Weekend Reading, 4.6.14
April 6, 2014

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

Happy Sunday, friends. It’s a gorgeous day here in D.C., and I’m so looking forward to stepping outside in a moment and talking a walk in the sun. But before I do that, some links and some food.

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Emma’s vegan Persian frittata looks like a perfect brunch dish. Wholesome, bright, and flavorful.

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I make a lot of hempseed dressings, but this one from my friend Ashley looks particularly great (and so does the salad recipe that comes with it). Bookmarking.

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Speaking of salad, Food52 recently featured a pretty great post on making chopped salad (and a killer recipe to go with it, featuring a lot of crucifers!).

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Another gorgeous recipe from Richa: chickpea stuffed poblano peppers with smoky tomato sauce.

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And finally, dessert: easy AND delicious looking coconut lemon doughnuts from Oh My Veggies.

Reads

1. Some of you may already have seen this powerful essay, entitled “Farm Confessional: I Raise Livestock and I Think It May Be Wrong,” recently published in Modern Farmer. The author is a pig farmer, and he has tremendous ambivalence about both his work and the act of eating meat at all. The essay has some tensions; I was surprised that the author ended with an argument for small scale, nonindustrial animal farming as a necessary step away from CAFOs (even if his point, which is that a strict abolitionist approach will not be effective, is well taken). But I was surprised primarily because I had been so struck by this graf:

But no matter how well it’s done, I can’t help but question the killing itself. In a well-managed, small-scale slaughterhouse, a pig is more or less casually standing there one second, and the next second it’s unconscious on the ground, and a few seconds after that it’s dead. As far as I can tell — and I’ve seen dozens of pigs killed properly — the pig has no experience of its own death. But I experience the full brunt of that death.

It’s not the sight of blood that troubles me, but the violence of the death throes.

It’s not the sight of blood that troubles me, but the violence of the death throes. Livestock science would assure us that these convulsions are a sign of the pigs’ insensibility, but as a witness, it is almost impossible to believe that the pigs are not thrashing around because they are in pain. And then that sudden lifelessness of the body as it is mechanically hoisted into the air, shackled by a single hind leg. I don’t think anything could be done to make the deaths of the pigs weigh less heavily on me.

In all of the debate about humanely raised, certified humane, organic, grass fed, and local animal farming–debate which focuses on the mechanics and particulars of slaughter–the significance of an animal’s death itself is sometimes obscured. I was glad to read a farmer address this point, the impact and the trauma of killing, an impact that is separate from details of how and when and with what instruments. I suspect many of my readers will have mixed feelings about this one overall, but it’s worth a read.

2. A new umbrella study, published in the BMJ, calls into question the efficacy of Vitamin D in managing various health conditions, from autoimmune disease to cardiovascular disease. It’s conclusion: “Despite a few hundred systematic reviews and meta-analyses, highly convincing evidence of a clear role of vitamin D does not exist for any outcome, but associations with a selection of outcomes are probable.”

I haven’t read through the whole thing, but it’s interesting and quite comprehensive, and I’ll be diving into it soon.

3. Brian Cubin, who is the younger brother of billionaire Mark Cuban, recently spoke up about his experience with anorexia and bulimia. It is candid and bold and important. I’ll quote James Hamblin in The Atlantic, who says it better than I could:

It’s engaging to watch guys with Cuban-level bravado talk vulnerability. It still feels like a sort of benign violation. Cuban’s story hinges on growing up in the 1960s when this sort of thing wasn’t talked about, even within family, and especially not with a father. That’s changing, if slowly, shiny gold pants and all.

Body dysmorphic disorder affects men and women in roughly equal numbers. Somewhere between 10 and 30 percent of people with eating disorders are men. On its website, the American Psychiatric Association lists symptoms of anorexia; the first is still “Menstrual periods cease.”

4. An interesting profile of Beyond Meat and Hampton Creek Foods, two companies that I think are doing incredible things in the realm of plant-based food production.

5. My cousin sent me a link to this article by Frank Bruni. Obviously, the undergraduate application process is long in my past, but what struck me about Bruni’s message was his emphasis on the importance of things not going according to plans. He writes,

If you’re not bound for the school of your dreams, you’re probably bound for a school that doesn’t conform as tidily to your fantasies or promise to be as instantly snug a fit.

Good. College should be a crucible. It’s about departure, not continuity: about turning a page and becoming a new person, not letting the ink dry on who, at 17 or 18, you already are. The disruption of your best-laid plans serves that. It’s less a setback than a springboard.

It’s something everyone learns in college, and if one is lucky, it’s a lesson that gets learned again and again. I wish someone had told me, as I was packing up for college at the age of eighteen, that very little would be as I expected. But of course, if I’d known how many surprises lay ahead of me, it might have taken away from all of the anguish and struggle and joy of discovering them in the first place.

