Tuesday, June 29, 2010

[Blog] Raw Wedding Potluck

Me eating raw guacamole on a leaf of romaine lettuce.
Heirloom tomatoes, avocados, cold-pressed olive oil; yum!
-Photo taken by my husband-

Wedding Reception

This Sunday was my wedding reception, which was held in the form of a raw-food potluck. The affair was full of smiles, and delicious raw dishes. (For anyone who is surprised to discover that I'm married, perhaps it would helps explain if I mentioned that the engagement period was fairly short.)

We started with the classic salad - or at least we thought it was a salad. A friend of mine pulled off the cover to the dish he brought and we all thought we saw salad, but actually, what we saw were 'tuna sandwiches.' Okay, so not the classic salad at all! (The same friend also brought 'ketchup.')

Raw 'Tuna' Sandwiches

The sandwiches used romaine lettuce leaves instead of bread, which is surprisingly effective and gives a nice crunch when you bite into them. The inside consisted of avocado and a rich filling that looked like tuna. When I asked my friend to share what was inside, he said;

"The filling is just sunflower, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts with a stalk or two of celery, olive oil, salt, pepper, lil cayenne, squirt of lemon, some chopped onion (red or green or both), dill, and some other spices."


It was delicious. Who would have thought the healthiest part of the meal would taste that good?

Raw 'Ketchup'

And what was the 'ketchup' made of? Lemon, tomatoes, dates and a little water. It was surprisingly good; but then again, aren't many red gloppy messes surprisingly good?

Unfortunately I didn't take a picture of the sandwiches; I was too busy enjoying eating them.

Melon Delight

Next we ate a dish I made. It was almost your traditional fruit salad, except that it was all melons with the exception of the Papaya.

The Melon Delight

One papaya, one small watermelon, one Tuscan cantaloupe (like a regular cantaloupe but more 'musky' or 'spicy'), one galia melon (like a cantaloupe in the white-areas except sweeter and like a honeydew melon in the green areas, except softer), and one honeydew melon.

Note: Careful when cutting open a galia melon. You may end up with melon juice everywhere.

If I had thought about it to begin with I would have also used the honeydew melon as a bowl, but I had quartered it before it occurred to me. I used the Tuscan cantaloupe and watermelon halves as bowls quite effectively. The galia melon was entirely too soft to be used to way; although not as soft as the skin of a papaya. One thing that I found very interesting about the galia melon was how incredibly juicy it was; it was almost as juicy as the watermelon.

The Banquet Table

A bit later we had the raw brownies I made. Similar to the raw fruit ball treats, the raw brownies mostly consist of dried fruit, and raw nuts. The main difference is that I used an entire bar of bakers chocolate and, instead of mixing the almond butter in, I spread a layer of almond butter into the middle. The white flakes on the top are shredded coconut. The dried fruits in the corners are prunes.

Raw Chocolate Brownies

After the raw brownies we proceeded the wedding cake, brought by a friend who works at Cafe Gratitude. He brought an amazing cake made from blended (whipped?) nuts and dried fruits, and had a friend of his who does wedding decorations do the top of the cake;

Raw Cake
And you thought going raw meant nothing but salad for the rest of your life... Silly goof.

My husband and I cutting our Raw Wedding Cake

The day after the event, it occurred to me to get creative with some of the leftovers. After eating a lovely dinner salad with and orange heirloom tomato, organic blackberries and raspberries, raw almonds, Brazil nuts and pecans, organic avocados, seeds, spinach, romaine lettuce, cold-pressed unfiltered olive oil, garlic seasonings and some other things...

The said 'lovely dinner salad' mentioned above.

I put some of the leftover melon in a bowl and added some leftover raw brownies and a fresh banana.

Melons, Raw Brownie Crumbs, Fresh Sliced Organic Banana.

As you might be able to tell, since beginning this raw food journey, I've become more and more interested in the art of food. Raw fruits and vegetables are so much more colorful and beautiful than anything else. It just goes to show how perfect nature is before humans go and muss everything up. Yes, I said 'muss' on purpose.

The perfection in nature.
-Photo taken by Raederle in 2008-

The thing is, when your food looks boring, it feels boring to eat it. The more enthusiastic and happy you are when you look at your food, taste and chew your food, the more in-sync you are with correctly digesting it.

Organic Raw Banana & Pluot Pudding

Another recent delicious experiment was making a banana pudding with pluots. Needless to say, it was very good. Although, I learned the hard way about adding too much water. It was a bit thin for pudding. Ah, live and learn! (And then stop buying Monsanto's products... Just saying...)

Thanks for reading. Please feel free to leave your feedback in a blogger comment or in my guestbook. If you have a health related story you'd like to tell me, please e-mail me at pitifulbarbie@aol.com - thanks!

PS: Please take my polls found on the right-hand widget bar. Pretty please with a slice of watermelon on top? With raspberries on top? With a slice of raw cake on top?!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

[Article] Forest Gardening; With or without the forest!

Note: The links within this entry lead to other entries of mine within this site, or on another site belonging to me. My sources are linked at the end, after the entry.

"The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings." - Masanobu Fukuoka

What is Forest Gardening?

Forest gardening is a food production and land management system based on replicating woodland ecosystems. By substituting standard trees with fruit and/or nut trees as well as other trees with edible leaves or needles; bushes, shrubs, herbs and vegetables which have yields directly useful to humans. Forest gardening makes heavy use of companion planting. Unlike 'mono-crop farms' things are grown packed tightly together for the maximum efficiency of space and to replicate a natural ecosystem.


Close your eyes for a moment and imagine you're in your garden or on your balcony or porch. If you don't have any yard, balcony or porch, imagine you're in a greenhouse within your own home or at a friends' house who has one of these things. Imagine for a moment how it is now. What does it offer currently?

Now imagine that there is a pair of peach trees that are cross pollinating each other, covered in lovely pink flowers which let you know they'll be bearing fruit soon. Imagine growing under these peach trees is a mass of raspberry bushes, and around that alternating plots of herbs and edible flowers. Parsley, rosemary, sage and thyme, alternated between lilies, marigolds and dandelions.

