I was interviewed by someone from another raw food website a couple years ago, and since that particular website seems to no longer be in existence I thought I would post this here, in case it might be helpful to someone, and to serve as a temporary update to my raw transition story, which hasn’t been officially updated in quite a few years (it’s on the perpetual ‘to do’ list).
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself? For example, where you grew up and what kind of up bringing you had?
I grew up in a small agricultural community in Eastern Washington with one brother and one sister, and two married parents who still live in the house I grew up in. I was athletic and studious in school. There was so much agriculture around that it was easy to find work picking fruit, which I did every summer for extra money. I ate some fruit but my diet was otherwise very unhealthy. I had no interest in health until about age 30. I had carried an extra 20-30 pounds or more my entire adult life and wanted very much to be slim. I had noticed that the people who looked the way I wanted to were very conscious of what they ate, so I resolved to learn as much about nutrition as I could. I also started working for a company that was involved peripherally with the meat industry, which inspired me to go vegan. About that same time I got into fitness and started teaching aerobics classes. Even though I was fit, it was a struggle to keep weight off and I never achieved the slim physique I wanted until I went raw.
What inspired you to get healthier?
At age 44 I made the momentous discovery that being vegan wasn’t enough to prevent disease. I had heard about eating raw food but I didn’t realize it wasn’t just another way of eating, it was THE way humans are supposed to eat. From the time I made that discovery, it became my goal to eat only raw food. A few years after that I learned that just eating raw food isn’t enough to assure the high level of health I aspired to, so I have continued to refine my diet.
You probably get asked this a lot, but where do you get your protein from?
Fruits, tender leafy greens, nuts and seeds. Protein is abundantly supplied by all these foods.
Don’t you need protein to grow strong?
Yes, of course we need protein, but all foods contain protein. The idea that only animal products provide protein is a falsehood that comes from meat and dairy industry marketing propaganda. Fruit has just the right amount of protein for humans, and in a simple unbound form that is easily assimilable. It is no coincidence that fruit has approximately the same percentage of protein as human mother’s milk.
What are your favourite exercises to use and do you go the gym to do them?
I no longer go to the gym for exercise. I only walk, hike and do yard work.
Can you share with us some of your health achievements or goals?
I have already reached a level of health that I didn’t realize was achievable. My goal is to recover completely from food addiction, which afflicts all civilized humans with only two exceptions that I know of.
Are you 100% raw and for how long?
Yes, almost 11 years.
What is your typical daily food plan?
“Typical” has changed over the years that I’ve been raw. Nowadays, the foods I eat really only change with the seasons. The bulk of my diet is fruit. The more I center my diet around fruit and limit my consumption of nuts and greens, the better I feel. Currently, and for the past month or so, I’ve eaten 4-5 grapefruit around 9 am, a melon at 11 or so, 2-3 apples around 1 pm and 3-4 persimmons between 2 and 3. Once or twice per week I have a salad in the mid-afternoon instead of my last fruit meal. This is usually composed of iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, celery and either a few ounces of nuts or an avocado or two. Salad is something I still enjoy; I do not eat it because of the nutritional ‘benefits’ or to satisfy a perceived need for greens. In fact, I plan to eventually move away from salad eating entirely as I consider it the last vestige of addiction. It has taken a very long time and lots of practice to feel comfortable and satisfied eating low fat and primarily fruit. In my experience a person has to allow the process to happen at its own pace, otherwise s/he will not be prepared to forego harmful habits like gourmandizing, mixing foods and meal planning. These are necessary in transition but are destructive of health overall and must eventually be left behind to achieve optimal health.
(Note: The above was written in 2008, and I have made some changes since then. Notably, I no longer eat nuts or salads of any kind. I do eat celery or iceberg lettuce sometimes, but I eat them alone, with no accompaniment. As of this writing, it is wild berry season here in Seattle so on many days I eat my fill of berries as my first meal of the day. When I don’t, I eat 6-7 Valencia oranges. A couple hours later I will usually have either a melon or a large meal of stone fruits (apricots or nectarines). Often I will have another melon later or a pound or so of figs. I am still eating frozen durian, only much less frequently. I’ve had two in the last month. Earlier in the year I was eating lots of pineapple (almost daily) and discovered the negative effects this can have on teeth! So I begrudgingly gave it up and started eating oranges instead.)
Do you have to live in a warm climate to make Raw food work?
No, but you have to eat foods that were grown in a warm climate.
You currently live in Seattle … how is the product availability there?
It’s the only place I’ve ever lived as a raw fooder so I don’t have much to compare it to. Since it’s a large metropolitan city, there is abundant fruit available although it can get tricky in winter trying to find ripe fruit. I have found ways around this, like buying foods that store well, like apples & pears, or can be ripened at home, like cherimoyas and bananas. I also go to California in the fall and pick several hundred pounds of persimmons to eat over the winter months. Our growing season is relatively short but Seattle is within a couple hours driving distance of some of the best fruit growing land on earth, so I make lots of trips to the rural parts of the state in Summer and Fall.
Do you use any type of supplements and or recommend using them?
No, I have never taken supplements. Imo, they are not necessary and cannot be utilized by the body. Nutrients work in concert with each other and are only usable in the normal context of a whole food. Nutrient deficiency of dietary origin is practically impossible, especially for raw fooders.
What about B12 … aren’t you concerned about not getting enough B12?
No, I am not concerned. The B12 myth arose from meat industry propaganda and has no basis in truth.
Many people say fruits have too much sugar and are hybridized — what are your thoughts on this?
