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Friday, October 23, 2009

Rants and Raves

We just got back from a fabulous trip to San Francisco and LA - we spent time with my brother and his girlfriend in SF, plus two of our best pals in LA. It was a really magical trip; by far the best we've had as a family since we brought Carlos home nearly three years ago. He's finally at an age where traveling is starting to be pleasant again.

So first, the raves -

The food was amazing. We ate so much fantastic vegan food, I'm not sure if I can remember it all, but I'll try. Sorry, I was too busy stuffing my face to take pictures.

Love & Haight Deli in SF - I had a delicious 'chicken' steak deli sandwich. I can't remember the last time I had a decent deli sandwich. Yum. My only regret was that I didn't think to add avocado.

Cafe Gratitude in SF - our meal was slightly marred by our very cranky and over-tired four-year-old, but this was still a fun experience. Definitely not mainstream, but worth trying at least once.

Rainbow Grocery
in SF - I went here for the sole purpose of purchasing mass amounts of Daiya vegan cheese. I ended up buying five pounds, and immediately upon leaving the store, regretted not buying ten. They only carry the Italian-style shreds (not the orange kind), but that's better than nothing (which is what I have up here in this rural wasteland I call home). When I told the cheese counter lady that I came from out of town to get the Daiya, she said she sees a lot of that, and wanted to know where I was from. She then declared that I won the long-distance award. I consider it a badge of honor.

Five pounds of Daiya cheese.

Pure Luck Cafe in LA - WOW. This place was incredible... they make an amazing marinaded mock-meat from jackfruit, of all things. I had it in a burrito, but they put it in all kinds of other things as well. The fried pickles, sweet potato fries, and Caesar salad were all also great.

Tierra Cafe in LA - decent vegan taquitos, crappy service.

Native Foods in Costa Mesa - I think this was the highlight for me. I loved the atmosphere (it's the only restaurant in North America that's in a yurt, who knew?), and the food was excellent (although I think the desserts could be better). I had pizza and salad, and also sampled Carlos' mac and cheese - everything was really, really tasty. So much so that I had to buy the cookbook.

Golden Mean Vegan Cafe in Santa Monica - this was enjoyable, but not the best I've ever had. I was excited to see a panini on the menu, and specifically asked if it included Daiya cheese (yes, I'm a little nuts over the stuff), to which the server responded yes; however, when I received my sandwich, there was no cheese to be seen. I still enjoyed it, but it wasn't the best thing I've ever had. I also thought that their cookies were kind of dry and just so-so. Of the four things ordered by my group, I definitely thought that 'the works' burger looked the best.

Cruzer Pizza in LA - it's neck and neck between Cruzer Pizza and Native Foods for top honors on this trip. We got takeout pizza with Daiya cheese (again! I know...) and it was totally awesome. I don't know what else to say about pizza... the crust was good? It was just an all-around spectacular pizza, vegan or otherwise.

Okay, that's the end of the raves. On to the rants. (Is anyone still with me?)

On the plane on the way home, I found myself reading the Southwest Airlines in-flight magazine. Yes, I was hard up for reading material. Anyways, the theme of this particular issue was how geeks are going to save us from our current environmental mess. For a split second, I was so thrilled to turn the page and see a giant headline stating that 20% of all methane emissions come from the agriculture industry. It's so gratifying to see this fact finally getting the public exposure it deserves. However, all too often, like in this case, the emphasis is all wrong. The solution that this particular magazine put forward was the work of some scientists to create genetically modified cattle who produce less methane.

Is it just me, or is this seriously messed up? It seems to me that absolutely the last thing we need right now is more genetically modified food. It truly amazes me to see how attached people are to the idea of eating flesh; so much so that they would rather mess with nature in bizarre and possibly dangerous ways to create animals who burp a little less, thereby making a small dent in the problem, rather than reduce (or eliminate) meat and dairy from their diets, which would make a much larger impact, as well as improve their health and the lives of animals in the process. It's such a no-brainer to me, I really can't wrap my brain around it.

On to rant number two...

I was listening to a (mainstream; non vegan) podcast this morning and was again momentarily happy to hear the host saying that it's becoming increasingly difficult to defend eating meat due to the increasing evidence of the environmental and health risks associated with this behavior. But then, of course, he has to go on to make some lame comment about how good it tastes.

So rant 2(a) is - why, oh why, is it okay to justify torturing and killing sentient beings for the sake of our tastebuds? Would these same people say that it's okay to rape an animal because they are horny? Seriously people, these are living, feeling creatures. The bottom line is that we don't have any dietary requirement for animal flesh or secretions; therefore, making animals suffer and die to become human food is just plain wrong.

After that, the podcaster said something like "but as it turns out, it's not such a great time to be a vegetarian either, because a recent study just listed leafy greens as the most likely food item to be contaminated by e-coli."

Rant 2(b) - Whaaaaaat? How in the world does this mean that it's a bad time to be vegetarian? I know plenty of vegetarians who eat very few leafy greens, and plenty of omnivores who eat lots of leafy greens. Leafy greens are not the sole property of vegetarians. Geez. What an idiotic thing to say.

Okay, I'm done now. I have to go bathe my skunky dog.

