We’ve blogged before about the pending food crisis in Nicaragua, as a result of the current drought. We’ve also blogged about Peta’s efforts to create an organic local food co-op in Granada, by arranging a weekly delivery of live food from Selva Negra.
When Warren, owner-manager of PURE gym/spa, mentioned to us that his long term vision was for his place to become a center that would host interesting speakers and guest yoga teachers, I (Ben) told Warren “be sure you know what you ask Peta for, because I know she will deliver”. We had some framing discussions to arrive at the concept of series of “dialogues for growth and health” and Peta took on the challenge of canvassing for interesting speakers. Well, did she deliver!
The first speaker of the Dialogues for Growth and Health is Dr. Gabriel Cousens, a renowned author, medical doctor, ayuverdic practitioner, rabbi and nutritional expert. Gabriel was one of the speakers at the World Peace Yoga conference which was recently held in Ohio. Lois Cone, fellow South African, Alexander Technique specialist, healing touch practitioner, pilates instructor, head of radiography at Shriner’s Hospital’s burn unit, and lifetime friend of Peta’s was at said conference. She was at Gabriel Cousens’ workshop and discovered that there was a Nicaraguan link.
It turns out, she learned, that Gabriel Cousens is starting yet a new adventure, this time kickstarting a live food movement in Central America. There were many reasons for choosing Nicaragua, primarily because Nicaragua does not yet have all the “bad habits” associated with U.S. food consumption and because Gabriel and his wife Shanti believe they can use Nicaragua as a role model for other Latin American communities.
So, in true Peta fashion, it took a nano-second for her to connect the dots and spring into action. Peta made contact, found out about their forthcoming trip, extended an invitation for Gabriel to come and speak at PURE, organized the PR to get the word out about his appearance at PURE and it all came together beautifully. Peta’s triple goal was to 1) have an adequate audience for Gabriel, 2) benefit from the high visibility of this speaker to kick start the Dialogues series with a bang and 3) learn as much as possible from this man with so much knowledge and wisdom.
Pre-workshop lunch at our home gave us an opportunity to get acquainted and to learn in greater detail the breadth of Gabriel’s vision for Nicaragua, and to make a personal connection. Many things in common. There is of course at the base of it all, a comfort zone with thinking large and global. Then there is the Jewish commonality. Before Gabriel and his New Zealander wife Shanti came to Nicaragua, they were in Israel to move forward their agenda there which revolves around spirituality and fasting.
Then, surprisingly, when Peta explains that we had recently moved from Chicago, Gabriel says “I grew up in Chicago”. Where about? From Highland Park!!! He grew up and went to Highland Park High School, the school all four of our boys graduated from. A different generation to be sure, but nonetheless another background element we have in common. As for Shanti, she lived for 16 years in … Santa Cruz, where Oren now lives.
OK, so now as to the message (as best as can be relayed by a neophyte): There will be lots more detailed coverage of the live food movement in Nicaragua in the future, for now, the notable tidbits from yesterday’s talk:
….. …Live food (defined as 3 days from harvesting) holds the maximum of nutritional value of plants (vegetables, fruit, seeds), then after 3 days, starts to lose its nutritional content. Multiple studies show that cooking food loses 50% of protein, 75% of vitamins and 95% of nutrients. As a result, when you eat live food, you need to eat half as much food. One aspect of Gabriel’s endeavor is the creation of a 100% organic farm. This started already with the planting of a 10 hectare farm in Rivas. A strategic relationship has been established with a local agricultural school, which will send students to the farm and start offering an organic agriculture degree, certified by Tree of Life – Gabriel’s organization. For those of us in the community, he will start a local “store” that will deliver live foods for regional customers.
…………….Eating live food directly reverses the “aging process”. This is verified in particular through Diabetes, which is a leading ailment in the US. While medical schools teach doctors-to-be that the aging process is a one way street, the use of plant source gives necessary nutrients to reverse and eliminate diabetes. The second aspect of Gabriel’s program is to build a diabetes treatment center. This is something that he already does in a number of locations, centered around a 21 day “program” that takes diabetes patients through a detox process. As an MD, Gabriel has all the medical credentials that validate the astonishing improvements achieved by participants in this program.
……………Bottled water has, for the most part, a toxic substance – fluoride. While the U.S. continues to advocate the use of fluoride (in toothpaste for example), fluoride is exceedingly harmful in terms of brain development. Tap water, while it may have other harmful items, has at least the benefit of not containing fluoride.
……………Many angles to address the topic of vegetarianism. Of particular interest to us was the direct link between climate change and animal farming. The methane released by animals (cows, pigs) creates a far greater global warming effect than does man-made CO2 emissions. There are additional related environmental impacts: the production of animal protein requires a far greater amount of energy to produce than live foods as well as deforestation (i.e. cut down forests to let cattle graze, cut down more forests to plant soy to feed the cows etc…). Beyond this environmental aspect, there is of course also the cruelty to animals dimension.
……………Meeting Gabriel Cousens is a potentially life-changing event. Certainly for Peta, it reinforces a trajectory toward achieving a mostly live food diet that was already evolving. One of our sons, Ezra, discovered raw food early on and became a serious raw foodie for a few years. This led him to look for work on organic farms in the U.S. For me, the challenge is that rational thought about medically validated toxic aspects of some foods directly conflicts with my French cultural bias that food is my friend not my enemy. So it may be a matter of “balance” and taking some steps toward augmenting the live food content and taking steps toward “conscious eating”, without becoming dogmatic about it.
It was impressive to note Gabriel’s style, which was more about presenting validated medical facts and research, and less about ‘preaching’ a certain food regimen. Very much a “soft sell” approach – and one is free to take on any part of the message…