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Advice for Oprah on Going Veg

by: Jill Richardson

Sat Feb 12, 2011 at 20:23:45 PM PST

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I always say that my mom won't do anything sustainable food-wise until it's on Oprah. (When I told her I was going to hear Michael Pollan speak she replied, "Why do I know that name? I must have seen him on Oprah...") And recently Oprah had a show about going vegan, in which she made her whole staff go vegan. I did not see the show - as I do not have a TV - but I heard a lot about it. But let me first reflect a little bit more on my mom.

I went vegetarian in 2005 and vegan (for a year) in 2006. The first Thanksgiving I came home for, my mom was extremely worried about how in the world she would feed a vegetarian. How could a person possibly get enough protein without eating meat? It must require some sort of, you know, weird food. Tofu perhaps. Another complication was her tendency to put canned chicken broth into a number of otherwise vegetarian recipes. Vegetable soup made with chicken broth? Yeah, that's vegetarian.

I was pretty happy with the typical holiday spread at our house. I could still eat the cranberries, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, and brussel sprouts. That's a wonderful dinner! With pumpkin pie for dessert! But mom was still worried. It couldn't be enough. It didn't include any "protein." I ended up satisfying her by making a tofu, shiitake mushroom, and sugarsnap pea stirfry, which I guess qualified as weird enough to provide a vegetarian source of protein. It was a very strange addition to our otherwise all-American fare.

Several months later, shortly after I went vegan, my parents visited me in Wisconsin. I had not yet told them I was vegan and I did not plan to either. Being vegetarian is weird. Being vegan is just beyond weird. I might as well tell them I was taking up a new career as a faith healer or getting into crystals or Scientology or something. As we drove around town, Mom asked me if it was hard being vegetarian. "Nope," I replied. I don't remember the specifics of the conversation, other than that she thought it must be very difficult, especially eating out in restaurants.

A few hours later, I took them to one of my favorite restaurants, The Great Dane, a microbrewery that has an eclectic menu ranging from pub fare to a very delicious West African peanut and squash stew that I usually order. Mom, without even thinking about it, ordered a portobello burger. I got a pizza margherita without cheese, telling them that I didn't want to eat high fat cheese because I was watching my weight. (Depriving yourself of pleasure because you hate your body is acceptable in my family. Much more normal than being vegan.) As my mom and I both ate our totally vegetarian meals, I reflected on our previous conversation about how hard it must be to find vegetarian food in a restaurant.

My point is that even though I find eating a vegetarian diet (full of whole foods, and without any processed fake meats) incredibly easy, there's a demographic out there that thinks going veg must involve all kinds of dietary gymnastics if it is going to work. I don't think my mom represents Oprah's entire audience, but whoever put together Oprah's vegan show definitely thought crappy fake meat products were a must.

Here's my advice to anyone thinking about reducing the meat or animal products in their diets: Start with the vegetarian foods you already eat and like. Rather than trolling the grocery store for fake everything, how about a nice burrito? Or a stir fry? A salad? Vegetable soup? A normal dinner at our house is brown rice, beans, and stir fried greens. It's delicious, healthy, and filling. We eat pizza and burritos at least once a week each. If you want to be vegan and not just vegetarian, I say make your pizza sans cheese instead of going for the fake cheese. It will taste different from what you know as pizza, but it will still taste good.

The Oprah vegans-need-fake-meat mentality must be rather widespread. After all, there's a market for all of these fake meat, egg, and dairy products. And if you like them, well, who am I to tell you not to eat them? But they are by no means a necessity for a meat-free diet.

Case in point, I recently ran into Kim O'Donnel, author of The Meat Lover's Meatless Cookbook: Vegetarian Recipes Carnivores Will Devour. I told her that I hadn't checked out the cookbook because I wasn't a meat lover. She immediately set me straight. The cookbook was full of delicious, hearty meat-free recipes for real food. No fake meat crap. It was for people like my mom - and Oprah - who could happily order a meat-free meal in a restaurant but still thought going veg involved a drastic change in their diet and, probably, Tofurkey. I'd love to see Oprah do another show on going veg and have Kim O'Donnel on as her guest.

Jill Richardson :: Advice for Oprah on Going Veg
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If you know my mom (4.00 / 2)
don't email this post to her. We're all better off if she doesn't read it.

"I can understand someone from Iowa promoting corn and soy, but we are not feeding the world, we are feeding animals and soft drink companies." - Jim Goodman

LOL about your mom not knowing. (4.00 / 3)
I always find it so odd that people aproach vegetarianism or veganism the way the Opra staff did. Things would be so much easier for everyone if people who don't want to eat meat just ate other plant materials that have proteins and celebrate them the way the meat eaters celebrate a good chop or rib.

