth hormones, or anything else that may damage our nervous and reproductive systems. Little do we know, we're not just damaging our own thoraxes... (check out inserted photo of an extremely diseased bee).

In the past 15-20 years, new bacterial strains have arrived. It's scary to think that these strains could possibly be LACED into our bodies. What came first: 'the chicken' or the virulent new bacterial strain? No wonder many physicians can no longer treat their microbial-resistant patients.

Do we really think that the modern-day body can birth the same wholesome child as did our great, great grannys from the alpine mountain forests, or the tropical wild jungles? They didn't eat StarKist albacore tuna while pregnant! And their kids didn't have ADHD or Autism.

People should know WHAT they are eating and WHERE it is coming from!

Why must we jump into the corporate industry's ruthless approach to speed and volume? We must slow down and think logically about what is happening to the food we are eating, and the nature from which it is born. We must bypass the baloney in the stores. The brutality of our food system upon our health is inescapable. Not only will RDs and other medical professionals need to be cognizant about our interconnected bodily system/food system— everyone will. Clearly, our animals need to be fed grass and no more grain, corn, antibiotics, growth hormone... Clearly, the bees are vanishing because we're inflicting the same disease-wrought life upon them for which we, too, are at risk.

Where can we eat but in our own backyards? There, we won't find any 'unearthed' secrets. There, we know where our food grew, how it was grown, and never would we have to wonder if the strawberry we just ate had any "inerts" on it. Perhaps we are the real bees that need to make some buzzzzzzz.

"Springing" from a Garden near You...

Incredible is my having lived in this city for (almost!) 24 years and still, find myself stumbling upon renowned gems across this 13-mile island… Well, what better beautiful day to pick than this past Sunday, a modest 75°F, to visit the Cloisters of NY. Accompanying me-- my most amiable and charming companion, who shared in the marveling of all things medieval: architecture, gardens, sculptures and paintings. It seemed semi-insane that something made out of, i.e. lindenwood from the 12th century, could still be preserved for our eyes today. Stained glass windows tell stories of medieval torture and tapestries remind us of the mysterious unicorns, which even now, are odd creatures of the mind's eye... In retrospect, the backgrounds of the tapestries (a floral arrangement) have fields of flowers that seem to mimic the actual garden beds outdoors. And I guess, when winter falls over the Cloisters, the inner garden can continue to emit "spring" from its walls.

A wonderful well-spent Sunday afternoon, if you asked me.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


The Artificial Testament

"Elohim said, 'Let the earth sprout greenery, seed-producing plants, fruit trees producing fruit according to their type.' And it happened." –Tanahk, Genesis (Day 3).

Now, Elohim says, "Let the earth purge artificial greenery, cultivate any remaining ancestral seed-producing plants, and harvest without using chemical fertilizer, or else you'll all regress into a pile of humus before you can utter the word organic." And with that, Elohim added, "Muhuhahaha." (Elohim is allowed to be "evil" there because he's had a "fist in [His] eye" way too many times now to be Mr. Niceguy).

Whether Elohim or evolution (or a combination), both organisms and plants have the DNA that make them "prepared for anything," as Barbara Kingsolver says. But we have not allowed our crops to fulfill this potential, what with our splicing of Bacillus thuringiensis and contorted corncobs. Up to this day, we are a surviving summation of all that has worked over time. And instead of taking advantage of Darwin's good work, realizing that if what worked over time is that which has survived, we abuse the land we came from. We don't seem to pay close attention to those lands that have harvested for thousands of years before, or to the Monarch butterfly who has produced generations of her breed.

Until now. These paradoxes are a part of daily American life at this point. I didn't even realize that genetic engineering had the "evilness" it's worthy of. The theme surrounding the adaptation to genetic engineering is that people just don't know their science. We're used to hearing that USDA approves rice with human genes, or that developing countries can't sustain themselves, unless they rely upon biotechnology. Stink bugs devouring genetically engineered cotton should be telling us, supposedly logical human beings, something: stop making this stuff! Instead, we are used to living amidst these cutting-edge "technologies." Except, are they logical? Why SHOULD natural plants accept DNA that is not its own?