Turn and look to your right and you see more fruit trees; apples, pears, persimmons, pecans, and chestnuts. Shrubs bearing blueberries and currants. Turn again to your right and see shrubs bearing hazelnuts surrounded by an array of wild flowers. Garlic chives fill in several tiny spaces between shrubs.

Ladybugs fill your garden and eat up harmful bugs such as aphids. Particular flowers you have selected scare off other harmful bugs with their scent. Worms turn your soil. Perennial plants come back year after year to bear fruit, and their dying leaves fertilize the soil. Roots find minerals from years of decomposed bugs and plants and build new leaves and fruits. All of it serving you without your constant attention.

Here and there vines climb on trees, shrubs, or arbors with fruit hanging through the foliage—hardy kiwis, grapes, and passionflower fruits. In sunnier glades large stands of Jerusalem artichokes grow together with groundnut vines. These plants support one another as they store energy in their roots for later harvest and winter storage. Their bright yellow and deep violet flowers enjoy the radiant warmth from the sky.

At your feet are tall heirloom tomato plants bearing tomatoes in bright yellow, dark red, and green. Yellow flowers show all the places where new tomatoes will be growing soon. Orange, yellow and red flowers; marigolds; surround the tomatoes to scare off bugs that would otherwise eat the tomatoes. The flowers and the fruit is edible. And the tomato leaves may be added to tomato sauce. (The tomato leaf raw is quite unpleasant. It is not poisonous however in any reasonable quantity as is commonly believed.)

Have you closed your eyes and imagined this yet? If not, do so now. Take a deep breath and smell the fresh flowers and fruits growing all around you. This is an edible forest garden.

Companion Gardening

Edible forest gardening is the art and science of putting plants together in woodland-like patterns that forge mutually beneficial relationships, creating a garden ecosystem that is more than the sum of its parts. Humans work hard to hold back succession — mowing, weeding, plowing, and spraying. If the succession process were the wind, we would be constantly motoring against it. Why not put up a sail and glide along with the land's natural tendency to grow trees?

Wasteful Actions

When we mow and rake the grass, we're depleting the soil of the chance to re-fertilize itself with dead martial. When we 'weed' the ground we're often tearing out valuable edible plants that serve as medicine and food. When we plow the earth we often kill and destroy the natural and wonderful processes already going on to enrich and empower the earth. When we spray the plants with chemicals we throw off the balance of the ecosystem and make the structure of our farm or garden completely dependent on us and our money.

This behavior is wasteful.


You can grow fruits, nuts, vegetables, herbs, mushrooms, other useful plants, and animals in a way that mimics natural ecosystems, and thereby is self-sustaining and good for the environment. You can create a beautiful, diverse, high-yield garden.

  • Yields will naturally be high if the surrounding plants are truly 'companion plants.'
  • Yields will be diverse; medicine, food, fuel, fertilizer, and fiber.
  • After a few years of design and upkeep the garden will mostly maintain itself.
  • Less upkeep, money and effort than a convention garden.
  • A healthy ecosystem which will benefit you and the planet.
These benefits are mutually reinforcing. Diverse crops make it easier to design a healthy, self-maintaining ecosystem, and a healthy garden ecosystem will have reduced maintenance requirements.

How large of a space is required?

A garden pot with soil in it? It's ideal that you have a plot of land. It can be done in an urban yard quite comfortably. However, I firmly believe that it can be done with potted plants on a porch or balcony, and even to some degree indoors. The key there is to use large pots and have a diverse array of plants that benefit each other within the pots.

It can be done virtually anywhere; Forest gardeners are doing their thing at 7,000 feet (2,100 m) of elevation in the Rocky Mountains, on the coastal plain of the mid-Atlantic, and in chilly New Hampshire and Vermont.

Forest gardening has a long history in the tropics, where there is evidence of the practice extending over 1,500 years. While you can grow a forest garden in almost any climate, it is easiest if you do it in a regions where the native vegetation is forest, especially deciduous forest.

Existing Woodlands

Edible forest gardening is not necessarily gardening in the forest, it is gardening like the forest. You don't need to have an existing woodland if you want to forest garden, though you can certainly work with one. Forest gardeners use the forest as a design metaphor, a model of structure and function, while adapting the design to focus on meeting human needs in a small space. While you can forest garden if you have a shady site, it is best if your garden site has good sun if you want the highest yields of fruits, nuts, berries, and most other plants.

If you're attempting this indoors, you will need at least one plant light, if not several. Or, a very large window facing the east with nothing obstructing the sun. A good window with sunlight and a plant light is likely to be ideal.


Understanding ecology is essential to build a forest garden. Four aspects of forest ecology are key: architectural design, a balanced food web, renewable soil fertility, and how the ecosystem changes through time; also known as 'succession'.

Design & 'Architecture'

Vegetation layers are only one of the architectural features important in forest garden design. Soil horizon structure, vegetation patterning, vegetation density, and community diversity are also critical. All five of these elements of community design influence yields, plant health, pest and disease dynamics, maintenance requirements, and overall community character.

For example, scientific research indicates that structural diversity in forest vegetation, what we call "lumpy texture," appears to increase bird and insect population diversity and to balance insect pest populations—independent of plant species diversity. Learning how and why plants pattern themselves in nature and about the effects of the diverse kinds of diversity on ecosystem function can add great richness to the tool box of the forest gardener.

