Interview with Anthony Anderson

Anthony, famous for being “The Raw Model” will be coming to the UK in September (date has been changed to 11 May 2013) to talk at the Vitality Planet conference in London. I spoke to him on the subjects of permaculture, diet and more. This interview was first published in the Funky Raw magazine.

What got you started with growing your own food and permaculture?

The original intent was to simply design a life that didn’t require lots of bills and headaches to maintain. I wanted to minimise expenses (without sacrificing most comforts) and have that extra saved money for travelling and manifesting projects. Once I got into conscious eating, the path eventually leads to growing your own. So these two worlds melded really wonderfully. I later found out that it was called permaculture.

Can you briefly explain permaculture from your point of view?

To be honest – its basically a way of designing paradise. Its more than organic gardening… its a way of life. It can include living in a house the produces more energy than it consumes, and having abundance in every facet of life, and living in a backyard that frankly looks like the Garden of Eden. I think it is a birthright for every human – and the beauty of permaculture is that it is more accessible and creates more abundance locally than anything I can think of. Especially with Agritourism (Eco Bed and Breakfasts located on working farms) and organic superfoods grown abroad.

Tell us about your Grow Paradise project?

Grow Paradise was a natural extension of what I was promoting through youtube and facebook via Rawmodel – I really saw that if an average suburban middle class family could adopt these principles of planting fruit trees and berries, and vegetable gardens in their yards, they would be overflowing with abundance within a few years. This seemed more than just green living, it was about personal and communal liberation. I saw the permaculture and food forests accomplishing this.

I want people to be free. I want them to be able to earn money from their passions and live in these paradise gardens that feed them nutritious organic food. With the internet these ideas could spread quicker than ever, and at a most crucial time, so its a must to inspire and show that it really is possible.

Grow Paradise is a social entrepreneurship. Its in early stages still, and we have already done a project abroad. The key is using the events to inspire people via youtube and the rest of the web.

Soon I will be offering stickers, organic tote bags, other aligned products to help pay for expenses, and any donations we get fund the future “planting parties”. We have a few coming up in Harlem within the next few weeks. We show the kids how to make easy smoothies and plant trees. There are few better things to do!

What can people do to help with Planting Paradise?

Ideally, one can physically start planting wherever its possible. Whether its a sprinkling of wild edible seeds on your walk to work, or planting a 20-tree food forest in your backyard, it all adds up.

I love it when a few citizens realise that their garden is actually their neighbourhood… and start to take care of it as it should be… suddenly magic infuses into the area. It only takes a few people to make this happen – that is the beauty of permaculture.

If one doesn’t have the space, there is always sprouting and growing seedlings to offer to friends, rooftop gardens, but even more importantly is to vote with your money and support the people who are already bringing good food to your table without dousing it in pesticides. Keeping the money circulating with the people that are actually walking the talk will result in more and more people adopting these practices. And that is where it will soon be going… where its just natural to have raspberries and chickens in your backyard, or to have cities covered in trees so when one flies over, it appears as if nothing is there. This is the world that I envision in the next 10 years if people actually want it and put just a little percentage of money into manifesting it.

Can you tell me a little about your diet? I’ve also recently added meat and fish back into my diet and it seems that many others are doing the same. Are you still eating a raw diet?

I still have a high raw diet, but I don’t focus on it too much as before percentage wise. Much of it is plant based, but there are now high quality animal products included. Grass fed raw dairy, especially from goats is a truly excellent food for me. Everyone is different. Most people digest fish quite well actually, and there are still options that are tested to be very clean and free of carcinogens. It changed everything for me. I had some times of really bad digestion, and the cravings would be replaced with loads of dehydrated crackers and nuts and would leave me feeling very sluggish. A little grass fed butter was all I needed.

From your experience, what’s the key to being super healthy?

High quality water is key, as is naturally grown food loaded with minerals and hopefully with love. Clear air too. Those three things seem to make all the difference. The details will consume some people… but those three core items will fix nearly all issues in life.

By “High quality water” I assume you mean spring water you have collected your self?

