Dear Mother: December 2008-January 2009

Letters from our readers on Good Calories, Bad Calories; education vs. legislation; population; and more.
Letters from our readers
December 2008/January 2009
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Gary Taubes argues that it is carbohydrates such as desserts that make us fat, and meat, fish and leafy greens that are the healthier choices.
KERI ROSEBRAUGH
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Back to Basics

As a Type 2 diabetic who has worked hard to bring the disease under control (it’s not gone away) and having read widely in that pursuit, I must applaud Gary Taubes’ common sense, back-to-basics article, Good Calories, Bad Calories: What Really Makes Us Fat.

I see that there’s a whole lot of dogma which pervades the majority of the comments with the article online. That’s fine by me, as we all have our own self-interests to push.

I’m for Taubes and thank Mother Earth News for publishing the article. If more adult diabetics had understood this before they were diabetic, they would have been better off. Even now, this kind of realistic advice can help them. It makes a lot of sense to me and how I manage my diabetic food plan.

Walter Adamson
Melbourne, Australia

Learned the Hard Way

I loved Taubes’ article! Such huge sums of money ride on the low fat/no fat diet that it’s really swimming upstream to suggest something different, although I think the “facts” regarding low/no fat are merely theory.

I discovered the hard way that carbs in excess are really, really bad when I got hit with heart failure. A friend who is also a doctor told me to read the book Protein Power by Michael Eades, M.D. and Mary Dan Eades, M.D. I followed their recommendations, and now tests show the pumping ability of my heart is almost normal again!

Robert Atkins originally put together his famous diet for his heart patients, not for a weight loss program. Of course, eating this way will cause weight loss — a lovely “side effect!” The Eades’ book gives the science behind limiting carbs, which is over 100 years old. I wonder how long it will take mainstream medicine to admit that low/no fat is simply wrong.

Dorothy Brockett
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

A Matter of Survival

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I found Gary Taubes’ article. Way to go, Mother! Yes, it is controversial, but Mother Earth News has always been countercultural, and for that I am grateful.

After following the “conventional wisdom” way of eating for 30 years (low fat, high carb, lots of sugar), I ended up 50 pounds overweight and diabetic. Lots of research later, I started on a low-carb diet, first cutting out all grains, sugar and trans fats, and then increasing amounts of low-glycemic veggies and dairy. Since losing most of the excess weight and reducing my blood sugar, I am gradually adding a few grains, mainly steel cut oats and barley.

But I will never eat the way the USDA’s food pyramid recommends. (By the way, this pyramid is almost identical to what is fed cattle in feedlots to fatten them up for slaughter!) For me, it’s a matter of survival. I don’t want to lose limbs or go blind from diabetes. Carbohydrates raise blood sugar; meat, dairy and green leafy veggies don’t. I don’t eat any more meat now than I did in the past. The primary difference is that I eat four times the fresh veggies and healthy fruits, almost all of which I grow.

Brigit-Carol Lay
Santa Anna, Texas

Prefers Vegetarianism

I’m concerned about the Taubes' article. To recommend a higher consumption of poultry, meat, fish and eggs isn’t “Earth-friendly,” in my opinion, and also not really healthy. I learned to prefer a more vegetarian approach, with only little amounts of meat/poultry per month, for the sake of the environment and the animals.

Sabine Eltermann
Nienburg, Germany

Please, Don’t be Hasty

While Gary Taubes’ article presents some interesting points about overreliance on carbohydrate-rich foods, the blanket statements regarding fat or carbs are far too radical for a journalist to make.

I do believe that it’s the grain subsidies by the government that have encouraged much unhealthful high carb consumption, along with misinformation presented by the FDA and the food pyramid — but please consult some health experts before presenting this type of rash nutritional information to an earnest public!

Lara De Pietro
Swisshome, Oregon


Salutes Simplicity

I just got done reading Wanda Urbanska’s Simpler Living; and I must say, this is an article every American should read — especially with our struggling economy and the fact that so many Americans have many doubts about our future. I think it’s time to simplify and take joy in the smaller things in life. We live in an extremely materialistic country, and I believe many of us tend to forget the beauty lying at our feet.

Rachel Phillips
Lebanon, Oregon


Coming Together

I am a conservative Christian and was a military wife until my husband retired. That might make me persona non grata to many readers of Mother Earth News, but what I have found is that there can be an amazing meeting of the minds when it comes to sustainable, simple and healthy living.

