IPBN Newsletter 2001 – Vol 11

IPBN Newsletter 2001 – Vol 11




The pitiful characters in Erskine Caldwell’s novel, God’s Little Acre, had no idea how productive earth can be.  Like the authentic folks in his Tobacco Road, they were of a time and place that offered little sustenance and hope.  In The Farm, Louis Bromfield described how things change and fall apart, meanings are lost and social disintegration evolves.  Then, in Malabar Farm he explains how people and land can be put back together again.  To live, and well, an acre will do nicely.  Properly nurtured, planted and tended, an acre can produce bounty.

Every January, at America’s oldest and largest Farm Show in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, someone puts up a tattered piece of cardboard claiming the following production figures for an “acre” and attributing the data to the California Department of Agriculture.  Undoubtedly, these are out of date numbers, for two bales an acre cotton is now commonplace and some Ohio River Valley farmers have been getting 280 bushels of corn per acre for decades.  They, of course, are intelligent, not suffering pellagra, goiter, rickets or worms… and farm scientifically naturally applying large quantities of powdered limestone and well-tested soil supplements.  But, that’s another story.  Here are data posted in a niche on a wall annually at the Pennsylvania Farm Show:

One acre is approximately the size of a football field.

One acre can produce:  Lettuce   24,000 heads worth    $  5,940.00

  Strawberries   14,000 pounds worth   $21,759.00

  Sweetcorn   14,000 pounds worth   $  2,674.00

  Potatoes 365,000 pounds worth   $  4,464.00

  Oranges   28,800 pounds worth   $  2,427.00

                   (This data is attributed to the California Agricultural Statistical Service.)

No date is provided for this information and the poster has been displayed more than a few years.  It is not comprehensive, incomplete, possibly miscopied from the original source and undoubtedly out of date.  Nevertheless, this is useful data because of the ratios between the particular foods, their volume of production and relative prices – regardless of whether they are being priced at wholesale or retail.  In the data are clues suggesting which crops might be most profitable.

Strawberries, those marvelously antioxidant rich fruits are the moneymakers, while potatoes, which are richer than most realize in vitamin C and protein, are the most productive plants, and oranges bring in the least cash per acre.   But, the strawberries are labor intensive….  Comparable data are needed for all 80 of the commonest produce items and popular herbs.  Would be growers need to search the archives for such information before plowing and planting.


A good living or significant income supplement can be wrested from a backyard plot properly planted and carefully tended with strawberries – perhaps grown horizontally, in terraced beds, and even vertically.  Other berries and small fruits are in demand and also bring top dollar.  Grapes, gooseberries, blackberries, raspberries, red and black currants can be trellised effectively.  Elderberries tolerate shade and no tree produces so bountifully as a strong well sited mulberry.  Purple plum and sour cherry trees are relatively disease and pest free, productive and easily tended.  Lettuces and other greens produce prolifically in small spaces, they can thrive in niches and various shade patterns can convince them it is not yet summer when in fact it is.  Edible flowers, including marigolds, nasturtiums and roses add color to salads and when mixed in with greens for market or restaurant will justify higher pricing and stimulate demand.  Herbs are happy in niches and pots which can be moved about to accelerate or slow growth.  Tomatoes, regardless of size and color, are ever popular and those who grow them earlier and later than their usual season reap profits.  Some tomatoes and cucumbers love to be grown on tall trellises.  Winter squashes and gourds can thrive on trellises too.  Peas first and then beans in succession on trellises, picked daily, will overfill garden baskets – for they like to grow up and be picked clean frequently.  Potatoes grown in barrels can produce amazing bounty, they also do well when planted in hilled soil or merely lain on the flat ground in rows and covered with straw mulch.  Beets, carrots, horseradish, radishes, turnips and other root vegetables favor sandy soil which can be developed by digging whatever sands are available locally including play sand from the hardware store – into garden soil where they are to be planted.

One can grow almost any edible plant on a homesite, whether outside under cover or uncovered, sheltered by some transparent medium, in and around an adapted garage, beneath the house in a basement and upstairs on windowsills, edible plants are generally easily cared for and wonderfully productive.

Corn begs for great amounts of sunshine, heat, nitrogen, water and space while producing relatively little per square foot.  No matter what is done, a corn plant will produce only two ears per main stalk and any picker can consume both of these raw on site in two minutes.  Where lots of space is available, corn can thrive.  Ornamentally and as a trellis for beans to grow one, clumps of corn in a garden can serve well.  Apples and peaches also may favor the larger site where the special care they require can be provided efficiently and effectively.  Pumpkins and melons also need large spaces, ample sun and specific care.  It is reasonable to grow what one can and depend on others for what one can’t.  One cannot grow everything, no single farmer does.  Where citrus grows well, apples are rarely planted and bananas do worse than poorly outside in northern climes.  It is practical for the backyard gardener to exchange crop surplus, develop friendships and trading partnerships with neighbors through joining with them in selling homegrown produce through local grocers and at community markets.  The goodness of edible plants and growing them extends far beyond mere gardens.  Good gardens build good people and good neighborhoods and good communities.  Edible plants bring people together in meaningful incalculably enriching ways.

Mass has energy and energy has mass.

Each second the earth is struck by 4 ½ pounds of sunlight.

This is 270 pounds per minute, 16,200 per hour, 388,800 pounds daily,

and 142,009,200 pounds each year….


Every plant has a unique structure controlled by its genes and DNA.  Those grown for human consumption typically consist of roots, stalk, stems, leaves and flowers which produce seeds surrounded by an edible material called fruits and vegetables.  Seeds themselves are eaten, often as nuts.

Gravity is in control, and sunlight.  Roots anchor plants.  They intertwine with soil particles to create a subterranean structure sufficient to maintain the growing plant above and yet flexible so as to allow resistance to horizontal motion.  Stems provide above ground structures from which stems, leaves and flowers can grow toward sunlight which has a pulling effect.  Heliocentric plants have flexible stems which grow heads that adjust continually to face the daily sun arc from east to west.  Others capture sunlight on leaves positioned to gather solar energy as it passes over diurnally.  Chlorophyll filled vesicles under the surfaces of leaves constitute a mobile biochemical factory which flows and ebbs while transforming light into sugars and carbohydrates.  It is the plant’s lifeblood and substance from which the plant manufactures whatever else it needs – from fruit to nuts and toxins and antitoxins as necessary to perpetuate this life.  When its lifecycle has ended, the plant leaves living capsules as seeds to sprout and celebrate another full cycle of life in a time to come.

The plant is grounded, electricity flows continually through it from the atmosphere to earth and back again into space.  At the tips of spruce needles are gaps across which electrical flow emanates which vaporizes waxes and resins that then are transformed into forest haze.  When one smells a tomato plant or senses a cucumber plant is near, sensory perception is activated which is electromagnetic and aromatic.

Soils vary in the ratios of their solid particle contents:  sand, clay, silt and humus.  Sand particles in soil, no matter how compressed, allow water and air to pass through.  Microscopically thin flat plates which electrostatically bond to form tightly bound clay can be broken up mechanically  through digging and plowing, and also forced apart electrochemically by the addition of gypsum – termed a soil loosener – which also brings along sulfur into the minuscule spaces between clay particles.  Silts are residues of glaciers and rivers, in the form of loess they are wind deposited.  They have been ground down from some contributor stone into fine particles distinct in form and behavior from sands and clays.  Humus is decayed plant matter.  When water and air are added to this mix, hydrogen can attach to sulfur to produce sulfuric acid which with many other similarly formed acids and chemicals interacts to generate soil qualities not heretofore present.  These range from alkaline (low ph) to acid (high ph) with the middle ground range of 5.5 to 6.6 on a scale of 10 being the most useful for most of the typical human food plants (edible greens, grains, lentils, roots, tubers, fruits, berries, and herbs).       