Yes that is optimal… I leave it open so people can do what works best for them. See findaspring.com for finding local spring water.

Tell us about the Vitality planet conference in London and what you will be talking about.

I’m very excited to be coming back to the UK! I worked there as a model in 2009 and am so excited to visit everyone. I will be speaking about “Growing Paradise”… everything around the idea of designing this way of life for true health, freedom, and abundance. Now is the best time to be talking about these issues, and I’m thankful for the organisers to be bringing this info to London.

If you could recommend people read one book, which would it be?

Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway.

And is there one video/dvd you would recommend? 

The Man Who Planted Trees… you can find it on Youtube and Amazon.

Find out more at Anthony’s websites www.growparadise.com and www.rawmodel.com
The Vitality Planet conference will take place in London on Saturday 8th September 2012 from 10am to 8pm. Edit: The date has been changed again to Saturday 11 May 2013.

Iskiate (Chia Fresca) Recipe

Purchase Born to Run at AmazonI’m reading the book Born to Run by Christopher McDougal, which is about the Tarahumara tribe in Mexico who run hundreds of miles with seemingly little effort. I’m only part way through the book but it is excellent and very well written. It’s one of those books that’s hard to put down, it’s written like a novel although it is a non-fiction book.

Anyway, this post isn’t really about the book, it’s about a drink the Tarahumara make with chia seeds which is supposedly one of the reasons they can run such long distances without tiring. Chia seeds are amazing, there is a whole page in the book which reads like an advert for chia seeds: very high in omega 3 and 6, protein, calcium, iron, zinc, fibre and antioxidants, etc, etc, actually I had a customer on the Funky Raw Shop say they bought the chia seeds after reading this book! So it’s always good to have another recipe of how to use them, and this is simple and delicious:

  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 300ml water

Mix the lime or lemon juice with the water – the original recipe calls for lime but I used lemon as it was all I had. Dissolve the honey in this mixture. Add the chia seeds and stir well. Leave for about 20 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Drink! It will keep for longer in the fridge if you want to make a larger batch.

If you have any chia seed recipe (or other comments), feel free to share below.

Real Raw Chocolate Mousse Recipe

Chocolate Mousse photo by www.WorthTheWhisk.comThe other day we had a meal in a non-raw restaurant. Not something we do very often, but especially while travelling where there are no raw places to eat it can be fun. Interestingly, it was the decision to stop trying to be 100% strict about my diet which enabled me to stick to eating raw more than when I was trying to be strict. Counter-intuitive, but life is so much easier when there are no rules! Anyway, back to the restaurant. We shared a chocolate mousse for dessert and it was so good that when I got home I decided to look up how to make chocolate mousse to try and make a raw version.

Surprisingly, most recipes didn’t need much tweaking to make them 100% raw – they already contain raw eggs, just substitute raw chocolate for the cooked chocolate (and use raw butter and/or raw cream in the recipes that call for these ingredients.) This is the page I found on the Guardian website with a good selection of chocolate mousse recipes and useful comments.

So yesterday I tried the first recipe from that site, the classic French recipe from the book French Provincial Cooking by Elizabeth David and it worked really well.

First I made raw chocolate using the following, quantities approximate:

I grated the cacao butter and paste, added the butter and melted over a bowl of hot water (bain marie style). When fully melted I slowly stirred in all the other ingredients. This made too much chocolate, so I took 90g of the still melted chocolate for the mousse, and put the rest in moulds.

I then followed the recipe from the Guardian website above, using 30g of chocolate and 1 egg per portion. So I mixed 3 egg yolks into the melted chocolate (although of course I didn’t have the water simmering, I just kept it warm to keep the chocolate melted). Then I beat the 3 egg whites until they were relatively stiff (they use the term “soft peaks”) and gently folded this in to the chocolate and egg yolk mixture. Put in the fridge to set and you have a delicious raw chocolate mousse!

