BY Donna Westfall
My mother was a vegetarian for 15 years. It was easy for her. She loved good organic fruits and vegies, grains and nuts. She didn’t like meat. However, when my sister died of melanoma cancer in 1980, my mother was advised to add more protein in her diet to combat the sadness, pain and grief that lasted far too long and affected her health. She went back to include fish, chicken and turkey to her diet.
I tried being a vegetarian for about three months in 1987. It wasn’t the hardest thing I ever did, but I sure missed hamburgers, bar-b-qued chicken and an occassional Hebrew National hot dog. While on my way to New Zealand, spending a few days in West Palm Beach, Florida and faced with a mound of shrimp I broke my short vegan diet and dug in. Enjoying every bite. But, if faced with a chronic disease, I’m pretty sure I would chose to alter my diet to try to improve my health.
A couple weeks ago, Bonnie Ross, who works for the County, greeted Connie Morrison and I, at the Family Resource Center located on Pacific. About a dozen people attended. Too bad the turnout was so low because it was quite the spread. Fresh fruits, vegies and dips, finger foods, desserts and all of it fantastic. As we ate and ate and ate, stories were told. People who had chronic health problems like multiple sclerosis kept their health good and in check merely by staying on a strict regimen of raw food. Other people lost weight, had more energy and felt so much better being on the raw food diet.
Nelda Handke demonstrated making fresh salsa. She dropped handfuls of fresh tomatoes, garlic, peppers, cilantro and more into a blender and voila! Out came her fresh salsa. We scooped that salsa up with organic tortilla chips resulting in rave reviews by all, even me because I don’t like cilantro.
Raw foodism traces back to the late 1800s, when Maximilian Bircher-Benner, a doctor, discovered he could cure his own jaundice by eating raw apples. Thus began a series of experiments testing the effects of raw food on human health, and the diet has continued to evolve. Raw food hasn’t been cooked, processed, microwaved, irradiated, genetically engineered, or exposed to pesticides or herbicides. It includes fresh fruits, berries, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and herbs in their whole, natural state. Proponents say cooking obliterates most of the vitamins in food and nearly all of the immune-boosting plant nutrients.
Connie Morrison envisions a new type of hospital for our area which combines the best of medical expertise along with alternative methods of healing. Connie recommends you watch Fork Over Knives, a documentary you can watch instantly on Netflix. Lots of footage on those battling chronic and terminal diseases getting help simply by changing their diets. During World War II, Germany invaded Norway and took all the cows for feeding their own troops. The incidence of heart disease for the Norwegians dropped dramatically for 3 years in a row during the occupation by the Nazi’s. They theorize it’s because the Norwegians had virtually no meat or dairy to eat.
On the other hand, The earliest evidence of the diet of cave man comes from fossils. The record is clear, they preferred animal flesh. His whole culture was built around acquiring and consuming meat. Perhaps even more convincing, is the data from indigenous cultures. Many of these cultures survived unaffected by the modern world into the 20th century. Anthropologists studied and recorded their dietary habits.
Of particular note is the work of Dr. Weston Price. He was a dentist that traveled around studying 14 remaining hunter-gatherer cultures. He discovered two very remarkable features in every culture. One, they were universally lean and lacked modern diseases. Two, they prized and ate meat. There was not a single vegetarian culture. Tthe more meat an indigenous society ate, the healthier it appeared. For instance, the Masai of east Africa who live on raw milk, cattle meat and blood and organ meat appeared to completely lack dental cavities, obesity or heart disease.
Perhaps it’s because of all the pesticides, herbicides, hormones, GMO’s, pasteurization and homogenization added to our food supply, meat and dairy products that we’re certain to suffer “modern diseases.” But, if faced with a chronic disease, I’m pretty sure I would chose to alter my diet to try to improve my health. The recipes used by the raw-food group were fantastic.
While most of us would enjoy a slice of cake, pie or a hot fudge sundae for dessert, that night our dessert consisted of frozen bananas and almonds put through a Champion juicer to create a simple masterpiece. Tasting somewhere between gelato, ice cream and frozen yogurt. it put the perfect cap on a healthy, fun meal with new friends.
Be sure to stop in the next time you see notices for a raw food pot-luck. Guaranteed once you sample their fare, you will enjoy it.