Plants extract water from the soil through their roots and tiny root hairs, absorb and evaporate it at their surfaces, and at night inhale vapor several hours before and after midnight through tiny holes on the undersides of leaves.  Capillary action circulates fluid through plants, its water submitting through mini-tides to lunar pulling and to solar pulling activated by evaporation at the outer surfaces.



Soil architecture is alive.  The mechanical structure of sand, clay and silt particles, interspersed with humus and various chemicals, is a medium filled with diverse chemicals in solution and being dissolved.  It is host to innumerable microscopic and tiny, immobile and mobile, incredibly varied life forms.  There are worlds within worlds in every sample of soil.

Basically, soil has everything it needs to successfully support plant life – below and above ground.  So-called fertile soil provides ample nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P) and potassium (K) along with sufficient trace minerals, water and oxygen, for vigorous fruitful plant growth.   Soil has tended to be approached in terms of its structures (tilth, resilience, moisture capacity…) and chemistry (NPK, pH…).  Sun and moon effects, electrical charge and subterranean lifeforms have been ignored in past decades, but these and other soil related concepts have been recognized in previous times and currently are being studied scientifically around the world.  It turns out that plants are every bit as complex as humans and other creatures, some possibly even more so.  It has been said that there are plants with more genes than human beings….

Humus in soil may be inert, but when dynamically alive with diverse beneficial organisms it is the ideal soil supplement and fertilizer.  Following nature, which is ever composting surplus plant matter on and in the ground, a process of controlled scientific composting has been developed and this technique is at the heart of what is termed organic agriculture.  The Latin saying, sui generis explains composting:  the thing gives birth to itself.  Soil makes soil. Soil is a factory hosting seemingly infinite lifecycles.  Each lifecycle has the same sequence of birth, growth, disease, old age and death.

Soil bacteria are tiny organisms which absorb nitrogen, they fixate it in their bodies where plant rootlets cannot get it.  Soil fungi also fixate nitrogen and don’t release it.  Soil protozoa eat bacteria and fungi and release their retained nitrogen making it accessible for plants.  Understanding of this complex bacterial-fungal-protozoan nitrogen gathering, storing and freeing interaction is demonstrated and explained clearly by contemporary soil scientists such as Elaine Ingham, Ph.D. a professor, laboratory and field scientist based in Oregon.

Among Dr. Ingham’s demonstrations are compost making, in which she layers nitrogenous and carboniferous plant materials in alternating green and brown layered stacks just as others have been doing since Sir. Albert Howard’s experiments near Indore, India, in the early years of the twentieth century.  Whereas others have argued that composting requires dimensions of at least four by four by four feet, Dr. Ingham composts as little as a handful of organic matter.  The bacteria and fungi do the work, she explains, and when they have what they want to eat, they break it down and transform it into new material known as compost.  Her research-based explanation of how protozoa must enter the scene and consume bacteria and fungi in order to release their nitrogen  tells plant growers what they need to know.  At self-generated composting temperatures up to 155 degrees Fahrenheit, Dr. Ingham explains, protozoa are asleep.  If temperatures reach 180 degrees, protozoa are killed and must be reintroduced form soil, successful compost or rotting vegetation where they are alive and active.  (At 212 degrees carbon can combust.)  So the composter’s duty is to stimulate the composting process up to 155 degrees, so that most matter will be decomposed and weed seeds destroyed, and then cool it down by, for example, turning it to admit air, wetting it with water if that will not saturate the material and/or possibly adding more fresh carbonaceous matter.  Water is essential to composting and air, from which bacteria and fungi can extract oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen, is also vital.  In seven days to eight weeks, depending on the quantity, quality and circumstances – heat and food – most any organic matter can be converted into compost.

Dr. Ingham clarifies that growing soils are of two types:  fungal dominant and bacterial dominant.  Trees and forests like fungal dominant soils.  Vegetables and grasses like bacterial dominant soils.  Trees and lawn grasses have conflicting needs.  Trees prefer nitrogen in small quantities delivered slowly and as NO4.  Vegetables and grasses prefer nitrogen in large quantities delivered rapidly as NO3.  Nitrates for vegetables and grasses, nitrites for trees.  Of course there are exceptions and a transition between these two ends of the range.  Birch trees, provide one instance as they can do well with nitrites or nitrates in fungal dominated or bacterial dominated soils and are therefore considered transitional plants – between forest and meadow.

To her credit, Dr. Ingham is a counter.  She literally counts the bacteria, fungi and protozoa in a given soil sample and records the data for her own use and to share with others.  There she sits, leaning over her microscope hour after hour.  The best way to know what is actually going on is to count the actors on stage observing their performances, segues and every scene change.  This is her reasoning and it has led to extremely accurate reporting on soil lifeform activities.        

An IPBN ***** FIVE STAR PROFESSIONAL PERFORMANCE EXCELLENCE AWARD has been earned by Dr. Elaine Ingham to whom every edible plant grower on the planet owes a debt of gratitude.  Her  soil food web research and reporting are superb and useful, a true scientist she.           


Seeds of Change, Box 15700, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87506-5700.  For orders TEL:  888-762-7333 (24 hours)  FAX:  888-329-4762  EMAIL:  gardener@seedsofchange.com  WEBSITE:  www.seedsofchange.com

Johnny’s Selected Seeds, 1 Foss Hill Road, RR 1 Box 2580, Albion, Maine 04910-9731.  TEL:  207-437-4395  FAX:  800-738-6314  WEBSITE:  www.johnnyseeds.com     

Richters Herbs,  357 Highway 47, RR 1, Goodwood, Ontario, Canada LOC 1AO.  TEL:  905-640-6677  FAX:  905-640-6641

Also: Seed Savers Exchange (804-973-4703 and www.seedsavers.org), Burpee Heirloom Seeds (800-888-1447), Cook’s Garden (800-457-9703),  Monticello’s Seed Catalog (804-984-9821 and www.monticello.org), Landreth Seed Company (800-654-2407).  There’ll be more “safe” seeds.


Growing Green is a new journal, publishing three issues per year, which is commencing in Spring 2000 issued by the global VEGAN ORGANIC NETWORK based at Anandavan, 56 High Lane, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester, M21 9DZ, UK TEL:  0161 860 4869  EMAIL:  vohan@net-work.co.uk  WEBSITE:  www.veganvillage.co.uk  KNOWLEDGE SHARE:  vegan-organic@listbot.com.  VON  offers a vegan product labeling logo for growers, manufacturers, publishers and others seeking to communicate simply to food safety and quality  concerned consumers and set new higher standards in the marketplace.  VON members collaborate around the globe in efforts to demonstrate vegan agro, food plant production using veganic agricultural practices such as compost making using plant materials and minerals exclusively – and letting the bacteria, fungi, protozoa and beneficial insects do their natural work nourished by the gardener farmer’s labor.  If the ideas of using spoiled corn as a pre-emergent weed prevention medium between vegetable rows, experimenting with various seaweeds in composts, tilling in rapeseed pre-crop growth to eliminate root eating nematodes before crop planting, and planting beans and corn in the same holes so the legumes can extract nitrogen from air for corn roots just like Native Americans taught early European immigrants to do, or if  one just likes to read about such practices, and dream rather than do, Growing Green and VOHAN membership will interest.