The two people who turned me on to this idea initially were a “radical” liberal and a “radical” conservative. Both believed the same things, but for different reasons, and I was able to learn from each of them. While we might take separate paths to get where we’re going, we all end up in the same place and the reasons behind it don’t really matter. I really enjoy your magazine and have learned ways to put many of my yearnings into concrete actions.

Kristie Maupin
Williston, North Dakota


Reader Participation

I want to thank you for the opportunity for my voice and opinions to be heard via your online Editorial Surveys. It takes only a short time for me to complete a survey, yet it yields fantastic results in your magazine. Thank you again for including your readers and fellow protectors of this world we call home.

Sharla Shaffer
Stephenville, Texas

No, thank you, Sharla, and everyone else who votes in our surveys. We love your input. If you aren’t in the Group, you can sign up at our Web site. — Mother


Hurray for Hornworms!

In your August/September 2008 issue, you included in your organic pest control article directions for disposing of tomato hornworms. How about giving this pollinator-to-be a chance?

Although the hornworm looks fierce, it isn’t. (I like to place a hornworm in a glass jar and let children hear it chomping.) Soon your hornworm will disappear into the soil beneath the host plant to pupate. When it emerges, it becomes a life-giving friend of the garden — a beautiful Sphinx moth.

These hummingbird-esque moths (is there such a word?) are quick and efficient pollinators able to visit over 200 plants in under seven minutes.

Sharon Lovejoy
San Luis Obispo, California


Best-ever List

If I was to make a list of the 25 biggest influences upon my life, Mother Earth News would be included in that list. Not bad for a magazine (no other magazine would make my list)!

David Palmer
Reno, Nevada


Pumped Up About Pickens

I have just spent three hours researching the Pickens Plan. Well, the more I read, the more excited I became over this pioneer who’s doing something to pull the proverbial cart out of the American dirt — and he plans to do it with good old American resources and power: the power of the people. How cool is that?

I feel that everybody should be excited about it and jump on the wagon with T. Boone Pickens because, let’s face it, what other plans are out there?

Silvia Maurer
Kendall, Wisconsin


Abbey Rolls in his Grave

Just a comment about “EarthWords,” August/September 2008. Edward Abbey spent much of his career battling the development of the Southwest and the construction of highways through this beautiful landscape. Yet here you are using his words over a horrible example of how a canyon can be ruined. The photo you chose not only shows a road through the center, but also has a quarry and a piece of heavy equipment in it. We always enjoy your magazine, but I think this was bad judgement on your part.

Cam Zimmer
Fort Smith, Northwest Territories


Empowering Exercise

I just finished looking over the October/November 2008 issue and, as always, it was the high point of the week. I was especially interested in the wonderful article on muscle-powered electricity (Make Electricity, While You Exercise) for the little things that eat up so much of the power budget. Many of us could well stand to get a bit of extra exercise, why not crank out enough energy to run your laptop or to listen to some radio before bedtime?

Donald Ezell
Hollywood, Florida


Education, not Legislation

I was browsing through the August/September 2008 issue, when two articles clanged up against my head. First was Raw Milk Renegade, about a farmer who was hauled off by the Pennsylvania police for selling raw milk without a permit. What an outrage; don’t the cops have better things to do than harass farmers trying to make a living?

On the very next page, Which Comes First: The Chicken or the Profit? really brings it home. Californians are trying to pass a law that would ban confining animals in cages too small for them to stand or stretch their wings. Hooray for the chickens — that’ll show those farmers they can’t abuse their animals, and if they do, it’s the State Pen for them! (Ha ha, sorry for that.)

I know this article is about the Egg Board breaking lobbying laws, but that’s irrelevant to my point: You can’t legislate behavior, folks, because of that other law — the Law of Unintended Consequences, which these articles demonstrate. You never know when the law will be turned against you for something that should be legal.

If we keep trying to respond to the fear mongering of the media by making more laws, by irradiating fruit and vegetables, and so on, we might as well all start living in antiseptic bubbles. And woe to the species when the next new bug hits us.

I’m not saying that the chicken-cage legislation is bad, I just don’t think that legislation is a real solution. Education is the only solution, the only way you can make things change.

Gregg Rosner
El Cajon, California


Our Numbers are not the Problem

Population should not be a target in protecting our planet. Our resources were put here for mankind. It’s the way we live, not the number. There are examples coming out of my ears. If Mother Earth News suggests population control even subtly, know that I will be your foe.

