Category Archives: Product Reviews

Sapiens means “wise,” but are we?

This morning, as so often happens, I was alerted by @JewishVeg, to an excellent book by Yuval Noah Harari, an Israeli historian and a tenured professor in the Department of History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.  The book is Sapiens:  A Brief History of Humankind, companion volume to his more recent Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow. Because I’m preparing to teach a class and suspected it might provide some good background material, I downloaded a summary of Sapiens to read this morning.

This is a book I recommend for anyone interested in the development of humanity and in particular, our relationship with our planet and other life on it. This relationship is my focus in my own study project as I work my way through the Torah this year and probably for a number of years to come as I begin to add in interpretive traditions.

The statement that first drew my eye was in the image with the @JewishVeg post (please visit the JewishVeg website at jewishveg.org for lots of great information and resources:

In reading the summary version of the book this morning, I discovered other thoughts and ideas that I’m excited to explore further with Prof. Harari, among them:

  • His thought that wheat domesticated humans and not vice versa, reminiscent of Michael Pollan’s idea about apples in his book In Defense of Food.
  • His statement that religion is a fundamental feature in the development of humanity and that it unifies, not the reverse. He says that the ability to imagine a reality is what creates and binds social groups. This corresponds to my own thought that everything is a construct including language itself, and our existential reality is that to become fully human, we must choose what will shape our perception  or risk being shaped willy nilly without our participation.
  • His statements about capitalism, based on the idea that the future will be better than today, and that capitalism is a “religion,” positing that economic growth is essential because freedom, justice and happiness need growth in the economy. As I challenge assumptions and constructs in other areas of my life, I’m inspired to challenge this one.

Most of all, I was drawn back to the quote @JewishVeg highlighted, and I went to read more. These two articles focused on Prof. Harari’s idea that human beings are catastrophically destructive to life on the planet, utterly contrary to what the Torah prescribes for us:

http://www.ynharari.com/topic/ecology/

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/sep/25/industrial-farming-one-worst-crimes-history-ethical-question

If time is short, read the summary, but consider the important information and perspectives Prof. Harari brings to the decisions you make every day.

For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.

Conscious choices…becoming more fully human

Today a book I’ve been excited to read came in the mail: Barbara J. King’s Personalities on the Plate: The Lives & Minds of Animals We Eat. I learned of it from Facebook, which everyone loves to hate but where I learn so much. A friend shared a post from the Nonhuman Rights Project which mentioned the book, and I knew it was something I wanted to read.

I started reading this morning, and I am not disappointed! Barbara King explores through the lens of science the same issue that energizes my own explorations through the lens of religion and, in particular, the Hebrew Bible. The issue that draws us both is what she calls “the invisible toggle switch” in our minds, our “peculiar duality” in relation to other animals, animals we admire in one moment and consume the next.

From my perspective, food is the root of every religious impulse. It is through eating that we confront the central paradox of life, that it requires taking life to sustain life. The choices we make define us as human beings and form the substance of religions. Religions provide a framework for confronting this paradox and practices that guide us through it. To the extent that we maintain our “peculiar duality” with respect to eating fellow creatures, we dwell in the land of unconscious living.

My current biblical studies project suggests to me that the profound direction of the Torah, the basis of its myth, ritual and ethical legislation, is toward living consciously. If we take its message seriously, each time we act impulsively, without intention, unconsciously, we are not fully human, we do not fulfill our mission as human beings, and we are an affront to creation.

I don’t say that judgmentally.  I’m one of the most absent-minded people around. It is my work in life to become more fully conscious, to be “awake,” as my son calls it, aware. I have at least three opportunities a day to focus my attention, to work on becoming more fully conscious, and that is when I eat my daily meals. It is through this work that I can become more aware in other parts of my life.

In the Introduction to her book, Barbara King states this as her purpose: “The need for clear-eyed seeing is the central message I want to bring forth in the pages to come: it takes effort, and it pays off, to see the animals we designate as our food. Even as we bring them to our family tables and our restaurants in their anonymous billions, other animals sense, and sometimes suffer; learn, and sometimes love; think, and sometimes reflect. Their lives matter to them, and they should matter to us too.”

Although I am on the path toward veganism, it is not a symbiotic relationship with our fellow creatures that I see as the symbol par excellence of our ethical morass today. It is the billions of animals bred for slaughter in our names and for our use. We have no connection to these creatures. They are anonymous. We take no responsibility for their lives or for their deaths. We take no moments for either gratitude or atonement. Our pleasure in the moment is our only value as we eat.  The “toggle switch” in our lives works very well, and when it does, we are not fully human.

I look forward to reading this book and learning the science of thought, emotion and social behaviors of animals we eat. I look forward to knowing “who is on our plates.” I expect I will weep as I contemplate the reality of the world we have built for ourselves.

For more, visit my blog, vegetatingwithleslie.org, “Like” me on FaceBook/Vegetating with Leslie or follow me on Twitter, @vegwithleslie.

3D Printing: Coming Soon to Kitchens Everywhere

Post published 4/13/2015 in 3duniverse.

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How 3D printing freed the slave in my kitchen

I’m a foodie, and I love to cook. Naturally all the buzz about 3D printed food stimulated my curiosity. I have discovered very interesting possibilities and wonderfully useful applications . . . but probably not yet for my kitchen. Does that mean there’s no place for 3D printing in my kitchen today? Not at all!

I use a lot of lemons in my cooking. Awhile back I was chatting with a next door neighbor, complaining about the shape, cumbersomeness and relative ineffectiveness of lemon juicers currently on the market. Short of getting a professional juicer like I used to have in my cafe, there isn’t much I like.

