Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Nature of Hunger

I've had a little more down time than usual this week--in part because I couldn't get online--and this has afforded me a chance to get some reading done. I have a stack of what promise to be terrific books beside my bed at home, but I go through it at a painfully slow pace because by the time I get in bed, I often go nodulent (my word) after a mere page or two (I guess it doesn't help that most of them are non-fiction, with no "blood-on-the-floor" action to keep me alert). Being away from home and computer has allowed me to read in the daytime, which is by far a more conducive arrangement.

I just finished reading "Hunger: An Unnatural History," by Sharman Apt Russell, a fascinating study of various aspects of hunger. The author systematically covers an array of forms, from the voluntary (fasting, hunger strikes and self-starvation), to semi-voluntary (eating disorders) to non-voluntary (forced starvation, malnutrition and famine). She delves into the physiological effects of fasting and starvation, as recorded by people who went through periods of severe deprivation, like the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto under Nazi oppression, among others; and a clinical study known as "The Minnesota Experiment," in which conscientious objectors during World War II were recruited to volunteer as human guinea pigs so that researchers could better understand what starving people experience, and what to expect when rescuing and refeeding starvation victims, including soldiers returning from the field, who may have gone without adequate nutrition for extended periods. Some of the material is rather gruesome and unpleasant reading, but like a train wreck, it's hard to take your eyes off it, as the saying goes.

The narrative meanders through nearly all possible forms and causes of hunger and starvation, eventually identifying the root cause, as stated in a quote from Frances Moore Lappe, that it is not a lack of food, but a "lack of democracy." There is a brief but welcome bit where Ms. Russell offers some ideas on what we can do to help end the horrific plight of the half-billion people who live and die in starvation conditions. But in reading the book, from the very first chapter on, I found myself hoping she would also get into the underlying reality of hunger--indeed looking forward to what she would have to say about it--which is that every living thing is bound to hunger, is driven by it, and in fact cannot exist without it.

We're all creatures of need, of profound thirst and hunger, and not only for nutrition of the body. It is our nature that we are beings in flux, constantly spending and needing replenishment on every level. We need air to oxygenate our blood, to fire the engines of living cells; water to keep our living tissues pliant and supple enough to flow with juices, allow us to move, and cleanse us of dead cells and toxins; food to replenish, repair and build new cells, and supply fuel to energize our systems. Most of all, I believe, we need love, hope, faith and aspiration to propel us forward with purpose, without which life would have no meaning. In sum, I'd say, we come into this world of whirling separated opposites to find completion, and that this is why we hunger, uncontrollably, for every single thing we lack.

This book interested me because I'm involved in feeding people, and I try to do it in ways that not only satisfy the hunger of the stomach, but also the hunger we all have for joy. I know that I can't satisfy a person's ultimate need for the pure joy of the heart, but I do what I can to make food thrill the pleasure centers in the body, and that certainly helps send people on their way to finding it. I put my love and passion into my cooking because it gives me joy to do that, and when people enjoy what I make, I feel like I've done my part to alleviate a small but not insignificant part of the world's great hunger.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Living Deliciously

Baby Arugula Salad with Roasted Peppers and Grilled Zucchini
One of the benefits of living your life backwards (I retired first, and then started working) is that when you get to be my age (58), you're just starting to hit your stride with what you want to do when you grow up. For me, it's about using everything I've learned and accumulated in my life to both earn a living and benefit great numbers of other people. Being a cook offers a terrific avenue for this, because I can benefit people in the immediate way ("Yum!") and in the long term way, which is by helping and encouraging them to learn to cook and eat at home.

Why is the latter important? Because although there will always be a place for tasting the unusual food prepared by great chefs in restaurants, real food is made at home. To understand the difference fully, compare the experience of watching a love story unfold on the screen in a movie theater, with the experience of having a real-time, real-life love affair--whereas the film version has choice locations, memorable lines, emotion-triggering music and all the lovers' quarrels at a safe distance, the real one is, well, real! There is a great deal of pleasure and convenience in having a meal prepared and served to you (and cleaned up after), but that convenience comes with a (shall we say) a less than ideal impact on your health (chefs are there to garner fame and make money, not look after your general wellbeing) and a significantly higher financial impact than you would tolerate from eating a home-cooked meal.