Protecting the planet should protect people. A suicidal editorial policy — population control — is contrary to taking care of the weak and small. And it caters to the selfish. And it is based on lies.

Kathleen Plumb
Ballantine, Montana


Pink Slip

Have you missed me? Your issues are now brimming with self-congratulations, pandering to what I call the GRONY movement: the politically correct, green phony movement.

Look at the CDs of old issues and remember who you are. I will be back when you have real plans, real solutions, real self-sufficiency.

W.J. Graves
Delaware, Ohio


Gold Star

I’ve been meaning to write for a long time about how the magazine has improved. The last many issues are just like when it first started. In the last couple of issues you just outdid yourselves on gardening. As a fresh market grower, I find most all your articles have been right on. Keep up the trend, you’re doing a great job.

Marvin Atchison
Bedford, Indiana


Inspired and Self-sufficient

Very Interested, After All These Years

I have to say how pleased I am with the direction your magazine is taking. Your last Editorial Survey was wonderful — I was “very interested” in almost everything. At 65, I am still striving toward the same goal: a healthy life with the least amount of impact on the Earth. I purchased the Mother Earth News CD set, but can’t force myself to turn loose of the magazines. I’ve dragged them with me for over 30 years, and the articles are still relevant!

I built a passive solar cedar log home that we moved into seven years ago. We have an Incinolet toilet, which we would like to see more articles about. We’ve had it for six years and love it. We’re going to try building the yogurt maker you have plans for, and the cheese recipes. We’re happy in our little cabin in the woods.

Barbara Gillihan
Fredonia, Kentucky

And Now, a Cow!

Your magazine has always been inspirational, but now you’ve really done it. We already have chickens, geese, horses, burros, dogs, cats and a small garden. Now we also have a yogurt maker, a food dehydrator, more chickens, plans for a bigger garden and, thanks to your cheese-making article, a cow! Next year if all works out, we want to try beekeeping. We figure as groceries and fuel prices keep going up, we might as well be more self-sufficient. Thanks for the help and suggestions.

Marcy Barnes
Sun City, California


Defending the ‘Enviro Agenda’

Do We Read the Same Magazine?

I read the letter in Dear Mother accusing you of having some sort of “liberal-enviro” agenda. I can’t recall reading anything in your magazine that didn’t refer to gardening, homesteading and country living, etc., so I never considered you a political publication. But if advocating for the protection of the environment, our planet and its inhabitants is “liberal,” then I’m proud to be in that category and you can count me among your loyal readers. I cherish every issue of Mother Earth News, especially the ones written in the last few years. Great job, “ladies”!

Valerie Cribbs
Cherry Valley, California

Dispelling Assumptions

I just had to write in about William Simmons’ letter in Dear Mother about women and their “liberal-enviro agenda” ruining Mother Earth News. First of all, I looked, and the staff is hardly all women. Plus, how does he know what kind of experience the staff may or may not have in gardening and farming? The focus of many articles in the past couple years is in response to real problems going on in the world. If we don’t focus on these “enviro agenda” issues and do something to take care of the problems, we will no longer have clean air, clean water, fertile soil, nutritious food to eat or even (possibly) viable seeds to plant.

And the whole thing against women? Maybe you should research your history, sir, because women have always been greatly involved with cultivation of food.

Thank you, Mother Earth News, for giving us hope that there is a way to leave a beautiful Earth to our children and grandchildren!

Jaime DeMarco
Bayfield, Colorado

Success, and Sympathy

Wow. Your October/November issue was a nonstop, cover-to-cover read. I absolutely devoured it! Oh, one more thing: If William Simmons has a wife, I feel really sorry for her. Keep up the great work, girls.

Gayle Conard
Damascus, Maryland


Perfect Pizza

Many thanks to Genie Dickerson for sharing her Crusty Frying-pan Pizza recipe! I had been searching a long time for a great, simple homemade pizza recipe, and was intrigued by the fact that this one is made in a cast-iron skillet. Amazing! My family absolutely loves it! We have pretty simple tastes when it comes to pizza, so I made a simple pepperoni pizza and a Canadian bacon and pineapple pizza — they were both great! Can you say, “So long, takeout”? Thanks again, Genie!

Lisa Upton
Brigham City, Utah

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