…Who wonders discovers that this in itself is wonder.

M.C. Escher


IPBN volunteers will be sharing plant-based nutrition education information where there is interest among the several thousand commercial exhibitors and  35-40,000 health food store operator attendees at the Natural Products EXPO WEST in the Anaheim, California Convention Center, in late March  2000.  As a service to participants, IPBN will provide a listing of 100% vegan restaurants in the area.  Last year IPBN identified three such restaurants and one bakery and is seeking more through field research with the assistance of local IPBN Charter Members.  Later this Spring, an EXPO EUROPE will be in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  New Hope is going international heading for global service.  Next Fall at the Natural Products EXPO EAST at the Convention Center in  Baltimore, Maryland, IPBN volunteers will again provide information and services for the industry on a charitable non-profit educational basis.  For New Hope Communications of Boulder, Colorado which initiated and conducts these industry developing and educational expositions and conferences, an *****IPBN  FIVE STAR AWARD FOR PROFESSIONAL EXCELLENCE is deserved.  The New Hope Communications team has professional standards for products, quality and participant behavior.  These require accurate and legally correct labeling while forbidding misrepresentations of any sort.  This professionalism has helped the industry immeasurably and boosted growth of these annual gatherings over two decades.  New Hope Communications events and publications demonstrate the state-of-the-art.      


“There’ll be a change in the weather and a change in me….There’ll be some changes made.”  Remember that old song?  So did the federal appointees who every five years revise and advocate their official USDA DIETARY GUIDELINES.  Presently under review with public comment allowed, but unlikely to be modified in overview or detail, the thing is done.

No, they did not make many changes.  Yes, they did bend a little.  Perhaps all the proposed alternative conceptualizations and suggestions helped a little.  But the “Iron Triangle” of bureaucrats, vested interest lobbyists and per diem scientists, also known as the food pyramid support team, was budged only a little.  A triangle is the strongest design there is when it comes to rigidity and inflexibility.  Mount three of them on a base which is square and this geometry is solid.  So it is a tribute to everyone who tried to enliven the pyramid and pyramids – and also to those who wished no change at all  – that in fact a little change for human health improvement was presented compellingly and allowed to enter the arena.

What changes are being made?  For the first time since this series of twice a decade documents was commenced in 1980, special sections are included on “whole grains” and “food safety.”  These are not insignificant contributions to public health.  Undoubtedly they were the absolutely maximum modification possible within the existing power structure.  Perceiving that consumers are put off by the term “low-fat,” the 11 nutrition expert appointees to the guidelines committee have explored various phrases and recommend a diet that is “low in total fat” over the objections from interests claiming this is “unfair.”  Their task is not an easy one given the diverse public and private interests which are concerned.  Ought they not be praised for coming through the process alive and with a decent sense of propriety?  To their credit, they accepted and considered the from plant-based nutrition-centered communities.  Year 2005 is just around the corner and between the millions of near-death crises and funerals which will occur as a result of billions of individual poor dietary choices, still more evidence will compound regarding foods fit for humans.  The case is compelling on its own.  Progress comes slowly and were plant-based nutrition growing faster it might strain or tear the social fabric.  Already it is outgrowing the rushing-to-keep-up chain of suppliers.  All’s well that ends well, and the end has not yet come.  Plant-based nutrition lives.      

Copies of Dietary Guidelines 2000 can be obtained from the United States Department of Agriculture Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, 1120 20th Street N.W., Suite 200, North Lobby, Washington, D.C. 20036.  Citizen input to the USDA Dietary Guidelines 2005 Committee may be directed to Shanthy Bowman, Ph.D., USDA, Agricultural Research Service,  Nutrient Data Laboratory, Unit 89, Room 6D61, 4700 River Road, Riverdale, Maryland 20737.


“School lunches can now include unrestricted amounts of tofu after the Agriculture Department dropped a cap of 30% on the soy product.  Schools are expected to boost use of tofu as an additive, not an entree.”  According to The Wall Street Journal, Friday, March 10, 2000, page A1.  Don Imus of MSNBC stated that this reminded him of the “catsup” situation of a “few years ago.”  As a matter of fact, veganic-organic catsup and tofu, though processed and not whole foods, could improve school lunch nutrition.  Fresh locally grown veganic-organic tomatoes and soybeans, raw and cooked, would bring school lunches into 21st century nutritional nirvana.  Encourage USDA to feed school students – and staffs – well.  USDA researchers have substantiated the nutritional benefits of soybeans, tomatoes and other nutrient rich foods provided by plant-based nutrition.               


According to the American Vegetable Grower, March 2000, page 8, “FEDERAL DIETARY GUIDELINES WILL be issued despite a lawsuit that claims they are biased because six members of the 11-member advisory committee have ties to the meat and dairy industry.”  Imagine that….



For information and continual updates from NFPA consult the website:  http://www.nfpa-food.org/.  Contact NFPA at 1350 I Street N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005 or telephone public relations officer Tim Willard at  202-637-8060.  NFPA supports consumer guided quality improvement and is open to interactions with the public.  Sometimes NFPA is ahead of consumer education and at times it can be behind.  Without customers, food processors could not achieve return on their investments, therefore they are continually struggling to test markets and products and sense consumer needs and wants.  At the end of the day, each NFPA individual, staff and member, is also a concerned consumer and regular purchaser of processed – and fresh – foods.

NFPA supports food irradiation on the premise that it helps assure food safety.  It really does reduce, if not totally forever eliminate, all lifeforms in the material being treated.  So many of these, however, are ubiquitous in the air, blowing in the wind so to speak, that they keep reappearing and can flourish in recently sterilized matter, no matter by what process.  Others are ever waiting in the wings to fly and crawl back in.  Processors want to reduce their own liability up to the point where food has left their properties and is in the hands of transporters, wholesalers, distributors, retailers and consumers whose handling and hands may not be perfectly clean.

What happens after stringently controlled processing is not the fault of processors, so the reasoning goes, and nothing sterilizes quite as completely as irradiation.  Bikini is again teeming with life, decades after all atomic testing has ceased, which suggests that even radiation does not eliminate all lifeforms….  Still, people may never be safely allowed to go back to many of the Bikini test sites.  And nevermind any health risks in uranium mining, shipping, handling, processing – that is someone else’s problem – nor fret over the safety of those who set up the irradiation equipment, neither those who operate it perfectly vigilant at every moment.  They can all be trained in safety practices and wear safety gear.

If material for human consumption were sterilized by irradiation whatever re-contamination occurred later could not be pinned on the irradiators, probably, legally, perhaps….  Insurers would likely think this a prudent action in terms of product safety.  Employee and consumer safety insurers might take a different view, but when attention is centered on one issue, it happens that the other 359 degrees in the circle are ignored.

Irradiated lettuce, contaminated with E. coli, salmonella and other problematic lifeforms by infected food handlers and chemically and biologically contaminated water at the market or kitchen sink could be every bit as infectious as non-irradiated lettuce bearing contaminants from field and packaging.  The problem of food contamination cannot be resolved by any single modification in the food chain which is in fact a life circle.

