Monday, December 1, 2008

grow food :: it's empowering

From Angela Stokes' raw reform newsletter, the trailer for the new documentary from the Dervaes family, the ‘Urban Homesteaders’ in Pasadena, California. They now have a documentary about their simple way of life – called ‘Homegrown Revolution’. I LOVE this quote in the trailer from the dad of the Dervaes family:

“...if you can grow food, it’s empowering.
In fact, I believe growing food is one of the most dangerous occupations on the face of this Earth, because you’re in danger of becoming free!”

The Dervaes family report that they grow 6000lbs of food a year on 1/10th of an acre of cultivated land...WOW...this is the future of raw foodism, folks – spade in hand – DIG FOR VICTORY ;)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

carmella's sunny raw kitchen

i've had a lot of friends ask about raw food recipes recently, and i am continually lending out my recipe books. i have a small stable of favourites, even though most often they serve to inspire me rather than being something i follow religiously.
so, here is a great blog - the Sunny Raw Kitchen - from a Canadian woman, carmella, who has posted some wonderful recipes and absolutely mouth-watering photos.
And for Amanda, who makes (i'm told) the most delicious vegan cakes in the Blue Mountains, here is a raw cake recipe for chocolate and cream charlotte. i haven't dared to make it yet, but it looks good.

Friday, November 14, 2008

my new hippo

yes, last month my faithful Champion juicer died. the engine seized. i doubt this has to do with the amount of juicing i do daily. the juicer was second-hand and i'm guessing, more than 20 years old. i give it credit for lasting as long as it did. it is sitting on the lounge room floor awaiting a decent farewell. will be putting it on freecycle shortly unless one of my friends would like to take it in and resuscitate it.
meanwhile i have purchased a fabulous new Hippocrates coldpress juicer by Greenpower. The Hippocrates is one of those twin gear dudes and is actually quite a lot more silent than the Champion. it is especially good at juicing leafy greens.
the trickiest part of owning this juicer is the cleaning. it's a lot of work, however given how much better the juice tastes, i believe it's worth it. there's barely any fibre in the juice. i used to strain the juice from the champion and get 1-2 tsp of pulp per litre from the straining. there is nothing to strain with this juice. it also stays fresher longer. when i juice i do at least 1 litre and then put whatever i don't drink in a glass bottle in the fridge. the juice from this juicer still tastes fantastic and fresh 12 hours later. very little oxidation.
be interested to hear readers' views and experiences as there's been a lot of discussion recently amongst members of our raw food group.

Juicer Comparisons:

Friday, October 31, 2008

back on my bike

oohhweee, i cycled from St Kilda West to Hampton yesterday evening. what a ride - 25 kms round trip. it's so good to be back in body and functioning again after several years of bringing my Self back to full health. the setting sun was beautiful, the evening breeze warm, soft and gentle and my body breathed free. i'm a little sore this morning, but only due to the fall i had at sandringham when some silly walker stepped right into my path AFTER i rang the bell to warn them of my coming. why do the groups of walkers have to take up the ENTIRE path, and then ramble all over the show? we cyclists manage to keep left unless passing. can't they?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

International Buy Nothing Day

challenge yourself to switch off from shopping and tune into life. this is the byline from the BND site.
it is interesting to note that of all the countries around the world who have a presence (including New Zealand), Australia doesn't have a mention.

are we so steeped in consumerism that this hasn't hit the radar here?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

mail goggles

well, this is so pertinent, having just got off skype, talking to my dear friend paul. ahhh, relationships. the stuff the world is made of, in all it's splendour and brilliant colours. the folk at google have come up with a little gadget that aims to intercept human nature at it's most vulnerable. how often do you click the "send" button a nanosecond before you realise that you don't want to send that email. mail goggles is a way of automatically asking yourself "are you sure?" in that moment when you forget to do it.
i like it, but can't help feeling that perhaps this is one of those things that a google engineer thought of at 3am when maybe he'd have been better to wait until the morning and the cold sober light of day.
quite serendipitous, as part of our skype conversation made mention of the phenomenum of beer goggles. and paul explained how this could be stretched to take in the concept of hormonal goggles. that's when the conversation started to get interesting (off topic for this blog ;-)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

throw out your microwave!

This, from Dr Gabriel Cousens. I first wrote about him in an earlier post on diabetes.
"A microwave oven decays and changes the molecular structure of the food by the process of radiation, making it a "radiation oven". The Soviet Union banned the use of microwave ovens in 1976. Yet, more than 90 percent of American homes have microwave ovens. The general perception, even among health food professionals, is that whatever a microwave oven does to foods cooked in it doesn't have any negative effect on either the food or the consumer of the food. This is far from the truth."

Cousens goes on to give five pieces of documented evidence, including an article in The Lancet, citing the use of a microwave oven to heat baby formula.

I have never owned a microwave and, when i ate cooked food, avoided wherever possible food that was heated in a microwave oven. I still cannot believe how many people still use them and in particular people whom i would consider to understand the risks. This includes my friends and colleagues in the so-called health industry.

Hidden Hazards of Microwave Cooking is an article originally published in Acres USA (1994), which cites a lawsuit in Oaklahoma and a study in Switzerland.
What is your microwave doing to your health? the article is sourced from the site, but posted on Food Matters.
History of the microwave oven, invented by Dr Percy Spencer in 1946, according to what i could find out.
i wrote about Dr Gabriel Cousens in an earlier post on diabetes, and have just received a copy of his book, There is a Cure for Diabetes. when i opened it, this was the first thing i read.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

eat your heart out nori rolls

inspiration from the i am grateful recipe book. last night i prepared nori rolls, my very first, using raw nori sheets - thank you julie from conscious choice in sydney - and making raw "rice". i was pleasantly surprised to find that, though it seems like they might require elaborate preparation, nori rolls are quite easy to make, and fun.

they look really sexy and were so filling we couldn't get through them all. i'll make these again. yummy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

the heat from meat

ho ho ho. seen in Tuesday's Age, this little snippet from

"There is an interesting statistic that is relevant to both the Garnaut report and climate change. It comes from a large European cancer and nutrition study group of about 50,000 meat eaters, vegans and vegetarians in the UK - 41% of vegan are single, compared with 13% of meat eaters and 25% vegetarians. Why is this relevant to Garnaut? We vegans aren't very good at compromise, so living with a non-vegan is unlikely and finding mate is statistically harder for us. Our diplomatic skills are dismal. That little bit of bacon added to a salad tends to make us froth at the mout and protest to an otherwise genial host: "how could you f___ up a perfectly good salad with dead pig?"
This tends to earn us a limited social life so we spend a lot of time reading and thinking and getting really pissed off with hypocrisy and compromise. We are pissed off with people who pretend to care about the planet but won't forego the primary driver of deforestation and biodiversity loss - meat. We are pissed off with people who tell everybody to turn off lights whe they leave the room but conveniently forget to mention that australia's biggest contribution to global warming is livestock." From Geoff Russell, Animal Liberation South Australia.