Then we have the paradoxical labels— the ORGANIC TV dinner doesn't strike the average American as illogical? What might Sir Albert Howard say about the Whole Foods' industry? Whole Foods misleads the public that their food is actually coming from a whole natural system. Perhaps the store should be called, "Partial Foods," since the consumers are only hearing a part of the story. "Access to pasture," was Corporate Organic's get-out-of-jail-free card. Can you have it both ways? No... But Whole Foods can. America believes in the pastoral side of the franchise, but there is nothing pastoral about a chicken that gets a patch of outdoor stale dirt the size of a shoebox. And yet, we still contribute to the enormous industrial profit of the "organic empire," because it just sounds so good and natural!

Organic is woven into the industrial food system—clearly shown in Phil Howard's Organic Industry Structure (June 2005). Why did the public let this happen? They didn't have a choice. It happened TO THEM. We abide by the artificial laws that have created the world as we know it today. We have become an artificial Adam and Eve, dependent on the artificial fruit of this nation.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Good Intentions

Mothers ask their children if they want to drink more milk
From their little plastic sippy cups.
They just want their children healthy and strong,
And do not know the insides
Of that milk carton container.

Monday, April 16, 2007


The Scoop About a BANANA... a neat email I received:

After Reading THIS, you'll NEVER look at a banana in the same way again!

Bananas contain three natural sugars --- sucrose, fructose and glucose combined with fiber. A banana gives an instant, sustained, and substantial boost of energy. Research has proven that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. No wonder the banana is the number one fruit with the world's leading athletes. But energy isn't the only way a banana can help us keep fit. It can also help overcome or prevent a substantial number of illnesses and conditions, making it a must to add to our daily diet.

According to a recent survey undertaken by MIND amongst people suffering from depression, many felt much better after eating a banana. This is because bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier.

PMS! :
Forget the pills -- eat a banana. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.

High in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood and so helps in cases of anemia.

Blood Pressure:
This unique tropical fruit is extremely high in potassium yet low in salt, making it the perfect way to beat blood pressure. So much so, the US Food and Drug Administration has just allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit's ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.

Brain Power:
200 students at a Twickenham (Middlesex) school were helped through their exams this year by eating bananas at breakfast, break, and lunch in a bid to boost their brain power. Research has shown that the potassium-packed fruit can assist learning by making pupils more alert.

High in fiber, including bananas in the diet can help restore normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem without resorting to laxatives.

One of the quickest ways of curing a hangover is to make a banana milkshake, sweetened with honey. The banana calms the stomach and, with the help of the honey, builds up depleted blood sugar levels, while the milk soothes and re-hydrates your system.

Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body, so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief.

Morning Sickness:
Snacking on bananas between meals helps to keep blood sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness.
Mosquito Bites:
Before reaching for the insect bite cream, try rubbing the affected area with the inside of a banana skin. Many people find it amazingly successful at reducing swelling and irritation.

Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system.

Overweight and at work?
Studies at the Institute of Psychology in Austria found pressure at work leads to gorging on comfort food like chocolate and chips. Looking at 5,000 hospital patients, researchers found the most obese were more likely to be in high-pressure jobs. The report concluded that, to avoid panic-induced food cravings, we need to control our blood sugar levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods every two hours to keep levels steady.

The banana is used as the dietary food against intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness It is the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in over-chronicler cases. It also ! neutrali zes over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.

Temperature Control:
Many other cultures see bananas as a "cooling" fruit that can lower both the physical and emotional temperature of expectant mothers. In Thailand, for example, pregnant women eat bananas to ensure their baby is born with a cool temperature.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD):
Bananas can help SAD sufferers be! cause t hey contain the natural mood enhancer tryptophan.

Bananas can also help people trying to give up smoking. The B6 and B12 they contain, as well as the potassium and magnesium found in them, help the body recover from the effects of nicotine withdrawal.

Potassium is a vital mineral, which helps normalize the he! artbeat , sends oxygen to the brain, and regulates your body's water balance. When we are stressed, our metabolic rate rises, thereby reducing our potassium levels. These can be re-balanced with the help of a high-potassium banana snack.

According to research in "The New England Journal of Medicine," eating bananas as part of a regular diet can cut the risk of death by strokes by as much as 40%!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

“If you didn't exercise as a kid, it could be dangerous to start when you’re older.”