The Food Web

Understanding the food chain is important to having a successful forest garden. When we design a forest garden, we select plants and animals that will create a food web and guild structure, whether we know it or not. It behooves us to design these structures consciously so we can maximize our chances of creating a healthy, self-maintaining, high-yield garden.
  • The Sun: Provides energy for everything on the planet.
  • Producers: Green plants. These are also known as autotrophs, since they make their own food. Producers are able to harness the energy of the sun to make food. Ultimately, every (aerobic) organism is dependent on plants for oxygen (which is the waste product from photosynthesis) and food (which is produced in the form of glucose through photosynthesis). They make up the bulk of the food chain or web. These producers are what we are dependent upon. Embracing this concept is a key to feeling fulfilled as a raw foodist.
  • Consumers: In short, consumers are every organism that eats something else. They include herbivores (animals that eat plants), carnivores (animals that eat other animals), parasites (animals that live off of other organisms by harming it), and scavengers (animals that eat dead animal carcasses). Primary consumers are the herbivores, and are the second largest biomass in an ecosystem. The animals that eat the herbivores (carnivores) make up the third largest biomass, and are also known as secondary consumers. This continues with tertiary consumers, etc.
  • Decomposers: These are mainly bacteria and fungi that convert dead matter into gases such as carbon and nitrogen to be released back into the air, soil, or water. Fungi, and other organisms that break down dead organic matter are known as saprophytes. Even though some of us hate those mushrooms or molds, they actually play a very important role. Without decomposers, the earth would be covered in trash. Decomposers are necessary since they recycle the nutrients to be used again by producers.
The unique inherent needs, yields, physical characteristics, behaviors, and adaptive strategies of an organism govern its interactions with its neighbors and its nonliving environment. They also determine the roles each organism plays within its community.

The vast majority of solar energy captured by natural forest food webs ends up going to rot. We can capture some of this energy for our own use by growing edible and medicinal mushrooms, most of which prefer shady conditions.

We can design resource-partitioning guilds by including plants with different light tolerances in different vegetation layers, for instance, or mixing taprooted trees such as pecans and other hickories with shallow-rooted species such as apples or pears. We can build mutual-support guilds by ensuring that pollinators and insect predators have nectar sources throughout the growing season. Insights into the "guild structure" of ecosystems provides clear direction for design as well as research into many aspects of agroecology.

What's Agroecology?

The term agroecology can be used in multiple ways, as a science, as a movement and as a practice. Broadly stated, it is the study of the role of agriculture in the world. Agroecology provides an interdisciplinary framework with which to study the activity of agriculture. In this framework, agriculture does not exist as an isolated entity, but as part of an ecology of contexts. Agroecology draws upon basic ecological principles for its conceptual framework.

Soil Fertility

Asking the right questions...

When most people think of fertile soil, they likely think of bags of compost sold at gardening specialty stores. When they ask questions about soil, they ask, "What's the difference between top soil and 'organic compost mix' anyway?" The questions you'll be asking as a forest gardener are; "What is the anatomy of self-renewing soil fertility?" and "How do plant roots interact with each other and their environment?"

I happen to think of the video game Pharaoh when I think of fertile soil (no kidding), because a large aspect of the game has to do with building farms on the flood plains and paying attention to the predictions of the flood and pleasing Osiris so that you may be blessed with perfect floods to bring new rich silt to the farm land. Unfortunately, most of us don't have a convenient nearby Nile that floods every year to bring new silt.

Bringing us back to important questions like, "What roles do microbes and other soil organisms play in our forest gardens, and how should we interact with them?"

Self-Renewing Plant Guilds...

Plants are critical components of the structure that creates self-renewing fertility in natural ecosystems. They plug the primary nutrient leaks and energize your 'plant guilds.'

The basics of maintaining fertile soil are perennial plants, and accumulator plants. Most everything you find in a grocery store is an annual plant that has to be replanted after the winter, or a bi-annual that will need to be replanted after two years. These plants deplete the soil, which goes a long way towards explaining why farm lands become more and more infertile.

Perennial Plants...

Perennial plants give to the soil instead. Also, you don't have to buy new seeds. They save time, money, and effort, and give to your soil all at once. When you learn about perennials and annuals for the first time in detail... it's one of those 'no duh' moments where you have to sit back on your heels at wonder at the world's insanity.

Accumulator Plants...

Dynamic accumulator plants such as comfrey (symphytum officinale) selectively accumulate mineral nutrients to high levels in their leaf tissues. When they shed these leaves in fall, they're fertilizing the top soil.

As we enter the post-oil age, our understanding of the anatomy of self-renewing fertility will become more and more critical to our success in temperate climates.

"In what patterns do plant roots grow, why, and when?"

While the majority of tree roots grow in the top two to three feet of soil, it turns out that fruit trees that can get even a small percentage of their roots deep into the soil profile produce more fruit more consistently, resist pests and diseases more effectively, and live longer than those that have only shallow root systems. Good pre-planting site preparation is therefore a highly worthwhile endeavor. Root system understanding provides a solid foundation for plant species selection and polyculture design.

Soil Organisms...

Soil organisms perform numerous critical functions in forest and garden ecosystems, and we can easily disrupt these allies with unthinking actions. Basic forest gardening principles, however, will provide exactly what our tiny friends need. For example, using mulch and leaving the soil undisturbed goes a long way.

On the other hand, good soil preparation can make all the difference. Compacted or poorly drained soils can severely hamper the development of healthy soil food webs, and hence healthy forest gardens. Understanding the soil food web also provides insight into how to manage for healthy mycorrhizal fungi populations and how to ensure that nitrogen-fixing plants actually do their soil-building work.


Ecosystems are ever-changing. Plant succession used to be thought of as the directional change of a community over time from "immature" stages toward a "mature" stage, such as a field changing to shrub-land and then to a forest.

However, new models of succession have arisen in recent years that articulate the complex reality of plant community change over time without so blatantly projecting human cultural constructs upon natural phenomena.

Plant succession is nonlinear and occurs patch by patch within the ecosystem, and rarely do ecosystems ever attain a "climax" or "equilibrium" state. Disturbances of various kinds are a natural part of every successional process — windstorms, fires, insect attacks, and human intervention.

The most productive stage in the succession of an ecology is somewhere in the middle; the shurb-land stage. In nature, this stage can often be found on the edges of a forest between a meadow and a forest.

Most of our developed 'tree crops' are species adapted to this shrub-land or wood-land stage. Therefore, our highest yielding forest gardens will contain a lush mixture of trees, shrubs, vines, and herbs, not the towering canopy of an actual heavily wooded forest.

Forest Gardening with Robert Hart

World View

It used to be that everyone was a "farmer" or "gardener." Everyone needed food, and only the rich who provided a profitable service aside from food exclusively bought food instead of growing it themselves.