Hear, hear! Omigod, can i ever relate to this. Vegan and single, but not as uncompromising about others' food preferences. And not content with simply vegan, why not up the ante and live a (sustainable) raw food lifestyle. Save energy in food preparation as well.
As i often remind friends, i refuse to switch to energy-saving light bulbs as long as people around me are still preferring to do that over eating one less meat meal a week. When people wonder why i drive my car in a city with the best public transport system in the country, i ask them to consider why they are still eating meat when food production consumes 14% of our total greenhouse gases compared with 11% for transportation. now that's food for thought.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

i am grateful

i have just bought myself the most wonderful rawfood recipe book called "i am grateful". it is based on a rawfood restaurant by the same name in california (where else!). the recipes are so inspiring. "i am divine fiery avocado carrot soup" "i am rapture strawberry shortcake" "i am sensational pesto pizza". apparently, in the restaurant the staff serve the dishes to you by presenting them and saying "you are sensational . . ."
From what i can glean, this restaurant is based on the new paradigm of business, which is not based on worrying about the bottom line. Instead the founders (and workers) are about keeping attention focused on positive affirmations, and creating the business model they want, with love. They also keep the work place clear by working with the employees to be present to their day.
Terce Engelhart's own story brought tears to my eyes. I realise that this is the heart of where my dreams for a cafe are.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

green smoothies

in honour of the anniversary of my mother's passing, i dedicate this post to her. three years ago today, the first blooms of the lilac bush in her front garden were showing themselves. and at the same time that buds where opening to spring, my mother was closing a chapter on this life.
i know mum would never have gone within 50 feet of a green smoothie. or maybe she would. whatever, i'm linking to John Palmer's fabulous green smoothie recipe from last month's potluck meal at Donna's place. this one is legend. we all loved it.

then the month before that, Kristen wowed us with one of her concoctions using fresh young coconut. she has devised an entire repertoire of green smoothies on squidoo. and not content with just providing the recipes, this is the green smoothie encyclopaedia. Green smoothie facts and figures, why green smoothies, and the principles of green smoothie making. in summary though, i'm not entirely convinced that mixing fruits with vegetables is necessarily the best thing for the body. having said that i do enjoy the occasional green smoothie, but remain a juice girl. i wish to keep my fruits and my vegetables firmly segregated. they even go in different bowls in the kitchen.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

great scrumping here

i'm staying with Dad in Palmerston North, a medium-sized regional town (they call it a city) in the heart of a dairy-farming district in the North Island of aotearoa. in this suburb everyone has a lawn and a garden. most properties have trees and that just about always includes a lemon and/or a grapefruit tree. citrus is king. the trees are laden, and they hang freely over garden fences and into laneways. so not only do i have the pick of Dad's lemon tree, but also the neighbour's grapefruit. nothing like a freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice first thing in the morning.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Dr Tam Mateo and Miracle Green Tea

In my last post i mentioned (in the comments) that Polly had been to a seminar in Manila earlier this year where she first came across the idea of eating food in it's natural whole state. The seminar was one held by Dr Tom Mateo, who is considered a "miracle doctor" in the Philippines. He is apparently the first Filipino naturopathic doctor. Dr Mateo's promotes the use of a miracle tea which is aimed at cleansing the digestive system. From what I can make out this tea is the equivalent of doing colon hydrotherapy, though less invasive. Polly tells me there were a lot of people with cancer attending his seminar. From what i've learnt on my healing journey there are definitely two areas - on the physical level - that need attention. One, cleaning out the accumulated toxic gunk in the digestive system. And secondly, to make sure that what goes into the body is as clean and natural as possible. this means organic and raw and mostly plant-based. From what Polly tells me, this is the basis of Dr Tom Mateo's protocol. Similar in fact to the Gerson Therapy, and to what Ian Gawler suggests as an optimal diet for those with cancer. In his book The China Study, Colin Campbell goes further and believes that any chronic illness (such as diabetes, heart disease, etc.) can be reversed through a change of diet towards eating more plant-based foods. Gawler, Gerson and Dr Norm Walker all believe that colon cleansing is an important and integral part to any change in diet. Thanks to my earlier experiences this year, i can vouch for this. Eating nutritionally rich and clean raw foods leads the body into detoxing and when the detox moves faster than the body can reasonably eliminate toxins, that's when a colonic can be helpful. Matt Monarch talks some more about this subject in one of his articles.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

simply raw :: reversing diabetes

Yes, it can be done. Last night i sat down with dad and Polly and we watched Simply Raw. And this isn't the first time i have come across the concept. Caroline duPont has also worked with people to help reverse diabetes through diet.

I borrowed the DVD from my friend Donna. This documentary tells the story of six diabetics who switch to a diet consisting entirely of organic, vegan, uncooked food to reverse diabetes without the use of prescription drugs. Most of the participants had been told by their doctors "you will be on insulin for the rest of your life". They came from a range of cultural backgrounds aged from 26 to 68, and were challenged to give up meat, dairy, sugar, processed and packaged food, and even cooked food for 30 days.
The film follows their journey through this process and captures the medical, physical, and emotional transformations.

It includes additional wisdom from Morgan Spurlock, Woody Harrelson, Anthony Robbins, Rev. Michael Beckwith, and Doctors Fred Bisci, Joel Fuhrman, David Wolfe, and Gabriel Cousens.

