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Eat Vegan

Posted 3/12/2008

As a longtime vegan, I enjoyed reading Robbie Whelan's March 5 EAT feature about the Yabba Pot. Peace may indeed begin in the kitchen as declared by a sign on the wall inside this popular vegan eatery: Our food choices impact not just our personal health but everything around us.

A vegan lifestyle typically requires fewer resources to sustain (less oil, water, and land) while also causing less pollution than a meat-based diet. In fact, a 2006 report by the United Nations reveals that raising animals for food causes more greenhouse-gas emissions than all forms of transportation combined. Another study suggests that if Americans reduced our meat consumption even by just 10 percent, the grain that would otherwise be used by animal agribusiness could be redistributed to feed the 60 million people who die of hunger each year.

A meat-based diet is also responsible for causing tremendous animal suffering. More than 10 billion birds, pigs, and cows are slaughtered each year in the United States for us to eat--that's more than 1 million animals killed every single hour.

Each of us can help create a kinder world simply by choosing vegan foods. And finding delicious animal-friendly fare in Baltimore has never been easier--just visit VegBaltimore.com.

Lynda Cozart
Takoma Park

"Conspiracy" Theory

I am a co-founder and president of One to One Interactive. After reading your article about Green Student U and One to One ("Greenback Student U," Mobtown Beat, March 5) I felt compelled to respond. Your research, facts, and general commentary leave a lot to be desired from a journalistic standpoint.

Yes, Green Student U is a green-focused blog that sells advertising. There is no cover-up and conspiracy there. Ads are clearly placed throughout the site. We hope to monetize the site in the same manner that CityPaper.com does (and I am sure that such revenue is how they pay you for your contributions).

I take issue with your comments regarding our e-mail platform and the recent press release announcing new functionality. First, not one client of IonMX currently works with OTOnetworks or advertises on any of its sites (they are entirely separate business units). The fact that you make this inference without checking that fact is beyond me. (Then again, you're not writing for The New York Times are you?)

Second, IonMX is an Enterprise-level e-mail management platform for major brands whom must be Can-Spam compliant and meet strict opt-in/opt-out policies to even be allowed to use the service. Spammers are shunned, and clients who are caught engaging in such activities are immediately shown the door. Your clumsy attempt to tie IonMX with efforts associated with Green Student U/OTOnetworks was clearly self-serving as it only helped to reinforce a "conspiracy" tone in your article. It is not based in one ounce of reality. This is simply irresponsible journalism.

Finally, your paragraphs around OTOnetworks' data-collection practices are outright false. Not one of OTOnetworks' sites pro actively seek to obtain or data-mine any information a college may have regarding its students. PERIOD!

It is very disappointing to think that this article made it through your editorial review process. In the future, I urge you to do a better job verifying your information and to be more objective in your reporting.

Jeremi Karnell
Charlestown, Mass.

Van Smith responds: Green Student U contacted City Paper wanting coverage about an environmental web site. I discovered on my own that One to One Interactive owns OTOnetworks, the company responsible for Green Student U, and that One to One describes itself as a digital marketing, technology, and media company that "aims to deepen the connection between brands and their customers." The e-mail platform serves One to One's goals just as Green Student U does; it may be "Can-Spam compliant," but it is still technology that aids marketing via e-mail. The allegation that the article is "outright false" regarding OTOnetworks' data-collection is odd, since the article clearly states that OTOnetworks does not mine data about college students.

Rogue Wave

While one must accept restaurant reviews as opinion, when they veer off into a rant colored by the reviewer's prejudices, it invites a response. So Omnivore doesn't like fusion, as attested to in his March 5 review of Tsunami; fair enough. But the deck seemed to be loaded with the reviewer's preconceptions to the extent that Tsunami could have served ambrosia and still got a shitty review.

For Omnivore, despite the name, this time it's not about the food. Instead, Tsunami represents a "fancier-by-far, mood-indigo" restaurant with "obnoxious convictions"; whatever that could possibly mean. Apparently it has a "cynical menu" (again--eh?), and a "sex-club lighting scheme" where "if lights are dimmed low enough, suckers will grow in the seat." In short, it's a place for "people who don't like food but do like fancy cocktails."

But what if you do like food, and a bar/restaurant in Baltimore that for once doesn't have multiple plasma TVs stuck on the wall showing ESPN 24-7; where the bartenders know how to mix drinks (try the sea-urchin shooters), and where they actually talk with the customers? If so, this place rocks. As for the food, yes, it's fusion. If you don't like fusion, don't review it. Having eaten there several times, yes, Saturday night can be a bit busy, and the kitchen can get backed up (it's called popularity), so come another night. But to review every last thing tasted from the menu as being inherently awful (what's so bad about hoisin sauce?) says more about the reviewer's attitude toward what a place should look like as much as what food should taste like.