Even something like tofu is wonderful if people just treat the tofu like tofu as opposed to trying to make tofu into a meat like substance.

I mean, good lord, people don't actually eat meat because they need the protein. They eat it because they like meat. Hell, that's why I eat (and go to the trouble of raising, slaughtering and cooking) emu. I love the meat in any manner of ways, marinated, canned, fried up plain, stewed. I love the stuff. I certainly don't eat it for the protein. If people were eating meat only for the protein, they'd eat a whole lot less of it in a sitting.

Normal people scare me.... But not as much as I scare them.

[ Parent ]
it's a good point you make (4.00 / 2)
I was talking to a local farmer who raises and slaughters his own chickens. He grows and eats a lot of fruits and vegetables, but he's no vegetarian. I told him that if any of my birds were roosters, perhaps he could have them for dinner. He replied that he had little interest in eating them because he had several chickens of his own slated for his dinner table and usually, at the end of the day, he was just too damn tired to deal with slaughtering a chicken.

"I can understand someone from Iowa promoting corn and soy, but we are not feeding the world, we are feeding animals and soft drink companies." - Jim Goodman

[ Parent ]
Ah, memories! (4.00 / 2)
The chicken broth thing you mention is familiar.  "What, I didn't put any actual chicken in it!"

(Jay is speechless...)

And then there are the dishes some people insist are vegetarian because there's "just a little bit of bacon in it, don't worry about that", and etc.


my favorite (4.00 / 2)
"Well I don't know how to make it if I don't use chicken broth? What else can I use?"

Um, vegetable broth????

"I can understand someone from Iowa promoting corn and soy, but we are not feeding the world, we are feeding animals and soft drink companies." - Jim Goodman

[ Parent ]
I imagine your Mom (4.00 / 3)
cooked with Swanson broth.Does she know that now you can buy veggie broth?

[ Parent ]
And your ultimate point... (4.00 / 2)
Spot on -

The Oprah vegans-need-fake-meat mentality must be rather widespread. After all, there's a market for all of these fake meat, egg, and dairy products. And if you like them, well, who am I to tell you not to eat them? But they are by no means a necessity for a meat-free diet.

Many times Oprah's shows have (4.00 / 3)
a product tie-in. It does not surprise me at all that commercially produced fake meat products figured so prominently in her vegan show. Did she give away samples? I doubt she would be handing out raw vegies to her audience, but I can easily imagine her giving the audience either packages of fake meat product or gift certificates to purchase those products.

IIRC, one of her guests had written a vegan cookbook featuring fake meat. Another product tie-in.

I agree, of course, that people who like and/or want the fake meat should eat away.  

[ Parent ]
I've got a friend who I call (4.00 / 2)
a junk food vegan. Health does not enter into his reasons for not eating animal products. Fake whatever? Sure, bring it on - if it tastes good. Even my chef roommate loves Tofurkey. I haven't tasted it and don't plan to. I have had some of the veggie sausages and bacons in the past and they weren't bad. But they also weren't as good as the real thing, nor are the foods I feel it is necessary to have in my diet. If you want to eat local or unprocessed or whole foods, fake meat is not what you're looking for.

"I can understand someone from Iowa promoting corn and soy, but we are not feeding the world, we are feeding animals and soft drink companies." - Jim Goodman

[ Parent ]
There's also the factor (4.00 / 3)

at play of why one goes veggie or vegan in the first place.  If a driving factor is issues around the environment or in reaction to the negatives of the industrial food system, fake meat products aren't really great in that regard.  Really just a bit better if 'sustainability' is a factor.  I don't know anything at all about the Oprah show but if it was played as veggie or vegan is a better environmental choice then promoting fake meat is a bit of ecological washing.

   Fake meat is an industrial food made from soy which for the most part is grown in large industrial mono cultures.    It also takes a whole lot of energy to process it into the components that these products are made from.  They don't just take beans and mash them up.  Then there are all the other components, flavorings and binders which are all processed foodstuffs.

  Similar things have happened with the production of tofu. It's not quite as processed as the meat products but for the most part it's production has been industrialized  and homogenized in order to serve western markets.  Most of the most popular brands are now parts of large corporate food conglomerates as well.

 At least with tofu though a person could make it in their kitchen. Making fake meat would need more of lab set-up.   And smaller scale artisnal companies do exist in some locales where the tofu produced is closer to what non-industrial tofu actually is.  

 I do think these products have their place. It's great that at things like community BBQs veggie dogs and veggie burgers are an options now for instance and they're good options if one is trying to feed groups of people who have different diet choices.  I'm thinking of the time I made spaghetti sauce for a group with veggie ground beef.  It was good enough to satisfy the meat eaters who liked having 'meat' in their sauce and of course okay for the veggies.  