Even though i have been eating 100% raw for six months now, i was impressed by the moments captured in this film. The statistical results alone are astounding. These people were able to go off all medication within 3 days of eating in this way. But even more incredible were the emotional transformations. With one of the guys you could see the sparkle in his eyes, the spring in his step. He said he hadn't felt so good in years and he looked good too.

In my own journey I have come to take this for granted now. But it is no small thing to be feeling constantly cheerful and in a positive mood, feeling good every day and having energy in reserve. Until recently, i had grappled with depression for many years. But no longer!

i don't have diabetes but i have no doubt that eating in this way has helped me on all levels to live a much higher quality of life than the way i was before. my mind is clearer and my body is healthier. but as one of the people in the film says, why wait - as so many people do - until you have a life-threatening disease before doing something about it.

And yes, there is a Facebook page Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes
If you want to watch the YouTube film trailer or share it with friends, go to this link.
Dr Gabriel Cousens has written the book, There Is A Cure for Diabetes.
He is also filmed at Hippocrates Health Institute, talking about reversing diabetes.
See a later post on Cousens and (not )microwaving for health.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

bursting the chocolate bubble

thanks donna for bringing me down to earth on the matter of cacao. here's an excerpt from the email penned by raw foodist Paul Nison:
One of the biggest deceptions in the raw food movement is that cacao is a healthy food. It is very addicting and toxic to the body. I have written two articles on the subject that you can view by clicking here. Don’t feel bad, I myself was once deceived by it as well, but after conducting my own research, I found the truth. It is not needed in the diet and I suggest avoiding it. Brian Clement of Hippocrates Health Institute has also confirmed it is a very toxic food. Also another thing I have learned is that there is no such thing as truly Raw Cacao. Once it is processed, it is cooked. Only the beans by themselves are raw. Eating these beans raw is just as crazy as eating raw coffee beans. Many of the people who sell cacao are good hearted people who are just not aware of the harm it does. However, there are a few people who are very aware of the issue with cacao but make so much money selling it, that they continue to promote it as a super food. Some of these people even make a religion out of it, calling themselves cacao gods. I would definitely avoid anything these people promote, especially cacao. I understand many people have cravings for chocolate and I would suggest carob as a healthy alternative.
Okay, i have tried carob and although i know it is supposed to be much healthier, i just don't like the taste. i also have to disagree with Paul's claim that there is no truly raw cacao. Scott Fry of Loving Earth is working with communities in South America to produce cacao that is processed using no heating method whatever.

anand and runi :: their raw blog

some entralling reading here from anand (and runi). their blog contains some really interesting posts about the 80/10/10 diet, the green smoothie challenge and photos too of what a raw body looks like (thanks anand).

Anand runs classes on raw food preparation. Though i have not personally attended any of his classes yet i hear that they are good.

today i am still trying to recover from eating too much raw cacao (theobroma cacao - food of the gods). it's powerful stuff and my head feels as though it is still in outer space. i do hope i'll be able to sleep tonight. i have a real weakness for chocolate coconut butter.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

into the abyss . . .

. . . this - from the recent permablitz newsletter - reflects a little of how i am feeling today.

Five simple steps to dealing with the modern world: 1. Find the abyss. 2. Approach the abyss. 3. Stare into the abyss. (Firmly, but compassionately.) 4. Hold the abyss. And gently caress the abyss. (Don't take advantage of the abyss's vulnerability at this point.) 5. Feed the abyss soup. Lots of soup, obviously, it being an abyss. The abyss will be tame now, but take it out of the house regularly to experience the wondrousness and fantasticality that is Life. Like, for the sake of example, a most exciting permablitz event...

My personal abyss feeds on a diet of chocolate coconut butter, and definitely doesn't get out enough.

Monday, September 1, 2008

chickpea miso sauce

This goes nicely over the top of a green salad, or make it thick and use as a dip.
For every 1/2 cup of sprouted chickpeas, add:

1/2 large clove garlic
1cm cube of fresh ginger
1/4 red onion
1 tsp of miso (unpasteurised)
2 small tomatoes
juice of 1 small lemon

Put it all in the blender and pulse chop until you have a chunky sauce (or smooth, if you like it that way).

Pour over salad and enjoy.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

reclaiming the suburbs :: permablitz activism

OK, so that makes it sound a little risque. but hey, why not. i've been largely absent from the scene since my first blitz a couple of months ago. so sad. but what with hopping between states on a monthly basis (not recommended in the interests of reducing this carbon footprint), i haven't been home for any recent blitzes. despite that, the permablitz movement carries on and is now celebrating it's 50th blitz. here's David Holmgren waxing lyrical on permablitzing. He describes it as a "force in reclaiming the suburbs". oh dear. visions of gumboot-clad gardeners on bicycles, balancing their spades and pitchforks on handlebars, heading out to Clayton, Noble Park and other places beyond the No. 8 tram terminus. But really, it is more like this. Photographic evidence shows that it is a lot of fun, and a nice way to meet people who share interests in growing things.

Monday, July 28, 2008

organic carrots from queensland

earlier this month my juicing carrots were coming from tassie. i picked up a bag today from Ripe and discovered it had travelled all the way from queensland. none of this is good for the food miles, but i must say i was glad to find information about the grower online. Bauer's organic farm is a family interest, farmed by one of the pioneers of the organic industry. the carrots taste good, despite having travelled so far, and they are definitely fresh. i enjoyed seeing such comprehensive and detailed information on the website, including photos of carrot growing and harvesting. i love knowing where my food is coming from.
it mentions on the site that these carrots are hand-weeded. this makes them more expensive as the farm hires a lot of seasonal workers to do this. however it also helps create local employment. it is heartening too to know that they grow a mulch crop in between plantings, giving the ground a rest and time to replenish. it shows in the quality of the carrots. yum. great juice.

organic expo, sydney

so i didn't get to attend the organic expo this year, but heard about it from yeshi. sounds like it was similar to previous years. always a lot of chocolate exhibits (and tastings) and a lot of processed organic foods. i was excited to hear that someone is launching a raw cracker product. yeshi thinks the crackers i make taste better. now that's something to think about.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

no boredom on this board

i've been largely absent from this online life for a while. juggling a number of projects, of which the co-op is one.
this week i've been in katoomba occupying my role as a Director of the Blue Mountains Food Co-op. recall in my previous post that, as the food fight festered on (so to speak), we eventually saw the resignation of the previous Board. It's been messy, but that is life. It has been uncomfortable, as many of us did not want to see it happen this way. We are a Co-operative, for goodness sake.