Exercise is advantageous at any age, regardless of prior training experience. The only “danger” in starting a new exercise program—whether an expert or a novice—is if it does not adhere to current safe training techniques.

Otherwise, the effects of exercise are too substantial to pass up. Since there is a tendency for the body to lose muscle as we age (sarcopenia), the American Heart Association (AHA) stresses the importance of physical activity throughout one’s lifetime. In a study investigating the influence of current and/or past physical activity on balance in older adults, current physical activity was the major determinant for postural parameters—not age, gender, body mass index (BMI) and past physical activity. The study went on to show that regular physical activity, even when started later on in life, allowed “…appropriate reorganization of the different components of postural control during sensory conflicting situations.” Thus, the study concluded that physical activity counteracts the age-related decline of postural control. (Buatois et al).

Furthermore, the purpose of another relevant study was to test the hypothesis that an increase in “vascular bed filtration capacity” demonstrated an adaptation to endurance training in the elderly. Indeed, they concluded that exercise influences muscular adaptation. (Charles M. et al).

Losing muscle not only decreases mobility, but also makes the body more susceptible to chronic diseases, according to researchers at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center at Tufts University. They noted that various “biomarkers of aging,” such as muscle mass and strength, BMR and body fat percentage, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, bone density, and temperature regulation—can all be improved with physical activity.

Moral of the story: you can be a gym-rat at any age ;)


American Heart Association (2007). Exercise (Physical Activity) for Older People and Those With Disabilities [online]. http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4557

Buatois S. Gauchard GC. Aubry C. Benetos A. Perrin P. (2007) Current physical activity improves balance control during sensory conflicting conditions in older adults. International Journal of Sports Medicine. 28(1):53-8.

Charles M. Charifi N. Verney J. Pichot V. Feasson L. Costes F. Denis C. (2006). Effect of endurance training on muscle microvascular filtration capacity and vascular bed morphometry in the elderly. Acta Physiologica. 187(3):399-406.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Who pays this idiot? Oh right... BK!!!!!


Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Tonight I ventured out on a horrible escapade, hunting through Manhattan like a dehydrated sojourner in the Sahara. I ripped through the city, stopping off time to time to buy a treat like it was some illegal drug—and yet, it was worse because none of my purchases were illegal and no one was going to arrest me for taking a hit of a brownie or slice of pizza.

No one cares. Everyone from store clerk to homeless guy is smiling at you—courteous as hell as you order your hot slice. I wanted to say, “STOP ME for GOD’s SAKE! LOOK at what I am doing! LOOK at what I am DOING right now. Aren’t you going to STOP ME??????” But instead, I smile back and hide my contorted grimaces for fear that they will see the real ugly witch in me, boiling and troubling over their pizza. I’m in my own illicit universe, where I’ve handpicked what’s legal and illegal to use. And I, ironically, am the only one responsible.

I wander the streets and temptations lure everywhere in sight. Like a crack-addict, I can’t avoid the lights, the scents, the sounds— everything and everyone is a danger zone. I am my own danger zone. While others have to meet in alleys and look over their shoulders, experiencing the thrill of ‘the escape’ as they’ve broken the law and slipped away from authorities, I can consume my drug in broad day-light and no one gives a $#@%. No one is going to pull me over and ask why I was mutilating myself right there, walking in the middle of the street.

WHY, pizza store clerk, were you so nice to me as I purchased that slice and looked dead into your trusting eyes? “Yes, Miss? How can I help you? Anything else, Miss? What else can we do for you? Is that all, MISS? THANK YOU, MISS!”

It's only pizza, right? RIGHT? WRONG. It's this whole easy-world we've created. And it's such a big fat convenient piece of... pizza.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Creation

"I intend to make attar out of everything!" And thus spoke Borden, and processed food was born. And Borden said, let there be licensed plants in other parts of the country, and "the chain" was born. And Delmonico saw that New World plants could be cultivated, and "salads" were born. And Clarence Birdseye ice-fished in the pond one day, and "the freezer" was born. In order to inspire awe in our ancestors, history writers (like the above dogmas by Boorstin) attributed America's food 'progress' to entrepreneurial "business heroes." In reality, the garden of Eden was already born by people who lived in this country way before us: Native Americans.