I’m sure it would work with other raw chocolate recipes, or even a purchased raw chocolate bar that you melt back down. Let me know in the comments below if you try this or any of the other recipes on that web page…

Greece – Photos from our travels

We spent almost 3 months in Greece, from mid Jan to mid April, mostly on the mainland, although we did go to one island, Evia. The most surprising thing was the weather, it was a lot colder than I was expecting! Although we did have some really beautiful weather too.

This was our route (only approximately, you can only have a limited number of points on Google Maps):

We got the ferry from Bari in Italy to Igoumenitsa and then fairly quickly travelled down to the Peloponnese, assuming it would be a little warmer there, although it wasn’t much different. We stayed on a campsite in Gythio for a month over the worst of the winter, the campsite has a large shared room with heating where we could spend our time when it was too cold and wet!

Click on any photo to enlarge, then you can scroll through the large versions.

Hope you like them, please feel free to leave your comments or questions below.

What’s the difference between High Quality Food and Organic Food?

I hear from a lot of people thinking they are doing a good thing by buying organic fruits and vegetables from the supermarket. My experience of supermarket fruit and veg is that it is of very poor quality, even the so called organic. The problem is that of course the supermarket is trying to make as much profit as possible, so they buy the cheapest possible food they can, to sell to the public at the highest profit they can. Which means that it is grown on a massive industrial scale (including the organic), shipped from a long way away, fruit is picked too early, and the flavour and nutrition are low.

Try and find a local farmers market to buy food from and you will instantly know the difference. Even if the food on the farmers market is not certified organic, you can talk to the farmer personally and find out how they grow the food. You will probably find that it is fresher, fruit is riper and it all tastes a lot better – I think you notice the difference in flavour even more when you eat it raw. And it can even be cheaper than the supermarket, as there is no middle man taking a (large) slice of the profit.

To find your local farmers market in the UK, see www.localfoods.org.uk, or www.lfm.org.uk and www.weareccfm.com for London.

Why I added raw liver to my diet – Beyond Broccoli Book Review

This book review was first published in the Funky Raw magazine issue 23.

I was so happy to read this book, a book the raw food movement has been waiting for. Almost every book about raw food is about the raw vegan diet, with many people assuming raw food means raw vegan.

The author, Susan Schenck, was a raw vegan for 6 years and even wrote a book The Live Food Factor about the raw vegan diet, but over time she realised that the diet wasn’t working for her. A lot of research led to Susan writing Beyond Broccoli, which explains the reasons for what seems to be a common problem – people try raw veganism and feel wonderful for the first few years, before nutritional deficiencies start to show up.

For me, the fact that Susan was a vegan, and really wanted to make the vegan diet work for her is important. I feel this mirrors my experience of discovering the vegan diet and the ideals behind it, but finding it didn’t work long term for me either.

The first part of this book discusses vegetarianism. The chapter “Vegetarian Myths Dispelled” discusses the myths we are told and the real scientific answers, including “vegetarians live longer” which she shows is not true. “Vegetarian diets are more sustainable” is another myth that is proved false. It also includes a chapter on well known vegetarians who went back to eating meat.

Part two looks at the “Evolution of the Human Diet”, how agriculture changed the way humans were eating and theories that eating fish was the reason humans have larger brains.

Part three “Finding Balance in Fats, Carbohydrates, and Protein” is where Susan really gets into the details of creating the right diet for you. She looks at the different metabolic types, carb, protein and mixed. She says “So some people can do well with a high-carb diet, some need a high-protein diet and other do best on mixed.”

Everyone should read chapter 11, “Falling for the Big Fat Lie”, which discusses the fact that, contrary to popular opinion, eating fat does not make you fat…

There is also a whole chapter devoted (or maybe that’s not quite the right word) to “The China Study”. This chapter contains the critiques of both Susan and other researchers. The most important observation for me is “The fact is, none of the people in the study group were 100 percent vegan!”, which means that any conclusion from that study recommending a vegan diet is not scientific and frankly absurd.

So if you get this far in the book and decide you want to add meat back into your diet, you will probably need Part four, which goes on to the subject of “Morality, Spirituality, and Sustainability of Eating Meat”.