Humans are a frugivorous species. The only thing we need more of than sugar is water. All the vitamins we need for a whole year can fit in a thimble, and the same goes for minerals. We need minute quantities of these nutrients. We have been lied to by the industries which stand to gain from the idea that health depends on overconsuming things that our bodies were designed (by adaptation) to get in very small quantities. Nobody knows the true difference between the fruit that our ancestors ate and the fruit we eat today. I don’t doubt that the former was better, naturally, as there was nothing to get in the way of it being perfect. However, our bodies don’t require perfection. Our bodies only require adequacy. And modern fruit adequately provides everything we need. I didn’t get healthy eating food that was produced 100,000 years ago. I did it eating normal, supermarket fruit, most of it conventionally grown.
What type of water do you drink and how much do you drink on a average day?
I collect stream water from the Cascade Mountains, because I prefer the taste. I drink a couple cups per day, roughly, but I expect that will decrease over time.
Do you believe in fasting and can you share some of your thoughts on this?
Fasting is almost always beneficial, physiologically. Regarding the specifics, I will defer to the experts like Dr. Shelton and TC Fry. New raw fooders should approach fasting warily as it will not cure their bad habits and may make these even harder to manage afterwards because often there is a strong desire to overeat after a fast. Also, after a fast the body is more sensitive and vital so the consequences of mistakes or bad habits will be felt more readily.
Is the raw food diet for everyone?
There is no doubt that fresh, raw, biologically appropriate foods are best for overall health for all human beings. However, there are lots of psychological, social, financial, circumstantial and other reasons why people can’t eat all raw.
I understand you follow a Natural Hygiene lifestyle?
What is Natural Hygiene and what drew you to this lifestyle?
Natural Hygiene is the science of health. It arose from observations of nature. It is simply the set of laws that we must follow in order to thrive. It is truthful and infinite, yet beautifully simple. It’s nature.
What types of challenges have you seen with people trying to live the raw lifestyle?
The challenges are myriad, and people often make it worse by putting too much pressure on themselves to keep up with others or unrealistic expectations. People come to natural healing with their medical belief systems intact so they expect healing to be like taking a remedy, where the symptom just goes away instantly. They have too little patience with the healing process and not enough understanding of what symptoms mean and how they should be handled. Overall there is too much dependence on gurus and too little willingness to trust nature and bodily senses. The raw food lifestyle also seems to attract Type A personalities and perfectionists who aren’t able to forgive themselves for not doing things perfectly overnight. It can’t be done quickly, no matter how much grit a person has. Typically it can be much easier for young people because their bad habits are not so firmly in place, but for people who wait till their 40s and beyond to begin making changes, patience and self-forgiveness are key. It is also a challenge financially because people find that they must eat a great deal of raw food in order to get the elusive feeling of satiety that just a small amount of cooked food provides. Transitioning raw fooders also typically buy into the idea that they must eat only or even primarily organic foods. Organic growing practices are better, of course, but other criteria are more important, like ripeness, freshness, quality and biological appropriateness. Eating conventionally grown fruit is not as much of a compromise as people think. Most of the foods I eat are conventional, since organic is too expensive and is often not fresh or ripe.
What are some of your current health and fitness goals?
Just to continue refining my diet and practicing the habit of eating incidentally, including no more meal planning, no combining of foods, no gourmandizing. I already do very little of this but I want food to be less important to me than it is currently. It is addiction that makes eating seem more important than it is. I also want to learn to eat LESS, since the body becomes more efficient as it gets healthier.
The raw food movement seems to be growing fast. What are some of the things you have noticed about the raw food movement over the last number of years and where it is going?
Although it has come a long way in 11 years since I became aware of it, there is much to be disappointed about. Unfortunately, raw food eating seems to have become more like a religion than a lifestyle based on logic and rational science. There is a belief, for example, that anything eaten raw is automatically healthy, and better than any food that has been cooked. This is not true. There are cooked foods which aren’t nearly as harmful as some raw foods. There is a lot that a SAD-eating person can do short of going raw to improve his/her health. And for those who are willing to eat only raw foods, there is much work to be done even after reaching that sought after 100% mark. There is even more work to do after learning how to eat a 100% high fruit, low fat vegan diet. Although there is not much discussion about increased fuel efficiency in the raw food world, it’s an extremely important reality that long term raw fooders must deal with. Healthy bodies are capable of producing more energy on less fuel, and eating more than the body needs can put a great drain on energy and impede health improvement. Overeating is defined simply as eating in the absence of true hunger, or eating in response to symptoms like weakness or stomach ‘pangs’. Because there’s so little discussion and understanding of the fuel efficiency issue in the raw food world, many long term high fruit eating raw fooders don’t understand why eating the same amount of food they always have tends to give them symptoms, and they are perplexed by their lack of progress. I hope to bring these issues into the discussion, and that’s why I’ll be speaking about them at the upcoming Woodstock Fruit Festival. The good news, of course, is that there is a growing contingent of raw fooders who are embracing the simple elegant truths of natural hygiene and centering their diets around fruit.
What type of advice would you say to someone who is just getting started on a journey towards a healthier life?
There is no blanket advice that can be given to everyone. What a person does will depend entirely on his or her unique history, situation and personal goals. Generally I would say that people need to do the things that are necessary to avoid the problems I mentioned in the previous question about the challenges of going raw. Getting correct information is very important, and there is a lot of nonsense out there, especially in the raw food movement.
If anyone would like to get a hold of you for some more guidance how would you recommend that they do this?
I can be contacted through www.RawSchool.com or www.NoMoreVetBills.com.