Monday, October 12, 2009

An Excellent Read

This NY Times Article by Jonathan Safran Foer, author of the soon-to-be-published book, Eating Animals, is really good. It's so encouraging to see things like this gaining ground in the mainstream media. The article is kind of long; I've excerpted my favorite pieces below in case you don't feel like reading the whole thing (although I encourage you to make the time!) -

My wife and I have chosen to bring up our children as vegetarians. In another time or place, we might have made a different decision. But the realities of our present moment compelled us to make that choice. According to an analysis of U.S.D.A. data by the advocacy group Farm Forward, factory farms now produce more than 99 percent of the animals eaten in this country. And despite labels that suggest otherwise, genuine alternatives ... are very difficult for even an educated eater to find. I don’t have the ability to do so with regularity and confidence. (“Free range,” “cage free,” “natural” and “organic” are nearly meaningless when it comes to animal welfare.)

According to reports by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. and others, factory farming has made animal agriculture the No. 1 contributor to global warming (it is significantly more destructive than transportation alone), and one of the Top 2 or 3 causes of all of the most serious environmental problems, both global and local: air and water pollution, deforestation, loss of biodiversity. . . . Eating factory-farmed animals — which is to say virtually every piece of meat sold in supermarkets and prepared in restaurants — is almost certainly the single worst thing that humans do to the environment.

Every factory-farmed animal is, as a practice, treated in ways that would be illegal if it were a dog or a cat. Turkeys have been so genetically modified they are incapable of natural reproduction. To acknowledge that these things matter is not sentimental. It is a confrontation with the facts about animals and ourselves. We know these things matter.

This isn’t animal experimentation, where you can imagine some proportionate good at the other end of the suffering. This is what we feel like eating. Yet taste, the crudest of our senses, has been exempted from the ethical rules that govern our other senses. Why? Why doesn’t a horny person have as strong a claim to raping an animal as a hungry one does to confining, killing and eating it? It’s easy to dismiss that question but hard to respond to it. Try to imagine any end other than taste for which it would be justifiable to do what we do to farmed animals.

Children confront us with our paradoxes and dishonesty, and we are exposed. You need to find an answer for every why — Why do we do this? Why don’t we do that? — and often there isn’t a good one. So you say, simply, because. Or you tell a story that you know isn’t true. And whether or not your face reddens, you blush. The shame of parenthood — which is a good shame — is that we want our children to be more whole than we are, to have satisfactory answers. My children not only inspired me to reconsider what kind of eating animal I would be, but also shamed me into reconsideration.
[ emphasis added by moi ] :-)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

New Work

Moissanite and recycled 14k white gold ring
{ custom order; sold }

Lab-created Chatham sapphire and recycled sterling silver ring
{ custom order; sold }

Oregon sunstone and recycled 14k white gold ring
{ custom order; sold }

Nevada turquoise, moissanite and recycled sterling silver ring
{ custom order; sold }

Lemon opal, recycled 22k yellow gold, and recycled sterling silver ring
{ to be listed soon in my Etsy shop }

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

New Work

silver mother's ringRecycled sterling silver Mother's ring
(with kids' fair trade birthstones)
{ custom order; sold }

moissanite engagement ringMoissanite and recycled 14k white gold engagement ring, size 6.5
{ to be listed soon in my Etsy shop }

Friday, October 2, 2009

October SALE!!!

October is my birthday month, and I just decided (like five minutes ago) that I'd celebrate with a sale! Now through the end of the month, just enter 'Happy Birthday' in the 'message to seller' field during your Etsy checkout, and I'll send you a revised invoice reflecting 20% off the item's original price.

This offer only applies to regularly priced in-stock items (not applicable to items already on sale or to special orders).

Well, what are you waiting for? Get shoppin'!

September Jewelry for Charity Recap & October Kick-Off

It's that time again... time for a Jewelry for Charity update! Every month, I donate 5% of my gross sales to charity, and with your incredible support, I've donated $12,756 to various worthy causes over the last two and a half years.

During the month of September, I raised $540 for one of my favorite causes, Animal Place. I've been making a big effort to donate often to Animal Place in order to support the construction of their brand new shelter in Grass Valley. A big thank you goes out to everyone who made a purchase during the month of September, both from me and from all the critters at Animal Place!

For October, I'm featuring a charity that I just learned about recently; it's called No More Deaths. Their mission statement is as follows:
No More Deaths is an organization whose mission is to end death and suffering on the U.S./Mexico border through civil initiative: the conviction that people of conscience must work openly and in community to uphold fundamental human rights. Our work embraces the Faith-Based Principles for Immigration Reform and focuses on the following themes:

• Direct aid that extends the right to provide humanitarian assistance
• Witnessing and responding
• Consciousness raising
• Global movement building
• Encouraging humane immigration policy.
I became aware of No More Deaths' work in August upon reading about the sentencing of No More Deaths volunteer Walt Staton, who has been ordered to complete 300 hours of trash pickup on public lands as punishment littering after U.S. Border Patrol agents spotted him putting out unopened gallon containers of water, which Staton said were meant to prevent illegal immigrants crossing through the desert from dying of dehydration.

As a general rule, I prefer not to support charities with a religious component, and it appears that this is a part of No More Deaths' philosophy. I decided to make an exception because I believe it to be such an incredibly worthy cause.

If you feel inspired to join me in supporting their work, please consider making a direct donation, and/or make a purchase from my shop this month. 5% of my gross sales will go directly to No More Deaths.

As always, thank you so much for your support!