It's not hard to take control and rise to a level of cooking that outshines what most restaurants have to offer (especially the more affordable ones). It just takes a little practice, along with a few pointers and some encouragement from cooks like me. My hope is that by writing cookbooks, teaching classes and keeping at it, I will help turn the tide from popular reliance on cheap restaurants and processed foods, toward a return to cooking well and eating deliciously at home. That's always where you'll find the best and healthiest meals, regardless of your level of culinary expertise. I'm doing my part to make this possible, and it's very rewarding.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Connectivity Restored!

Since last Sunday, I've been out on a farm in Tennessee, a mere hour's drive from Nashville, yet far enough from what passes for civilization* to severely muck with my connection to the (clearly not) "world wide" web. Today it looks like I'm back in action, but that's not really what this post is about. Let me explain. 

Maybe I should start with that asterisk. We tend to equate civilization with city-fication, perhaps because cities have opera houses, museums, monuments, and other examples of refinement that are most often absent (or at least scarce) in the countryside. Cities are great bustling hubs of communication, including that most frenetically hyperactive of all hubs, the www-dot-everything, and its lifeline, high speed internet connection. But this is all an illusion, a high-flying hot air ballon with a limited supply of heat.

Every time I leave the city for any amount of time, an ancient perspective comes back to me: the roots of civilization are not in schools, institutions or government, but in farms, and the people who work to keep them productive. If there had never been a fertile crescent, there would never have been a cradle of civilization. It was the ability to grow food that made it possible for human beings to diversify their activities, specialize, and invent the first forms of what we now consider humanity's greatest achievements.
The most important things in life--that is, to the living--are always the most easily overlooked: breath, love, joy, connection, appreciation, gratitude. I suspect this is because we wrongly assume them to be entitlements, and not irreplaceable gifts that come moment by moment.  We have a tendency to become disconnected from the very things we need most, and place value on relatively frivolous things we can easily live without. Food is like that. We don't think about it until we get hungry...

It's a unique feature of disconnectivity from the internet that it begins with frustration, but (if you can manage to let go) eventually leads to a greater connection with the essentials of life, and (if you can really let it rip) with the self. I don't mean to devalue one of the greatest inventions of our time; after all, the internet has just facilitated a peaceful uprising in Egypt that brought about the end of a brutally repressive dictatorship of over 30 years--something no one would have thought possible just a couple of months ago. But nothing could be more important to the living than the connection with the essentials of life, which is greatly facilitated by disconnection from all the buzz. Speaking for myself, I'm grateful for the (temporary) dysfunctionality of my treasured communication tools--my cellphone and laptop. Glad to be back online, you understand, but much more so to be back with a slower, more appreciative view of things.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Three Aphorisms from "The Physiology of Taste"

"The Universe is nothing without the things that live in it,
and everything that lives, eats."

"The destiny of nations depends on how they nourish themselves."

"Tell me what you eat and I shall tell you what you are."

-- Brillat Savarin


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Sunday: Write, Hike & Eat

I had a lot of work to do today because I'm leaving town for a week--doing a food photo shoot for five days, and then a cooking demo at a vegan retreat in Tennessee. I'm still working on a couple of magazine articles that are due the day after I get back. But it had warmed up to a balmy 50 degrees in Palmer Lake, so my wife and I went for a hike up to the reservoirs (about a 1000-foot vertical climb) with the dogs. I don't know why I had figured the last snowfall would have all melted off the trail by now. It hadn't. It felt good to get out of the house, though. The air was rich, and I ran some of the way. The dogs were ecstatic.

When we reached the upper lake, frozen and snow-covered, the sun disappeared behind the clouds and the temperature dropped sharply. By the time we got back down the trail, I was pretty numb, and thinking of hot food. Hot comfort food.
I had a bunch of broccoli-rabe, some leaves of Swiss chard, and a little bit of baby spinach. So I made this Italian thing. I blanched the greens, sauteed sliced garlic in olive oil with some Aleppo pepper (not Italian, but so what?), added the greens, then some cannellini beans, and then boiled some brown rice ziti and tossed it together. Yum. Now back to work!