As one of the caretaker directors it has been a delight to be a part of supporting the Co-op in healing and rebuilding trust. I see a real opportunity to move out of a dark place and into seeing the Co-op flourish. the hard stuff is not yet over however, and there are still more conversations to be had. This is a small and strongly interconnected community and many of the people involved in the events of the past few months are also friends, people that have known each other for many years.

And, i am discovering, these people have long memories. yesterday i received a post on this blog from an ex-worker at the Co-op. Someone who remembers me from the time i sat on the board 5 years ago. They are questioning the behaviours of that board in relation to a couple of decisions made at that time. i would like to respond. but i won't be publishing the post, as i would prefer to have that conversation offline. so if you are willing to enter into dialogue, i have an open door - call me, email me, contact me through the co-op. you know how to find me. there is nothing to be afraid of, but our own shadow. as HH Dalai Lama said, i am a human being just like you.

Friday, July 11, 2008

learning about agave nectar

today donna and i visited scott fry and his team at loving earth. in a small warehouse, tucked away on a quiet street in coburg we discovered the raw chocolate dream. more about chocolate later, but right now i am considering the question of agave nectar (or syrup).

is it raw? scott explained that when the nectar is extracted from the agave cactus, heat processing is used. so agave is not 100% raw.
the agave cactus is grown in mexico and loving earth source it from farmers who harvest the syrup from the plant grown in the wild (wildcrafted). however, not all agave syrup comes from wild plants as some agave is grown commercially, and much of the commercially produced crop is used for making tequila.

here's more information about agave from the
living earth site.

now this is confusing, as i found a post on the veg society discussion board, where someone has contacted spiral foods (who also sell agave nectar) and claims to have confirmed that the agave sold by spiral is raw. is there another processing method? the story continues.

in the meanwhile, i guess i shall have to reconsider whether to continue using it as a sweetener. i love the taste, though as my palate becomes more attuned i find i need less and less sweetener. fruit on it's own is sweet enough.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

BigTree and CultureLab :: Beginner's Guide To Going Raw

Had a wonderful day at Springwood, catching up with Taffy and Glenys, then a leisurely late lunch with Paul. My mountains friends are a diverse bunch, but one thing that we all have in common is a certain passion and delight in food - not to mention our desire to see fresh organic food made available to as many people a as possible, and with a commitment to sustainable principles.

I had seen Taffy's video of the solstice circle, but today i got to experience it and what a magnificent ly crafted structure it is. i shot some footage of Taffy talking about CultureLab, and then we got to talking about raw food. CultureLab, by the way, is the food co-operative in the lower Blue Mountains which runs a food box scheme for it's members and customers. i love the model they have chosen, which is similar to a Japanese model i had read about. It involves staying small - a group of no larger than 50 - and "expanding" by helping other groups form along a similar basis. I like working in groups of 50-80, because at that size it is possible to know everyone in the group. Cohesiveness is possible.

both taffy, glenys and paul were curious about raw food and there are always questions. what do you eat? where does the protein come from? what difference do you notice when eating raw?

there is much already written (on the web and in many great books) but whilst riding on the train back to katoomba, i gave some thought as to what my key thoughts were on eating raw. mainly in answer to the question of what eating raw foods looks like. \

What Does Eating Raw Look Like?

i like to keep it simple. think of food in three main food groups. 1. fruit 2. vegetables 3. nuts, seeds and oils. eat mostly fruit and vegetables, with small amounts of nuts. fruit has a cleansing action on the system, so it is best eaten in the morning and ideally, not eaten at the same time as vegetables. i personally don't mix my fruit and vegetables, though some raw foodists do. i soak nuts before eating them. put in a bowl and cover with water, then leave overnight (or soak in the morning and rinse in the evening). rinse them the next morning (do not use the soaking water) and then eat. raw vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals and are enzyme-rich. these foods have a nourishing and enriching effect and are the building blocks of the body. two things that i do in the vegetable realm are 1. juicing and 2. sprouting. Vegetable juices, especially green juices are a way of getting large quantities of trace minerals, enzymes, antioxidants, etc. directly into the bloodstream. Sprouting - lentils, mung beans, and buckwheat are my current favourites - is a great way of eating living food.

that's it really. i soak dried fruits, make my own nut milk (usually almond) and use the blender for smoothies, soups and sauces. everything i eat is a variation (an experiment, actually) on these principles.

Benefits of Eating Raw
Ahhh, well this is the bit i love. Not only are you doing your body a favour, but the planet benefits as well. Eating raw is even more sustainable than being vegan. Not only are you consuming plants and therefore not contributing to the energy that goes into producing animals and animal products for food, but you are not eating processed (vegan) foods which use energy in the making. And to top it all off, by preparing raw food you are saving on the energy that is used to cook a meal. And if you grow your own food organically, there's a further saving on transportation (food miles), and on artificial inputs - petro-chemical fertilisers and pesticides.
As for the health benefits, some raw theorists say that for every month a person is eating 100% raw they are healing one year of eating cooked food. As a result the body becomes regenerated at a cellular level and you experience the effect of becoming younger. i personally have seen this both in myself and others. Symptoms are, an increased level of energy, clearer and more focussed mind, more tone in my skin and clearer skin, loss of those tree-trunk thighs (storehouses of waste that the body is unable to process and eliminate immediately).