 I guess my point really is that if a person is approaching a veggie or vegan diet from an ecological perspective or in some sort of opposition to the industrial food system and they eats a lot of fake meat then it's a bit of an illusion that their diet is making that much of a difference.

I'm trying to source out and article I read last year that compared the energy and resource inputs of factory farmed meat, soy products like tofu and fake meat and organic locally raised meat like beef and chicken.   Factory farmed quite obviously lost on ecological concerns.  The ecological difference between fake meat and local meant wasn't so clear and that far apart from each when all the factors of production were considered.  

[ Parent ]
tofu (4.00 / 2)
What is the point of tofu? Does anyone know how it came to be an element of our food system? Does it appeal primarily to former meat eaters, or do some people like it for itself?

[ Parent ]
Here's an interesting short history of Tofu (4.00 / 2)
History of Tofu. Apparently it's been used as a vegetable protein source for a long, long time, started in China between at least A.D. 25-220, was spread from China to Japan by Budhist monks, and from there elsewhere by others. Being made from soy beans, well, other than edamame, I think that if you're going to consume soy beans, they have to be processed pretty heavily. Kind of like olives, you gotta press them for oil, brine them, etc. otherwise they're really not edible.

Thinking on that, you know how there's so much soy meal in animal feeds, I wonder if that's all by product from making other soy products? Kind of like distillers dried grains, that's what's left over after you get finished making beer and many other distilled spirits. The mash is dried and milled into feed. Distillers dried grains are usually pretty high up on the feed bag list of ingredients.

I like tofu, I just like it for what it is, a neutral flavored ingredient in recipes what provides a nice textural element as well as a kind of a resting place for the pallet (kind of like calm areas for the eye to rest in a painting). There are all sorts of things you can do with tofu, you can use it in soups, fry it, smoke it, etc. I love the firm tofu in sweet and sour soup, one of my favorite chinese soups.

From the couple of articles I just read it was probably brought to the USA by Chinese and Japanese immegrants.

Normal people scare me.... But not as much as I scare them.

[ Parent ]
soy meal (4.00 / 2)
My impression has been that soy meal was pretty much the residue from oil production, but that's only an impression.

I think that if you're going to consume soy beans, they have to be processed pretty heavily.

Could be, I'm not sure I've ever seen dried soybeans in a food store. That would be a good justification for the development of tofu.

[ Parent ]
I think you're right (4.00 / 2)
the only way I can remember seeing soy beans in the store other than tofu, soy milk, are roasted soy nuts (I actually like those better than roasted peanuts or sunflower seeds), and edamame. I know that soy is very high in protein, and feeds for different animals has to be formulated with different levels of different grains because the protein levels have to be different for those different animals.

You know, thinking more about it, and I'll have to research this more, I wonder what percentage of feeds are actually made with byproducts from the soy industry. What I mean is, I wonder how much, if any, of the soy grown is used solely for animal feeds vs how much is used for something else, like oil, tofu, etc. production and the byproduct is used in the animal feed.

Normal people scare me.... But not as much as I scare them.

[ Parent ]
Just looking into this briefly (4.00 / 3)
I'm seeing that probably most animal feeds containing soy have soy meal, hulls, etc., and not fresh milled soy beans. Soy beans are so high in fat that they have a 3 month or less shelf life if they are milled direct. Even feeding raw soy beans, and grazing soy bean fields can be risky because of some enzymes present in the beans and because grazing harvested fields can result in over consumtion which means that the livestock get too much fat, which in turn will interfere with the digestive system, interfere with vitamin and mineral uptake, etc.

Monogastric, runinant and preruminant animals (ruminant animals that are still nursing or under a certain age/weight), all have to be fed different protein and fat contents in their diets. For instance, I think pigs can handle higher protein contents than cattle can, chickens can handle high protein content compared to other animals. Remember, high for some would be toxic to others.

Here's an interesting info sheet from Mississippi State  Extension service - Feeding Raw Whole Soybeans to Cattle

Everyone I've ever heard speak about animal agriculture and corn/soybean production has always approached the issue from the stand point that most of that production was strictly for animal feeds. Now with corn you can crack, roll, or grind the dry corn and feed it directly to the animals. When Harold was a kid, they didn't even go that far, they just took ears out of the corn crib and toss them out to the chickens.

But I'm begining to suspicion, given the protein/fat/chemical makeup of soy, and given the sheer volume of production of things like soy oil, that the bulk of soy in animal feeds is from soybean meal. That would mean that all of those soybeans are being grown to make products for human consumption and the byproducts (meals, hulls, etc.) that would go into the landfills, is being used for animal consumption.

According to this fact page from EPA - Major Crops Grown in the USA, in 2000, USA soybeans made up 56% of all oilseed production in the world, and soybean oil made up 79% of all edible oils cosumed in the USA. I wonder what the stats are now?