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Roasted Jerusalem Artichoke Soup

Before I first made Marcella Hazan's "Topinambur trifolati" (sauteed Jerusalem artichokes) back in 1982, I had only eaten these earthy tubers raw, in salads. I never would have imagined that the flavor could be so dramatically altered by the simple act of slow cooking with a little garlic and olive oil. Such is the brilliance of Italian food (real Italian food, that is), that with just a few added ingredients and minimal treatment, the soul of a vegetable can shine forth so delectably, so irresistibly. Since that day when I first prepared them this way, it became the standard by which all other methods would be measured (and for the most part, found wanting).

Roasted Jerusalem Artichoke Soup: Pure Comfort Food
Many years later, I began to see recipes appearing for "sunchoke soup,"  nearly all of which featured heavy cream, presumably to supply richness after the vegetables had been boiled to death. I realized that I had better come up with my own way of making this soup, returning to the essence of that wonderful (if-it-ain't-broke-don't-fix-it) slowly cooked, slightly caramelized preparation that brings out the sweetness of both garlic and Jerusalem artichokes. I'm pretty satisfied for the moment with a method that begins with a brief sauteing, followed by oven-roasting, which requires far less hands-on attention. I think I'll include it in my next book.

The name "Jerusalem artichoke" is somewhat elegant-sounding, but it's a complete misnomer, since the plant is actually a species of sunflower native to North America, with no connection to an artichoke--although when cooked, it does have a flavor and texture reminiscent of artichokes. "Sunchoke" is a more common name now, and I do use it sometimes, but I came across the other one first, and I guess it just stuck, so I use it in much the same way my wife uses "Xerox" as a verb for any kind of photocopying.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Scenes From a Cooking Class

Last Sunday, I taught a cooking class to an enthusiastic crowd of about 30 people in the Colorado Springs area. The focus of the class was to align the way we cook and eat with our ultimate purpose (joy). My strategy in this regard is to optimize both health and the pleasure of eating--results which (let's face it) can only be guaranteed by cooking and eating at home. A major highlight, of course, was the benefit of eating a plant-based diet. Naturally, I took the opportunity to promote my cookbooks, Omega 3 Cuisine and Speed Vegan, both of which combine healthful ingredients with palate-thrilling flavors and textures. Unless anyone attending was very good at faking it, I'd say everyone had a wonderful time (I know I did!). Here are a few shots my lovely wife Marcia took over the course of the afternoon:

A little pre-class Schmoozing.

Chatting across the stove.

Starting at the beginning: the purpose of life.
Adding some hypnotic gestures...

A few final points before launching into the food preparation phase.

Explaining why I use Udo's Oil wherever flax oil is called for.

Demonstrating how to make "Simple Garlic Udo's Oil."

Starting the Pimento Soup...

Answering a question...

Grating a potato into the soup to thicken and make it silky-creamy.

Straining the soup.
Starting the Mushrooms: in go the baby portobellos.

Adding the wild mushroom mix.

The aroma is intoxicating at this point...

I really enjoyed this...

Stirring in the chopped parsley and lemon juice.

Getting ready to make the "Green Curry Salad."

Slicing some Napa cabbage.

Adding lime peel to the green curry dressing.

Putting chopped ginger and chocolate into the blender.

Pouring coconut milk on top, before blasting to smithereens.

Heartfelt thanks to my volunteer helpers, Melody and Kim, and especially 
to my wonderful new friends and generous hosts, Laura and Tim Spear!


Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day Everyone!

Chocolate Raspberry Tart
I'm still developing the recipe for this (look for it in my next book, due out in 2012), but for now I'll tell you it's non-dairy, gluten-free, very low sugar (mostly palm sugar), with an almond crust.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Good News for Acne-afflicted Folk

The teen years can be rough under the best of circumstances. It's like being the helpless driver of a vehicle that's morphing from a tricycle into a bicycle, and then into a powerful motorcycle, with each new incarnation occurring before you really get the hang of the last one--all while you try to figure out where you're going in a constantly changing, increasingly complex cityscape. That's on the outside. On the inside, you're possessed both by an urgent need to be accepted (if not admired), and (incongruously) by self-consciousness and wildly uncontrollable emotions. Oh--and you're suddenly coming alive sexually and prone to obsessive infatuation.