Regarding irradiation, and genetic modification of human food, NFPA is a major source of influence as it represents the largest and perhaps most of the corporations which process foods.  It might be said that what NFPA wants, NFPA gets.  And what NFPA claims to want is consumer safety and satisfaction.  Reasoned scientific input will not be ignored by Tim Willard or NFPA.



“THE ULTIMATE LIFE” products, “THE ULTIMATE MEAL” and the ultimate ethical vegan entrepreneur, employer and community citizen Sam Gerard deserve recognition.  None better.  Many attempt to copy these good works, but never can because Sam’s products are more than mere materials – they uplift, transcend and have been called “spiritual” in their essence.  Just marvelous nutrition and educational support as well.  Contact Sam Gerard, President and Founder, The Ultimate Life, Box 4308, Santa Barbara, California 93140.  TEL:  800-843-6325  FAX:  800-320-2269  EMAIL:  thjemeal@ultimatelife.com  WEBSITE:  www.ultimatelife.com   


She’s good, the best, and raw….  Yes, vegan cuisine devotees, Chef Cherie Soria – author of Angel Foods and more wonderful recipes than anyone can count – just keeps on going forward and the flocks following are also becoming innumerable.  Raw foods can be more than interesting, as she demonstrates, they can be beautiful and supremely nutritious as well.  They’re light, she’s light and anyone who reads her materials, views her video presentations, participates in her lively live food demonstrations or tries just one of her raw food recipes experiences ecstasy.  She is radiant.

Irradiation is not Cherie’s forte, no microwaving, no cooking.  This may seem stringent and austere, but the wholesomeness of her foods literally jumps off the plate and makes everyone around feel good.  Very good.  They say, “I never felt better!” with a smile, and tell others to “Try it.”  That is why people are packing her “Certified Courses in Raw Live Food Cuisine” at the Living Light Culinary Arts Institute.

Angel Foods, Healthy Recipes for Heavenly Bodies, by Cherie Soria is available directly for US$17.95 plus shipping costs.  Three videocassettes of Cherie’s educational presentations are US$15.00 each:  “Angel Foods:  Healthy Recipes for Healthy Bodies,” “Forget Cooking! Prepare and Enjoy Living Foods,” and “Kitchen Gardening: Sprout A New Leaf on Life!” from Heart star Publishing at the address below.  It doesn’t get better than this….  A real Pythagorean, our Cherie.   

Year 2000 scheduled workshops for those who wish to master what Chef Soria terms “Angel Foods” include seven three to nine day sessions on “holiday entertaining,” “associate chef training” and “instructor training” during Spring, Summer and Fall.  Contact:  Chef Cherie Soria, Living Light Culinary Institute, 704 North Harrison Street, Fort Bragg, California 95437.  TEL:  800-484-6933×6256  WEBSITE:  www.rawfoodchef.com    

When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty .  I only think about how to solve the problem.  But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful,

I know it is wrong.

Richard Buckminster Fuller


It is happening.  Chef Al  has arrived in New Mexico and is establishing a new home base for the Institute for Culinary Awakening which he formed in Seattle several years ago.  Home cooks and chefs need plant-based nutrition education and vegan Chef Al Chase has dedicated himself to providing it.  He needs encouragement, volunteer help and support!

Professional colleagues have assured him that “the numbers don’t work” and he is undaunted.  Al travels light with no heavy baggage, his is spiritual motivation and in the sea of pessimism he exudes optimism.  That is one reason why any contact with him is so exciting.  There are no vegan restaurants in Santa Fe, none anywhere in New Mexico.  If there are a few vegan friendly, and perhaps a few more vegan-tolerant restaurants in the region, that denotes opportunity to those like Al who have lifelong experience with positivistic change agent roles.  New Mexico mortality rates reflect centuries of unhealthful habits.  Maybe Chef Al will be crucified, but don’t count him out this early.  Where cynics see doom, he has waded through it, risen and achieved the seemingly impossible before.  It’s his specialty.  Where need is greatest, Al Chase thrives and glowingly healthful folks develop rational lifestyles through his courses.  Vegan chefs wishing to collaborate as adjunct faculty members will find Santa Fe an adventure center and prospective students will enjoy extracurricular activities in this exciting cultural region where Native American communities abound and have much plant based nutrition and many healing arts to share.

The Institute for Culinary Awareness offers short and lengthy courses of study and adapts curricula to suit the realities and needs of enrollees.  People need daily education, a little at a time and at a level which can be understood and assimilated, positive reinforcement on a continual basis over a significant period of time.  As Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither can fully integrated and optimally nourished lifestyles be constructed in an hour or during a weekend revival.  No hotel will hire a chef, certainly not a vegan chef, who has not been well and fully trained and ICA insists that thorough plant-based nutrition education is essential as well.     

Chef Al is developing relationships with area community colleges, chefs and produce growers.  From Connecticut and New York, to Seattle and Santa Fe, he has been demonstrating exemplary plant-based nutrition through his innovative vegan cuisine during 1999. He conducted two vegan chef courses in December and January and made many briefer appearances to build national and local support for ICA.  Al is a professional vegan chef-teacher-consultant who travels nationally to present workshops.  He is seeking funding sources for this veganic-organic chefs school.  Contact Chef Al at ICA, 7 Ave Vista Grande #316, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87505-9100.  TEL:  505-466-4597  EMAIL:  veganchef16@yahoo.com  WEBSITE:  www.ica-plantchefs.com


Across America, vegan chefs, self-educated and institutionally trained, are proliferating and demand currently exceeds the supply.  There are several national chefs associations, but none is committed to planting-based nutrition except as a minor alternative to traditional institutionalized foodservice practices.  Might the time be ripe for the formation of a Vegan Chefs Association?

IPBN seeks to be instrumental in helping vegan chefs organize, if they have interest, feel the need and desire.  Chef Al Chase of the Institute for Culinary Awareness in Santa Fe encourages vegan chefs to make contact with ICA to discuss the possibilities.  A gathering point for those interested might well be the upcoming American Vegan Society Annual Conference being held in conjunction with the International Vegetarian Union and Toronto Vegetarian Association Conference in Toronto this Summer.  The IPBN display table can provide a gathering point, informational center and sign-up sheet location for both vegan chefs and those who seek to join or employ them.  World class vegan chefs Ron Pickarskie and Ken Bergeron will be feeding attendees, gloriously, and may offer counsel regarding organizational strategies.  Chefs like to cook and see smiling consumers devour the foods they lovingly offer, they are rarely interested in bureaucratic organizational trivia.  Therefore, a svelte, streamlined loose and non-demanding structure is needed to help these professionals keep in touch and help one another.  IPBN being about as minimalistic as is organizationally possible, may be able to help and suggests as a start that vegan chefs write in with their views and provide  names, addresses, telephone-fax-email numbers and professional duty data so that IPBN volunteers can have a list of interested parties available for the colleagues who gather in Toronto.  Such data will not be disseminated by IPBN in any way except with vegan chefs as described.  While IPBN will offer to maintain a Directory of Vegan Chefs, this will only be as a service, guided and under the direction of the vegan chefs who may organize as they see fit.



***** EDEN FOODS offers over 260 vegan products with integrated growing, processing, packaging and distribution systems centered at Eden Foods, Inc., 701 Tecumseh Road, Clinton, Michigan 49236.  TEL:  800-248-032O, 517-456-7424  FAX:  517-456-6175  EMAIL:  edeninfo@edenfoods.com  WEBSITE:  www.edenfoods.com.