But we like heroes. And now, our food system has again undergone another creation, changing within the last 40 years more than in the previous forty thousand. Our secretive Willy Wonka Wonderland is no longer a product of soil and water, but instead, a technological wizardry with new heroes to laud. The true conundrum remains: fast food was founded by individualists and people who broke out of conventional wisdom— all to develop a conformity that we are now all imprisoned by and from which many of us wish to break free but don't know how to or just can't. Are we, as Rachel Lauden posits, in the mindset that for sanity and happiness to persist in this culture, that we need to live in the moment, amidst this scientific progress?

My little six-year-old cousin asked me at our Seder: Why is the piece of Matzoh so large? Well, little one, we are now in a world where capitalism dominates. We have stripped the workers of their rights, and placed much of the conniving exploitation we humans are capable of unto the consumer. Now we, as consumers, have to recognize that companies do not allow for moderation with their super-sizing, thanks to Wallerstein. That the mere presence of more for less DOES induce people to eat more. And that we have to raise our own culinary gavel and be responsible for sifting through images bombarding us day by day in order to make a logical, self-made decision.

We should be angry at society for creating these types of "foods," and instead, we are angry with ourselves for succumbing and buying it, filling up our intestines with this shit that we think actually makes us feel good. I hate the colors of the packaging, the false claims, and the ingredients that are probably better used for your little cousin's toy motorboat than a meal choice. It is IMPERATIVE to see what we've done to our species and to our culture— that processed packaging is a development of big business— not health. That we are degrading the lands day by day and de-mineralizing the soil, contributing to increased vitamin and mineral requirements. That we are adding crap-loads of salts and sugars to our foods— only to be competitive within the food market, and SELL for the sake of taste— NOT for health. Awareness is essential when scavenging the super-markets. It is a STORE, and they want to SELL their PRODUCTS, regardless of the false claims and consequences.

I agree with Lauden in that "natural was unreliable" but have we really "beaten plants into submission" by all of our soaking and crushing, or have we just beaten ourselves into submission that this way is the new, better way? Heating always destroys ring structures and decreases the raw bioavailability of vitamins in food. No one is taking away the convenience of a loaf of bread, churros, or andagi— but how does it react once INSIDE? This isn't about convenience. It's about your life— it's about the thing your mind sits on and preserving that thing for as long as you can.

I'm not going to lie— I love being able to taste the fruit of different cultures BECAUSE OF our processing and packaging and shipping and importing. Because of our open trade, and our open markets, and our need for bigger business— we can enjoy the myriad fruits of the Earth. But I'm sorry. Why should I succumb to this societal progression of dining? YES— bring back "slow food." I am NOT a proponent of advertisement bombings on my skull everyday, and the homogenizing, cookie-cut influence on our culture from the uniformity of these BIG CORPS. The golden arches are "more widely recognized than the Christian cross?" SICK! The McDonaldization of America is a sad excuse for an entire culture of people-turned-food-lazy. The irony: Tri-athlete Greg Brenneman, is the CEO of BK. And why shouldn't he be? Of course, a slop-eating lazy couch potato can't possibly run one of the largest corporations in the world.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

They really get to the ROOT of it =)


Let's just get down to business and eat these cute little things :)

Friday, April 06, 2007


Last night I saw TURANDOT at the Met Opera. The ICY COLD Princess Turandot had many suitors that wanted her hand, but she did not want to "be conquered". And so first, they had to solve her three riddles. If they answered correctly, they would have her. If not, she had them beheaded!!! No one was able to solve her riddles, and there was much bloodshead. Finally, an unknown prince came to town and was able to solve her riddles-- but he was smart-- and gave her one in return: if Turandot could figure out his identity before the sunrise, she didn't have to have him as her master-- and what's more, he would even let her kill him. Hey, I didn't make it up... So I won't give away the ending, but I will say that the set was breath-taking, and made you feel like you were right there in the Asian lands, amid some hazy summer's day in the palace. TuranDOT!!!! TuranDOT!!! (that's me singing).

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

You could get a good facial for that price...