Now that grocery stores are a standard, and not a luxury in modern world, people as a whole have lost their connection with nature. Children believe that food comes from stores, and people overall believe that the plants that spring up in their yard are unwanted weeds. Few even stop to consider if these 'weeds' serve a purpose.

How we garden reflects our worldview. The ultimate goal of forest gardening is not only the growing of crops, but the cultivation of a natural perspective. When you get back in tune with nature, you begin to feel that the rhythm of life is much slower and more peaceful than you've been led to believe. You begin to laugh more, sing more, and relax more. Growing, eating and being with live plants brings harmony to yourself and to the world.

Forest gardening gives us a visceral experience of ecology in action, teaching us how the planet works and changing our self-perceptions. It helps us take our rightful place as part of nature doing nature's work, rather than as separate entities intervening in and dominating the natural world.


Wikipedia, Thinkquest, Edible Forest Gardens, Future Friendly,

Thursday, June 17, 2010

[Article] Microwaves

Even though, sometimes, I still occasionally have cooked foods, I will never be caught using a microwave again. Why?

Read on.

"Pediatricians tell parents specifically not to microwave their babies' formula. It kills whatever is good in them, in effect leaving you garbage to feed your babies. You can't precisely control the heat and can burn the babies too. Do you think that other foods are safe from this? They aren't." - Global Healing Center

Goodbye Microwave & Oven; Hello Shelf Space!

Visit Markus Rothkranz's Site

"There was a lawsuit in 1991 in Oklahoma. A woman named Norma Levitt had hip surgery, but was killed by a simple blood transfusion when a nurse 'warmed the blood for the transfusion in a microwave oven!'" - Stephanie Relfe B.Sc. (Sydney)

Continually eating food processed from a microwave oven causes long term, permanent brain damage by “shorting out” electrical impulses in the brain [de-polarizing or de-magnetizing the brain tissue]. The only way to repair this damage is to stop eating poison and start eating raw.

Facing the Fact about Microwaves

The human body cannot metabolize [break down] the unknown by-products created in microwaved food.

Male and female hormone production is shut down and/or altered by continually eating microwaved foods.

The effects of microwaved food by-products are residual (long-term) within the human body.

Minerals, vitamins, and nutrients of all microwaved food is reduced or altered so that the human body gets little or no benefit, or the human body absorbs altered compounds that cannot be broken down.

The minerals in vegetables are altered into cancerous free radicals when cooked in microwave ovens.

Microwaved foods cause stomach and intestinal cancerous growths (tumors). This may help explain the rapidly increased rate of colon cancer in America.

The prolonged eating of microwaved foods causes cancerous cells to increase in human blood.

Continual ingestion of microwaved food causes immune system deficiencies through lymph gland and blood serum alterations. (The systems that allow you to rid yourself of toxins.)

Eating microwaved food causes loss of memory, concentration, emotional instability, and a decrease of intelligence.

- Halexandria Foundation

[Article] Wild Medcinal Plants [Desert] Edition 2

Silk Tassel
For Menstrual Cramps

Common Names: Silktassel, Bear Brush, Quinine Bush, Fever Bush

Botanical Name: Garrya spp.

Taste: Bitter, bitter, bitter

Properties: Very Strong Relaxant (anti-spasmodic), uterine stimulant, febrifuge, anodyne, excellent for menstrual crmaps

Parts Used: Twigs & Leaves

Preparations: Tea, if you can stand how bitter it is. Tincture is often done. May be capsulized. Fresh plant 1:2 95% Dried plant 1:5 50%

Dosage: 1 capsule, or a small amount in one cup of tea. Or around twenty 'drops.' Try a small amount and wait for forty minutes to an hour to gauge effects.

This plant will affect blood pressure, so want to be sure not to over do it. The bark is more potent than the leaves, so you probably want to simply stick with those.

It's important to plant, use, and appreciate your native plants, wherever you live. The plants growing in your area are there for you. They have built up antibodies to local bacteria. They have built up strength in the local climate. They drink in the same amount of sun and feel the same climate that you do.

Your local plants, especially the ones growing in your neighborhood, are the best plants for you. You attract to you what you need. Often people find that the medical cure they need most is growing right outside their door.

It's also important to grow local plants if you're a gardener or farmer (or a raw foodist, or anybody) as this short excellent article points out.

For urinary infections

Common name: Manzanita

Botanical name: Arctostaphylos

Manzanita is not to be confused with Silktassel. They look very similar, but Manzanita has a distinctive red bark which sets it apart.

Manzanita is a common name for many species of the genus Arctostaphylos. They are evergreen shrubs or small trees and are characterized by smooth, orange or red bark and stiff, twisting branches. There are 106 species of manzanita, 95 of which are found in California, ranging from ground-hugging coastal and mountain species to small trees up to 6m tall. Manzanitas bloom in the winter to early spring and carry berries in spring and summer. The berries and flowers of most species are edible.

Locations: Red Rock Canyon of Nevada

"Manzanita is found in the area surrounding the escarpment in the rocky canyons and on the walls. Vegetation is found only on areas where soil has accumulated. The most limiting factor in this area is availability of soil. Precipitation usually ranges from eight to ten inches annually. Manzanita is the most dominant plant."

They are present in the chaparral biome of western North America, where they occur from southern British Columbia, Washington to California and New Mexico in the United States, and throughout much of northern and central Mexico.

More Wild Plants

If you want to learn about more wild dessert plants, read my first post about these amazing plants; Wild Medcinal Plants [Desert] Edition 1

  • Yucca Schidigera & Joshua Tree

  • Chaparral Herb

  • Scarlet Globemallow Herb

    Want to learn more and start learning from one of the best sources there is? Visit Markus Rothkranz's site and discover the many sources available there.

    Want to know when I update my blog? Follow me on Twitter.

  • Sunday, June 13, 2010

    [Article] Economics & Health

    Obesity at Whole Foods vs Albertsons

    I recently read an article about a study (at the University of Washington) that showed people who shop at Whole Foods to be less likely to be obese than those who shop at a chain called Albertsons.

