Thanks to everyone who asked about my Japanese friends. Their whole nation is undergoing an undeniably catastrophic experience, one that will have major effects on them for years and perhaps decades. I can't decide whether to be more heart-warmed by the character of the Japanese people or disappointed in the event coverage of US media outlets.
In the beginning moments of this crisis, like everyone else with friends in Japan, I sent emails and placed phone calls to check in with everyone I could think of. Most of my friends are based in and around Tokyo and I've heard stories of rolling black outs (still going on today), not being able to get home by train (in the early days), limited food on the grocery store shelves (a bit of irony in the beginning when my friends found lots of greens and fruits for their green smoothies), and a pervasive underlying worry about what this 'nuclear melt-down' really means to their futures.
Brenda and Makiko, August 2010
For my immediate friends in the populated cities, life goes on: they are moving ahead one day at a time looking towards a changing future. My friend Makiko writes that these events have helped her take stock of what is important in her life, how she needs to be more mindful about using her time, and especially taking more time for herself, family and good friends while not being so driven to work. Any momentous event like this sparks contemplation about the important things in life -- we need to do this, too, in solidarity. In recovery mode, with fewer tourists and less in-country traveling, and the neon turned low, folks in Tokyo are enjoying more quiet and looking forward to this month's cherry blossom season. Spring's annual new promise fills the air.
Days after the quake and tsunami, I received this from a friend: ". . .there is indeed an enormous Cosmic evolutionary step that is occurring all over the world. This wave of birthing (worldwide) is hard, and yet magnificent." On my website, I have posted a forwarded email from an American woman living for the last ten years in Sendai, the nearest city to the quake's epicenter. Her email repeats what I've been told by many others. Her writings reflect the energy I think we all hope for in Japan's future. Read it here.
Great news from Bali ! You might remember my June 2010 newsletter written in the afterglow of my last visit to one of my most favorite places on all the earth. You may also remember that proceeds from the sale of the More Than a Nut Milk Bag go towards Ibu Robin, an amazing woman, and her Bumi Sehat Birthing Center near Ubud, on the gorgeous tropical island of Bali.
Well I'm not the only one who thinks Ibu Robin is amazing ! Now CNN has recognized her as one of the CNN Heroes for 2010 !! Blessings to Robin, all the Bumi Sehat staff, the new mothers and most of all the new babies who come into this world through gentle birth and Robins amazing hands. Now in it's fifth year, CNN Heroes shines a spotlight on "everyday people changing the world." Everyone at Bumi Sehat was thrilled that CNN recognized what they already knew so well. Watch the video at CNN.com.
This honor is an opportunity to increase awareness about Bumi Sehat and to help them find additional funding for the Community Health and Childbirth clinics, educational and environmental projects in Bali and Aceh, the Indonesian region devastated by the New Year's Tsunami of 2004. The clinics are not funded by the government of Indonesia in any way (this is a good thing), but survive on personal donations and fundraising. Any little bit helps.
We'd like to thank each and every one of you for your continued support of our Nut Milk Bag project. A substantial share of our proceeds go directly to Bumi Sehat to support Ibu Robin and her work. If you'd like to learn more about the children and support Robin's vision directly with a donation, please visit their website: www.bumisehatbali.org.
We are so excited for Robin and all the staff and supporters of the Bumi Sehat Birthing Center in Ubud. It motivates us to step up and broaden our markets and continue our support to them with our More Than a Nut Milk Bag project. We'd like to turn to you our readers and customers for help in broadening our scope. If you have a health food store in your local area you particularly like and frequent. We'd love to turn them on to our More Than a Nut Milk Bags. Please send me an email with the store name, manager's contact information and phone number and I'll follow up. If they place a wholesale order for bags, I'll send you a free one.
I remember this inspiring series from last season. Okay, it's reality TV, but it is making a difference and I'm in favor of that no matter how it comes. In this new season, Jamie continues his attack on the epidemic of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes in the US, where children are the first generation not expected to live as long as their parents.
Jamie invites viewers to take a stand and change the way they eat in their homes and schools. The series is worth a look. I enjoyed it immensely and it gives me hope for the future of our school lunch programs. It's about parents speaking up for what's right for their kids. So give it a watch and get fired up!!
Many of you commented on the YouTube clip I included in the March newsletter -- Ask your Doctor about Meat. When I find something especially interesting, inspiring or thought provoking I cannot wait to share it with you through my newsletter. Thank you for your feedback.
