I've always loved to travel. I think it began long before I could actually make my own choices and I would ride along on our long family car trips crisscrossing from one state to another for those holiday gatherings when the clan got together. As I grew older, whenever opportunities presented themselves I found my way traveling half way across the globe. As a teenager, I went to Yugoslavia -- not the usual choice for a young woman venturing out on her own. I love these adventures more and more, and intend to keep traveling and teaching as much as I can.
Patisserie Level II graduates
This intention seems to be working. Twice this year I've been to Japan to teach at the Japan Living Beauty Association. I just completed my third session there, two weeks with another group of eager professional Japanese raw food chefs studying Patisserie Levels I and II. I get a huge charge working with these enthusiastic, hard-working students, who devour a full load of classes and lectures and then have energy for dinner outings and casual gatherings. I've posted pictures on FaceBook. I enjoy every moment with these innovative chefs. Their interpretations of wonderfully creative raw desserts continue to inspire me. The Level II class culminated with our Annual Raw Sweets Contest where the chefs amazed me with their spectacular (and delicious) creations. Many of these students have ambitious plans for restaurants and cafes, and I look forward to seeing these come to fruition for them. As a teacher, there is no better reward than being a part of their excitement as they grow and share with their own future students and customers.
Kazue's Peach Pudding
This was my first trip since the Fukushima Earthquake. Most of my time was in Tokyo this trip, and honestly, I couldn't see any substantial visual differences. But almost immediately, I felt that something has changed in the people. They are eager to talk about what happened and to share their feelings and remembrances.
When I arrived, I felt uneasy, and struggled to place the feeling. As I began to settle into my familiar apartment in Rippongi, I chalked it up to jet lag, no sleep, and that uneasy feeling you get when your physical body moves across many time zones. I wasn't feeling whole.
Awakening my first morning, I began to feel myself coming back together, and my comfortable "Japan sense" acquired on previous visits kicking in. Despite the hemispheric differences between my Napa Valley home and Tokyo, I find myself very comfortable in Japan, especially among the "raw foodies" here, who share important attitudes despite the cultural divide.
Still, on this visit there was an unfamiliar, underlying feeling of uneasiness amongst my friends, associates, and students that I kept striving to pin-point, because it felt important. I'm "a sensitive" and have a lifelong history of picking up on the worries and regrets of others, and I simply could not shake this feeling of ungroundedness around me. (I guess a good earthquake will do that to you!) On previous trips, the pulse of the people of Japan, their culture of eons and generations so sure of their past and future, have appealed to me, and helped me settle. In the wake of the chaos and calamity of this early spring, there seems to be a shakiness and uncertainty that kept me off balance for the first few days, until I got into the flow of teaching.
Not a surprise at the most basic economic level: concerns for the safety of the food supply, water quality, and finances, and energy continue, as one might expect after a disaster of such magnitude. Day-to-day business-as-usual concerns of business are slightly out of kilter. Over and over I sensed politely veiled uneasiness, and imagined I could hear unspoken words between words expressed with unusual emotion.
Outwardly, everything hums along. People, places, and things have returned to their semi-routine. In the eyes of my friends am I wrong to see that they have indeed been shaken to the core? I feel a level of distraction, as if everyone is searching for inner answers about the future and what steps to take to return to what was . . .if that is even possible. Many "outer world realities," taken for granted for half a century since the American Occupation, have been called into question, and core verities have been uprooted. From this disaster, not surprisingly, the abiding Japanese spirit, based in trust in a vivid inner world, seems to be renewing itself.
Many of my colleagues and students here have questioned for some time the course chosen by their nation's leaders. Here's a snippet from a letter I received from one of this session's students that explained a lot to me:
"To tell the truth, I didn't like your country nor people in your country that much, because Japan has been obeying the USA's directions since we lost the war. This has changed our food and culture completely. Our government got manipulated by lobbying activities and money, but not in the best interests of people's health or well-being. While this is really disgusting and sad for us Japanese, I had been wondering if it was all created by USA. Your talk yesterday showed me that Americans feel same anger and sadness we do. . . It was the first time for me, being filled with a feeling of oneness with foreigners that much. And amazingly, with an American. Again, I do appreciate you from my heart. I thank God for being able to feel your kindness and love through Raw Food."
Kumi's whole letter, is posted (with her permission) at my website. In Japan, as in the USA, we are noticing that some wrong turns have been taken. As I take the pulse of this amazing, gentle, grounded, reverent, spiritual, centered culture, I feel that some of the connections they rely on have come unstuck. Now, given this new opportunity to look again, to see what matters, I find my friends seeking to restore the pulse of who they are, to seek their answers within, where their truth lies. Meanwhile, the world is watching.
I look forward to returning to Japan often in the future, and studying this Asian version of our Western world. As always, I enjoy hearing your impressions and experiences. I have no doubt at all that, by triangulating amongst our cultures and combining our strengths, we can reinvent a better world.
