START A PETITION 25,136,189 members: the world's largest community for good
Apr 24, 2007
Focus: Education
Action Request: Various
Location: United States
Did you know that the U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA) has graduated death squad leaders, human rights abusers and at least 11 high ranking military officials who went on to become dictators? Even though the school changed its name in 2001 to "Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation" in order to distract critics, known human rights abusers have again appeared in its enrollment lists.

The people of the Americas demand that the School of the Americas be shut down without delay. Take action NOW to make the SOA history.

Please join me in taking the first step to close this school of death.

Click here to send a message to your Representative in Congress, urging her or him to support legislation that will cut funding, suspend operations at the school and investigate its connection to human rights abuses. Follow-up with a phone call if you can. You can contact the DC office of your Representative by calling the Capitol Hill Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

Make a difference by adding your voice to the chorus of millions of people in the Western Hemisphere who strive for a life free from military repression.

Click here to learn more about the School of the Americas, its graduates and the impact that it has had on Latin America.

Then please forward this message to your friends and family and ask them to join you.

If you'd like to make a donation to support the campaign, please click here.
To receive action alerts about the upcoming vote(s) in Congress, sign-up for our action alert list.

Thank you for your help.

Father Roy Bourgeois
Founder, School of the Americas Watch (SOA Watch)
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Posted: Apr 24, 2007 9:44am
Mar 31, 2007
Focus: Business
Action Request: Visit - in person
Location: New York, United States

Freegan Forum

A Discussion on Sustainable Living Beyond Capitalism

When: April 12th 7-9pm (at  9PM we'll begin a walking tour of the useable retail waste of the West Village).
Where: The New School, Enter at 66 West 12th Street (East of 6th av), Manhattan
Sign in, go through courtyard to Lang Cafeteria (Room 100)
Additional Info: Call (347) 724-6954 or email
Admission is free & Freegan refreshments will be provided!
Of ten misunderstood  to mean simply dumpster diving for food, freeganism is a holistic philosophy and way of living based on deliberate non-participation in the capitalist economy through labor or spending.

Join for an introduction to freeganism, addressing questions including:
   * What is freeganism?
   * Do "fair trade", "organic", "vegan" and other "responsible shopping" standards go far enough?
   * What is the connection between waste, hunger, globalization, and environmental destruction?
   * What  is "planned obsolesence" how do freegans challenge this cynical marketing strategy?
   * Is it possible to live without participating in capitalism?
   * What are mutual aid and gift  economics, and how do they  relate to freeganism?
   * What are the common practices of the freegan lifestyle?
   * Is freeganism just a lifestyle esthetic or a strategy for revolutionary change?
   * Can freeganism easy the transition to a post-petroleum society?
   * Does freeganism provide a provide a strategy for meeting people's needs and challenging the capitalist myth of scarcity in a class-based society where so many are deprived of daily  necessities?
   * What are current projects and activities in NYC that reflect a freegan ethic?
Sponsored by and the New School's  Direct Action Networking Collective.
To learn more about freeganism, visit <>
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Posted: Mar 31, 2007 7:44am
Mar 31, 2006
Focus: Health
Action Request: Other
Location: United States
Cooking school in the raw
- Olivia Wu, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Like all canny cooks, Cherie Soria knows how to hook her audience: with desserts.

But Soria doesn't pull out the stops with butter, sugar, eggs and flour, baking them into fluffy confections.

She makes her magic with avocado and agave syrup -- and no baking at all. By the time her students taste her creations, they don't mind that those unexpected ingredients are the major components of their chocolate mousse.

As Soria would say, "If you can make a raw vegan cheesecake better than regular cheesecake, why would you eat regular cheesecake?"

In no time, she has her students dipping into a layered pesto torta that relies on a cheese made from almonds to replace the usual ricotta, and digging into a lasagna-type dish with a noodle-like layer of pureed cashew nuts stretched over mushrooms, spinach and a killer marinara sauce.

Soria is the pre-eminent teacher of gourmet raw food preparation, and founder of Living Light Culinary Arts Institute in Mendocino County. Now, she's established the country's first cooking school devoted to teaching raw and vegan cooking to home cooks and professional chefs.