All that might be manageable (most of us do get through it), but you look in the mirror one morning to discover a weird rash of horrific pustules glaring back from what used to be your baby-soft face. One or maybe two, you could explain as mosquito bites you foolishly scratched too vigorously. But florid zit-clusters on both cheeks? How could anyone negotiate the most judgmental society on Earth (high school) with any confidence, knowing they look like an escapee from a leper colony?

For a lot of people, this embarrassing affliction persists well into their twenties, prompting them to try all kinds of experimental cures and camouflage--to no avail. Drug companies cash in bigtime on this condition, shoveling antibiotics and topical creams onto a market desperate to look normal again. Some of these products, it seems, bring not relief, but permanent damage.

Worst of all--in my opinion--people often blame chocolate! And quite unfairly as it turns out. The real culprit? Dairy and sugar. Check it out: Large clinical studies have concluded that all that pimple-wreaking hormonal upheaval is caused by dairy and refined sugar.

The good news is two-fold:

     1) You can stop trying to scrub, scrape, squeeze, acid-burn, or cosmetic-slather your way to a smooth   complexion. All you have to do is stop eating dairy products and refined sugar!
     2) You can finally relax and enjoy dark chocolate fearlessly. Not that sickly-sweet milk chocolate, mind you--dark chocolate.

Milk: it does a body ugly.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

"Vegan" is Not a Cuisine

I've lost count of the times people have told me that they "don't like," or "don't go for vegan food." Most often, I get a sense that these remarks are uttered as a defensive maneuver, either overtly--to ward off what they imagine will be an attempt on my part to sell them on some freaky diet--or subconsciously, to justify what they may feel is a personal failing (by now it's fairly common knowledge that animal food is laden with bad fats, cholesterol and generally not very good for you). What makes this most interesting to me is that I have no threatening agenda (beyond selling people my books, if that counts). So I wonder what's going on in these people that motivates them to reject "vegan food," as if this were an actual cuisine, on a par with, say, "Indian food," or "Tex-Mex food."

I do understand people's trepidation to an extent. There there have been some sensationalist in-your-face campaigns designed rub the public's nose in the ugliness of animal cruelty and exploitation. PETA in particular is known for that sort of stuff. Personally, I'm ambivalent regarding this subject, because while I fully understand the enormity of animal abuse (not even counting the fact that billions of land animals are slaughtered annually), I'm skeptical that what I consider a pretty violent approach will prove effective as a means of winning people over to the "Peaceable Kingdom." I'm not denouncing these activists, because I'm confident that they mean well. As shocking and graphic as their propaganda may be, what they hope to achieve is ultimately a good thing. Great advances in human rights have come with great struggles, so why would animal rights be any different?

On the other hand, I'm not waving any pictures of brutalized animals, or pushing a worldwide meat ban. I'm a cook, not an animal rights activist, so it does surprise me when I'm met with defensiveness.

But let's get to the point I want to make. "Vegan," as it pertains to food and diet, actually doesn't describe anything beyond eating plants. There are a few vegan/vegetarian oddities, like "Tofurkey," soy cheese, and a growing array of meat- and dairy-imitative products (and I'm no fan of any of them), but I don't see these as any different from all the other forms of processed food. They don't constitute a genuine cuisine; they're just some entrepreneur's clever business idea, catering to meat-craving vegans. If anything, they're the anti-cuisine, supplanting the time-honored practice of honest home-cooking with convenience products that to varying degrees devalue health and the pleasure of eating.

True cuisine is not about what we don't eat; it's all about what we do eat, and about what we do to make it thoroughly enjoyable. Within every cuisine, there will be foods and practices that will please some and displease (maybe even disgust) others. "Cuisine" is actually just the French word for "kitchen," although it also refers to the style, quality and delicacy of the food produced in a particular kitchen, or by a particular cook. More than anything, cuisine is about ethnicity; it's about the food of our ancestors--methods, tastes and preferences handed down to us, with each generation adding something new and unique to enrich it. Ancient cuisines like Chinese and Indian are vastly sophisticated, with hundreds of classical dishes and variations. When "American cuisine" has been around long enough, I'm sure it will have evolved out of its mere 200-year-old hillbilly roots, include the immense wealth of its many immigrant contributions and the fearless innovations of its many great cooks.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, there is no such cuisine as "vegan." There can be "French cuisine," "haute cuisine," even "my cuisine," but "vegan" is really just about ingredients (plants only). How each person will take those ingredients and make them sing will be a reflection of that cook's life story and taste predilection. His or her cuisine will either please your palate or not, but we should never blame the ingredients, any more than we could blame the tools. So lighten up, carnivores, and try my food--I'm pretty sure you'll like it!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Making Roasted Garlic Puree

I love garlic in all forms, especially fresh--which is the best way to take advantage of all its healthful properties.