Sunday, June 22, 2008

mid-winter raw

tonight, a gathering of raw foodies at my place to celebrate mid-winter solstice.

i so enjoyed hosting this. we had some great conversations about a whole range of things. and there was a general feeling that we'd continue to hold meetings monthly at people's homes. this is definitely a more convivial atmosphere.
i love learning about new foods and tonight it was the jicama which donna had managed to find at Prahran markets. i'd read about it in Alissa Cohen's book. in australia the jicama is grown in queensland.
we discussed our favourite films, putting together some ideas for next month's meeting - a delicate balance, farmer john, the power of community, the future of food. next month we're gathering at katherine and ben's place in east brunswick for food demos, films and more shared food.
talking of which, joy's thai soup was a treat with the rich, warm flavours so suited to winter. and you had to be really fast to get one of Thoran's "balls". donna made beautiful banana ice-cream using the champion juicer. a real treat. and thoran had the pesto that packed a punch (4 cloves of garlic. really!).
we heard tales from our adelaide cousins via Thoran (who has lived in adelaide). and a lot of discussion around the usual topics, which is the best blender to get? dehydrator? a recipe for toothpaste. do we really need to keep using colgate? it is always so refreshing to spend time with people who live a raw lifestyle.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

raw film fest

if i had a wish for my 50th birthday, it would be to attend this raw film festival. how wonderful would that be, to be in the company of rawfoodies committed to sustainable living and enjoying film and festivities.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

heart stopping revival

I feel certain this sort of thing happens much more often than is reported. It fits within my understanding of the human mind-body-spirit be-ing. For this reason i have specifically asked that should my body be decreed physically and biologically dead, that it be treated with utmost respect and not disturbed for as long as is possible. Despite it being an ethical minefield, i am not prepared to donate my organs. Mind-body medicine has now proven that the brain is not the only seat of emotions and intellect in the body. Neurons exist in the locations of all major body organs. A heart, liver or kidney transplanted to another person is not just a transferral of biological material, but also a transplantation of the associated neuronal transmitters that contain emotional and genetic material from the donor being. I recall Thomas Moore's quizzical question: if you darn and re-darn an old sock until barely any of the original material exists, is that a new sock? In other words, what determines the true nature of something.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

caretaker board

Yesterday i accepted a position on the Caretaker Board for the Blue Mountains Food Co-op. This is a transitional role and i am expecting to be doing this for about 3 months or so - until the Co-op is in a position to elect a full board to carry it forward. How did this come about? A letter, mailed out from the previous board, informed Co-op members of the board's was resignation. To keep the Co-op operating they nominated two Board nominees (from last November's election) step in and form a caretaker board. To form a quorum, three board members are required. I was approached to make up this number. And here we are: Ian, myself and Yeshi (Paul).

This is a pivotal time in the history of the BM Food Co-op. A number of issues remain to be resolved, though the most important in my view is that of healing the Co-op community from the divisiveness and hurt that has been part of the fabric of the Co-op in the months (some say years) leading up to this moment. On a practical level there are governance issues to address. There is the potential relocation of the Co-op to the proposed Waratah Street address, and the financials need assessing to ensure that the present trading situation is sustainable. There may well be other issues, and this is what i shall find out more about when i rock up next Tuesday to have meetings with the Board, staff and the accountant.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

a new spin on free-cycle

received an email today from dear friends taffy and glenys in the blue mountains. they have come up with their own marvellous response to the planet's environmental predicament.

many of us are already using Freecycle to re-distribute the plethora of stuff that we accumulate in this consumptive society.

taffy and glenys have gone beyond this and taken freecycle literally . . . into the realms of sustainable transport. Click here
to watch Taffy's video of free-cycling.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

eat food, not too much. mostly plants

Sounds like good advice. Words of the wise from Michael Pollan. A friend recently saw this article in The Age, spruiking Pollan's book In Defence of Food.

This is not news to me (about eating mostly plants). I first read about it in Colin Campbell’s book, The China Study, which contains the scientific evidence to support the benefits of eating a mostly plant-based diet. In his book, Campbell summarises the results of a longitudinal study providing clear evidence of the relationship between diet and chronic disease.

And this little ditty certainly resonates.

Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognise.
Avoid foods with health claims.
Prepare, and if you can, grow your own food.
Don't get your food from the same place as your car gets its fuel.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

it's a choice: you don't have to be sick

food does matter. this is the newly-released doco from australian filmakers, with the superb John Butler Trio soundtrack. i just watched the trailer online and can't wait to see the entire film.

i guess i've already understood the message through my own journey of becoming sick and then healing, without the use of drugs and pharmaceuticals. i don't need an expert to tell me that the pharmaceutical companies are in the business of making money, not healing people. however, there are still many people who choose not to listen. and it is a choice.

why is food so important to me? because i love the taste, i love the way the energy of food connects me with nature, i love to watch it growing, and i love to be healthy from eating nothing but whole, unadulterated foods.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

my new worm farm

sometimes i wish i could think of better titles for my blog postings. however, this is how it is. i'm excited about my new worm farm. picked it up on wednesday night after attending the last seminar in the SLAH series. it's been an inspiring time (read my earlier posting). on wednesday i enjoyed meeting and talking to others who are as enthusiastic about their worms as i am. thank goodness i am not the only person in the world who talks to her worms!
so . . . today i unpacked the worm farm, soaked the coco-peat block, and liberated the wormies into their new home. this is worm farm #2 and long overdue as the first farm has been full for a few weeks now. i'm definitely a two-worm farm girl.
so, i've re-sited farm #1 to the back of the property under the lemon tree. the new farm is close to my front door for easy access. worm farm #1 is now boasting a second story. i'm sure i'll be able to put that vermicast to good use on the garden shortly.
How to set up a worm farm? there are many ways of doing this, but here is what i do.
  1. lay down some newspaper or cardboard on the bottom of the bin. this prevents stuff from falling through the holes in the bottom.
  2. then sprinkle a layer of cocopeat. this gives the wormies somewhere to live when they are not eating their way through food scraps and the like.
  3. put the worms in.
  4. cover them with a thick layer of damp newspaper, or a hessian sack. this serves a dual purpose. it keeps the worm home moist, and keeps the light out. worms don't have eyes, but they still don't like the light, and will run for cover when it's bright.
  5. from here on, all you need to do is feed them. the worms do the rest.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Dirt is the new prozac

reading my favourite newsletter from the permablitz folk, i have now been enlightened as to why it gardening gives me such a buzz. it appears that the humble Mycobacterium vaccae, found in garden soil, give off serotonin - which is one of the mood-altering brain chemicals commonly used in anti-depressants.
well, all i can say is that getting down and dirty in the garden sure beats popping pills. and that's what i plan to do tomorrow, when i head off to my very first permablitz experience out in the wilds of Noble Park, where Gavin and Ileana are waiting for us to transform their backyard into a permy paradise.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

matt and angela in Thailand

i have been following Matt and Angela's adventures in Thailand. seems like they're having a great time. funny how durian can be so cheap and plentiful when the media is so full of woe about dwindling rice supplies and rising food prices.