In Zentsuji, southwestern Japan, watermelons are grown inside square molds to better store in refridgerators. The melons sell for $83 bones!

Poor Haggis


Much to his dad and mum's dismay
Horace ate himself one day
He didn't stop to say his grace
He just sat down and ate his face
"We can't have this!" his dad declared
"If that lad's ate he should be shared"
But even as he spoke they saw
Horace eating more and more:
First his legs and then his thighs,
His arms, his nose, his hair, his eyes
"Stop him someone!" Mother cried
"Those eyeballs would be better fried!"
But all too late for they were gone,
And he had started on his dong...
"Oh foolish child!" the father mourned
"You could have deep-fried those with prawns,
Some parsley and some tartar sauce..."
But H was on his second course;
His liver and his lights and lung,
His ears, his neck, his chin, his tongue
"To think I raised him from the cot
And now he's gone to scoff the lot!"
His mother cried what shall we do?
What's left won't even make a stew..."
And as she wept her son was seen
To eat his head his heart his spleen
And there he lay, a boy no more
Just a stomach on the floor...
None the less since it was his
They ate it - and that's what haggis is

From: Monty Python's Big Red Book
Published by NTC/Contemporary Publishing
Publication date: September 1980

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

HOECAKE and Crudites With Vomit Vinaigrette

In case you Pesach-keepers were searching for some new dishes, here are some tasty new treat ideas!!! Mmmmm...

HOECAKE - thin usually unleavened johnnycake made of cornmeal; originally baked on the blade of a hoe over an open fire (Southern)

Crudites With Vomit Vinaigrette

Sunday, April 01, 2007

“With the right exercise, you can get rid of trouble spots”

I can't even tell you how many times I have heard this. A client recently asked me, "What AB exercises will remove the tire around my waist?" I informed her that there aren't any AB exercises to target fat loss in a certain area. It is a huge misconception that we can get rid of our "trouble spots" by training specific sites of the body.

Although it is well-established that there is a site-specific response in bone density with upper and lower body resistance training (Winters-Stone et al.), this is not the case for adipose tissue. Instead, significant weight changes only occur with a total change in body composition, which results from gains/losses in fat-free mass and body fat. (Kyle UG., Melzer K et al.). Even with a decrease in body fat, one's genetic make-up is a major determinant of where fat loss occurs on the body.

For example, genes that metabolize estrogens and androgens are important in body fat regulation. In a study measuring the effects of exercise on fat loss in postmenopausal women, genetic polymorphisms showed a change in "BMI, total and percentage body fat, or subcutaneous and intra-abdominal fat during a year-long exercise intervention trial." This means that there are genetic factors involved in total body fat regulation. (Tworoger SS et al).

That's not to say one can't get rid of her "trouble spots." By expending more energy and decreasing caloric energy, she will increase total lean body mass, which is known to help raise metabolism. A training program must comprise of both cardiovascular activity AND weight training for this reason. In order to keep those "trouble spots" away, muscle is necessary to keep up a high metabolic rate. (Kyle UG., Zhang FF et al).


Kyle UG. Melzer K. Kayser B. Picard-Kossovsky M. Gremion G. Pichard C. Eight-year longitudinal changes in body composition in healthy Swiss adults. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 25(6):493-501, 2006 Dec.

Kyle UG. Zhang FF. Morabia A. Pichard C. Longitudinal study of body composition changes associated with weight change and physical activity. Nutrition. 22(11-12):1103-11, 2006 Nov-Dec.

Tworoger SS. Chubak J. Aiello EJ. Yasui Y. Ulrich CM. Farin FM. Stapleton PL. Irwin ML. Potter JD. Schwartz RS. McTiernan A. The effect of CYP19 and COMT polymorphisms on exercise-induced fat loss in postmenopausal women. Obesity Research. 12(6):972-81, 2004 Jun.

Winters-Stone KM. Snow CM. Site-specific response of bone to exercise in premenopausal women. Bone. 39(6):1203-9, 2006 Dec.

Nutrition Website

My personal blog here at Blogger is still going to remain intact; however, please visit my new website, http://marissabeck.wordpress.com, which will host more nutrition topics (because obviously you just can't get enough!)