My New Years always begins with a sense of unlimited possibilities and concrete opportunities to elevate my game. This January I hit the ground running so fast it's already the fourth week of the month before I send you my news! New goals, new projects and new things to share will be found below. But first I want to celebrate once again our biggest highlight of 2011.
On Dec 11th my husband Mike and I were glued to our television in anticipation of the final vote count to be announced on the CNN Live broadcast of their Heroes for 2011. When Anderson Cooper introduced our longtime hero, Ibu Robin Lim of Bumi Sehat as the winner, I could barely contain my excitement. For Robin's work, the honor is gratifying but the award, $250,000, allows for much needed improvements in her efforts. I am sure the congratulations coming in from all over the globe feels gratifying.
To all of you who voted for Robin, thank you again.
As you will see in the story about Rawsome Pilgrimages (below), I am planning a visit to Bali, with particular focus to my two favorite charities there, Robin's Bumi Sehat and the Widya Guna Orphanage. I would be delighted to bring you along with me. Email me and I'll add you to our "Rawsome Pilgrimages" mailing list and keep you informed about our plans.
Last June I wrote an article,"Food Fight," about the Genetic Modification (GM) issue gaining momentum across the US. Here in California things are moving towards a vote on this November's Presidential ballot on an initiative to label GMO's.
The Committee for the Right to Know is a grassroots coalition of consumer, public health, environmental organizations, and food companies in California that is seeking to make it mandatory that all foods containing genetically engineered products are so labeled.
I never have been one of those outspoken placard carrying activists, but as you know, Genetic Modification has got me riled up. Here in California we're blessed to have the 'initiative process' whereby with a mere 800,000 signatures we can put an idea before the full electorate. (Unfortunately, so can any rich jerk willing to buy enough signatures. The initiative idea has its downside...) These past few months I have been educating myself about GM foods and getting involved on the front lines as the signature gathering for our ballot initiative gets underway. Beginning February 18th, those of you living in California will start seeing us outside your neighborhood healthy food stores and on any street corner where we're allowed. We've got 90 days to gather 800,000 signatures to place the initiative before voters this November. Some really smart people helped write the initiative and the groups organizing the campaign are good at what they do, so we think there is a very good chance of success.
We need you! Signing the initiative form is easy and quick. We chose the November ballot because it's a presidential election that will get the most voters to the polls. In an early poll 90% of those polled said "YES, I want to see Genetically Modified food labeled." Apparently, most of us agree that we should have the right to know what's in our food.
Please, you Californios, look out for the petition, and ask your friends to get involved, too. We expect well-funded resistance from big corporate food producers, because they know many people won't buy their products if they're labeled honestly. Since labeling their products for California differently than other states will be expensive and will impact sales, we hope that a strong showing with the initiative petitions and at the polls will encourage them to stop putting GM ingredients in our food (and that's what we want). We also expect that if California passes this, other states will follow. And that's also what we want. So get out there and sign a petition. And of course, if the initiative gathers enough signatures -- we are sure it will -- we'll be reminding you to vote on Tuesday, November 6, 2012.
"I am convinced that pilgrimage is still a bona fide spirit-renewing ritual. But I also believe in pilgrimage as a powerful metaphor for any journey with the purpose of finding something that matters deeply to the traveler. With a deepening of focus, keen preparation, attention to the path below our feet, and respect for the destination at hand, it is possible to transform even the most ordinary journey into a sacred journey, a pilgrimage."
-- Phil Cousineau, from THE ART OF PILGRIMAGE
My love of travel and healthy living has led to the birth of my newest project, Rawsome Pilgrimages. Each time I venture out for an extended period, whether in a car, train, or plane, I endeavor to make the most of my travel, as a pilgrimage toward discovery of new and wondrous things along my path. So far, I always come away enriched and enlivened!
Many of you have asked about joining me on my travels to healthy spots around the globe, and one of my New Years revolutions is to embrace this challenge, and invite you to come along. As you may know, I'm an accomplished tour leader (since I was a sprout!) and know how to make "the pilgrimage" delightful and meaningful.
As I already mentioned while celebrating my friend Ibu Robin's selection as CNN's 2011 Hero, I am planning a pilgrimage to Bali in October. Plans are still in the hatching stage, but if you are interested in this trip, now would be the time to let me know of your interest by sending an email.
All the details for the second scheduled Rawsome Pilgrimage, tentatively slated for November 5 -- 12, 2012, to Sedona, Arizona aren't quite locked down, but if you care to join me for a Whole Body Rejuvenation Retreat, send me an email, and I will keep you informed with all the details.