can you imagine, walmart is rationing rice. this is happening in the US. could be that the world's population may start to get healthier when large quantities of cooked food no longer become an affordable option. however it is not nice to think of people starving because they cannot afford to buy food.

but on the positive side, in cuba the health of the population improved to match and almost exceed that of the US population after 10 or so years of oil embargoes. this forced the country to change it's agricultural practices and now, more than 90% of cuba's food supplies are produced by organic farming methods. the percentage of fresh fruit and vegetables consumed has increased, and much of the urban food supply is grown within the city centres.

feisty food

what a provocative title for this article in the Blue Mountains Gazette this week. yes, the meeting last Thursday attracted a record number of members. it was a challenging experience yet i felt significant movement was made towards resolution. the discourse was highly emotive at times, yet thanks to Will's expert facilitation skills, a space was created in which members' voices could be heard. it may be some time before we see the light at the end of the zucchini. as of writing this, we are awaiting word on whether the incumbent directors will act on the motion that was carried at the meeting and call a second general meeting in 5 weeks time to vote in a new Board. mention is made in this article of the discussion paper that i prepared and that Di tabled at the meeting.
earlier in the year, the Gazette published this article. It makes reference to an "
“an unauthorised Save Our Co-op campaign.”

what a find!

tucked away down a nondescript sidestreet in south melbourne, a stone's throw from busy clarendon street is this haven. it must be melbourne's best kept secret, but thanks to a tip-off i knew to look for it here. St Ali is a coffee house in the finest tradition.
not a coffee drinker any more, i can still enjoy the vibe of this magnificent converted warehouse. the space breathes, and the attention to detail goes right down to the chair seats re-upholstered in hessian coffee bags. this cafe is a model for the type of place i'm seeking for my next project. its tucked away but clearly the locals have no trouble finding it. seating for at least 30 with singles, mums and suits mingling, i felt quite at home despite the lack of raw food. They did however have OJ on the menu.
Ali was a sufi mystic from the late 14th century, a kind of patron saint of coffee, according to St Ali's website. it's places like these that make melbourne the foodie capital of australia.

food and caravan parks

Had lunch with my dear friend Dallas today. I so enjoy the time we have together, and always there there are those little gems in our conversations. a former associate - and good friend of Dallas, has recently been investing in caravan parks. there is method in her quirky choice of investment property it seems. Sad but true, an increasing number of people in Australia are turning to caravan parks as an alternative to going homeless. i don't see the situation improving in the near term as housing affordability spirals and living costs increase.
Living in caravan parks has been common in the US for some time, and i recently watched Conversations With God, an inspiring story about a man who has no choice but to live in a caravan park after being out of work, unable to pay the rent and consequently being evicted from his home. This is no longer just something that happens to other people, not us.
The story of homelessness is underlined by the growing global food crisis. This year food prices internationally have risen 45%. It is astonishing to hear that even Walmart in the US is rationing rice purchases. First there was climate change. Now we are coming to terms with peak oil, and if that wasn't enough, here comes a food crisis unlike anything we have seen globally before. All the more reason to start learning how to grow our own vegetables.

Monday, May 12, 2008

digging it in south melbourne

saw this in the local newspaper today. it is heartening to see so many people getting into growing their own food. those raised garden beds look like fun. sounds like a good setup with both individual and community plots. will make a note-to-self to return to this garden in a year's time to see how it has grown. the Park Towers are a South Melbourne landmark. yes, they do tower above just about every other building in the suburb. and i used to live just round the corner.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

guerilla gardening

i read about it in this month's permablitz newsletter. wow. this is greenie activism with a different slant. these guys look set to take over the world, one fruit tree at a time.

guerilla gardeners claim to wage war against the neglect of public spaces, according to this UK blog. sure beats sitting at home on a saturday night. and yes, there's even a chapter sprouting up in sydney. and here are some useful tips for getting started.

Monday, May 5, 2008

the great soy debate

How much of this discussion is substantiated by research? Or is it just viewpoints and opinions of the eaters.? At any rate, i didn't think soy was raw. don't they pasteurise it before it goes into containers?
So sure enough, i googled it and discovered that not only is soy boiled during the preparation process to inactivate the soybean trypsin inhibitor, but there are also differences in the Chinese and Japanese methods for preparing soy milk. These differences amount to whether the boiling occurs before or after filtration.
Give me almond milk anytime. My recipe, adapted from Alissa Cohen's recipe for almond milk.

Almond Milk
Soak 1 cup of almonds for every 3 cups of water. In the blender add soaked almonds, water, and a dash of agave nectar to taste. Blend it. Then enjoy the drink. That's it.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

SLAH - wasted

attended another SLAH seminar this evening. Sustainable Living At Home: this week the theme was waste and recycling. oh dear! some of the stats are downright depressing. we heard annie leonard speak on The Story of Stuff. she reminded us that our continuous consumption is robbing the planet of resources.
75% of the world's fisheries are fished out. 80% of the forests are gone (less than 4% of the US is forested). that low! in two decades we have managed to use one third of the world's natural resources.
as i said, it is depressing.
the good news is research shows that only 6% of people are inspired to change their behaviours by hearing bad news. 20% can be convinced by data and facts, whilst 70-75% are inspired by conversations with peers. so ignore what you just read in the last paragraph and let's start a conversation!
forget recycling. by then it is already too late. instead avoid consumption unless absolutely necessary. that's what the compacters do.
this means persistent attention to every detail of what you buy or use. say no to plastic bags, to packaging. share stuff. borrow and lend rather than buy. simplify your life. we all have too much "stuff". it can become a creative game of ingenuity, working out ways of living lightly on the planet without the addictive consumption patterns that seem to grip us. start to notice it around you. everywhere we go - even so-called "sustainable" events - there are subtle (and not so subtle) exhortations to buy, to consume.
on a lighter note, Nick Dunstan spoke about waste and recycling. We, the residents of the City of Port Phillip have managed to recycle 40% of our waste in the last year. the government would like us to commit to 65% in five years. there's a challenge. and mattresses; i didn't know they could be recycled.