Normal people scare me.... But not as much as I scare them.

[ Parent ]
soybeans (4.00 / 1)
I'm begining to suspicion...

Yes indeed, the fact sheet from Mississippi State makes it clear that there are good reasons not to feed soybeans except with great care.

With regard to how much protein is too much, think of the magnificent animals that evolved for a forage diet. If they can generate adequate growth rates to perhaps a thousand pounds or more, and then sustain that weight with a diet of mostly leaves or grass, they must be ultra-efficient (compared to humans, say) at both extracting and using protein. I see how it would be easy to overfeed such an animal under domestication. By contrast, swine and chickens wouldn't necessarily be as efficient, because they have a wider variety of food sources.

I'm unencumbered by facts in this matter, but it's fun to speculate.

[ Parent ]
Soybeans (4.00 / 2)
I've seen them in health food stores. I guess the folks who get them make their own tofu and soy milk.

I have an older college text about poultry production and it says that raw dried soybeans have a protein that isn't digestible by chickens. They need to be heated to a certain temperature in order to cause some change in the protein. They talk about an extrusion machine that heats the soybeans enough to do the conversion.

There's a lot of okara left over from soymilk and tofu production mostly the skins but some other edible things as well. I've seen Okara Patties, a veggie-burger in stores but have never eaten them.  

[ Parent ]
if I've got my facts right (4.00 / 2)
some 98% of soy in our country is crushed for oil which goes into the human food supply and the resulting meal goes to animals.

"I can understand someone from Iowa promoting corn and soy, but we are not feeding the world, we are feeding animals and soft drink companies." - Jim Goodman

[ Parent ]
If that's the case, (0.00 / 0)
and having read just the little bit of material I did today I believe you, why is it that everyone I hear talking about factory farming and commodity grain farming keeps holding to the premise that soy beans are grown for animal feed?

They should be harping on the fact that hundreds of thousands of acres are used to grow soybeans for cooking and eating oil and the waste product that otherwise would go to the landfill is being used productively to produce meat, eggs and dairy.

Normal people scare me.... But not as much as I scare them.

[ Parent ]
I'm not quite sure (4.00 / 2)
I agree with you there. Because humans have other choices for fats and oils, not just soy. Typically, nowadays, anything you see labeled "vegetable oil" is actually soybean oil. And it's used in a ton of processed foods too. Before transfats were infamous and palm oil got so big, the partially hydrogenated soybean oil was used to replace saturated fat in our food. Particularly processed food, but also for people who bought margarine. And now they tend to use palm oil instead and that's bad too. What about butter? From cows that ate grass?

"I can understand someone from Iowa promoting corn and soy, but we are not feeding the world, we are feeding animals and soft drink companies." - Jim Goodman

[ Parent ]
There's not enough butter (4.00 / 1)
to replace the vegetable oils, not enough grass to feed all the cows it would take to replace the vegetable oils with butter, and for many things you can't use butter.

You know what used to be used before all of the plant based oils were so common? Lard. But to get lard, you have to raise lard hogs, and there are very few lard hogs in the USA anymore, and even fewer people raising them. I think all of the commercially raised pigs are bacon hogs, and even the dual purpose hogs that make up a lot of the heritage breeds are being raised for meat not lard. The only lard hogs I know of being raised for both meat and lard are Mangalitsa. I've been reading about these pigs brought into the USA several years ago by Heath Putnam. I've been seriously thinking about buying a couple to raise next year. I'd like to this year, but I just have too much going on.

If I were to raise a couple of mangalitsa (or any other lard hog for that matter) when I slaughtered them, I would have enough lard to render that I wouldn't have to depend on plant based oils for anything other that the olive oil I use for salad dressings. Between lard hogs and goats, who's milk I can make butter from (although it won't be as much as if I had a jersey cow), I could be almost 100% independant from commercially produced oils and fats.

Lard you can melt for deep fat frying, and other applications where you need a higher smoke point. Butter you can't. But then too, I wouldn't want to make my favorite vinegarette with anything other than olive oil. I can't even stand it with corn, canola or vegetable oil.

Normal people scare me.... But not as much as I scare them.

[ Parent ]
I can attest that in China (4.00 / 2)
Tofu is made to actually taste good and it's eaten by everyone, not vegetarians. It's eaten for itself.