A place of their own

After nearly a decade of giving classes on the fly, in whatever facilities she could find, to some 800 students, she and her husband, co-director Dan Ladermann, have a place to call their own. The school is now housed in the 6,000-square-foot Company Store on Main Street in Fort Bragg.

With the school, Soria and Ladermann aim to take raw cuisine mainstream. Classes are both demonstration and hands-on; the business also includes a production kitchen and takeout deli. There are no stoves or ovens; instead, dehydrators, high-speed blenders and special climate-controlled rooms for growing sprouts signal this is a raw-food operation.

Power Point presentations are part of the lectures and demonstrations, and six fully equipped stations are set up for hands-on classes.

Roxanne Klein, whose eponymous, exclusively raw restaurant in Larkspur opened to critical acclaim in 2002 is Soria's most famous student. Klein's restaurant and takeout deli closed in 2004, but restaurants such as Cafe Gratitude in San Francisco and Berkeley, and Alive in San Francisco, are continuing the trend.

Raw foodists believe that the greatest nourishment comes from food that is not heated beyond 115 degrees. One reason, they believe, is that antioxidants and phyto-chemicals remain intact. They also believe that heat can transform some ingredients, notably oil and salt, into toxins.

While these claims are controversial, Soria, 58, a radiant, small-framed woman who looks much younger than her years, may be the best advertisement for the cuisine and lifestyle. She has been cooking and living the raw food diet for 14 years, teaching classes at retreats such as Harbin Hot Springs in Lake County, and traveling the circuit of vegetarian and vegan national conferences.

When she began Living Light nine years ago, she kicked off with conventional raw dishes. "I taught raw without saying so by making gazpacho and olive tapenade," she says. Those dishes, followed by raw desserts, she says, won people over.

The menu board of Living Light Cuisine ToGo, downstairs from the school, shows what draws: banana ice cream, carrot apple kuchen, chocolate mousse cup, chocolate cheesecake and frozen fudge bites. Juices and smoothies are listed, but so are entrees such as nori rolls, green burrito, zucchini angel hair pasta and a boxed mezze meal. All of them are made with 95 percent organic and 98 percent raw foods.

At the school, students begin with a required fundamentals class, then advance to associate chef and instructor training levels for professionals. As the classes progress, the format moves from a demonstration to hands-on format. In the past year, most of her fundamental classes have been at the capacity enrollment of 30 students. The hands-on classes are usually full, with 24 to 30 students per class.

Soria says the school enrolls students from an international field, including Lebanon, South Africa, the Philippines, Thailand, Europe and South America. Raw food techniques are different enough from standard cooking that even chefs -- many of them private chefs for Bay Area families -- take her classes, says Soria. Google, the Internet giant in Mountain View, recently hired a chef who graduated from Living Light.

Soria knows what it feels like to be labeled a cultist. "I went from the standard American diet to vegetarian to vegan to raw," she says. When she began a vegetarian diet in the carnivorous '60s, "people thought I was going to die."

She was a vegetarian for 19 years before she attended a workshop in 1992 at the clinics of Anne Wigmore, founder of the Hippocrates Health Institute in Boston, a wheatgrass and raw food discipline with an emphasis on using foods to rid the body of toxins.

Wigmore's regime failed in one respect, Soria says -- "Her food had no flavor." Clients might feel better after a regime of juices, wheatgrass, salads and sprouts, but "they go back home and are bored" with the diet, Soria says.

A mind at work

Soria set her culinary intelligence to work. She based her cuisine on raw vegan "cheeses," and began -- as she did by teaching desserts -- naming her dishes after mainstream comfort foods, and making them look like lasagna, pizza and sandwiches. She created raw dishes with cooked textures, such as her "stir, not-fried" vegetables.

She searched for sophisticated cutting gadgets such as a spiral slicer to create long pastas such as angel hair and linguine out of zucchini, and used high-powered blenders to make smooth and creamy textures, such as vegan mayonnaise and aioli.

Nuts and seeds are sprouted, because a tenet of the raw food movement says that eating "living'' food is the source of energy. By sprouting nuts and seeds, the living components are activated.