Roasting garlic tames the sharp edge a bit, mellowing and enriching its flavor. This also helps tone down that potentially date-wrecking, kiss-repellent issue (although not entirely--be advised!). Below is a recipe for roasted garlic puree, from the "Jump Starts" section in Speed Vegan. In the picture, I'm also getting ready to roast some tomatoes for a sauce (don't be confused--I'm not cooking either of these items on the stove; I just have a small kitchen and all the counter space was spoken for). Note that the tomatoes are going to be roasted uncovered, on a single sheet of parchment (to avoid aluminum contamination from contact with the baking sheet). The garlic will be sealed in a package made from ten layers of aluminum foil, rumpled a bit to create little air pockets, which will act as a heat buffer to help prevent the garlic from burning--again, with a sheet of parchment between the aluminum and the food.

In this picture, I've added some sprigs of sage, rosemary and thyme right before sealing the package--just a last minute whim. The herb flavor in the finished puree is subtle, overwhelmed by the garlic, but it's definitely there. You'll get more bang for your herbs if you chop them fresh and add them after the roasted garlic has cooled a little.

Here's the basic recipe:

Roasted Garlic Puree
Makes about 2 cups
Chances are good that you won’t be eating this by itself, but it’s a wonderful flavor enrichment for soups, sauces, and salad dressings. In fact, you’ll be surprised how fast a couple of cups will disappear. Like Garlic Oil (page 38), this is an excellent vampire repellent (go ahead, laugh—I’ve never been bitten). Unfortunately, this can also repel people, but I’ve found that including a good amount of fresh parsley in the same dish will significantly mitigate the dragon-breath effect. I’m told it’s the chlorophyll that does the trick.

2 cups peeled garlic
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
            Trim the root ends off the garlic cloves. Toss the garlic in a bowl with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Stack 10 sheets of heavy duty aluminum foil on a work surface, rumpling them slightly, so that they don’t lie exactly flat. The idea behind this is to create some air pockets, which act as a heat buffer to prevent the garlic from burning. Place a sheet of parchment paper on top. Pile the garlic mixture into a nice mound in the middle of the paper and fold the entire stack over it, folding and crimping the edges to form a tight seal.
            Place the package in the oven and roast for about an hour, turning the oven down to 325 degrees F for the last 15 minutes. Remove the package from the oven and allow it to cool completely.
            Open the package and slip the roasted garlic into a food processor along with any accumulated juices. Process to a smooth puree. Scrape into a jar or small bowl and cover tightly; roasted garlic puree will last several weeks in the refrigerator.
            In case any of this is still mysterious (like the folding and crimping procedure), you can watch this video demonstration on YouTube.

Note: As a variation, you can add a few sprigs of fresh rosemary or other herbs to the garlic before roasting.

Monday, February 7, 2011

One Divine Cup

Late afternoon, savoring the space between snowstorms with a cuppa chocolatl.

Long before the Spaniards arrived to ravage, rob and conquer what is now Mexico, the Mexica people (later known as Aztecs) enjoyed a hot drink called chocolatl, spiked with ground hot chiles. Today, the vast plunder taken back to Europe--gold, silver, precious stones, opulent feather and fabric treasures--has all but disappeared. A fraction of the purloined goods is left, mostly behind glass in museums and private collections. Precious little remains of the flourishing Mesoamerican cultures of the 15th century--at least in unadulterated form. European churches, many of them built atop the rubble of destroyed temples, now dominate the landscape, and even what remains of the native cuisine is slowly being polluted by the influence of large fast food chains and packaged convenience foods. But chocolate--the Food of the Gods--remains, vibrant and magical as ever, shining through all the subsequent mucking about by cultures and cuisines across the globe.