Here is the best of the best, a superior team of highest quality food providers, headed by quite a modest Michael Potter and staff, all of whom exude humility.  “Over thirty years of dedication” they acknowledge, beginning in 1968 as a “natural food co-op” in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Explaining how this effort began, Eden staff explain,  “Seeking pure, whole food we traveled the region to find farmers who would grow food without the use of pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilizer.  Seeking optimum nutrition, we traveled widely to acquire grain, soy foods, sea vegetables, and vegetable oils.  Gradually, we established a dedicated network of family farms and suppliers.  Our co-op matured into a retail store in 1969…”  Since 1975,  “100% of Eden beans and wheat” have been “certified organically grown” and in 1976, it was the Eden team which drafted “the first American standards for ‘field to shelf’ organic food production.”  If any products deserve to be labeled 100% toxicity free, Eden could put hundreds on the table – and with external as well as internal documentation attesting to the claim.  Eden practices macrobiotics and honors “The father of this philosophically based way of nurturing oneself, George Ohsawa” who “helped millions of people rediscover natural order and begin a path back to health and happiness.”    In 2000, the 32nd year of Eden Foods excellence, considering the expanding production and regularly added new products, the past is prologue and this moment merely the beginning.  There is no way to adequately honor the fine work over many years by the people of this organization.  Thanks everyone at Eden Foods!  You are every one heroes.

A generous person will prosper; one who refreshes others will be refreshed.

Proverbs 11:25

***** *****


As if FIVE STARS were not enough, the team of sisters, their husbands, and now the children and their spouses, are continuing to delight and expand their vegan 100% plant based nutrition cuisine inn concept.  Now they deserve TEN STARS.  It all started in Detroit, when two sister centered families wanted to get back to the land and developed themselves as a vegan inn management team.

Ron and Kathy and Pat and Chuck found the perfect site and opened the Sweet Onion Inn near Hancock, Vermont some years ago.  Beautiful forest surroundings, grand landscaping and a nice big old house with useful outbuildings.  Nirvana.  And people came.  Crowds.  Too many wanted in the Inn and turning away people was not why the establishment was begun.  What to do?  Think.  Proliferate….

Call it a sister inn and rejoice over the newly opened Sweet Thyme Inn near Green Bank, West Virginia.  Similar setting.  Pristine forests, landscaping grandeur and another nice big old house with useful outbuildings.  Here you’ll find Pat and Chuck Merithew, their son Gregg and his wife Olivia.  Charming.  Gracious.  Great 100% vegan cuisine. Have you ever heard better news?  How much better can things get?  Isn’t this wonderful?  Aren’t all plant based nutrition education enthusiasts simply delighted?  And don’t these six relatives in three nuclear families deserve to be honored for their integrity, persistence, devotion and good works?

These are both ***** IPBN FIVE STAR EXCELLENCE FOR MERIT AND PERFORMANCE AWARD deserving honored establishments where the highest nutritional standards are demonstrated in every food offering and the staff are without peer.  Don’t two fives equal ten?  Each of the family-staff members deserves ***** ***** TEN STARS.  Get to know them and benefit your family and friends.  When you visit, as is appropriate, contribute to the libraries and help in the gardens while relishing the foods.  If there were ever fit sites for IPBN workshops, these are perfect.  And for your family vacations and reunions.  For reservations and information:

Sweet Onion Inn, Box 66, Hancock, Vermont  05748, TEL:  802-767-3734, FAX:  802-767-9227, EMAIL:  sweeto@madriver.com  WEBSITE:  www.sweetonioninn.com

Sweet Thyme Inn, Box 37, Green Bank, West Virginia 24944, TEL:  304-456-5535, FAX:  304-456-5445, EMAIL:  sweetthymeinn@neumedia.com, WEBSITE:  www.sweetthymeinn.com


Ingredients:  water, oats, natural flavors and calcium carbonate or calcium citrate.  Nothing else.  Mix in any soft icecream machine.  Fat 2 g, Saturated Fat 0 g, Cholesterol  0 g, Sodium 45 mg, Fiber 1 g, Protein 4 g, sugars 15 g, Total Carbohydrate 21 g.  For diabetics, one serving of ½ cup 88 g equals 1 ½ starch exchanges.  The secret is in micro-pulverizing oats so the particles are so small they emulsify and remain suspended in water.  Based on Norwegian research on cholesterol reduction using oats.  Commercial oat milk in an icecream freezer can be utilized at home.  OatsCream is a trademarked vegan product shipped frozen for commercial soft icecream vendors by American Oats Inc., 18338 Minnetonka Boulevard, Wayzata, Minnesota 55391.  TEL:  952-473-4738  FAX:  952-473-4780  EMAIL:  ameroatsoatscream.com  WEBSITE:  www.oatscream.com.  It’s a Mom and Pop enterprise started by two beautiful ruralites, Don and Shirley Maxwell, who set out to find ways to increase oat consumption after seeing the long faces of farmers who plant and harvest good oats but realize no profit, and reading that the United States Food and Drug Administration “has determined” that products containing “soluble oat fiber as part of a diet low in fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.”  So they “did it” and are hanging on the limb of risk.  Vegans have every reason to help them spread the word.  Their mix is available directly and through the most advanced national, regional and local health food distributors.



For six pence in 1726, US$15.00 today, one can read the vegetable, fruit, herb and flower descriptions penned by R. S. Gent in THE GARDENER’s POCKET – BOOK; OR, Country Gentleman’s Recreation.  BEING THE KITCHEN, FRUIT, and FLOWER Garden Difplayed in Alphabetical Order.  Exhibiting at one Vie the Seeds, Roots and all Sorts of Flowers; together with the Method of propagating them; their situation, Soil, Height, Time of Flowering, and Method of Culture.  With many curious Hints towards the Improvements of TREES, FRUITS, and FLOWERS.  The whole calculated according to the New Style.  [sic.]  Printed at London for W. Owen, at Homer’s Head, near Temple-Bar; and R. GOADBY, at Sherborne  [n.d.] this treatise introduces the common edible plants of the era.  Facsimile reprints, softbound in colorful paper as was popular in the 18th century, are available in Colonial Williamsburg bookshops and by mail.

Described in this text, and undoubtedly eaten regularly by Colonial Americans in Virginia and the other British colonies, are: angelica, artichokes, asparagus, basil, beans – Spanish and kidney or French, beets, boor-cole, borage, broccoli, brown mustard, burnet, cabbages, cardus, carrots, caraway, celery cuardons, chervil, clary, coleworts, colliflowers, coriander, corn-salad, cresses, cucumbers, cumin, dill, endive, fennel – sweet, fenugreek and Italian finochia, garlick, henbane, leeks, lovage, marjoram, nettle, onions, orach – French spinach, parsley, parsnips, peas, plantain, poppies, purslain,radish, rape, rhubarb, rocambole, salsafy, savoy, scurvy-grass, sea-cole or kale, shallots, skirrets or sifarum, smallage, sorrel, spinach tarragon, thyme, turnip, wormwood. In the original and facsimile, each of these edible plant names is capitalized.  Descriptions of these edible plants and their cultivation is accomplished on fewer than half of the pages.  Afterwards, advice is given regarding flowers and fruits of the period.

