Twain Entertains: A Philosophic Cookbook
An Earth Manifesto publication by Dr. Tiffany B.
August 21, 2012
Edward Espe Brown is a Buddhist teacher and a
good cook. He was the author of the
still-influential Tassajara Bread Cookbook, and was featured in the documentary
film, How to Cook Your Life in
2007. After watching the film, an
observer noted that Brown “endearingly embodies one of Buddhism’s guiding
principles: a sense of humor about our
arrogances and illusions.” My philosophic
hero Mark Twain would have saluted this particular characterization, I reckon!
all are in need of better understandings of how to figuratively cook our lives
in ways that are more wholesome. Food is
a means of nurturing the soul, as well as the body, and fine cooking can be a
wonderfully enjoyable endeavor as well as a way to share delicious meals and
enjoyable moments with friends and family.
Many people know me as an outstanding cook, and the recipes included
herein are some of my best and healthiest.
This cookbook is
designed to provide some yummy recipes, as well as to introduce many ideas that
are contained in the Earth Manifesto to
a broader audience. It is my goal to
advance ideas that will launch humanity into living lives that are in greater
harmony with the world around us. All
the recipes in this cookbook are contained in the Earth Manifesto’s Twelve Delicious Recipes for Good Health and
has been more than 102 years since Mark Twain’s death on April 21, 1910. This cookbook is being published in part to
reincarnate and reinvigorate the valuable perspectives of this famous author. The Earth
Manifesto has been a long-term project that explores how we might actually
go about creating healthier and more balanced lives, from the level of mindful attention to basics through collective attention and
aggregate efforts to solve overarching global challenges.
In many senses, we
are what we eat, and our fate is inextricably hitched to our every action. The threads of all the infinite
interconnections may be difficult to trace, but all together they add up to
overwhelmingly influential and practically deterministic patterns.
Note that Whole
Foods Markets have adopted an Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI) which
lists the amount of micronutrients per calorie in a variety of foods. This ANDI list comes from Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s Eat Right America. The nuts and seeds which are the highest in
nutrients per calorie are sunflower seeds, walnuts, pecans, and chia seeds as
well as sesame seeds, pistachios, almonds, and walnuts. The Bittersweet Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe contains lots of these things, so they are practically
health food, and they also taste great.
It is good for the
health to consume less processed foods and to buy more unprocessed items in
bulk, because they are more nutritious.
They are also generally less expensive and less wasteful of packaging
Note that these
recipes are not generally vegetarian. I
figure that “moderation in all things” is a fairly sensible idea. It is valuable to be aware that a diet with
greater emphasis on tasty preparations of fruits, grains, vegetables, nuts and
non-animal products would be better for the health of most people, and also for
the well-being of the planet. For this
reason, most of these recipes do not use a lot of meat, eggs or dairy products,
and delicious vegetarian options are often provided.
For anyone who
thinks that vegan and vegetarian food cannot be as delicious as food made with
animal products, I challenge you to make Lover’s Leap Ratatouille Paella, or
Rich Russian Borscht Beet and Red Cabbage Soup.
Both of these recipes, found in the Appendix below, use liberal amounts
of Ayurvedic spices, so they are hyper-healthful, as well as bring
sensationally tasty. You’ll find that
these recipes will yield yummy food and enjoyable eating.
Those who evangelize about a vegetarian diet make convincing arguments
about the negative effects of meat-oriented diets on the health of those who
eat a lot of meat. More importantly, from the holistic perspective of the
well-being of life on Earth, the impacts of meat-oriented diets on the planet
are exceedingly heavy.
Meat production in
industrial animal feeding operations is an activity that makes profligate use
of Earth’s resources. Up to 16 pounds of
grain and 2,400 gallons of water are required to produce a single pound of red
meat. A typical meat-eating diet requires more than 4,000
gallons of water per day, compared to about 300 gallons of water per day for a
totally vegan diet. And it takes more
than 11 times as much fossil fuel to make one calorie from animal protein as it
does to make one calorie from plant protein.
Anna Lappé of The Small Planet Institute has
written a book that is a modern-day sequel to her mother’s famous Diet for a Small Planet. It is titled Diet for a Hot Planet: The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork and
What You Can Do About It. In this
book, Anna Lappé suggests that it is important for everyone to understand that
livestock create more emissions of greenhouse gases than all the cars, trucks,
airplanes and other modes of transportation in the world that burn fossil
fuels. She notes that “the story of food
connects to everything from the quality of our food to the quality of our water
to the quality of our air to what’s happening to the climate.”
Note that our habits of eating animals involves a range of accompanying
side-necessities, including the degrading confinement of animals and a
substantial amount of cruelty.
Industrial animal feeding operations also produce enormous quantities of
animal wastes which contribute to air pollution, and they contaminate
groundwater and streams. Anyone
interested in knowing more of the disgusting details about the impacts of a
meat-oriented diet can refer to an online article by the organization People for the
Ethical Treatment of Animals;
see “Meat Production Wastes Natural Resources”.
The global trend is unfortunately toward more meat consumption per person. Simultaneously, the number of human beings on
Earth is increasing rapidly, so this issue is becoming increasingly crucial to
our future well-being. The Earth
Manifesto contains a wide variety of proposals to deal with this and related
Each of us does, to a certain extent, literally "cook our
life". We make our destinies by the gods we choose! Getting a good education and working hard,
for instance, are correlated quite strongly with better chances of material
success in our societies.
All of us, together, in essence are collectively cooking our
lives. Our individual actions contribute to determining our species’
destiny in the short term, and even more so in the long run.