During the next couple of months I will be developing a Rawsome Pilgrimages website, and I'll be keeping you posted when new events and features appear there.
Five years ago this month, when I was diagnosed with cancer and got my first strong intimation of mortality, I undertook a study of longevity in the hope I might be able to get some. How do we live longer, healthier, productive, enjoyable lives? We can't help noticing that some people live incredibly long, vigorous lives. What are they eating? What are they doing that increases their longevity by so many years?
Several years ago Dan Buettner, longtime National Geographic magazine writer, began wondering why people living in certain spots on the globe live longer, higher quality lives than the global average. On a quest similar to mine, Buettner, an adventurer and endurance bicycler, working with National Geographic, the National Institutes on Aging, and AARP, visited the parts of the world where people are known to live the longest, happiest lives. Eventually he and his team identified 14 places here on our beautiful blue marble that seem to have an abundance of happy centenarians. In The Blue Zones: How to Live Longer from People Who've Lived the Longest he delves into the lifestyles, diets, habits, and characters that make them different and why they live with such quality, generation after generation. One of the Blue Zones is here in the US, Loma Linda, California (in Southern California's "Inland Empire," east of Los Angeles near San Bernardino. One of the main factors for this community -- they are Seventh Day Adventists.) The Blue Zones is a quick, fascinating read, and it includes a personal Blue Zone check list that I found useful.
Of course I couldn't resist quizzing friends who are making a documentary about longevity. Recently they discovered the work of Sally Beare, a well-known nutritionist from Britain, who has been researching exceptionally healthy and long-lived people for many years. Sally has written two books on the subject, and was involved in the development of a product based on the foods eaten in these longevity "hot zones." The product, now being marketed in the US as Akea Essentials. The word akea is a common Sardinian greeting -- the bucolic Italian island of Sardinia is one of the Blue Zones -- meaning "may you live well for 100 years!"
When it comes to food, you know I'm from Missouri (the "Show Me" state), and so I went over the list of ingredients with a fine tooth comb and my suspicion glasses turned up to 11. Processed foods in particular make me wary, and I was pleased to see that Akea Essentials are made from natural, whole ingredients processed at low temperatures to maintain their enzymatic activity. I am always on the lookout for fermented and probiotic foods, because these are often left out of the American diet, but are integral to our healthy flora within our bubble of biology.
Akea Essentials passed my minute inspection, and I decided to try a sample. As a cancer survivor and raw foodist, I am acutely aware of the effect foods and supplements have on my body, and now, having given Akea Essentials a good trial, I am enthusiastic.
Since I wasn't out looking for a supplement -- I don't even much like the idea of "supplements," much preferring to get my nutrients "naturally" -- this synchronistic introduction by my friends caught my attention. I am impressed by the folks producing Akea Essentials, and their attention to detail at every level. I like their product, and I can also be enthusiastic about the way they integrate it into a thoughtfully conceived personal wellness plan that includes a "Blue Print for Life" and their "60 day Challenge."
I want to restate that I'm all about whole plant based nutrition, minimally processed. Nevertheless, I can see how Akea is useful for many folks, and may provide a bridging solution for those getting started on their own journey toward healthy eating. This product is processed (albeit at low temperatures) but its origin is in whole foods (documented superfoods from the hot spots) and has the fermentation and probiotic thing going on. These are all important elements of good balanced nutrition, and often absent in a "standard American diet." So I consider this a product of interest worthy of mention to you.
If you would like to know more, go right to the source here.
On cold winter nights I'm always game for a warm soup. In fact, I'm often in the mood for soup year round. Easy raw versions of your favorites can be whipped up in no time and served chunky style (my favorite) or lush and creamy. They are very satisfying even to discriminating diners, and the clean up is oh so fast. Make it all in one blender (I use my Blendtec or Vitamix), pour it in a pot to warm and remember my suggestion -- use your finger to test for warmth so as not to scald it or raise the temperature above 110°.
I had some crimini mushrooms left from a mushroom gravy I made earlier this week so we're having Creamy Mushroom Soup along with a salad for our quick easy dinner.
Thanks for reading. You Californians, remember to seek out and sign the GM truth in labeling petitions. We need each and every signature to ensure we make it to the ballot in November !!
I'm still excited that CNN noticed one of my heroes, Ibu Robin, of Bumi Sehat Foundation......
Food is one thing you can control in your life. What you put in your mouth is completely in your control....
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