I guess sticking up for a place like this makes us clawing yuppies with no taste; the "suckers growing in the seats?" Perhaps. But while Tsunami is neither New York's Fatty Crab, nor Philadelphia's Morimoto, nor Los Angeles' Nobu, in terms of Asian fusion at least, it's still a lot better than what Baltimore has had in the past. Maybe Omnivore and his crew should just stick to Old Bay crab cakes?

Mark and Jules Blyth
Baltimore

Later, Nader

In my opinion, Brian Morton is a good writer. His article ("Let's Do It Again," Political Animal, Feb. 27) made me think--which is good for a black woman who will be 70 years old in three years, God's will be done.

As I see it, Ralph Nader is "stuck on stupid." He just does not understand a simple fact. Success is enthusiasm. Every time I listen to Nader discuss a political issue or a political idea, I get uninterested in the numerical data he throws faster than a bullet heading for a target.

I believe Nader is a wannabe professor who tries to convince ordinary people that his intellectual abilities are higher than theirs. Therefore, uninformed everyday people should believe the Bible-mouth of Ralph Nader. In college I had to learn the narrow-minded white ideas of Copernicus, Kepler, Descartes, and Locke in a course called "The History of Western Civilization." The same kind of white guys that the Bush administration entrusted to fix the Gulf Coast after Katrina (Harvard, Yale, and Brown). I cannot recall what I learned except to know that "man is not God, and must never use his intellectual vision to access a problem he cannot fix for people." Give me some credit for being under the intellectual radar and fighting to keep my common sense and intelligence in fighting spirit.

Finally, I do not trust Ralph Nader, because I believe Nader has some personal wealth that he has not revealed to all Americans, and may never do so. (Bill and Hillary Clinton are the same; I believe a lot of documents are located in Bill Clinton's library in Arkansas on the failed attempt to get health care for all Americans, personal income for both Bill and Hillary Clinton, and gifts from foreign businesses that would house a local museum.)

Besides, Ralph Nader does not look presidential. His clothing looks as though he sleeps in it. He gets objectionable when you do not agree with his ideas and gives me the impression that he wants to say "duh" at your inability to comprehend his heresy and heretics.

"The sleep of reason brings forth monsters" --Goya.

Larnell Custis Butler
Baltimore

Foie Gross

In "Live and Let Liver" (Eat Me, Feb. 27), Henry Hong falsely compares the experience of force feeding forcibly confined ducks and geese to enlarge their livers for human consumption with wild birds' consumption of extra-large quantities of food to prepare themselves for a long migration. However, in the case of a long migration, the food is converted to energy, whereas force-fed birds with restricted movement do not turn the food into energy but into sickly fat--a disease condition known medically as hepatic lipidosis.

Faced with bad publicity, Hudson Valley Foie Gras, in upstate New York, began staging pre-arranged tours in 2004--hiding and culling visibly sick birds, throwing down fresh sawdust, and so on, to feed willing visitors' fantasies of humane treatment in conformity with false advertising.

Regardless, force feeding an animal, not for medicinal purposes, but to please a palate, does not meet ethical standards, while to invoke the cruelty inflicted on chickens in order to deflect attention from the cruelty inflicted on waterfowl to produce foie gras is rather like comparing a rape to, say, a beating--which is worse?

For seven years, we have had two male ducks rescued from Hudson Valley at our sanctuary on the Virginia Eastern Shore. They are now very different birds from their former selves, and while they now are friendly, talkative, lively, and active, and spend happy hours splashing in their pool and padding about the yard, they do not want to be touched by human hands.

As for Mr. Hong's claim of "extensive inquiry" into the treatment of animals raised and slaughtered for food, well, maybe here, too, in my opinion, his standards are flexible.

Karen Davis
President, United Poultry Concerns
Machipongo, Va.

United Poultry Concerns is a nonprofit organization that promotes the compassionate treatment of domestic fowl.

As a veterinarian who has inspected the primary foie gras producer in the country on three occasions, I would like to respond to Henry Hong's article in which he dismisses the allegations of cruelty involved in producing the extreme fatty liver in failure known as "foie gras." I have witnessed, both on site and by video, the force-feeding process at the biggest American plant, Hudson Valley Foie Gras (HVFG), in 1992 as part of a cruelty investigation brought by the local district attorney, in 1997 with Whole Foods Inc. as their expert consultant, and as a guest of the New York State Veterinary Medical Society in 2005. I have seen many videos of the other two American producers.