Humankind’s most long-lasting impact is our inadvertent driving to
extinction of many of the species of life on Earth. According to the biologist E.O. Wilson, our
collective activities are wiping out other species of life at a rate that is 1,000
to 10,000 times higher than the average rate that has pertained throughout the eons-long
evolutionary history of life on Earth. In this regard, human beings have
brought the Cenozoic Era on the Geologic Time Scale to an end, and we are now
entering a new Anthropocene Era.
One might recall that the Paleozoic Era ended with the Permian mass
extinction, and the subsequent Mesozoic Era was ended by the Cretaceous
Extinction. Now, today, out of the
unfathomably long sweep of geological history, relatively rapid extinctions are
launching life into a completely new era that is characterized by accelerating
biological change and numerous extinctions of species.
The more we harm biological diversity, the more deeply we hack
into the branch of the tree of life upon which we are perched. In consideration of this fact, it would be
wisest for us to take into account the real impacts of our activities, and to
act to mitigate the ones that are having the most distinctly detrimental
Since the fairest and most effective way to influence people’s
behaviors is through targeted incentives and disincentives, it is my belief
that we must levy taxes on meat, fast foods, and unhealthy foods and beverages,
and use the proceeds to subsidize healthier vegetables, grains, and
fruits. Such policies would shift
consumption patterns to ones that are healthier all around, and lead us toward
more sensible impacts on our enveloping environment.
cookbook includes some recipes that incorporate both good nutrition and healthy
ways of eating. The Earth Manifesto also
contains numerous recommended recipes and prescriptions for actually creating a
better future for our civilization, and these ideas are included herein by
concerning the Ginger-Infused Health Beverage.
This drink is a great one for starting the day in a healthy way because
ginger contains alkaline-forming substances which can offset the adverse
influences caused by an acidic balance in the bloodstream. Too much acidity in the body can contribute
to a variety of health problems. Acidity
is caused by acid-forming foods in the diet (like meat, eggs, grains, dairy,
sugar, coffee and soft drinks), as well as by toxins
or by processes that deprive body cells of oxygen. Acidity can also be a result of too much
system of medicine in South Asia is known as
Ayurvedic medicine. It is a practice
that regards many spices and herbs as having health benefits that have been
acclaimed for thousands of years. This
is a distinct contrast to Western medicine, which is oriented toward the use of
drugs and surgery. Ayurvedic medicine is
oriented around building a healthy metabolic system and providing for good
digestion, the elimination of toxins, healthful exercise, living hygienically,
the facilitating of healing, and achieving balance through practices such as
yoga, meditation and massage. Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word meaning “the
complete knowledge for long life”. That
sounds like a good thing to which everyone should aspire!
The Ginger-Infused Health
Beverage contains cinnamon and turmeric, which both have a wide range of
medicinal values, including properties that act as anti-bacterial and
anti-inflammatory agents and as anti-oxidants.
cardamom and cinnamon are said to stimulate the digestive system and have broad
therapeutic effects. Turmeric is known
as an exceptionally healthy spice because it contains curcumin, which has
anti-cancer properties and other health benefits. Studies have shown that the bioavailability
absorption of curcumin is dramatically enhanced when consumed in conjunction
with piperine, a component of black pepper, so this is also one of the
ingredients added to the beverage.
Andrew Weil’s great
book Spontaneous Healing has the
subtitle How to Discover
and Enhance Your Body’s Natural Ability to Maintain and Heal Itself. I strongly believe that it is wise and
healthy to optimize the power of our immune systems, and to provide conditions
that enhance our natural abilities to prevent illnesses and to recover from
them quickly. This generally involves
providing our bodies with optimum nutrition, and the mind with less stress, so
that healing can most easily occur. The
ingredients of this recipe contribute to such valuable vitality.
Have a cup of hot ginger
“tea” for your well-being as these words dissolve into perpetuity. I believe that hot liquids in general,
including soups, enervate the digestive system and are outstanding for their
The “Story of Tea” is a curious tale, and in some ways, it can be seen
to have been made into a sordid one. Tea
is a mild stimulant, due to the caffeine it contains. In the seventeenth century, tea went from
being unknown in England
to becoming practically a ritual that is a prominent aspect of the English
By the following century, as one might expect in such matters, one
single company had achieved a monopoly on the profitable tea trade. This was the East India Company. Its tale is fraught with foreign adventurism,
speculation and intrigue. Check out
Wikipedia for all you might want to know about the East India Company, and
ruminate about the implications of this corporate conglomerate and its
association with corporate abuses, colonial exploitation, and monopoly
It was the tea of the East India Company that American colonists threw
into Boston Harbor on December 16, 1773. This act of rebellion had been stoked by
American anger at being taxed without fair representation, and it became a key
event leading to the American Revolution, the Declaration of Independence in
1776, and the formulation of the U.S. Constitution in 1787.
Nahum Tate waxed poetic about
this hot beverage in Panacea: A Poem Upon Tea:
Queen of Plants, Pride of Elysian Bow’rs!
How shall we speak thy complicated Pow’rs?
wondrous Panacea, to assuage
Calentures of Youth’s fermenting rage,
And animate the freezing veins of age.
In addition to tea having “an identity as a colonial mainstay in Britain’s trading life, tea in its origins is
also something specifically feminine; a kind of Muse inspiring intellectual
greatness, a Queen to be worshipped as a symbol of Britain’s health and power, and a
key element in the domestic lives of women.
It could be stimulating, relaxing and seductive, but as would become
disastrously clear, it was always political.”
Then again, almost everything has its political components, since all
is interconnected and interdependent.
This fact is illustrated repeatedly throughout the Earth Manifesto.
Let us occasionally breathe deep, exhale gently, relax, and enjoy a
pleasing beverage as we digest all the thoughts and impressions that cascade
into our lives at every moment.
Dr. Tiffany B. Twain
August 21, 2012