One small action - the juice

finally, one small action we each could take to reduce waste. one person said they'd take their mug downstairs to the cafe for a coffee at work, instead of getting a disposable cup each time. this sustainability idea is not new and Geoff, our SLAH seminar facilitator makes mention of the mug project on his blog.
"The Mug Project is a community of individuals and organisations that advocate the use of the mugs to reduce waste caused by single serve beverage containers".
Hey, i could do that when i go order a juice. In fact, i have been known to take my thermos into the juice bar for a takeaway. i was astonished to learn that some cafes won't serve it to me in my own container. Health & safety regulations don't allow it - apparently. This requires more investigation. Anyone else experienced this?

food for thought

phew! it's done. i have written a document containing observations, thoughts, and suggestions for the Food Coop governance framework. this is my contribution to supporting the coop through this challenging period.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

more on the BM food coop | an ex-Director speaks

i've just returned from 10 days in the blue mountains where the food coop situation has been developing on a day-by-day basis. to summarise, the petition was successful. another example of online advocacy. 500 signatures were gathered in two weeks using the website and gathering signatures by hand outside the coop.
in response to this campaign, the Board held an information meeting on 26th march. on 28th march the "save our food coop" group submitted the petition to the Board requesting that a General Meeting be called. the Board have responded and called a General Meeting for thu 8th may.
on 20th april, the "save our food coop" group submitted four resolutions to the Board, calling for the current Board to step down and for the re-election of a new Board of Directors. Margot Turner submitted resolutions (see insert above) to the Board on 25th april, calling for open dialogue and the swift election of a fully operational Board.

meanwhile, the Board and Management of the food coop continue with the change management intiative started late last year when external change management consultants were engaged facilitate the process. on sat 19th april a change management workshop was held with staff (i want to say more here, but this post is already turning into an essay).
following the information meeting, another group formed. this was initiated by Dianne Jacobus who felt that something more needed to come out of that meeting. this group is calling itself "friends of the food coop".

i attended a couple of the "friends of the food coop" meetings and felt that although there are tensions between the various groups (board, staff, members); significant break-ups in communication (and an erosion of trust); and, a lack of transparency with some practices in the current management of coop, there is a genuine intention by the board, staff, coop membership and the community, that the food coop continue to exist and thrive - and a desire on all sides to see a positive outcome.

my observations are centred around the need to review the governance structure and address issues contained in the current structure that make it inherently difficult for the current (or any) board to function in true cooperative spirit (that is, following cooperative principles). put bluntly, the food coop has grown significantly from one part-time shop coordinator and a handful of staff, to a team of about 20 staff, including coordinators with specific roles in marketing, stock ordering, financial, and overall management. there are some varying views amongst the membership and the Board about how the food coop needs to address this growth (management structure, active member participation, etc.). this divergence was present when i was on the Board 5 years ago. there are also some changes that have been made to policy and rules in the last few years that i don't believe are in the interests of the coop.
these and other governance issues will be the subject of the paper i am writing for presentation at the 8th May meeting. it will suggest some positive ways of taking this forward without moving into an adversarial (us and them) or blaming approach.
it is worth noting that in amongst all this, the current board has 4 members, of which 2 have resigned (to take effect from 31st May). No matter what else happens, the present Board is barely a quorum and therefore, as Margot's resolution states, it is imperative that a full Board be established with the requisite skills and diversity of views to adequately represent the coop's members as soon as is practically possible. Coop members with those skills, and the desire, need to step up now :-)

raw foodies talk :: matt and angela in melbourne

When I first heard that Matt and Angela were coming to Melbourne I did what most people do and googled them. After watching Matt’s vids on YouTube, and reading about Angela on her blog. I was doubtful about spending an entire afternoon listening to a young guy from California, sporting dreadlocks and a tanned body, talk about his great adventures eating raw. Angela; well, her story sounded good, but I didn’t have a weight problem and have always been wary of D*** word.

How glad I was then to have decided to go after all. OK, so I am already eating 100% raw, but have only been doing it for a short time. Matt is into his eighth year of eating only raw foods, and Angela has been eating raw for six. I wanted to find out what to expect whilst going through those first few years of transition. I knew, from having given up alcohol in my late twenties, that it doesn’t just stop the day you have your last drink. I suffered immediate detox, but for up to 12-18 months later my body continued to release toxins.

in his search for more information, Matt turned to the work of Dr Fred Bisci, who has been 50 years on a raw food diet. Dr Bisci, now in his 80’s spends most of his time supporting people healing from degenerative diseases (cancer and the like). The transition diet that Matt recommends in his first book is based on Dr Bisci’s work.

Matt and angela are examples of two completely different approaches to going raw. Matt, a self-admitted extremist ( I would count myself in that category), went 100% raw overnight. He said it happened after he read Dr Norman Walker’s book, Becoming Younger. I’m a fan of Norman Walker as well, and his juicing book is my juice bible.

Angela on the other hand, started eating raw when her weight reached 120kgs. For her the detox effect was so great that she slowed her transition by eating about 70% raw. Even whilst eating 30% cooked food, she lost 50kg in her first year of this diet. Mind-boggling. That is equivalent to my current bodyweight! Angela now eats 100% raw, having transitioned gradually on a combination of raw and cooked foods.

Matt Monarch
Matt’s key message was “you don’t have to eat 100% raw to achieve the benefits of a healthier body”. And angela underscored this with “you don’t get a halo for eating 100% raw”. Yes, it is easy at the beginning to think that anything less than 100% is failure. Being a perfectionist, that was my initial thought. At the beginning I really did think that a completely raw diet was too big a mountain to climb. But taking one step at a time has given me an opportunity to enjoy the journey along the way.

The Food Groups
These are the groups that Matt explains in his most recent book, Raw Success.

  • Refined sugar (as found in sweets, bakery items, cakes, biscuits . . . you know)
  • Animal protein
  • Processed starches (the most common are bread, pasta, cereal)
  • Dairy
  • Raw vegan foods (fruit, vegetables, nuts, sprouts, seeds)

Interesting to me (a vegan who understands the dangers of animal protein; read Colin Campbell, The China Study), Matt’s view (and Dr Fred Bisci’s) is that the TWO most damaging food groups are refined sugar and processed starches.