"I can understand someone from Iowa promoting corn and soy, but we are not feeding the world, we are feeding animals and soft drink companies." - Jim Goodman

[ Parent ]
You make very good points (4.00 / 1)
and I agree with you. Soybeans are really a mess in South America. I think Brazil is the #1 producer or exporter (can't remember) of soy, and other countries like Bolivia produce soy too. I'm trying to find out more on WHERE in Bolivia this happens, and more about Brazil as well (the bigger story is in Brazil, but I know Bolivia better) and how much of it is being done on deforested rainforest land. In Bolivia it could be tropical dry forest that is cut down to make way for the soybeans, I'm not sure. But it ain't good. No better than us cutting down our own woodlands and prairies to grow all the corn and soy we grow today.

"I can understand someone from Iowa promoting corn and soy, but we are not feeding the world, we are feeding animals and soft drink companies." - Jim Goodman

[ Parent ]
We just had a debate (4.00 / 3)
My room mate and I, about how to go veg in the easiest possible way if your diet includes little other than meat, cheese, and processed carbs to begin with. I say start by introducing new foods - real foods - into your diet like bean burritos, veggie stir fries, etc, and work them into your normal routine so you are comfortable with them, and THEN phase the meat out. He says that going from meat to fake meat would be the easiest way to go for some. I guess it depends on the person. But I don't see how adding a middle step of fake meat into an ultimate transition from real meat to real veggies, nuts, whole grains, beans, and fruits makes things easier. It just procrastinates the introduction of veggies, etc, into your diet.

"I can understand someone from Iowa promoting corn and soy, but we are not feeding the world, we are feeding animals and soft drink companies." - Jim Goodman

great post (4.00 / 3)
Ok own family isn't typical. We've always made good meatless dishes for Dani, my daughter. After she became vegan it did include "meatless" meatballs,veggie burgers and fake meats. She herself no longer eats the fake stuff and in fact eats way less tofu and a lot more beans. Me..that's why I started my weekly blog post here because vegan cooking can be tasty and healthy without all the fake stuff.

Yup (4.00 / 4)
That's why I love your cooking posts. There are so many vegetables, greens, fruits, melons, etc. and so many ways to prepare them that your food pallet is virtually infinate eating a vegetarian or even vegan diet. There are way more types of produce and ways of cooking and combining them than there are for red meat, poultry, seafood, or even insects.

Tofurkey totally cracks me up. To me it's the ultimate as far as fake meat. Tofu, seitan and/or other plant foods pretending to be turkey, so that people who don't want to eat meat can pretend to have turkey at Thanksgiving, a practice that not only is it dishonest as far as being what you are (a vegetarian or vegan pretending to eat meat) but it completely ignores the spirit of the holiday, which is not about eating turkey, it's about celebrating the boon of family, food and how fortunate we are. If you're a vegetarian or a vegan I don't think your food bounty is meat.

Normal people scare me.... But not as much as I scare them.

[ Parent ]
Joanne, thanks for the compliment (4.00 / 3)
and you are right about Thanksgiving. Its my favorite secular holiday. Passover is my favorite religious holiday

[ Parent ]
Seitan for seitan's sake (4.00 / 3)
That's another one of those foods that should stand alone. When I lived in Marin I used to go to a Thai restaurant and always got their red curry. They used seitan and I thought that was how it is always supposed to be made. Then I moved to Lake County and our first Thai restaurant opened about 5 years ago. They used tofu instead of seitan. Outrage!

Seitan is always available at the health food store for around $8 a pound and has all sorts of lame added flavorings. Sheesh! Then there's the Chinese canned stuff in Asian markets which is mushy and tastes awful.

I have vital wheat gluten on hand since I do a lot of baking, so I made some of my own and it's really cheap and simple. Wheat gluten, water, soy sauce, grated ginger. Then knead for a while and simmer it in a pot with water and soy sauce.

What could be simpler? And it's really cheap to make. One of these days, I'll try making it from wheat flour instead of vital wheat gluten.  

[ Parent ]
Beans (4.00 / 3)
Do people have favorite beans? I'm new to cooking dried beans. I think I'm on my way to being a great admirer of garbanzo beans. Don't much like kidneys and pintos. White beans (Great Northern, navy, etc.) are nice.

I visited a grocery a couple of weeks ago that has more bean varieties than my neighborhood chain supermarket. I need to return and pick up some of these "specialty" kinds.

I've always loved pintos (4.00 / 2)
My mother made pinto bean soup when I was a kid. A totally American-style dish with a ham hock, onions, carrots, etc. I love Navy beans, too. Once in a while I make Boston Baked Beans using some fake bacon bits to add umami to them and it seems to work well.

Then there's the Old World beans, such as split pea soup, garbanzos for falafels, hummus and Indian dishes. Favas are really, really good and never had them before last week. Red lentils for making dal. Brown lentils with barley & onions for soup!

I guess I like them all, but maybe kidney beans not so much -- although mixing them with barbeque sauce is pretty good. Maybe those dried large lima beans aren't so good to me -- it's been so long since I've had them. They get kinda mushy.

