Why Lemony?
(the “About Me” page)

February 18, 2010

an open letter

Here's the letter that my friend Jenny and I are going to send to the writer of the raw food book, Everyday Raw, by Matthew Kenney. It's also a sort of announcement:

Dear Mr. Kenney,

I am a mother of three with lots of food allergies and I have just bought your book, Everyday Raw, about preparing raw foods simply and deliciously. I know only very elementary things about raw food. It comes out of gardens and farms and if you're lucky enough that it comes out of your garden or farm, it's as simple as pick, wash, eat. At least at the moment of harvest.

Of course, there is a whole year of planning and experimentation and hard work that went into that harvest. And the moment the food passes from that outer season of work and into your body, it begins an inner season of work. The nutrients get absorbed into your body and creates parts of yourself that allow you to move and breathe and plan-experiment-work all over again.

I can understand the broad strokes of the notions I've just laid out, but I don't know very much about the science of digestion and how each food plays a different part in that science. I've been reading "Eating for Beauty" by David Wolfe that has a great summary of the benefits of having a large percentage of raw food in one's diet and how raw foods work in one's body. It's fun reading for me because I'm at a point where I need to dive deeper into understanding what the best food to grow humans is and how to prepare and eat it. I've been faced with many food picking and preparation challenges in my life, dealing with multiple allergies, relearning how to cook after each one manifests itself in my body, my husband's or my childrens'. I've been feeling a need to know more, get underneath all the nutrition fads that come and go, and learn the basics of human nutrition from a scientific viewpoint, unaffected by the interests of the pork lobby or the dairy lobby or anyone that's trying to get me to eat something for their own monetary benefit instead of the inherent goodness of the food itself (thank you Michael Pollan, for that clarity).

Also, for myself, I know I really need to let go of eating lots of sugar-filled foods and have a better-balanced nutrition base. I've been working on my work-home balance this year, getting paying jobs after a decade at home with children. It's really helped me see a need for balance in other parts of my life.

The thing is, though, that thinking about eating healthy food and having a good understanding of nutrition has always been a very serious subject to me. It's not fun. It's never been joyous. It's felt, at one time or another, controlling, angry, guilt-ridden, frustrating, up-tight, humorless, exclusive, and snooty. I'm seeing now that it needs to be full of light and simplicity. And fun, definitely. So when my nutrition-minded friend Jenny Torok asked me to be her partner in a 'Julie and Julia'-style adventure with a raw food book, it was just the right opportunity for me. We'll have fun together preparing raw food recipes from your book and writing about the process here on my weblog at http://webble.orangecrayon.com/. I'll get to learn by doing and asking questions along the way. Yippee!! It's gonna be great! And lots of other things too, I'm sure.

So, Jenny thought it would be a good idea to write to you and tell you what we're doing. We thought you might get a kick out of it, I hope you don't mind, and also to ask for any advice or pointers about getting started.

Thanks for all you do. You're enriching lives.


Bahiyyih Baker

As I read Bahiyyih's letter to you I am struck, immediately, by the fact that women of such similar circumstances: mindful mamas, nutrition enthusiastics, slogging-it-out-in-the-middle (per se) everyday doing the dance of balancing our inner and outer lives with children, work and marriage - can come to raw food with very different backgrounds.

I have been fascinated with the raw food movement since 1998, when introduced to it's "magic" through the Bountenko family. (for those unfamiliar, they are a family of 4 who cured chronic illnesses through their mama's courageous act of declaring the family "raw foodists" in a day. Not only are they epitomies of health, they are also inspiring teachers and decent raw food chefs. This is the very abbreviated story )
When I discovered them I was steeped in the world of professional theater and dance, fighting doggedly with my own body to 'behave' and stay underweight. All the while I ignored my natural need to be satisfied by food on every level, and ignored my cycles of energy and fatigue. I was struck by the Boutenkos' passion and calm. I made a commitment that day and became a %100 raw foodist for a year.

I can honestly say I have never had more sustained energy in my life. It was as though someone had polished the lense through which I was viewing the world and everything EVERYTHING was clearer and cleaner. That said, feeling cleaner and clearer was fun, but also had challenges.
What was supposed to make everything in my life "better", of course brought new lessons resulting from my body and mind detoxifing.
I became intolerant of "cooked food addicts" - as I so affectionately allowed myself to call people who weren't willing to delight in my raw flax crackers with sprouted hummus.
As well, I couldn't relax at parties and social events with old friends, as I was constantly pulled in wanting a drink or a steak.
I occasionally sought solace with new raw foodist friends and, although we shared a passion for all foods uncooked, we often shared little else in common.
Finally, after a year of missing my friends and my old sense of humor, I abandoned my 'dream' of being a lifelong raw foodist and started eating cooked food again.
I share all of this because it is the canvas of who I am today, and why Bahiyah and I approach you.
What is the result today?
I have an indescribable gratitude to all of the wise, courageous, and creative teachers of raw food nutrition and preparation, as well as 12 more years of wisdom - marriage and motherhood took place in between - and a deeper knowing about holding fast to dreams and desires, while allowing others to have divergent ones beside me.

I came to your book Matthew, EVERYDAY RAW, the way an artist comes to a new expression of their medium, with genuine fascination in seeing "how another raw food chef creates beauty with the tools of fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds."
What I found was THE FIRST raw food recipe book that I feel bridges the gourmet and everyday meals of a raw food diet.
I found recipes that were delightful and accessible: delicious for my eyes and mouth - yet wouldn't require days of prepartion.
I love food. I love to eat. I also love the way I feel when I eat a %100 raw food diet, and genuinely desire this kind of vibrant health for my whole family.

That said, I no longer believe this kind of diet is "right" for everyone, yet know that the more I am instrumental in bringing this world of food enjoyment to my children, the better I rest at night.
Bahiyyih and I share a passion for food and nutrition. Although we come to this point with different backgrounds, we share a deep desire to get closer and closer to the magic of simple foods.
It is in this spirit that we embark on our version of "Julie and Julia" through your book EVERYDAY RAW. We are grateful for any and all support you give.

Posted by Bahiyyih at February 18, 2010 01:58 PM

I'm definitely interested in learning more. I doubt I could give it 100%, but any amount would be good nutrition!

Posted by: heidi at February 19, 2010 02:50 AM