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Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Wedding Dress

One of the things a woman (or a man) needs to take into consideration when getting married is the wedding dress.

Now, it used to be that the bride would wear her favorite dress she owned. Some wealthy women would go out and buy as much fabric and fur (clearly, I am not doing that!) as they could afford, and drape themselves in that. But then Queen Victoria decided to go and change the world and wear white at her wedding to her cousin Albert in 1840.

Given the hemophilia in the royal line, it was probably not a great idea for these nuptials to go forward. But it did (for better or worse) set the stage for one of the most lucrative industries in Western civilization: the white wedding dress.

The wedding dress was something I was not super excited about. I didn't like the idea of wearing something once, and, on top of that, spending so much money on it. And let's face it, what bride don't you see futzing over her dress, hassled by the train, keeping her boobs in the now-trendy strapless dress, and other clothing woes?

So, I decided I would not spend money on a new dress. My first choice was to wear my favorite American Apparel dress. Comfy, versatile (I could style it however I was feeling the morning of the wedding), and made in the USA. But pretty much every woman in my family put the kabosh on that pretty quickly, including my mom.

But then I had another idea: Why not wear my mom's wedding dress? She wore it when she married my dad, and my grandmother had preserved it in her basement. My grandma Audrey mailed it me, and I could not have tried it on at a more perfect time: my friend Amanda was visiting from St. Louis, and she took a picture of me:

It definitely needed altering, as wedding dress styles have changed a bit since 1971. Plus, my mom was 19 when she got married, and let's face it: as I am pushing 30, I am seeing some differences in my body from when I was 19.

Just as we magically found our amazing local, sustainable and humane caterer, Eat & Smile, a friend recommended two women who just opened a re-purposing store. The idea is to have vintage or out-dated clothes altered so as not to buy new stuff.

Ginger Root Design seemed to fit in perfectly with how we live our lives and how we want our wedding to be. A big celebration without the waste and new traditions that can define weddings.

The dress is going to be altered in several fittings. They are first going to create a scoop-neck (see the safety pin outline below).

And they have some other great ideas too: using the fabric from the sleeves to make a sash, lowering the waistline, and taking some of the buttons from the sleeve and putting them down the back.

My mom and I can't wait to go through this fun process together!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

If these walls were glass, they would come tumbling down...

For me, being a vegetarian has not always easy.

Because I used to eat meat and I associated a lot of fun memories with it, I used to crave it. I associated chicken wings with watching the White Sox (good games, and bad). I associated eating lobster with my summers spent at my grandparents' house in Massachusetts. But now I can't actually say I miss any of it.

The challenge for me today is the dairy and the eggs. It is the Alfredo sauce at an Italian restaurant. It is the cheesy goodness at a Mexican restaurant.

But then I watch this video from
Mercy for Animals, "From Farm to Fridge" and ask myself, "Do I want to eat that cheesy goodness if it comes from this? Do I want my dollars to support this suffering?"

In The Omnivore's Dilemma, Michael Pollan wrote,

"The industrialization - and brutalization - of animals in America is a relatively new, evitable, and local phenomenon: No other country raises and slaughters its food animals quite as intensively or as brutally as we do. No other people in history has lived at quite so great a remove from the animals they eat. Were all the walls of our meat industry to become transparent, literally or even figuratively, we would not long continue to raise, kill, and eat animals the way we do. Tail docking and sow crates and beak clipping would disappear overnight, and the days of slaughtering four hundred head of cattle an hour would promptly come to an end - for who could stand the sight?"

I do hope one day the walls of factory come tumbling down. Because while this video is so difficult to watch, it is the reality that is served to us on our plates everyday, and it is optional. Even the most voracious veal eaters prefer that their food not have been tortured.

This kind of suffering does not exist on farms that are certified humane or that are small enough that farmers can plausibly care about the health and welfare of their animals. The meat, egg and dairy industry go to great lengths to ensure that we don't see what is in this video, because if we did, we would only support the farmers who treat animals with dignity.

Monday, February 7, 2011

FDA Recall of the Week: Frozen Yellow Fin Tuna Steaks

A few weeks ago I signed-up for FDA Recalls, Market Withdrawals & Safety Awards. Therefore, I have decided to start sharing a favorite once a week. The FDA typically releases these puppies on Friday afternoons... and that is no surprise given that Friday is the slowest news day. A reporter (no matter their integrity and passiText Coloron) probably isn't going to stay late on Friday for a small Recall story --- especially when they happen all the time.

So, step right up, ladies and gents, for your first-ever Recall of the Week!!

On Friday February 4th, the FDA issued the following recall: Rouses Markets Voluntarily Recalls Frozen Yellow Fin Tuna Steaks Due to Possible Health Risks.

First of all, where is Rouses Market and what is the health risk? Listen up, my fish-eating, Mardi-Gras loving friends: Rouses Market is a supermarket with chains located in Louisiana and Mississippi.

And they are recalling wild-caught tuna steaks from the Gulf of Mexico due to histamine poisoning (also called Scrombroid food poisoning). Histamine or scrombroid poisoning occurs after someone eats spoiled or decayed fish, meaning that the tuna steaks were spoiled or decaying. Yuck.

And the effects are similar to an allergic reaction: facial flushing, burning/peppery sensations in the mouth and throat, dizziness, nausea, headache, cold-like symptoms.

This is not so bad, you say. It's not like they were recalled for e-coli or salmonella poisoning. True, I counter, but there is one thing I would like to point out:

Scrombroid/histamine/whateveryouwanttocallit poisoning comes from fish that are decaying or spoiled. So how long were these fish sitting in trucks being transported to the supermarket? How long were they waiting to be harvested and shipped that allowed them to decay? In short, these fish represent a larger problem with the industrial food complex.

After researching this, it seems to be a common problem, and one that has plenty of research to address the causes and solutions. But let's face it: in a system as vast, unregulated and corrupt as our industrial food complex, how can we expect these incidents not to happen?