Here's what caught my eye this month: Some of Your Favorite Foods are Really Bad. Interesting, and even a bit scary, not because you'd actually go out and eat 6,900 calories at one sitting, but the fact that one meal loaded with that much fat can have such a disastrous affect on one's arteries. The cumulative affect of meal after meal of heavy fat-laden ingredients does not bode well for healthy peeps. Enough said. I hope you'll watch and share with friends and family you care about. One fork-full at a time, we can take back our health.
Last month I talked about 'Low Hanging Fruit' and 'The Continuum', I'd like to share a mnemonic device I employ to help myself delve a little deeper into my own personal well-being. Some of you may be Starbucks fans, but I'm a Peets Coffee gal myself, so I'm going to stretch that a little into PEEETS: Prioritize, Educate, Eat, Exercise, Take action, seek Self-mastery.
P -- Prioritize and Pay Attention to what's important. This is the Very First Big Thing, whether it's overall health, quality time with family, long walks with the dog, or rocking in that chair with the little one or a good book. Whatever it is, identify it and make time for it at the top of the daily list.
E -- Educate. This is very important, because it's how we integrate new knowledge into our lives. Read articles, web pages and magazines. Watch video clips, television or documentaries to learn as much as possible, then filter through it to determine what's believable and useful.
E- Eat Healthy. In my case, that means real plant-based, raw foods as locally produced as I can find. The best food is seldom found in a can or package.
E- Exercise. I've covered this one a lot lately what with all my running around. We all need some easy daily consistent movement to stay healthy and limber for a good long time.
T -- Take action. This is when I remind myself to find new 'baby steps' -– see last month's newsletter –- pick something to do each day to move the energy along our new-found yellow brick road.
S -- Self Mastery. I know this sounds a bit weird and woo-woo –- can't help it; I live in the Napa Valley! -– but truly this is what life's all about. This journey began when I started truly knowing how what I eat affects me. By eating closer to natural choices in the plant based world I began to clear out some of the gunk that I'd been accumulating for years. As my body cleansed, I began experiencing food in a whole wonderful new way. Taste buds activated and caught nuances in fresh, clean food. I noticed how each bite affects blood sugar, mental clarity, and overall sense of well being. When I accepted the fact that I am my own best doctor, this last element of the acronym became my best teacher of all.
Oh, yes: Have Fun !! Let's never forget that one. Food is supposed to taste good, and we enjoy it a lot more when it's not laden with salt, fat, and sugar. I know we are addicted to these three nemeses (more on that in upcoming newsletters), and getting off that hook can be challenging. I'm alive today to tell you that the benefits are amazing! So stick with it; I promise you'll be amazed with the results.
Yep, I just plain love those round little packages of concentrated love . . . especially young Thai coconuts. Their nutritional value is right up there at the top of my 'food meter,' so I often include coconut water in my day. With their 'good' fat, zero cholesterol, an amazing battery of electrolytes and tons more nutrition than milk, coconut water is my go-to drink especially for long runs -- I carry it in my water belt while out on the road instead of those awful synthetic-defiled energy drinks.
So imagine my surprise, when preparing for a breakfast class recently, when I discovered at the cash register, coconuts have skyrocketed! After paying $9.00 for a case of 9 succulent beauties at my favorite Asian Market for years, I couldn't believe it: now, it's $21 for a case!! Furthermore, it took the entire case to get enough two cups of meat for yogurt, plus one coconut for demonstrating the answer to that ever-daunting question, How do I open it?
But $21 is crazy! Apparently, there is such a demand for these that the suppliers pick the seeds (yes, coconuts are seeds, not nuts or fruits) very very young in their rush to get them to market.
I mulled this over, and it didn't take me long to connect the dots. We know a good healthy thing when we find it and so do the marketers out there. So many of them have jumped on the 'nutritional, healthy' band wagon that it couldn't be long before they discovered my beloved coconuts.
Have you noticed all those cans, bottles, and cartons of basic and flavored coconut water on your megamart's shelves? It was only last year that I started seeing dozens of new players coming into this once very limited market. PepsiCo is now a majority stock holder in O.N.E., the LA-based coconut water company that sources its product from the Philippines, and Madonna and friends have sunk $10 million plus in New York-based Vita Coca to jack up its sales.