    I have a few qualms with the article that I'd like to cover in this entry;

    "From what I can tell, the study didn't control for income: it's well established that Whole Foods shoppers have higher incomes, which has always been correlated with low obesity rates. Indeed, some public health experts will tell you that we don't have an obesity epidemic so much as we have a poverty epidemic."


    It's true that poverty is an issue;

    "The wealthiest 1 percent of families owns roughly 34.3% of the nation's net worth, the top 10% of families owns over 71%, and the bottom 40% of the population owns way less than 1%." - Wealth Distribution

    Buying Habits

    But this is nothing new for America, or most any other country. I believe that the real issue rests in irresponsible buying habits and the consumer ideology of the masses.

    Think for a moment how often you buy shoes. Some women buy shoes every week, or every month. I've personally known most women to own well over twenty pairs of shoes. Several different sneakers, several different sandals, several different boots, and so forth. Personally, I own five pairs of footwear. This is a difference in spending trend, not in income.

    Think how expensive the clothing you buy is. Do you buy high-quality clothing that will last the rest of your life and take good care of it? Or do you buy the newest, in-fashion cheap clothing that you'll wear out in a year or then give-away? Or, perhaps, do you pay extra for brand names just because it's the 'latest thing' and not because it's a higher quality? Personally, I try to shop for the best quality I can get for the price, and I try to limit clothing shopping to twice a year, spending about $200 on clothing yearly.

    Think about how many baubles you buy. Do you have things you've bought, still in the package, from days ago? Weeks ago? Years ago? Do you have anything within sight of your computer desk that you bought because it seemed like a good idea, but then never used? Do you have a closet, or bin, chocked full of things you never use, and barely ever used?

    The Sheeple Way

    Maybe it doesn't apply to you, but most people shop very unwisely. They buy more than they need when it comes to clothing, technology, and baubles, and then buy the cheapest food they can find. This seems to be the "American Way." I'd prefer to think of this trend as The Way of the Sheep.

    Useless Votes

    There are major problems with these trends. Firstly, when you spend a lot of money on baubles you never use, you're essentially making useless votes with you're money. We're living in a Capitalist society, which means that you communicate to corporations through buying what you want. You buy a lot of something, and then a lot more is produced because the demand goes up. If nobody buys something, then the item's price goes down, and down, and down, until you see it on clearance, and then that item is not produced again.


    The second major issue with this trend is the waste involved. For everything that is produced, there is man-power, money, oil, and so forth that goes into it. There are the people in the factory who work to produce the product. There are the people who drive the trucks to transport the products (and often the people who man the transport boats, trains and airplanes). There are the people who work for the stores where the products are sold. There is the money spent in maintaining the store and the production facility. There is the gasoline and money spent on the transportation by you and the corporations. And if you never even use what you pay for, then you're supporting a product that isn't useful and wasting the time and resources of a long string of people.


    The third issue with these irresponsible spending habits is the clutter in your house. Before you know it bins are bursting, shelves are overloaded, closets are packed, boxes are strewn around the house, and your organization goes to hell. Other people give you useless baubles, your parents buy you things you don't need or want, your friends try to unload their unwanted purchases on you, and the next thing you know, you can't find the 10% of the things you own that you really care about.

    Your Health

    This spending habit is bad for the economy, the planet, and for the pile of clutter in your house. But there is a fourth major issue that is widely overlooked. Because you're spending so much of your income on things that don't matter, you have much less to spend on something that matters more than anything; your body's health.

    You wouldn't need to buy expensive skin creams, fancy extra-strength deodorants, and heavy-duty anti-dandruff shampoo if you were eating a healthy raw diet. You wouldn't need to spend money on insulin medication, or any medication. You save yourself a hip and/or knee replacement at the age of sixty. You save yourself a heart-attack at the age of forty. You save yourself wrinkles, cellulite and dark-eye-circles at the age of thirty-five. You save a lot of money and pain when you have your health.

    Local Edibles

    So what does it cost to have your health? Well, that's what this site is all about! One way to actually save a lot of money by going raw is to grow your own food and to harvest local edible plants that are already growing on your property or nearby.

    Growing your own food and harvesting local plants will be the healthiest and most affordable route, but because we can't grow and harvest everything ourselves and still have the variety we're used to, you'll still want to supplement with some things from the grocery store. You want organic produce for a number of reasons;

    Why Buy Organic?

    Conventional growing procedures are killing off the bees and destroying the soil.

    Conventional growing procedures use highly toxic chemicals that are hazardous for the environment and for you.

    Much of conventional produce is directly or in-directly owned by Monsanto, who puts small farmers out of business everyday. The easiest way to boycott Monsanto is to only buy organic produce. (Although some organic produce will be in-directly in league with Monsanto as well.)

    Organic produce is generally owned by smaller corporations who want to do better for the environment and for humanity. (Although that isn't going to be universally the case.)

    The Cost

    A lot of people have the misconception that it's extremely expensive to eat organic. This doesn't have to be true. Shopping at farmers markets, paying close attention to when things are in and out of season (because that affects the price of produce), and taking advantage of store deals will all greatly reduce the amount spent.


    Also, I'm recommending organic produce, not fancy organic fruit bars. Granola bars, organic or not, don't have a place in your diet. Regardless of how bad for you they are, all of them are processed, devoid of enzymes, over-priced, and in general not even worth their price for convenience and flavor alone. If you want a treat that is convenient to take with you, make raw fruit ball treats.

    Organic snacks in general, such as potato chips, are somewhat healthier, especially because they don't contain poisons such as high fructose corn syrup. But they also are very expensive, and will not make you more healthy, they will simply poison you less than their conventional alternatives.

    What Statistics Don't Say

    One point that the article made that was very pertinent as; "The long-term consequences for the health and well-being of the working poor are exactly the type of information econometric stats obscure."

    Although, what I've just explained about spending habits somewhat negates this statement; "Our food system, indeed our entire economic system, all but forces low-income consumers into an unhealthy diet. Fixing this will be a tall order, and solutions to this problem will need to be both broad-based and comprehensive, from grassroots efforts to policy changes."