I'd like to get a hold of genuine Swedish brown beans to make sweet Swedish beans like they serve in those smörgåsbords.

[ Parent ]
lima beans (4.00 / 1)
They get kinda mushy.

I wonder if they fall apart like peeled favas, if cooked long enough. That would be nice!

[ Parent ]
lima beans (4.00 / 1)
Lima beans on a plate or in succotash, which are the only ways I've eaten them, are my least favorite bean, but I still want to see what happens when they're boiled a long time.

[ Parent ]
My favorites are black beans (4.00 / 3)
and I love split peas and lentils too.

Normal people scare me.... But not as much as I scare them.

[ Parent ]
black beans (4.00 / 2)
I haven't gotten to black beans yet, maybe they should go next on my list. I love a tasty black bean soup but never made it myself.

[ Parent ]
black bean "technique" (4.00 / 2)
I cook up a pot of black beans and rice (in another pot)I freeze them in a container. When you "defrost" directly in a skillet along with a little water, it makes them creamy.
I add fresh coriander and put on a ww burrito

[ Parent ]
we might disagree here (4.00 / 3)
because I've always loved kidneys and pintos. I love chickpeas too but they are a different taste than kidneys or pintos. I love them all.

My recommendation is to check out Rancho Gordo because they've got a zillion normal and heirloom varieties of beans AND they are all fresher than the stuff you'll get in the supermarket and thus tastier. Fresher by several YEARS. You don't even need to soak 'em overnight - just a few hours.

"I can understand someone from Iowa promoting corn and soy, but we are not feeding the world, we are feeding animals and soft drink companies." - Jim Goodman

[ Parent ]
I second Jill's Rancho Gordo recommendation. (4.00 / 4)
The variety they offer is amazing, and the beans are so fresh. Many of their beans are grown here in the USA, but they also have a cooperative program with growers in Mexico who are producing, and thereby keeping alive, traditional bean varieties.

My favorite beans:

Cannellini, cranberry, yellow eye, borlotti, Good Mother Stallard, pinto, yellow indian woman, various ayacote beans, lentils.

Black beans, while not a fave, are good, too. I don't much care for red kidney beans.

I was not a fan of garbanzos, other than in hummus, until I had a dish at a Middle Eastern restaurant recently that was steamed garbanzos with garlic and olive oil. It was great.

[ Parent ]
Yeah (4.00 / 3)
I'm specifically going for the ones from Mexico bc I like that idea so much. But I'm not picky about beans - I like them all - so I don't have to worry about not liking what i get.

"I can understand someone from Iowa promoting corn and soy, but we are not feeding the world, we are feeding animals and soft drink companies." - Jim Goodman

[ Parent ]
And let me add that I never soak beans from (4.00 / 4)
Rancho Gordo at all. I just cook them. They are so fresh that unsoaked beans cook in at most the same amount of time as soaked beans from the grocery store. And often the RG beans cook in less time than pre-soaked grocery store beans.

If you buy from RG today, you may well get beans that were grown just this past summer. If you buy from the grocery store, even the bulk bins, you are probably getting beans that have been in storage for years. That is why they need to be soaked and take so long to cook. They are rock hard and devoid of any moisture.

[ Parent ]
That garbanzo bean dish i mentioned in the above (4.00 / 4)
comment is called Baleela. I ate at Karam Lebanese Restaurant here in Portland. This link is to their lunch menu that includes Baleela.

[ Parent ]
Never been there... (4.00 / 3)
I need more Lebanese in my life.  I could go for that eggplant stew.


Wow, I think the last Lebanese I've had was Ya Hala out in Montavilla (SE Stark & 82nd-ish).  Like four years ago!

[ Parent ]
Karam is a sweet little restaurant. (4.00 / 2)
I eat there fairly often when lunching w/people downtown (SE Stark between 3rd and 4th).  The owners are so nice.

I have yet to find a middle eastern dish there that I do not like, although I have not had the eggplant stew.

My favorite way to eat there is to share a veggie mezza w/my eating companion, and supplement with a new dish or two that we want to try.

I was crushed when Abu Karim, a middle eastern place downtown that I had patronized since the early '80s, closed. I was delighted to find Karam.

[ Parent ]
Good to hear... (4.00 / 2)
...I'll have to try to stop in one of these days.

There's another one right around the corner - Al Amir, in a beautiful old building next to Cameron's Books.  Across from Mother's Bistro (another place I have to eat).  I almost stopped in there a few weeks ago.  To be honest, I want to get in to see the interior of the building as much as I want to eat there!


I do love our old buildings, as you may know...

I just ran the name in a search over at, interesting.  Looks like Karam is, while not directly linked to the others, operated and run by members of the same family who own / run Nicholas (SE Grand), Ya Hala and its attached grocery store, Arabian Breeze (NE Broadway) and Hoda's (SE Belmont).