That’s it for tonight. See you tomorrow.

xo

 

 

 

 

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    13 Comments
  1. Hi Gena, I have been reading your blog for YEARS– but I think this is the first time I’ve commented! I really enjoy your weekend reading posts, and this one is no exception. I’d like to comment on the American Psychiatric Association’s inclusion of “menstrual periods cease” on their website. I am certain this is a typo, or has not been updated! The new DSM-5, which came out this year, has removed that criterion (about stopping menses) for diagnoses of anorexia nervosa. You can see the changes that were made here: http://www.dsm5.org/documents/eating%20disorders%20fact%20sheet.pdf

    I think I will contact the APA to let them know of this oversight– they published the new DSM but apparently did not update their websites. I’m a clinical psychology doctoral student with research and clinical interests in disordered eating, so I’m very interested in this topic, and it’s always disappointing when there is misinformation on the web!

    I look forward to continuing to read your blog– thank you so much for the high quality posts and beautiful photography (:

  2. I hadn’t read that essay but it’s so moving. The same issue as you really struck me. As much as I’d like to endorse small-scale, organic farming, I always come up against the problem of killing for killing’s sake and just can’t handle it 🙁
    I’m behind on my reading already but have more to add to the list here!
    Thanks so much for sharing my frittata. Always honoured to be featured 😀 xx

  3. Thanks for this Gena. I love Weekend Reading and look forward to it every week. What a great idea.
    This week, I especially liked the Modern Farmer article. I think his feeling that eating meat is wrong as well as his unwillingness to change his actions because it feels unknown to him are very common among meat eaters. Being aware of these feelings is at the very least a step in the right direction, I guess. I appreciate his candor. It mustn’t be easy for a farmer to admit these feelings.

  4. I love Hampton Creek’s just mayo! And just heard from a friend whose partner works for them and it sounds like an awesome company.

  5. “But no matter how well it’s done, I can’t help but question the killing itself. In a well-managed, small-scale slaughterhouse, a pig is more or less casually standing there one second, and the next second it’s unconscious on the ground, and a few seconds after that it’s dead. As far as I can tell — and I’ve seen dozens of pigs killed properly — the pig has no experience of its own death. But I experience the full brunt of that death.

    It’s not the sight of blood that troubles me, but the violence of the death throes.

    It’s not the sight of blood that troubles me, but the violence of the death throes. Livestock science would assure us that these convulsions are a sign of the pigs’ insensibility, but as a witness, it is almost impossible to believe that the pigs are not thrashing around because they are in pain. And then that sudden lifelessness of the body as it is mechanically hoisted into the air, shackled by a single hind leg. I don’t think anything could be done to make the deaths of the pigs weigh less heavily on me.”

    Gena, this makes me sooo sad. I cannot even tell you. I’m not an animal lover in the sense that I have dogs & cats, but I am absolutely one who is moved by the pain of others. I get very depressed if I watch too many farm factory videos (in fact, I pretty much stay away). I’d rather focus on the positive aspects of veganism. I don’t have the stomach for the cruelty that goes on, but I think it’s so powerful to read the words of someone who is on the front lines of all of this, & realize, most people (even the farmers themselves) are not so hardened that they don’t question what they are doing.

    Anyway, sometimes it just seems like such an uphill, depressing & tragic battle. Wish I could do more…!

  6. Always an honor to be included on your weekend reading post! 🙂 Going to check out those recipes + articles now. xo

  7. Hey Gena, Always love your pics of the week. I heard about the vitamin D article and it hit home to me because I was recently diagnosed with low vitamin D levels. I found it most amusing that they were checked at all. In Ontario (at least), the testing isn’t covered unless you have a medical reason. They think 30% if not more of Canadians have low vitamin D levels and they just recommend to supplement anyhow, without testing. I remember learning about low vitamin D levels in medical residents specifically.. perhaps it is an occupational hazard!
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23186963

    Also, I thought of you when I saw this. Not sure if you already stumbled upon it: http://www.nytimes.com/video/opinion/100000002796999/slomo.html

  8. I find that I’m looking forward to this post every single week. I love the variety and I learn something every week. Thanks for putting the work into it. I know that a post like this can be even more time consuming than others. Keep em coming!

  9. I love your Weekend Reading links, Gena. I often discover some great reading material through you. I hadn’t yet come across the Modern Farmer article but have bookmarked it for later. Thanks! xo

  10. Thanks for sharing the college article! I just heard back from all my school and I was lucky enough to get into my #1. The cost to attend is ridiculous though, but thanks to the aid and scholarships they are giving me it is a possibility. But I have to make sure they keep giving me that aid through all 4 years, otherwise I won’t be able to go. This decision time in so stressful and scary, but I just want the best education and experiences and no matter what I will find that at which ever college I finally decide on.

    • Congratulations, Rebecca! I always get excited when readers tell me that they’re off to school, because I know that so many incredible years lie ahead. No matter what happens with aid (and gosh, that’s stressful — I hope you get all the help that you deserve), you’ll find yourself in a great place and have a tremendous experience.

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