Kale, ever a favorite in IPBN demonstration gardens, food preparation demonstrations, test recipes and display table decor, is recommended by R. S. Gent who terms it sea-cole.  He advises, this kitchen garden hardy plant should be  “flowered in February, March or April, in beds of deep sandy or gravelly soil; after it is come up it is thinned about a Foot apart; and about October the beds should be covered with Sea-Pebbles , four or five inches thick; the next Spring as the Plants begin to shoot, they must be kept hilled or covered with the Gravel till they are about four or five Inches long, then Leaf shoots are cut, and tied up in small bundles to boil, and with the fame Dreffings the beds will continue for use in the Spring many YEARS….”  In 2000, his recommendations will be tested and others across the land are encouraged to try Mr. Gent’s two century old counsel also.

For a copy of THE GARDENER’S POCKET – BOOK for US$15.00 plus sales tax and shipping   contact:  The Post Office, Colonial Williamsburg, Box 1776, Williamsburg, Virginia 23187  TEL:  757-229-1000.  Staff is currently working to ascertain the exact date of publication of this artifact publication which reveals that 18th-century food plant preferences were mostly like todays.



NBCTV advertisement, March 9, 2000.




Print media advertisement of February 21, 1999

(What kills everything?)

Not even irradiation.

FLASH: A new book is just reaching markets.  How It All Vegan by Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer.  Arsenal Pulp Press:  Vancouver, British Columbia, 2000.  $15.95.  Recipes, 208 pages.

Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions.  Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.

Mark Twain.


FARM – Farm Animal Reform Movement – sponsors the annual national and international MEATOUT on March 20, 2000 – on the first day of Spring as always.

Hastings-Haliburton Vegetarian Association is sponsoring a COMMUNITY CENTER CONFERENCE, Saturday, April 29, 2000.  Speaker Howard Lyman will attract people from fields, woods, and villages to try vegan food.  Speakers galore.  Contact HHVA coordinators Tom and Helen James,  37 Pine Road, Cardiff, Ontario, Canada  KOL IMO.  TEL:  613-339-2789.  IPBN will be represented by displays, food demonstrations and speaker volunteers.

AVS – the American Vegan Society – will have its Annual Conference educational component in July during one session – at the Toronto Colony Hotel in Toronto – in conjunction with the longer and larger meeting of the Toronto Vegetarian Association which is hosting the 34th Biennial World Vegetarian Conference of the International Vegetarian Union July 10-16, 2000.

TVA and IVU sponsored sessions, July 10-16, have the theme:  “It’s not just about tofu!”   Having convened around the world over 90 years, IVU will gather this Summer for the first time in Canada.  Over 70 speakers on health, ethics, activism, ecology, genetic engineering, spirituality and related topics….  “All proceeds go to charity.”   Major presenter speakers include T. Colin Campbell Ph.D. of the “China Project” which has studied correlations between soils, foods and human health since the early 1970s and Howard Lyman who has studied relationships between soil, natural and synthetic chemicals, plants, fellow creatures, law, jurisprudence and justice from a Montanan perspective since the 1940s.  Ingrid Newkirk PETA Co-Founder, Brenda Davis R.D., Vedanta Melina R.D. and innumerable others will share their views with participants.  A Vegan Chef Team of Ken Bergeron, Ron Pickarskie and colleagues will provide the cuisine.  Contact:  TVA, 1101-2300 Yonge Street, Box 2307, Toronto, Ontario, Canada MP4 1E4.  TEL:  416-544-8891  FAX:  416-544-9094  EMAIL:  wvc2000@veg.on.ca  WEBSITES:  www.veg.on.ca/wvc2000 and www.ivu.org

NAVS – the North American Vegetarian Society – is convening in Asheville, North Carolina July 5-9 for the 26th annual conference:  VEGETARIAN SUMMERFEST 2000.  The University of North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountain campus will provide facilities for “five days of fun, education, great food, exercise, hiking, swimming and dancing” featuring vegan cuisine by Chef Ken Bergeron and a cadre of speaker-presenters including Rynn Berry, T. Colin Campbell Ph.D., Anna Charlton J.D., Robert Cohen Ph.D., Karen Davis, George Eisman R.D., Gar Francione J.D., Joel Fuhrman M.D., Alan Goldhamer D.C., Doug Graham D.C., Bryanna Clark Grogan, Rozalind Gruben, Louise Hagler, Suzanne Havala M.S., R.D, F.A.D.A., Ruth Heidrich Ph.D., Vance Lemkuhl, James Lennon, Bob LeRoy R.D., M.S., Ed.M., Howard Lyman, John McDougall M.D., Milton Renee Mills M.D., Jennifer Raymond M.S. and a cast of hundreds….  Good times in the mountains.  Contact:  NAVS, Box 72, Dolgeville, New York 13329.  TEL:  518-568-7970

MORE!  Local and area educational events are being planned for Year 2000 by vegan leaders in:  Honolulu, Hawaii;  San Francisco and Los Angeles, California;  Denver and Boulder, Colorado;  Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada;  Minneapolis, Minnesota;  Chicago, Illinois;  Detroit and Royal Oak, Michigan;  Dayton, Ohio;  Pittsburgh, State College, Allentown, Philadelphia and West Chester, Pennsylvania;  Cherry Hill, Vineland and Malaga, New Jersey;  Washington, D.C.; Binghampton, Rochester, Syracuse, probably several places on Long Island, and New York City, New York;  Hartford, Connecticut, Hanover, New Hampshire; BOSTON VEGETARIAN SOCIETY VEGETARIAN FOOD FESTIVAL activities are being planned for a Saturday in late September, 2000. – and probably within a few miles of where you are at this very moment.  If not, maybe this is the moment when you call for a gathering – so that many who don’t understand the virtues of plant-based nutrition can have a chance to learn about its possibilities and benefit from as many of them as they may wish to implement in their lives, families and communities.

Whereas few as two gathers for mutual benefit, the sharing is like a pebble in a pond which starts ripples which vibrate to the edges of the universe and reverberate back again forever.

The more gatherings the better.

  Isn’t that the truth?



For a year at IPBN there has been a conscious effort to figure out the best ways of caring for produce, once it has been harvested – or bought and brought from a store.  As often occurs during inquiries and systematic research, some shibboleths have been tested and discarded while unexpected realizations have proven true.  Imagine this is a detective story….

Sherlock, the nom de plume for this scripting, has been shocked into reflection by a television broadcast in which the interviewee has stated that “Licking a toilet seat would usually be safer than a kitchen sink” and typical food preparation counter.  Horrified, he sat up and repeated the claim he thought he had just heard, then he then relaxed when the speaker acknowledged that this dramatic claim centered on preparation areas used for  “That Which Should Not Be Mentioned.”  “TWSNBM” – what Sherlock called “non-plant based” substances not fit for human consumption.  Sherlock neither ate, thought of or ever purchased TWSNBM.

But, he had seen and did know of TWSNBM.  And he read scientific journals replete with evidence relating to correlations between TWSNBN and disease, knew that E Coli was merely one of a plethora of disease agents luring wherever TWSNBN was handled.  Never before, though, had he thought of a toilet seat as more fecund with filth that any part of a kitchen.  “Modern times, he thought to himself, “we’re getting to know more than ever  – and less of it is comfortable.”  “Why, “ he mused, “ I’ve never even thought of licking either a toilet seat or kitchen cutting board.  Besides, my own cutting board is pyroceram,  – very clean, and my toilet seat is decently antiseptic as well.”  By now, the program which had captured his attention had ended and his screen showed a stream of commercials of no interest to him nor, he suspicioned with the wry smile he was known for, anyone else who had more than two brain cells.