Additionally, I have performed necropsies on several HVFG ducks, and have the necropsy reports performed at Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine and by New York state's wildlife pathologist, Dr. Ward Stone. I have read the articles written by board-certified veterinary experts in the fields of avian pathology and internal medicine, included in a 900-page brief in which the Humane Society of the United States sued the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets under a state law for its failure to prohibit the sale of an adulterated product from a diseased animal.

Like the report from the European Union's Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare, all of these experts state that the extreme degree of fatty liver--hepatic lipidosis--is sufficient to create a state of suffering in which the liver's huge expansion (10 to 12 times normal size) displaces the birds' air sacs and lungs so they cannot breathe (many expire due to choking and suffocation as the pipe is jammed down their throats). In addition, they cannot walk since their limbs are displaced by their swollen abdomens (some, in fact show old bone fractures), and the birds may even exhibit seizures and comatose states as their livers fail and no longer can remove toxins from the blood. With distressing frequency, the force-feeding process can be so traumatic as to rupture the esophagus and even the overstretched swollen liver of the ducks.

What Whole Foods saw on its 1997 tour was so repellent that, instead of embracing foie gras for distribution, as the producers had expected, it wrote a strong letter of condemnation, describing the system as "tragic" and swearing that it would never do business with a foie gras producer in any form. This invited tour was a crucial turning point in HVFG's strategy to assuage the concerns of the American public: Once it saw that the writing was on the wall after foie gras sale and production was outlawed in California by 2012, the producers have designed tours that, in my professional opinion, are nonrepresentational, showing a tranquil, slow process that is nothing like the true process that produces 6,000 birds' livers per week.

I invite readers to go to www.nofoiegras.org, www.gourmetcruelty.com, and www.stopforcefeeding.com in order to educate themselves as to the true (without public scrutiny) production process.

Holly Cheever
Voorheesville, N.Y.

Henry Hong's article completely missed the point when he compared migratory birds' overfeeding in order to store energy to the factory farms' practices of force feeding ducks and geese to deliberately enlarge their livers in order to make foie gras. Do the factory birds really have a choice in the matter?! Does not having a gag reflex make it any less frightening or painful when someone gruffly grabs the animal by the neck and shoves a metal pipe down its throat twice a day in order to purposely enlarge its liver to the point just short of renal failure?! Does the end really justify the means so that a two-legged "connoisseur" can savor its liver at $30-$80 a pound? Comparing duck farming to pork, chicken, or beef farming is a moot point--suffering is suffering, regardless of whether the bird is held in a lap or not! If our species would learn to show more compassion toward other living creatures that we share this planet with, rather than supporting cruel, unnatural, quicker, and more economical treatment of animals in order to satisfy its belly, then maybe, just maybe, we might eventually be able to live up to the word "humane." I'm with you, Chicago!

Deborah W. Healy
Baltimore

Rodricks In, Steiner Out

This is in addition to Brian Morton's "The L Word" (Political Animal, Feb. 20). Like most fans of WYPR-FM, I was saddened by the sudden firing of the terrific Marc Steiner, a decent and fair-minded liberal who had guests like Howard Zinn, whose wonderful A People's History of the United States is required reading in my grandson's high school. What was great about Steiner's show is that it featured classical and jazz performers, actors, sports figures, and scientists, as well as political viewpoints ranging from A. Robert Kaufman on the left to conservatives with sense like Wayne Gilchrest.

I cannot think of a better replacement for Marc Steiner than the excellent liberal Dan Rodricks. Brian Morton also would be an excellent choice.

Let us all be thankful that WYPR never hires someone like WCBM-AM's Tom Marr, who like the dirigible Hindenberg is a bloated flaming Nazi gasbag. Right after France refused to join the United States in its disgusting war on Iraq, Marr bellowed, "I hate the French!" I have close cousins who reside in Paris--and I take offense.

Finally, I know I join many others in wishing Dan Rodricks the very best in his new venture.

Gerald Ben Shargel
Baltimore

Corrections: Due to a layout mistake, last week's Jonesin' Crossword ran the previous week's grid alongside the latest clues. Sorry about that, puzzle fans. Please turn to page 109 for last week's puzzle (clues and grid both) as well as this week's (ditto, we hope).

Two numbers in the street address for Zella's Pizzeria in our March 5 EAT supplement were transposed in the print edition. The correct address is 1145 Hollins St. City Paper regrets the error.

And in Henry Hong's crab-cake recipe ("Crab Cakes," Feature, March 5), one small but important step was inadvertently omitted during editing: If frying your cakes, after wrapping them in plastic, refrigerate them for at least another half-hour, turning them over once halfway through (it helps flatten both sides of the cake).

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