And then there's the rash of coconut-derived products: coconut ice cream, coconut flour, palm sugar, coconut-based amino acids -- here's a video clip from ABC's Good Morning America coverage of Expo West (see below) showing tons of the new gimmicky marketed organic/natural/new products. Near the end we see some of the new coconut items. As I watched, I could easily imagine the greed-head promoters chuckling in glee as they contemplated how little they'd have to do to convert the practically perfect coconut into profitable packaged products.
Don't misunderstand me: amongst this epidemic of processed products there may be some long-term winners. There are fantastic vegan ice cream products to be had, and I'd rather see folks drinking more coconut water and fewer canned toxic sodas and bogus designer waters. But all these new marketing gimmicks using our simple ingredient bend the market in a very real way, and remind us that our "food" commerce makes its biggest profits off processing, packaging, and branding.
Coconut products are not a crazy marketing hype, they really are as nutritious as you read, BUT: you want to buy the real deal, not the packaged, bottled, over-processed, brand-named-and-hyped variety. And so that's why I want to buy coconut meat and water sourced from Thailand. It's the sweetest ever.
I said "guilty pleasure," and I meant it. How do those succulent Thai lovelies get to me? Not in a sailing ship, you can bet! Here's what I hope this new coconut awareness does: gets the coconut market more regularized, so the profiteers can't deplete the market and inflate the price . . . and so good, fresh, succulent beauties will start coming from closer, without the need for air-freighting halfway around the planet. While the market gets itself realigned, let's just remember what precious, exotic little gems coconuts really are.
Sometimes, when our little secrets -- remember last month's low-hanging fruit? -- roll out into the mainstream, their appearance on the bigger stage translates into greater costs and market confusion all the way along. Too bad. I'd have liked to keep coconuts just between us, but I guess temporary realignments are part of the new territory we're exploring together. Considering the source (and the planet), I'm willing to acknowledge that nine coconuts are worth $21.
Expo West, "the world's largest organic and healthy products trade show," just wrapped up in Anaheim, California. Companies from all over the world were there to showcase the new products that will soon hit our grocery store shelves. The organic / healthy / raw / vegan market is no longer small or nichey, but has hit the mainstream bigtime. The industry reports a 6% growth over the past year, with increases expected to continue indefinitely. Of course, the packagers and popularizers -- the profiteers -- are having a field day, so Caveat Emptor: Buyers beware of the marketing dollars now flooding into 'healthy' options. Read the labels (more on this coming soon) and trust your gut as to what is right for you and your family.
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The 10th annual New Living Expo is again coming to San Francisco. Originally known as the Whole Life Expo, it brings together pioneering speakers, lecturers, and exhibitors specializing in health, healing, relationships, higher consciousness, and sustainable living. With special guest speakers, over 300 exhibitors, and a crowded schedule of daily workshops, this is an event anticipated by many throughout the year.
Remember Earth Day is April 22nd so get out there and get your fingers dirty ! Dig in the soil, start to plant your garden and go pick some dandelions. They are SO much better straight from your yard than those you find on the supermarket shelf. Sweeter and full of life-force energy, go get 'em and throw them in your morning smoothie.
I know there will be tons of celebrations where you are and for those of you here in Northern California, take a look at the SF Earth Day 2011 Festivities.
The grand opening March 2nd hosted local CG aficionados who've been waiting patiently for the raw food restaurant gurus to migrate south. Located in the heart of Hollywood at 639 N. Larchmont Blvd (at Melrose) it's sure to be a hit. The menu features the standard fare with both raw and cooked vegan choices. Look out for the 'question of the day' as you arrive. LA is hopping with raw vegan restaurant choices –- now we just need a few more in the Bay Area.
Here's a quick easy smoothie recipe featuring some of those dandelion greens from your garden. A great blood tonic and liver cleanser.
1-2 cups coconut water
one hand full of dandelion greens
one hand full of any other greens you have on hand
some frozen or fresh fruit you have on hand
Blend and enjoy !
Thank you for your continued support, belief in our work and the opportunity to help these children halfway across the world.
Now it's back to harvesting dandelion greens in the yard before Husband Mike gets out there with the mower.
On Sunday, a beautiful rainy morning, I was out in my raingear and hat with my cowbell to cheer the 2,400 smiling runners in the Napa Valley Marathon....
One of the most obvious things about shopping in the megamart is how advertising pollutes the process of choosing healthy food....
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