Raw on the Road Supplies
Travel, despite its manifold delights, is hard on the body, and so I'm always trying out ways to make it easier. For someone as finely tuned to my body as I am, eating well and staying healthy is a special challenge. I've updated the Raw on the the Road Tips page on the website with some of my latest thoughts. Take a look, and file these ideas away for the next time you're heading out for some exercise, some errands or that long awaited vacation. My Raw On The Road ideas make things a lot smoother for me, and I'll wager they'll be useful to you, too.
The Milk Documentary -- Got (the facts on) Milk? is a comical partly animated feature documentary that questions the much publicized health benefits of milk. A road trip, funny, informative film, addressing myth, truth and all in between.
The film celebrated its Hollywood red carpet debut on August 24th. In the film, the first documentary, for young film-maker Shira Lane, the film crew takes a road trip across the United States to visit the USDA in person to ask some hard questions. In this fast paced, funny and informative documentary, they visit with average Americans along the way, and ask seemingly simple questions: Do you drink milk? Why? Do you know why milk is good for you? Their answers are sometimes funny and often what you'd expect from folks who believe everything they are told by their doctors and the media.
I personally backed this film through Kickstarter, the largest funding platform for creative projects in the world, and followed Shira through the filming, editing, and post production, then screened preview copies of the DVD as a benefit of my being a backer. I am so pleased and proud of Shira's accomplishment. The film is available for pre-purchase and will ship August 31st: www.milkdocumentary.com.
Indie film-makers, doing good work, getting the word out creatively: this is one of the most powerful grass roots tools for wresting our nation's food supply away from the corporate poisoners one fork or one glass at a time.
FOK has been making the rounds in theatres across the country. The companion book reached the New York Times Best Seller list in a very short time and the DVD is now available for purchase. It's a good one to have on hand to show for one of your "Movies That Matter Potluck Events." And if you haven't started your evenings with movies and friends, why not try it soon? I've found these evenings to be eye opening. When good food is involved, the gathering is casual enough so that friends and new acquaintances can feel easy asking questions and discussing the movie long after the credits roll.
We're awash in peaches and berries this summer, so Mike put it all together this morning in his "Mike's Awesome Green Smoothie". Here's his recipe -- not a lot of fussy detail, but this is how he makes things in the kitchen: a little of this, a little of that, taste, then put in some more of whatever is needed.
(all organic and as local as it gets, either from our yard or our neighbors')
Mike shared a little with me and it was Great! Since we have enough fruit for one each morning forever, we'll be having it again very soon! (Well, maybe not "forever" but at least a few more weeks . . .then we'll use fruit we've frozen.)
I'm reading "Becoming Raw" and have found it's one of those books destined for my 'resource shelf.' Written by Brenda Davis (Registered Dietician and Nutritionist) and Vesanto Melina (Registered Dietician and Food Allergy expert) it is chock full of nutritional information, myth busting facts about the raw food diet, and recipes that work. Folks often ask me "what book should I get to start with if I want to be more healthy about my food?" This is the one I would have written if I was an RD or Nutritionist. I keep giving away copies and having to purchase another copy for myself -- always a sign that a book is a good one!
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When getting ready for this month's trip to Japan I ran across a wonderful new product by one of my favorite companies, Chico Bag. My sister is from Chico, I've supported the growth of this once small local company by purchasing their recycled-material shopping bags. When I saw they'd made a recycled, light weight day pack, I immediately bought one. When I got home to tell them online how much I appreciated them as a ever evolving eco conscious company, I discovered that some of the aforementioned corporate poisoners have filed a nasty SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) suit against them in North Carolina. These bottom-feeding plastic bag manufacturers assert that little Chico Bag is damaging their business (polluting the world with their bags.) They -- the "Save the Plastic Bag Coalition" -- have also sued Marin County, Manhattan Beach, San Jose, Encinitas, and Palo Alto in response to their plastic bag ordinances. Read more about the suit here. Seems the big boys can't leave the highly successful little guys alone when they develop innovative products that save the planet at the same time. Here we go again with big brother getting into our business. If this makes you as angry as it makes me, join me in signing up for their online petition and get involved. Say YAY to the little guys (who aren't so little anymore, but they are still independently owned and fighting to stay alive against mounting odds).
Here's a very cool company YouBar that lets you go online and build your own energy bars however you like! They've got loads of ingredients to choose from and while you're building the bar a 'nutrition facts' page displays to tell you exactly what you're getting as you combine things. Now that's innovative !! and a great idea for the next time you need snacks for your long road trips or just errands around town.
These quick and easy Energy Cubes are great for traveling. They can be made ahead and frozen. When you're preparing your carry-withs, you can pop out just enough to carry with you on the plane or around town for quick energy.
Thanks for reading and enjoy the rest of this beautiful summer.
Happy International Raw Food Day!...
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