Next day, Sherlock was scrupulously clean in every household food handling and preparation process.  At his nearby produce market, Joe the manager answered his questions about where each item came from, how it had been processed, stored, transported, prepared and set out for display.  “No,” he acknowledged, he didn’t keep the various different kinds of produce items separated. “We just put it all on the floor in the back room,” he explained, “bananas and basil, cucumbers and cantaloupe,  peas and potatoes.  Farmers don’t keep everything separate.  Truckers just pile it all in and haul it to us.  At night we cover it with burlap and wet it down with tap water.  Is there anything wrong with that?”  Joe had asked the wrong person…..

…When he had finished his soliloquy on produce hygiene, the last question Sherlock asked Joe was “If we sampled bacteria from your toilet seat, hands, produce and kitchen, what do you think we’d find?”  “I don’t have time to do scientific research,” Joe replied, “I assume everyone washes and cooks everything when they get home before they eat it.”  Sherlock relented, “No need to bother him about raw foodists or even discuss salad green hygiene.”  He remembered a quote in one of Thomas Carlyle’s novels, “There is endless merit in a man’s knowing when to have done.  Let it be, he thought and said, “Joe, I want to thank you for what you have taught me.  I never knew how complicated your job is and I appreciate how hard you work to keep us fed well.  You need to get back to business and I have soup and salad to make at home.”  “Sure, we do work at it” said Joe, “anytime you need to know something, just come ask me.”

There was one more shop to visit before Sherlock returned home.  His neighborhood “health food store” people called it.  Actually it was the neighborhood health care center where people visited to collect information about almost everything related to their health – and meet friends and neighbors to gather espionage relating to their life circumstances.  Sherlock only wanted to know if there was any produce care information and to ease up on the inquiry, he selected a bunch of “organically certified bananas” along with a bar of herbal soap from India which he liked very much.  Blanche, the shop owner, “Since Daddy started this in 1939 when he had his chiropractor office in the back and these shelves full of healthy natural products for his patients” welcomed “Mr. Sherlock” and asked whether he needed “anything else.”

“Just a bit of information,” he volunteered, I’ve been wondering about how I should be managing fresh produce.  You know, there are all those articles about being careful….”

Blanche smiled, she had heard it all since inheriting this incarnation of the old country store, “Did you hear the fellow say toilet seats are cleaner than kitchen sinks last night on tv?  He really made me sit up and think.”  “Really?” exclaimed Sherlock, not wishing to divulge fully what he knew or all his motivations.  “Are these bananas safe?” he asked so as to regain the offensive.  “Certainly,” replied Blanche, “ if you first peel them – and if you’ve washed your hands,” she paused to catch her breath, “ and if they were not chemically or biologically contaminated in any way en route from – Where are those from? – Mexico.  I eat em.  Why are you asking all these questions today?”

“Just curious….”  She smiled at Sherlock and asked, “Have you tried any of those new produce washes?”  “No,” he said quickly, his eyes darting across the shelf where she was pointing.  “Well I do,” she commented and clinched the sale, paused and continued, “all of them.”

He saw four plastic bottles, each with a unique shape, size and labeling.  “All of them?”  “Yes, Daddy used to say you never really know which therapy will work until you try several.  He used chiropractor and naturopath and homeopath and herbalism and….”  She was running out of breath, “…and allopathy.  Daddy respected surgery and pharmaceuticals, he said they had their place, along with nutriceuticals and phytoceuticals and whatever worked.  So I figured that until I know which of these produce washes is actually best, I’ll try them all and observe their respective effects.”  Sherlock swooned to this argument.  He always gathered all possible data before coming to any conclusion.  And this broad sweep strategy served him well.  He’d never failed a client or lost a case in court.  “Why not give them a try?” he thought to himself.  And so he said, “Load me up,” holding his recycled cotton shopping bag open to receive “Healthy Harvest Fruit and Vegetable Rinse” containing purified water, food grade nonionic surfactant;  “THE ORIGINAL FRUIT & VEGETABLE WASH” containing non-ionic and anionic coconut based surfactants and sorbitol based polysorbate-20;  “VEGGIE WASH” containing pure and natural citrus water, natural cleaners made from corn and coconut, lemon oil, sodium citrate derived from citrus fruit and glycerin derived from coconut;  and “ORGANICLEAN fruit & Vegetable Wash” containing purified water, coconut based anionic surfactant, bilberry extract, sugar cane extract, sugar maple extract, orange extract, lemon extract, biosurfactant of glucosidic and lipidic substrates and natural citrus complex.  “You’ll be pleased,” Blanche said, “every one of them has been used at the Institute for Plant Based Nutrition and they found each one worked in the situations described on their labels.  Look, here’s their recent newsletter.” Blanche held up a well-thumbed copy of PLANT-BASED NUTRITION, A newsletter for everyone everywhere, dated Spring 2000  and exclaimed, “I wouldn’t want to be without this.”

“Could I borrow that newsletter overnight?” Sherlock asked, “Just to read it and see what else might be useful…..”  “Of course,” said Blanche knowing that when he returned the copy in a day or two she would get to educate him a little more – and probably buy a few more vegan products.


“Yes, this is the Institute for Plant Based Nutrition.  Blanch…, yes we know her.  Oh, yes, we have been testing vegetable and fruit washes for several years.  There’s more to it than that, however.  We’ve been working to learn how best to care for produce in the home kitchen setting.  Did you hear the scientist on TV say he’d rather lick a toilet seat than…..  Blanche told you, eh.  And you did hear it.  Well, that was a good one.  The phone has been ringing ever since….  Do you have time to hear what we have learned?  Fine.  Here goes….”

Whatever has been brought home from field or market, fruits, vegetables, roots, herbs, if it is fresh then immediately spray it with your choice of  the washes now on the market – Blanche stocks them all – and let it stand awhile so the surfactant can work into crevices on the outside and begin to loosen, soften and disintegrate the film of chemicals, waxes, shellacs, soil, bacteria, fungi, viruses and protozoa.  You’ll never know what all is there, whether it is natural or synthetic, toxic or harmless.  What comes off will probably amaze you.  After spraying each item, yes covering every leaf, then massage the surfaces with your hand or a soft brush.  If there is shellac or paraffin, you may never get it off.  Always peel when suspicious.  Spray more and scrub more as seems appropriate.  If you have a public water supply it is probably chlorinated; this is not “certified organic” in any sense of the word.  Sorry.  Rainwater might be worse.  Use pure spring or well water.  Use filtered, distilled or perhaps even boiled water if you have it.  Tender leaves should just be well sprayed – and let the solution work down them into the core of the plant.  Then, if you are satisfied every surface has been contacted – and set for at least three minutes – rinse well.  A sink sprayer is useful in getting rinse water down into the core of leafy plants and can clean out pockets of debris such we observe on potatoes.  Rinse again until no suds appear on any surface.  After everything is clean, and you have seen what has come off flush down the sink, fill it – or a large pot if you prefer – with cool clean water and let everything soak at least 15 minutes, ideally 20 to 30.  You are chilling the outside and inside and slowing bacterial growth even in the center of the item.  Warm produce spoils – gets eaten up faster by bacteria which are always present – than when the temperature is cooler.  Maybe more ‘stuff’ will come off.  If it does, you may see it collecting on the bottom;  even transparent materials may be visible, because they have different specific gravity than the water.  Drain the sink or pot and rinse one last time.”