And then Part 5 “What’s for Dinner?” ties everything together, including sections on eating a balanced diet, why we need to eat our food raw (including any meat) and the safety of raw meat. The final chapter gives more specifics on what to eat.

There is a comprehensive bibliography at the end, references for the science bits and lots and lots of further reading if wanted.

Overall, this is an excellent book, I recommend it to everyone eating or wanting to eat a raw diet as it provides balance to all the other vegan books out there. And I especially think vegans should read this book – even if they are doing fine themselves on a vegan diet – just so that they can understand the reasons that not everyone can thrive on a vegan diet.

My personal experience with this book – it convinced me it was ok to try eating raw liver, which I have done several times now and feels like a very healthy food for me.

With 260 large pages, this is a comprehensive book. Order from your local bookshop or available at Amazon. ISBN: 978-0977679522

Questions for Anthony Anderson?

I’m going to interview Anthony Anderson of RawModel.com soon and publishing it here on this blog. He’s coming to England next month to speak at the Vitality Planet event in London. His mission is to inspire others to plant paradise on the planet once again, promoting Permaculture and planting food forests. If you have any questions you want me to ask him, please post them in the comments section.

Edit: I’ve done the interview, read it here.

Raw in Athens

Until now, the only “raw food” we’ve had in Greece has been the fresh fruits and vegetables from the markets. It’s been of exceptionally high quality, but sometimes I want some prepared raw food… Synchronistically, I got an email from an American living in Athens about writing for the Funky Raw magazine, perfect timing for us to get some tips for raw food in the capital.

So on Friday night, we went to Nice ‘n’ Easy Bio Cafe, 60 Omirou Street, an organic restaurant which has 3 specifically raw items on the menu. They also have a range of salads which are almost raw. From the raw menu, I ordered a mock tuna dish, which was ok but fairly bland. I also got a green salad which came with goats cheese (not sure if from raw milk but I ate it, was delicious) and sun dried tomatoes, with a wine based dressing (probably not raw), this was really good. We tried to order the raw dessert, but they didn’t have any left – that’s the problem with places where raw food is only a small part of their menu. The website is only in Greek, but the menu was in English and the staff spoke English.

We had more success in the organic shop at 30 Nikis Street (not far from Syntagma metro), I think it is called Emporio Trofimon, but easy to spot next to a vegetarian café called Avocado with a colourful avocado painted on the wall. As well as the usual organic fruit and veg, there was a wide range of raw foods: raw chocolate bars (we got a couple of coconut Om bars), Biscru crackers, raw snack bars and a wide range of superfoods including lucuma, camu camu, acai, raw chocolate ingredients and more. Probably a better range than in most organic shops in the UK!

And now, what you’ve all been waiting for, the obligatory photos of the Acropolis:

How to make Fermented Butternut Squash

This recipe is so simple but I love it. There are only 3 ingredients, butternut squash (also works with other types of squash or pumpkin), salt and water. I’ve tried adding various flavourings and seasonings but I always go back to this simple recipe as it tastes the best.

I’ve talked about fermented foods before on this blog, they are wonderful for digestion, assimilation and detoxing and I eat several different fermented foods every day.

Start by cutting your squash into pieces suitable for grating, and then grate using a file grater:

Pack the grated squash into a jar, a kilner jar works well. Don’t fill the jar right to the top, make sure you leave some space as it can bubble up during the fermentation.

Next, add salt water so that all the squash is covered by water. The ratio of salt is approx 1 teaspoon of salt per litre of grated squash – so for example the jar I used was 1.7 litres, so I used just over 1 and a half teaspoons of salt. The amount of water you will need will depend on how much water is naturally in the squash. So mix the salt into a small amount of water and pour in, then add more water if necessary.

Finally, place something on top of the squash to keep it all under the water. I use a stone, cleaned thoroughly first of course. Check every day to make sure that the squash is still under the water.

Store at room temperature during the fermentation process. It usually takes 3 to 4 days to ferment, although it will take longer in colder climates. You can taste after 3 days and see what is happening. Once it is fermented to your liking, you can store in the fridge to stop it fermenting more.

What is your favourite fermented food? Please leave your comments below.