Soria ferments pureed nut milks with beneficial intestinal flora such as probiotic and vegan acidophilus cultures and Wigmore's invention -- Revjuvelac, fermented wheat and rye juice. All this adds flavor and nourishment, Soria says, which helps people feel fuller quicker. During the course of a weeklong class, Soria says, students feel sated and still lose an average of 10 pounds.

Jean-Marie Fayat is such a person -- he had tried everything to lose weight. Fayat is executive pastry chef at Draeger's Market in San Mateo. A chef who came up the ranks of professional trade school in France, he came to the United States in 1976. Like many chefs, he had gained quite a bit of weight. He tried a three-day raw foods workshop and found "those foods were very appetizing."

Like other individuals and some private chefs in the Bay Area, he learned that with raw food, "You can make a great, excellent meal." And, he says, "I lost 22 pounds in three weeks.

"It was very dramatic for me. I'm a French chef, and I like my cheese and wine."

Obesity strategy?

Like Soria, Fayat predicts that raw food will become mainstream because it addresses obesity and tastes good. Soria admits that a raw diet can be challenging: It's idealto eat 80 percent raw, but she says that most people will benefit from 50 percent raw. Many of her students, she says, strive to maintain a close-to-100 percent raw diet, but will drink hot tea, and revert to the occasional mashed potatoes.

Trying not to sound extreme, Soria says she and Ladermann do eat out, perhaps once a week, and when they do, they have "a nice vegetarian meal" at a local conventional cooked-food restaurant.

Living Light Culinary Arts Institute, 301-B North Main St., Fort Bragg; (800) 816-2319 or (707) 964-2420, or visit

Raw basics

In the raw food philosophy, most ingredients supply several nutritional components. Here are the major sources of various nutritional requirements.

Protein: Nuts, seeds and greens

Carbohydrates: Fruits and greens

Fats: Nuts, seeds, avocado, olives and cold-pressed oils

Vitamins and minerals: All raw foods

Antioxidants and phyto-chemicals: All raw foods

-- Olivia Wu

Click here for online-only raw food recipes.

Chocolate Orange Mousse with Almonds

Chocolate is a rich source of antioxidants, but can also be addictive, so use it sparingly, says Cherie Soria of Living Light Culinary Arts Institute. The secret ingredient, avocado, makes this mousse thick and rich, but cannot be detected in the flavor.


1/2 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup agave nectar (see Note)

3/4 cup raw cocoa powder (see Note)

1/2 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice

1 tablespoon evaporated cane juice (see Note)

1/4 teaspoon orange zest

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

Pinch salt

2 avocados, about 6 ounces each, peeled, seeded and mashed

1/2 cup peeled slivered raw almonds, for garnish, optional (See Note)


Place coconut oil in a small work bowl and place the bowl in a pan with about 1 inch of hot water. The coconut oil will melt.

Combine melted coconut oil, agave nectar, cocoa powder, orange juice, evaporated cane juice, orange zest, cayenne and salt in a high-powered blender. A regular blender will work, although it may not make the mixture quite as smooth. Puree until smooth; use a small rubber spatula to keep folding the mixture into the center to keep the mixture blending without adding water (you may stop the machine to do this). Make sure cane juice crystals are fully dissolved.

Add the mashed avocado and blend just until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

Pour into six 4-ounce ramekins. Serve each portion topped with slivered almonds.

Note: Agave nectar and evaporated cane juice are minimally processed sweeteners. They are available, along with raw cocoa powder, at natural food stores.

To peel almonds, place a heaping half cup of almonds in a glass bowl. Cover with hot water and let soak 15 minutes. Drain, peel skin off of almonds and slice into slivers with a sharp knife. Dry the almonds slightly before using, either by allowing to air-dry for 15 minutes, or spreading on a sheet pan and placing in a 100° oven for 5 minutes.

Serves 6

PER SERVING: 400 calories, 4 g protein, 34 g carbohydrate, 30 g fat (19 g saturated), 0 cholesterol, 17 mg sodium, 7 g fiber.

E-mail Olivia Wu at

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Posted: Mar 31, 2006 10:43am


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