Did I mention that my next door neighbor owns a 3D printer? The next morning I received a beautiful 3D printed lemon juicer. It was love at first sight. I knew immediately it would be the  BEST lemon juicer I have ever had. One minute later, my neighbor had fresh lemonade!

Having a 3D printed lemon juicer in my kitchen may seem like a small thing, but like I said, I squeeze a lot of lemons when I cook. And now I’m free from a little bit of kitchen drudgery! Not only that – I can make lemonade in a heartbeat.

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The Real Lemonade Revolution: brought to you by 3D printing

A few years ago I offered a glass of freshly squeezed lemonade to a 20+ employee. She took a sip and had a stunned look on her face. “Amazing,” she said. Noting her ecstasy over the drink, I wondered if it was possible she had never had real lemonade before? Sure enough, prior to this moment lemonade for her was something made with water and canned powder. She had no idea you could just make lemonade from . . . well, real lemons.

Have you ever compared the ingredient list on a lemon with the ingredient list on one of those cans of lemonade mix? Here is a typical powdered lemonade mix ingredient list: Sugar, Fructose, Citric Acid, Less Than 2% Of Natural Flavor, Ascorbic Acid, Maltodextrin, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Sodium Citrate, Magnesium Oxide, Calcium Fumarate, Artificial Color, Yellow 5 Lake, Tocopherol.

Compare that list to: Lemon. No wonder my employee was so amazed with that glass of fresh lemonade I handed her.

Now you, too, can make fresh lemonade faster than you can open that can of powdered mix, just in time for summer – with a 3D printed juicer. I’m going to have one made for everyone I know this year.

Three more MUST-HAVE 3D Printed Kitchen Tools & lots more

I love my 3D printed juicer so much. It started me wondering, what other ways could 3D printing transform my life in the kitchen? Here are a few things I found that I want to try.

For now, I’m going to go enjoy a tall glass of fresh, 3D printed juicer lemonade and figure out how I’m going to hit up my favorite 3D printer owning neighbor for a Cheese Press.

The “Juicy Juicer” featured in this article can be found on Thingiverse, here. Model credit: Procrastinator.

Follow us on Twitter (@3dprintingisfun) and like us on Facebook. Subscribe to this blog, or visit us at shop3duniverse.com.

When life hands you lemons…

Three years ago when I was working more on the front lines of my Cafe, I wrote a post about the fun I had serving up real lemonade to an employee and her friends using my (then) new professional lemon juicer. I’m sharing that post below.

Now I spend more of my time in civilian life, and I have a new juicer better suited to this environment. Who’d have thought it would be possible to transfer affections to a new lemon juicer so quickly and easily?! But I have!

When I complained about the shape, cumbersomeness and relative ineffectiveness of home kitchen juicers on the market, my son 3d printed a lemon juicer for me. And I’m telling you, this is true LOVE. It’s the perfect shape (look at that beautiful shape in the picture), it squeezes every drop from the lemon, it’s easy to clean, to use and to store.

For more information about Jeremy’s 3d print projects or business, see www.3duniverse.org and www.shop3duniverse.com.

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“We are living in a world today where lemonade is made from artificial flavors and furniture polish is made from real lemons.” -Alfred E. Newman

I squeeze a lot of lemons every day. After five years of daily lemon squeezing, I finally purchased a professional lemon squeezer, the kind they use in fairs. It’s an incredible technological advance in my life. I love it!

Still, my lemon squeezer is a single function tool. It squeezes lemons for salads I make every day in my vegetarian cafe. It needed a larger purpose in life.

One day I put a little unfiltered sugar in a cup, squeezed a half lemon over it, tossed in the rind, swished it around, filled the cup with ice, added water, clapped a lid over the cup and shook. I handed the result to my employee. She drank, looked stunned and said, “Amazing.” She shared her drink with friends, who performed similarly.

This employee is 40 years younger than I as are her friends. Noting her ecstasy over the drink, I wondered if it was possible she had never had real lemonade before? Sure enough, prior to this moment lemonade for her was something made with water and canned powder. She had no idea you could just make lemonade from . . . well, real lemons.

Have you ever compared the ingredient list on a lemon with the ingredient list on one of those cans of lemonade mix? Here is a typical powdered lemonade mix ingredient list: Sugar, Fructose, Citric Acid, Less Than 2% Of Natural Flavor, Ascorbic Acid, Maltodextrin, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Sodium Citrate, Magnesium Oxide, Calcium Fumarate, Artificial Color, Yellow 5 Lake, Tocopherol.

Compare that list to: Lemon. A lemon, with its nutrients, micronutrients and phytonutrients, with its fiber and its ability to lower the glycemic index of accompanying foods. Most of all a lemon with all of its taste. A plain lemon, packaged in its own beautiful (integrated) yellow self.

It turns out real lemonade is not only more nutritious and about as easy to make as lemonade from a powdered mix — but tastier. According to the 20+ set, it is “Amazing!”

Forty years ago, I began a campaign to bring back real food. I raised my kids on it. Today I feed it to my customers. Everybody loves it! Why did we ever give it up? What did real food ever do to us but keep us healthy and happy?

Real Lemonade
0 – 2 TB Organic Sugar
Juice of 1/2 LG Juicy Lemon
1/2 Lemon Rind
Ice
Filtered Water

Wash one lemon. Add sugar to taste to the bottom of a drink mixer or cup with a cover. Squeeze over it the juice of 1/2 lemon, reserving the rind. Swish sugar and lemon juice until mixed. Add ice to the top of the shaker or cup. Fill shaker or cup with water. Secure the lid, and shake. Enjoy your lemonade.