[ Parent ]
Al Amir is in the historic (4.00 / 3)
Bishop's House, which was built as the first home of the bishop when the  Archdiocese was moved to Portland. It has gone through many incarnations since that time, and I believe it is now on the National Register of Historical Buildings.

I have not been to Al Amir in a number of years. When I did go there, the interior was quite lovely, and the food was excellent. There was no specific reason I stopped going; it just fell off my radar.

[ Parent ]
yes (4.00 / 3)
I like cannelini beans for dips and creaming in soups. I like the Indian chick peas ( smaller)for salads, although I just used them to make Egyptian felafel. I like pintos for re fried beans.And of course I refer to this cookbook quite a lot :)

[ Parent ]
Celebrating the revolution? (4.00 / 2)
That's what I wanted to do here too. I haven't managed to celebrate with food but there's been lots of happiness around here.

"I can understand someone from Iowa promoting corn and soy, but we are not feeding the world, we are feeding animals and soft drink companies." - Jim Goodman

[ Parent ]
Cranberry and tolosanas beans... (4.00 / 2)
I get cranberry beans fresh in the farmers' markets in late summer / early fall.  I've found them dried since then, but they kinda lose something for me in that form.  Or maybe I just suck at cooking dried beans.  Don't think it's that, though.

I eat garbanzo beans in the form of falafel from food carts more than I do whole these days.  That's horrible, I should turn that around soon.  Did have a nice curried carrot salad with whole garbanzos the other week, though...

Working my way through a thing of dried tolosanas beans right now.  Picked them up from the PSU farmers' market many months ago, can't even remember when.  "The staple of Basque cooking"...

[ Parent ]
vegan cornbread (4.00 / 2)
Jill, cornbread made without an egg is more crumbly, more fall-apartish than I want. Does your vegan chef make vegan cornbread just by omitting the egg, or does he have a way of making it hold together?

Many online vegan cornbread recipes use an industrial egg substitute. I think I won't do that. I intend to see what happens if I simmer a bit of garbanzo flour and add that to the wet ingredients. Might not work, but worth a try.

My "vegan chef" is not much of a vegan (4.00 / 2)
anymore, if he ever was. He eats an awful lot of eggs. But what I would do to make the cornbread is to include tofu. And when choosing your tofu, DO NOT GET MORI-NU IT TASTES GROSS and will ruin whatever you're making.  

"I can understand someone from Iowa promoting corn and soy, but we are not feeding the world, we are feeding animals and soft drink companies." - Jim Goodman

[ Parent ]
by the way (4.00 / 2)
no promise that this will work, or that the tofu will work. There's a way to make your own egg replacer using flax seeds. I've never had luck with it but the idea is that you grind up flax seeds, add water, let it sit 30 min, and that can substitute for egg. Look it up instead of taking my advice because I might have the details wrong.

When I was trying to be fully vegan, I found that most of the time you've got a number of ways to try and replace eggs, and you basically have to just try them and see what happens.  

"I can understand someone from Iowa promoting corn and soy, but we are not feeding the world, we are feeding animals and soft drink companies." - Jim Goodman

[ Parent ]
I never had any luck with the flax seed thing (4.00 / 3)
For cakes I use bananas or tofu as a binder. Chick pea flour is a good binder although it has a strong taste and can't be used for everything.  

[ Parent ]
taste (4.00 / 2)
Lately I've been using nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, and vanilla in cornbread, so chickpea flour taste might not be a problem.

[ Parent ]
I've found that (4.00 / 2)
bananas can have a strong flavor though.

"I can understand someone from Iowa promoting corn and soy, but we are not feeding the world, we are feeding animals and soft drink companies." - Jim Goodman

[ Parent ]
what about applesauce? (4.00 / 3)

[ Parent ]
that imparts a flavor too (4.00 / 2)
when I've tried it. It can be good, if the flavor complements what you're making. Usually I use applesauce to replace oil.

"I can understand someone from Iowa promoting corn and soy, but we are not feeding the world, we are feeding animals and soft drink companies." - Jim Goodman

[ Parent ]
that too (4.00 / 2)
I've used in quick breads..

[ Parent ]
Here's a couple of ideas (4.00 / 2)
You can scald the cornmeal -- pour boiling water over it and it will soak it up and behave more nicely in your bread. Use it after it becomes tepid again Another method is to let the cornmeal soak overnight.

Bread flour has more gluten so it will have more binding power than all-purpose flour. King Arthur even makes a special-purpose high-gluten bread flour branded with the name Sir Lancelot which has even more binding power than ordinary bread flour.