    The Economy

    The real fix for people's health does not have to include a fix for our economy at all. We can all afford to be healthy if we make it our very first priority. Even people on the streets can be healthy with the appropriate education on what is edible. (See my entries about eating local edible plants that are often disregarded as weeds.) And health should be our top priority. You never know how important it is to be able to run, to jump, to sing, to laugh, to get out of bed, to be able to fall asleep, to breath through your nose, to have smooth skin until you no longer have it.

    My Unhealthy Childhood

    I spent my childhood eating noodles (that often come with flavorings that contain mono sodium glutamate), eggs on toast (conventional eggs on conventional wheat toast which contains high fructose corn syrup), Cheerios (which are devoid of enzymes), peanut butter and jelly (conventional peanut butter contains trans fats and many jellies contain sugar) and other stereotypical things that children eat a lot of. Many children have strong enough genetics to withhold this bombardment to their immune system until they're in their twenties or even thirties, but I wasn't up to the battle.

    I had mono four times. I had chicken pox twice. I had strep throat at least twice a year until I was fourteen (around the time I began walking more and quit soda). I had random fevers that doctors couldn't explain around six times a year (which continued until I was sixteen when I quit high fructose corn syrup). I had difficulty walking anywhere, and would fall ill the next day after walking a mere five or six short city blocks (which didn't improve at all until I was fifteen.) I had constant stomach aches and burps from age fifteen to seventeen, which is what got in interested in researching nutrition, and those didn't stop until I quit pasta, breads, meats and dairy. I've always had low energy and difficulty sleeping at night, which improved when I was seventeen but didn't improve dramatically until I converted to a mostly raw diet.


    From the article about economic trends affecting health;

    But with all this overwhelming evidence of not just our system's inequality, but its injustice, what are we waiting for?

    Blogger Matt Yglesias grabbed this quote from an NPR interview with USDA Chief Tom Vilsack which suggested to me that Vilsack needs to read the blogs a bit more.

    Vilsack said: "I would say consumers do benefit from the way in which we structured our farm programs, at least as of today, because of the fact that our food is less expensive than it is any place else in the world. Folks in America have a great deal more discretion of what to do with their paycheck."

    He's making the very argument my post is meant to undercut; in Vilsack's world as in the econometricians', this cheap food comes with no negative consequences, when we know the opposite is true.

    As the data show, our "discretion" comes via farm subsidies that maintain a low price for and oversupply of the corn and soy used in the manufacture of all our cheap, unhealthy food. Healthy food such as fruits and vegetables has virtually no subsidies. This benefits no one except the food processors, and certainly not the vast majority of farmers who grow the crops or the low-income consumers forced by circumstances to purchase the nutrient-poor, calorie-dense final products.

    Corrupt Farming Industry

    And this doesn't even mention the hundreds of farmers who are paid not to grow things. When the price drops too far on a certain product or area of produce, often farmers are paid not to produce anything so that the price will go back up. This benefits nobody but the suppliers.

    Just another of the many, many reasons to buy local, buy organic, forage local plants and grow as much of your own food as you are capable.


    I've been told I need to site my sources more often by several folks. I try to link whenever possible, but these entries are so heavy in research and thought and sheer time typing that it would double the length of the process if I hunted down every single relevant site and source possible. I do however have a list of links that covers some small fraction of articles I've read pertaining to nutrition and health. There are many more links throughout all of my entries that are not linked on that page. And all of the links together equal less than 25% of all of the articles I've read. Not to mention the bits of information that came out of magazines, books, nutritionists and speakers I've heard speak and talked to.


    If you have anything to say, please feel free to leave a comment on the relevant post. I appreciate you taking my polls, your comments, thoughts, energy and ideas.

    Friday, June 11, 2010

    [Article] Raw Food Diet; The Basics

    "What on earth is a Raw food diet anyway?"

    A raw food diet is simply eating food in its natural unprocessed state. You probably (hopefully) already are on part of a raw food diet. If you snack on fruits and vegetables without cooking them, then you’ve eaten raw food.

    Raw food, or unprocessed food is much better for you because the act of processing the food strips it of a lot of its vital nutrients. You’ve probably heard that cooking vegetables can leach out a lot of the vitamins. Cooking food also destroys the enzymes as well. Packaged foods that you find in the grocery store, like potato flakes to make mashed potatoes, and other foods that have been processed in some way to make an easy packaged meal have little nutritional value. Your body simply isn’t made to process these unnatural 'foods'.

    I tend to not even think of 'packaged foods' as foods at all. I tend to simply think of them as poisons, because more often than not, that's pretty much what they are. Look at the ingredients; try reading them aloud. The chances are that you can't pronounce half of the ingredients, and that you have not even heard of most of the things on the list. Does that sound like something your great grandmother would have put on the dinner table? Does that list sound like food, or does it sound like some bizarre chemical experiment?

    If you think about raw foods as being the natural foods the way that they come from the earth, then it makes sense that these are easier for our bodies to process. These are the foods that out great ancestors ate. There have not been that many generations that have had access to grocery stores. Since the advent of grocery stores, chronic illnesses have sky rocketed. Maybe there is a connection there.

    Raw foods are packed full of vitamins, minerals and food enzymes. The fresher it is (the less time between picking the food and eating it), the more the food has to offer. The food enzymes are important, although you don’t hear a lot about them. One of the things they do is help you digest your food. Getting enough enzymes helps your body with the digestion process which takes a lot of energy, and if your body is spending less energy on digestion it will have more energy for you to do the things you like.

    Did you ever wonder why you feel so tired after you eat a big meal of cooked foods? One of the reasons is because food enzymes are destroyed by cooking, so there are no enzymes to help your body digests that big meal you just ate.

    If you often get stomach aches (like I used to), then you may be experiencing an enzyme deficiency. Try having a green smoothie or a large salad before having a cooked meal, and notice if you don't get a stomach ache from a meal that normally would give you one. It's the enzymes!

    Most people who consider themselves Raw Foodists or people who say they are on a 'Raw Food Diet' eat about 75% or more of their diet raw. This includes fruits, vegetables, sprouts, raw nuts, seaweed and other foods in their natural form. Many people go so far as 100%, but not everyone has to go that far to see extreme and desirable results. Others eat pretty much just like 'everyone else' and then will go on a 100% raw food diet for a short period of time (a week to a month) in order to fend off an illness when it occurs.