“Lacking modern sprays, you can use old fashioned substances which may work as well.  Many pesticides are essentially neutralized – or at least weakened – by contact with alkalinity.  Plain salt water, add baking soda for additional effects, will have the same effects on bacteria on plant foods as it does on teeth and gums in the mouth.  Vinegar may well eliminate some bacteria and fungi.  And a tiny bit of tee tree oil or neem oil in water could dissolve and inactivate some undesirable hitchhikers on produce. Iodine tablets used for purifying water are in developing countries and military situations used at times in wash water for vegetables and fruits being prepared for eating.  In Canada, the label for Juvex, which is a sodium hypochlorite solution similar or identical to Clorox, has instructions for using a small amount in water for vegetable and fruit washing.  We met a missionary from Ethiopia who said his family was taught to soak produce several hours in a  dilute Clorox water bath.  The dilemma in all this is that scientists now know that even cooking does not eliminate bovine spongiform encephalitis prions.  No matter what scrubbing and bathing, no matter which treatments, there will be live bacteria, fungi and viruses on most produce following whatever one does to reduce their proliferation.  So it seems more than a little prudent to be careful in selecting produce for purchase as well as properly caring for it before eating.  And when one can, growing foods for oneself provides assurances available no other way.

“Enough of that, though, you now have wet produce and it needs to be dried quickly and stored appropriately. So heap everything on plates or racks to drain and air-dry for an hour, more or less.  Blot every item dry with the highest grade paper towels or clean cloths as you prefer.  Separate fruits from leafy greens and vegetables and tubers and roots….  Put potatoes inside brown paper bags and store them in a basement, perhaps on the steps – or  wherever it doesn’t get very cold or very warm.  Do the same with onions…garlic….winter squashes….  And do the same also with apples, but keep them separate from the roots and tubers.  Citrus fruits like the same treatment if you have a large quantity, but keep them away from potatoes for they exhale ethylene and accelerate fruit ripening.  Store most soft fruits at room temperature.  Do not refrigerate them.  Tomatoes are fruits.  So are grapes.  Leave them out on the counter.  Buy few at a time and eat them fast.  Are you still there?  Good

“Line your refrigerator produce bins or baskets with high quality paper towels.  We use only SEVENTH GENERATION unbleached unchlorinated plain brown paper towels.  They are ***** IPBN FIVE STAR QUALITY products.  Layer three thicknesses of these at the bottom of your refrigerator bins, then layer vegetables such as kale, collards, carrots, celery, lettuces, radishes – packing them in as closely as you can while leaving spaces for ventilation between every item.  Don’t buy much fresh produce at a time and you’ll have no storage problem.  In Europe, the tradition is to buy fresh every day and have a small refrigerator with frequent inventory turnover.  In Asia the tradition is to buy just before every meal, three times daily.  The American tradition of huge overfilled refrigerators stuffed with spoiling foods is not glorious or healthful and it is energy inefficient.  But that’s another story….  Atop your packed produce, place another layer two paper towels thick and over this loosely lay a gallon sized plastic bag or plastic sheet to provide a sort of roof which will keep moisture from escaping too fast while at the same time allowing air circulation in and out.  Carrots breathe.  They continue to inhale oxygen, carbon dioxide and nitrogen while in storage; and they exhale the same continually – so long as there’s a bit of root or stalk bottom left on.  In your refrigerator, they’ll adapt as on a cool damp night.  Leaving as much of the bottom on produce as possible allows it to stay alive longer and perhaps even to grow.  Sometimes carrots and beets will sprout new leaves.  That’s a sign they are yet alive.  Tear off outside leaves from cabbages and lettuces.  Work from outside in and the item will last longer.   

“As you use this produce, continually monitor its quality and use first that which seems most ready:  the softest tomato, the celery stalk with a touch of rust browning the end and the leaf which has dry, brown, black or soft spots at the edges.  If something is beginning to decompose, use it quickly.  Make a soup…add pieces to a sauce…use it or lose it….

We could hear Sherlock breathing and assumed him to be yet alive…and proceeded on…..

That’s it, but you didn’t ask one important question.  “What’s that?”  We knew for sure he was alive and yet listening….  “Why tear rather than cut?”  We heard him shuffling paper, perhaps he had been taking notes?  “OK, why not cut?”  We had him and replied, “Plants are made up of cells and when torn apart they break at the edges of cells.  A broken off and torn lettuce leaf will hold up quite awhile in a salad bowl, but cut it and the knife ruptured cells will weep, shrivel, try to heal and not last as long.  There’s more – cut lettuce tends to brown at the cuts.  The cell structure has been severely damaged and rusty bacteria go to work at every opportunity.”  We stopped and waited to hear Mr. Sherlock’s response.

“Is that all?  My goodness.  I never thought about all of these things before.  Thank you very much.  Can I join your organization?  What can I do to help you?”

Our reply was quick, “We never thought of all these things before either.  We’ve learned from others and tested each strategy and merely pass them on.  And yes you can join IPBN.  Previous newsletters are accessible free on the internet at www.plantbased.org and we mail printed copies of every publication to members who contribute at least US$12.00 each calendar year.  Just send a check anytime and we’ll send everything we print during that year – and more.  We send whatever else we find which appears important for IPBN members.  But membership aside, probably you can teach us something  Mr. Sherlock.  We suspect that you may have a famous ancestor who was a superb detective and know more than we do about most things.

“Well, as a matter of fact I have been working on a case in which a victim succumbed to vitamin B12 deprivation and I’ve learned quite a bit about cyanocobalamin and naturally occurring cyanide in plants….”  “Do please send us your research papers and maybe we’ll be able to publish something on the subject.  Was the victim by any chance African-American?”  Mr. Sherlock seemed surprised.  “Why yes, in fact he was. Why do you ask?”  “And in his medicine cabinet were there any empty bottles of potassium thiocyanate?”   “There were several.  What are you getting at?”  We sighed.  “You have to read The Felix Letter as well as Plant Based Nutrition.

“Excuse me,” Mr. Sherlock interrupted.  “I have another case….”  “Yes?” we responded.  “The victim turned green a Euro-American….”  We interrupted.  “Cyanide poisoning sure and simple.  You must read The Felix Letter….”  We’ll send you information so you can contact experts on this potassium thiocyanate, cyanocobalamin, and cyanide along with their possible relationships with your cases.  Now we have to go, but thank you for calling and we hope we have been helpful.”

We heard him say, “More than that.”

Past midnight, was time for bed….  Gotta call Blanche tomorrow and tell her that Proctor and Gamble is announcing that it is coming out with a produce washing “system” which portends to be comprehensive.  Is this a threat to natural products producers of fruit and vegetable sprays?  If any company could do a first class job in this area, they could.  Will they?  Will they really give consumers a first-class veganic produce cleaning system?  Might Proctor and Gamble try a veganomic route back to prosperity having seen its stock price fall precipitously in recent days?  Incentives are everywhere one looks.  Time will tell….

What was it Jimmy Durante used to say?  “Good night Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.”    

Comments are closed.