Then you can buy additives such as vital wheat gluten to add to your regular flour. Another additive that the gluten-free bread crowd uses to bind their breads is guar gum. I can't attest to the flavor of guar gum, but I can attest that it works.

[ Parent ]
I'll try those. (4.00 / 1)
I have KA bread flour, but right now I'm using the next step down, unbleached all purpose. I'll also try scalding the cornmeal.

[ Parent ]
Oprah and vegetarianism (4.00 / 1)
I wonder if vegetarians appreciate all the environmental destruction that results from plant agriculture. Here in the Midwest I see these giant corn, wheat, and soy farms that use so many pesticides and fertilizers made from fossil fuels-which are really just dead dinosaurs(not vegetarian)- that destroys the soil and washes into our rivers, lakes and streams and, further down, into the Gulf of Mexico, creating a tremendous dead zone. If you don't use animals, you pretty much have to use fossil fuels to sustain any decent sized farm.  The other problem I have, is vegetarianism is not natural for human beings. When agriculture was invented, scientists have found the population shrunk three inches. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2000, in a study by Loren Cordain et al., not one primitive soicety on earth(out of 229) was vegetarian. And I know a number of vegeatarians that eat an awful lot of junk food.

That's not entirely true (4.00 / 2)
First, "If you don't use animals, you pretty much have to use fossil fuels to sustain any decent sized farm." - Rodale Institute tested it by growing corn and soy with 3 different systems side by side for 30 years. One is conventional, one is organic with manure, and the other is organic with no animal inputs, just compost from dead leaves and nitrogen-fixing cover crops. After the first 4 years, while the soil life builds up in the organic systems, the 3 are pretty much equal in yields, although the organic systems do better in drought years.

Second, about the harmful ag you see in the midwest - I don't deny it. But quite a bit of that goes to feed animals for meat, dairy, and egg production.

Third, while it's possible to be a junk food vegetarian, that's not what's advocated on this blog. Actually, I don't personally EVER advocate vegetarianism for anyone who doesn't want to go veg. I think we all need LESS meat and BETTER meat (i.e. raised on pasture, not factory farmed) but we don't need to all go veg.

As for the evolutionary evidence, I think the benefit of being human is that we can eat just about anything and live just about anywhere. Including being vegetarian. From what I've read, being truly vegan isn't really something that historically happened, because the people who thought they were vegan actually got their B12 from bugs mixed in with their grains (or something). But if you look at history, you won't find examples of the factory farming and industrial agriculture that go on today, nor will you find such widespread high meat consumption as we have today.

About the humans shrinking when switching to agriculture, I believe that... but I think it's because agriculture was more difficult and not as productive as hunting and gathering, not because humans stopped eating meat. I doubt they stopped eating meat, if they could get it either by hunting or from domesticated animals.

"I can understand someone from Iowa promoting corn and soy, but we are not feeding the world, we are feeding animals and soft drink companies." - Jim Goodman

[ Parent ]
I think that the animals or fossil fuels (4.00 / 2)
issue could have to do with traction? If you have a farm of any size, you will have to use fossil fuels and/or animals to prepare the fields, sow the crop and harvest the crop, get it out of the field, process, package, etc.

Up untill this year, I had to use fossil fuels to till the land as the areas I was working in were too small to turn a team in. And, if you're using animals for traction, unless you're working on a piece of land that's big enough to support your stock, you're still tied to fossil fuels to bring in your hay which will have been grown and harvested by someone who's probably using tractors to harvest and bring in the hay, and tractor trailer rigs to haul the hay to your local hay dealer unless you're going out and bucking it out of the field (always the best choice if you have the time and labor), and then you're using fossil fuels in your own rig to bring in the forages.

Normal people scare me.... But not as much as I scare them.

[ Parent ]
stature (4.00 / 2)
Stature change is a normal response to scarcity or abundance of food. It happens today and it happened thousands of years ago. Invention of agriculture doesn't imply that people stopped eating meat or ate less meat because of agriculture, although they might have eaten less meat and less food in general because of scarcity. Stature change says nothing about the quality of food from plants in general, although obviously if a population has a restricted diet (mainly potatoes during the Irish famine or mainly bananas in Uganda today) that population is likely to be growth-stressed and health-stressed.

With that clarification out of the way, animals are great at converting plants and other things that people can't or don't eat into meat that people thrive on.

[ Parent ]
wondering (4.00 / 1)
I wonder if vegetarians appreciate...

Do you really wonder? According to your user ID number, you've been here long enough to know the answer. Although I'm not vegetarian, the vegetarians here certainly are concerned, with the clarification that the environmental damage isn't from plant agriculture, it is from improper ag practice, if you see the distinction. A person from the Midwest should be aware of the environmental damage from improper ag practice raising chickens, hogs, and cattle.

[ Parent ]
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