    My personal suggestion is to determine where you are now, and then try to increase the amount of raw food you eat in increments. Aim for having at least part of every meal raw. If that means adding a green smoothie; that's fine. If it means having a side salad, that's fine too. If it means putting fresh raw basil on your shrimp, that's also fine. Whatever works for you. When you start noticing that your aches and pains are going away, you may decide you want to shoot for 100% just to see what a change it will make in your life.

    Raw foods can be prepared in a couple of ways. One of the most popular is juicing (which can be done with a blender or a juicer - I recommend using a blender mostly so that you still get the fiber). Many people go on a juice fast (or a juice feast!) where all they do is drink the juice of raw fruits and vegetables. (Preferably home grown or organic.) Even just drinking fresh juice in the morning can give your health a significant boost.

    Another way that people eat raw foods is to use a food dehydrator. This takes all the moisture out of the fruits and vegetables so they can be easily stored for long periods of time without going bad. A food dehydrator uses hot air to dehydrate the food but it keeps the temperature under 116°F so that the vital food enzymes are not destroyed. One should still remember that enzymes die off over time, so that dehydrated foods will still not be as fresh as just-picked foods.

    Nature, as shown by every animal but humans, intended us to eat leaves, fruits and vegetables directly off bushes and trees, but that unfortunately isn't easy or practical for everyone in today's society. One way to help make the change is to use nuts and dried fruits as snacks throughout the day to curb cravings for cooked and processed foods.

    Raw Fruit Ball Treats

    Make sure to find dried fruits with no added sugar. And look for nuts that have not been cooked. Raw nuts can be found at most Trader Joe's and at some health food stores. You can also look online.

    Nobody can change everything they eat overnight. Just try to notice how you feel after each meal, and consider how much of it was raw plants, and how much of it was cooked and processed.

    What role do calories play in our diet? Click here to find out.

    [Article] NutriSystem vs. Weight Watchers vs. Going Raw

    "What's the difference between eating raw foods and going on the NutriSystem or joining the Weight Watcher's program?"

    There are many large differences, let's start with calorie counting and why it's meaningless. The Weight Watchers program mostly focuses on a 'points' system based on calories. If you don't have too many calories, then you'll lose weight. That's all well and good, but it's not a permanent fix, and it will not make your unhealthy food cravings go away, nor will it treat other chronic conditions caused by unhealthy eating.

    Calories Are Meaningless

    Calories are neutral. You can eat ten thousand of them and still be skinny, and you can eat five thousand of them and still be overweight. In fact, studies have used this phenomenon to try to write off being fat as genetic.

    Genetics do play a role in how your body behaves, but they do not control you. You control your genes, not the other way around. Your genes can actually be activated or deactivated. For example, if you have the 'diabetes' gene, then if you eat a lot of refined sugar you will become diabetic. If you don't have the gene, then you can eat a lot of refined sugar and not become diabetic (although you will eventually develop other issues.)

    Something You Don't Need To Lose Weight; A Calorie Journal

    "Anyone who has tried to lose weight has heard the age-old formula: eat less, exercise more. This is intended to create a calorie deficit, where the body is using up more than it's taking in. The idea is to coerce your body into burning stored fat, but for many people low-calorie dieting ends up burning them out long before the fat is gone. This is not because of a lack of self-control or willpower. It happens because the very fundamentals of low-calorie dieting are downright wrong." ~ Natural News

    "How can calories be neutral? That's the opposite of what I've been taught my entire life!"

    Think about it this way;


    It's been shown that you actually burn more calories eating celery than you get from the amount of celery you're eating. That means if you eat ten thousand calories of celery in a day (assuming that much of one thing won't make you sick; which generally is the case when we're talking about eating that much of one thing), then you'd actually lose weight.

    Now while that particular phenomenon only applies to celery, there are other similar phenomenons to take into consideration.


    When you eat something right off the bush or tree that it's growing on, it's full of enzymes that are alive. (They die slowly over time, or very quickly if you cook something.) Those enzymes are strings of amino acids that your body uses to build muscle, digest food effectively, regulate your metabolism, and construct all different cell tissues throughout your body. There are a growing number of people who have discovered that eating weeds is better for them than store-bought food because they're loaded with enzymes, and are actually stronger and more vital plants than the food that's been grown in cultivated land.

    Refined Sugars & Simple Carbs

    When you're body is exposed to simple carbohydrates and refined sugars (soda, pasta, white bread, flour, candy, conventional desserts, etc) a number of things happen;

    The sugar is absorbed through the roof of your mouth and goes directly into the brain. This causes hyperactivity in the brain which will last for hours after bedtime and contribute to sleep disorders. The sugars will damage teeth and gums.


    When these sugars and simple carbohydrates hit the blood stream your body will be overwhelmed and the pancreas will begin to produce insulin at a rapid rate. This is a stress on the pancreas. This also inhibits the release of growth hormones, which in turn depresses the immune system. (Your immune system is what keeps you from getting sick; not just in the form of colds, but in the form of cancer.)

    Insulin also promotes the storage of fat, so that when you eat sweets high in sugar, you're making way for rapid weight gain and elevated triglyceride levels, both of which have been linked to cardiovascular disease.

    Cardiovascular Diseases

    Cardiovascular diseases cause more deaths than cancer. But who cares about that - it'll make your life miserable in the mean time which is much more scary than death itself. Think; shortness of breath, dizziness, frequent doctor visits, chest pain, nausea, anxiety, weakness, and so forth. Imagine if that was your life; all the time.

    If the sugar is in the form of High Fructose Corn Syrup, it will actually stress the liver as well, and over time, these two organs (pancreas and liver) will begin to stop functioning correctly. (That's when the doctors prescribe insulin shots; tons of fun.)

    What's horrifying about this is that the average American (the average sheeple) consumes an astounding 2-3 pounds of sugar each week. But I suppose this is not surprising considering that highly refined sugars in the forms of sucrose (table sugar), dextrose (corn sugar), and high-fructose corn syrup are being processed into so many foods such as bread, breakfast cereal, mayonnaise, peanut butter, ketchup, spaghetti sauce, and a plethora of microwave meals.