Matt gave us three core principles for raw food eating. These come from his own experience and from studying Dr Fred Bisci’s methods.

What you leave out of your diet completely and without exception is the way to ultimate health
In other words, even if you ONLY cut out (completely) refined sugar and processed starches from your diet, and didn’t eat entirely raw foods, Matt believes you will still see significant health benefits. This is important. I realise now I learnt this in one of my dietary adventures 3 years ago, but didn’t recognise it at the time.

Colonic irrigation
Essential when on 100% raw diet to assist with removing the build-up of waste. This has to be the most useful message I got from the afternoon’s talk. People on 100% raw food diet are detoxing quickly and waste is being eliminated at a cellular level from the entire body. Years and years of waste and toxins. The body’s normal elimination channels – the skin, bowel, lungs – are not capable of clearing the toxins out of the body fast enough. So we need a little help in the form of colonics. This prevents us from becoming ill and experiencing the side effects of de-toxing, or autotoxic (forcing the body to re-absorb its own waste) reaction. Read matt's article on "the missing link".

Green vegetable juices
Being an avid juicer for several years, this was not news. Fresh organic vegetable juice (in particular the green juices) is the way to ensure that the body receives enough minerals to remain completely nourished and keep the system alkaline. On a raw food diet, it is simply not possible to get that level of nourishment from eating the vegetables. Juice goes straight to the bloodstream, bypassing the digestive process. Smoothies vs juicing is an interesting conversation that raw foodies have, and matt’s views of this are in his article "juicing vs blending". Norm Walker followed this principle and I tend to agree. I experience the vitality and health that comes from drinking juice daily.

This is just the summary of matt’s talk. Woven into these core principles matt also discussed enzymes, the cleansing properties of fruit, use of supplements, some good juice combinations, the gas diffusion principle (explained fully in raw success), bowel bacteria, water and much, much more.

There are many reasons for eating raw, and for most, it is focussed around better physical health, which of course is a good place to start. One of the beautiful outcomes of eating more raw food is that it raises the body’s vibrational levels and increases awareness of and receptivity to nature and our spiritual being. Personally I was glad to hear Matt talk about the spiritual changes in his life, including the opening of his third eye and solar plexus chakras. Joe Alexander (a blatant raw foodist) also makes reference to this in relation to his creativity. As a visual artist, he discovered that eating raw food sharpened his sense of colour and enabled him to draw more vibrant and lively compositions.

Angela Stokes
Angela’s story of morbid obesity began with an underactive thyroid at age 11. After transitioning to raw food, she is now half the size she was, and certainly twice the person. Angela’s skin literally glowed with health. She talked about how so many people try eating raw, often jumping in to 100%, then hit some kind of detox wall . . . only to go back to cooked food. Her philosophy is to start with where you are, but more importantly: start NOW! By start, she means at least 50% raw. Eating at least 50% raw is all you need to do to see some benefits.

What does 50% raw mean?
Percentages are rife in the raw food community. Angela explained thus. If you have a dinner plate, and half of the plate has spaghetti and meatballs on it with the other half containing a few leaves of lettuce, some tomato, and cucumber, let’s say. That is 50% raw by VOLUME. But the spaghetti and meatballs weight more than the lettuce leaves. So when we talk about 50% raw, it means by WEIGHT.

Top ten tips for going raw
Angela gave us her top ten tips for going on to a raw food lifestyle.

  • Start now
  • It is a lifestyle, not a diet
  • Eat whole foods
  • Do it for yourself. There is no need to convert other people
  • Have a supportive social network
    (raw food communities are popping up everywhere – even Melbourne!)
  • Dry skin brushing helps remove dead skin and stimulates the lymph system, aiding elimination
  • Chew your food well (matt talks about Fletcherising in his book raw success)
  • Have your greens (1 green juice every day)
  • Structure – recognise it is always changing (what Angela eats now is different from what she ate 18 months ago, 6 months ago)
  • Seaweed is important for minerals; sprouts are the best form of live food; and, water, drink plenty of it and as pure as possible (matt discussed the benefits of distilled water)

Angela talked about her recent Juice Feasting experience, eating (drinking) nothing but raw juices for 92 days. There’s a global movement (excuse the pun) of juice feasters. This is something I’d like to try. One day. According to the geneticist on, it is possible to change your genetic structure within 90 days.

Thanks Matt and Angela. I’ve come away from this talk inspired to make some micro-adjustments to my current raw lifestyle. 1. Start the colonics next week. My body is wanting it. 2. Today I started straining my juices – and wow, I can really taste the difference. 3. Attempt to avoid snacking between meals and no eating late. This has always been hardest for me, but I know the benefits. 4. Go back to doing a green juice in the afternoons. I gave that up over a year ago when I returned to full-time work. It’s a chore to clean out the juicer twice a day, but now I have so much more energy . . .

And wow, it was so great to meet other rawfoodies, plus one or two familiar faces from our rawfood meetup group. Check out Joanne's postings on the rawmom website.

Friday, April 25, 2008

i love my worms

i've arrived home to find that the caterpillars are still ravaging my green herbs, the neighbour's cat has been using the lettuce patch as a toilet (and dug up the mizuma seedlings), and i have two ripe roma tomatoes on my flailing tomato plants. margot has given me back my worm farm and i have lovingly transported it in the car from katoomba to melbourne. and lo, the worms survived the journey, but not without a damp patch of worm wee in the boot. never mind. it is wonderful to have worms again. they are my pets :-)

Friday, April 4, 2008

food facts

Food consumption makes up 20% of an individual's greenhouse emissions.

At a NSW State and Regional Development Seminar on
"The Future of Food" last night the focus was on urban agriculture and the fact that more than 20% of an individual's greenhouse emissions are related to their food consumption - mainly because of things like food miles and packaging. The increasing price of food was also discussed with the price of milk going up 31.7% and bread up 23% in the last 4 years.

from Liz Bastian's blog, A Year In A Day - 3 Apr 2008 19:53