The Aztecs had never seen cattle (let alone milk) until the Spanish came, so their hot chocolate was naturally 100% vegan. This was a drink suitable for warriors.Today, of course, most hot chocolate is made with milk, sometimes with cream on top, and way too sweet, in classic American fashion. Modern Mexican chocolate very often includes cinnamon, which is not native to the Americas. Most recently, the ancient Mesoamerican practice of using chocolate in savory dishes (and chile in chocolate dishes) has become fairly common in Western cuisine. Suffice it to say that the old human habit of trying to improve an already perfect thing has had its way with chocolate.

Agave nectar goes back to the time of the Toltecs, before "Aztec" was even a word--although what is now sold in health food stores bears no resemblance to the unfiltered, unpasteurized, thick brownish juice taken fresh from an agave plant. I had some of this ("agua miel") as a kid, and it's not something you could get most people to consider a replacement for white sugar. I put agave nectar in my recipe for "Aztec Hot Chocolate" in Speed Vegan, because at the time I hadn't come across the controversy stemming from processed agave nectar's high fructose content. Now I'm in the middle of rethinking my stand on agave. Low glycemic index (good) on the one hand, a reported 77% fructose content (not so good, maybe even bad) on the other. All I can say is read up on it and decide for yourself. Bottom line: chocolate is good for you; sugar in any form is best taken in very small quantities if at all.

Aztec Hot Chocolate 
(from Speed Vegan)
I’ve tried a few different varieties of chile in my chocolate recipes, including chipotle, ancho, and pasilla, but I find a simple hot red chile like chile de arbol, or cayenne, gives it just enough heat without muddying the food of the gods. Be sure to use the best quality cocoa you can find!

3 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Indian hot red chile powder (or cayenne)
1 cup boiling water

Place the cocoa, agave nectar, cinnamon, and chile in a coffee mug. Pour in the boiling water and stir vigorously. Drink. Feel awe and gratitude.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Roasted Cauliflower and Beet Salad

Something unusually magical happens to cauliflower when you roast it. The taste intensifies considerably, partly because it shrinks and dries slightly, concentrating the juices. And of course there is a little caramelizing action, which adds a sweet layer to the overall complexity--not that any of this adequately explains such a fundamental makeover.  Beets undergo a similar transformation, though not quite as  dramatic, and the two together make an unbelievable taste-texture (and color) treat. Very little is needed to make them into an unforgettable salad (just a splash of EVOO, 18-year-old balsamic, salt and pepper, really). I do put a few sprigs of fresh thyme in the roasting pan, and then add some more, freshly chopped, at the final toss, but that's about it. The parsley is pretty much window dressing--a flash of green for eye appeal more than anything. You can eat this hot, warm, room-temp or cold--it rocks no matter what.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Mediterranean Eggplant Stack

Grilled eggplant slices, with layers of garbanzo puree, flavored with roasted garlic, lemon juice and ras el hanout; blanched baby spinach, sautéed with thin slices of lightly browned garlic; onions and roasted red peppers stewed with smoked paprika; chopped artichokes with roasted garlic, lemon zest, and thick cashew cream.

Some inventions look and taste better in the mind than they do on the plate. I didn't know until I dug into it, whether the different flavors and textures would go well together or not. That's the way it is with art--you imagine, you plan, you execute, and then you find out if it soared or crashed. Almost always it falls at least slightly short of what you imagined. This one was damn near perfect. The hilarious part is that this is a warm, sunny weather dish--made last night, with snow on the ground and a painful -15 degrees outside!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Morality Gone Wild

I find it somewhat disturbingly hilarious that American culture worships violent sports and films, but goes all squeamish at anything even vaguely sexual. It's an odd phenomenon that the ugliest aspects of human behavior--anger, violence, cruelty, betrayal, revenge--are all acceptable subjects for broadcast television, yet sexually suggestive material is taboo. PETA's provocative ads promoting veganism, like this one, are considered so offensive to American sensibilities, they must be banned from TV. 
Confining animals in cruel, squalid conditions so filthy they need tons of antibiotics to survive, and then brutally slaughtering them by the millions? No problem. Getting frisky with a cucumber? Disgraceful!
What does this say about a society's "family values?"