    Neutral Calories

    Are you beginning to see why calories are meaningless? If you eat 5000 calories of vegetables and fruits right off the bush every day, you're going to be doing great. If you eat 5000 calories of High Fructose Corn Syrup, TransFats, Artificial Sweeteners, MSG, and other toxic junk that doesn't qualify as food then you're going to be chronically ill, overweight and miserable. The number of calories just doesn't matter. Eat when you feel like eating! That's what I do, and that's what the healthiest people on the planet are doing. You do not have to starve yourself or feel like you're depriving yourself.

    So that's some of major differences between Weight Watchers and Raw Food. When you go raw, there is no calorie counting, do depriving yourself when you're feeling hungry, and your chronic issues like muscle pains, headaches and stomach aches will go away as well. Also, going raw makes a difference for life that you can maintain and be happy with. Counting calories is just a temporary help that will not actually heal you.

    "What about the NutriSystem? Why not just get my food sent to my door and feel assured that it's good for me?"

    Firstly, because it can't be good for you. You want to eat food that is alive and full of enzymes. Not food that has been loaded with preservatives and laid around dying for weeks before it got to your door. Food is found in nature; not in factories.

    NutriSystem promotes itself as an "effective, safe, and customizable weight loss program" that lets you "lose weight and still eat the foods you love."

    What's ironic about this is that NutriSystem is a big liar, whereas those things are actually true for Raw Food. It's effective, it's better than safe, and there are no limits of customization because there are thousands of plants in nature! What you see in your grocery store is only a tiny fraction of all the food out there!

    If you're thinking, "but I don't want to eat only salad everyday" then you have the wrong idea. Find a raw food group in your area on meetup.com and then attend some potlucks. You'll be amazed at all the wonderful things there are to eat raw. I've even made a how-to video on how to make one of my favorite all-raw treats.

    Still thinking, "But the NutriSystem just sounds so much easier..."

    Why NutriSystem Fails

    Well, here is what they don't tell their potential customers;

    1. NutriSystem won't tell you: "Our food tastes bad."

    People struggle enough with weight loss when they're eating things they enjoy eating. How can you be expected to lose weight when the food you are eating is not even fit for pigs? Unless NutriSystem's plan is to make food so bad that it makes people despise eating, they have failed in the taste department.

    Speaking of which, if you're not enjoying your meals, they could be causing you to gain weight because of the mood you're feeling when you eat them. You form millions of new cells every hour, and how you feel effects how these cells are formed.

    Substituted 'Foods'

    2. NutriSystem won't tell you: "We won't send you the foods you ordered."

    The absolute biggest beef with NutriSystem is that they are substitute-happy. They will quickly and without warning substitute up to half of your selected food order. This can be devastating for those with specific dietary needs based on health issues. It's also bad form to send meat-laded substitutes to vegetarians, or foods that are allergy-triggers for those with allergies.

    3. NutriSystem won't tell you: "We will send you subsitute foods for substitute foods."

    NutriSystem is really good at making a bad problem worse. When substitute food is returned, don't expect foods from your original selection list to always be sent. They will instead send even more replacements and substitutes.

    Dead, Lifeless 'Food'

    4. NutriSystem won't tell you: "The food does not taste fresh."

    How could it? The food is pre-packaged, can spend weeks in transit, and then has to be reheated by the customer. There is nothing healthy about 'food' that is weeks old and then popped into a microwave. It's dead food multiplied by three.

    5. NutriSystem won't tell you: "You will have to pay shipping for returned orders."

    Many customers have had problems with not being reimbursed for returning wrong orders. What gets worse is when a return order is the second or third wrong order, and a customer's shipping costs and frustration are equally elevated.

    6. NutriSystem won't tell you: "Our portions are secret."

    Know how much bran cereal you are getting from NutriSystem? "One bowl." The nutrition information they include incorporates nutrients from the added skim-milk, not just the cereal. Why pay for bran cereal from them when you can portion out your own 100-calorie serving (3/4 cup) of bran cereal? Why pay for bran in the first place when the weeds growing on your front lawn are better for you?

    High Sodium Content

    7. NutriSystem won't tell you: "Our pre-packaged foods are loaded with sodium."

    Anyone knows that pre-packaged foods are full of sodium. Sodium is a preservative, and without it, some foods could not be packaged. And it is not loaded with potassium, which is needed in an equal portion in order to hydrate your cells.


    8. NutriSystem won't tell you: "Our food costs way more than it would if you bought it at the store."

    And it costs even less to grow your own food in your yard, on your balcony, or in your kitchen. You'll be healthier and happier for eating something really fresh.

    Nutritionally Incomplete

    9. NutriSystem won't tell you: "Our food is only part of what you should be eating."

    The NutriSystem, even though it can cost you between $50-$70 a week, is still not nutritionally complete. The customer is expected to buy fresh foods on their own, including fresh fruits, vegetables, and milk. And for that price, you could just go to the store and buy enough vegetables, fruits and nuts to provide all the nutrition you need for a week.

    Lack of Nutritional Education

    10. NutriSystem won't tell you: "Our system does not teach you how to eat better for a lifetime."

    By not educating their customers on truly nutritional practices, NutriSystem is best serving their bottom line, and not their customers. If you want to learn about how to lose weight, save money, and gain a level of energy that you've never before experienced in your lifetime, read this blog and stop buying corporate bull crap.

    Obvious Food Conspiracy

    If you've been paying attention to the actions of Monsanto, and systems like the "NutriSystem" then you know by now that the food industry as well as the pharmaceutical industry does not have your best interests are heart. If you're interested, here is a poem I wrote about it.

    Raw Meals

    "What should a healthy meal look like?"

    Here are some examples;

    A rich and tasty kale salad with a berry, kiwi and fruit ball dessert.
    A delicious avocado and garbanzo bean salad followed by a rich mushroom salad topped with olive oil and a blueberry smoothie.
    Mache salad, fresh cherries, and mango pudding.