Monday, February 6, 2012

Raw En Route

Never, never travel.

That was some of the first, not medical, but friendly, advice I received after becoming diabetic, and it haunted me for some time. The diabetic acquaintance advising me at the time was merely communicating the strife he'd encountered after running out of supplies while overseas, but his story certainly made an impression. It may have had the opposite effect on me than he had intended, however (many things do), in that I became determined to travel the very next year, largely just to prove to myself that it wasn't such a big deal. As expected, once in Europe, I indeed had a wonderful time visiting my friend, and I've thought very little of that friendly "don't travel" warning since.

With Squeak & Velveteen at Providence Farms in Edmond, OK.
Photo used with permission of Providence Farms.
That is, until I started eating Raw foods and heard it again.

The suggestion was presented in a slightly different context this time and made, particularly, in reference to the convenience and accessibility of the high quality, nourishing foods made available through my membership with the Rawesome private food club in Venice, California. "You'll never want to live anywhere else," my friend told me.

At the time, he was right. Living (and even visiting for long) anywhere else just didn't seem practical if I wanted to be sure I got the nutrient-dense foods I desired. So for a few months, all was well in my contained little world. No drama and no pending travel would upset my cozy, comfy Raw food routine... And then came the government raid in August last year that forced the Rawesome club to close indefinitely. Suddenly, I wasn't sure where to go or what to do.

Grateful as I had been (and will be again when Rawesome re-opens) to have so many wonderful, nurturing products available all under one roof, the event ultimately forced Raw devotees like me to be more flexible, creative and pro-active in how we obtain the enzyme-rich foods we need. And I was happy to rediscover my curious, scouting initiative, but there was still a monster crouching in my closet: My trip home for the holidays this year would be my first visit home since making the decided switch to a mostly Raw diet, and I was terrified to go.

The idea of finding quality foods outside the convenience and comforts of my Raw routine here in California seemed impossible. I had planned to pack a few essentials like Raw honey, almonds, dates - whatever would fit in my suitcase and carry-on - but I wouldn't be drinking the milk in my parents' fridge this year; I knew that much. In fact, I knew there wasn't much at their house that I would enjoy. So what would I eat? And how would my family take it? Would I hurt their feelings somehow by rejecting the food they offered to me in love? The uncertainties were so upsetting for me, in fact, that I suffered many hours of wakeful indigestion the night before my departing flight.

The beauty, Bellour.
Photo used with permission of Providence Farms.
Fortunately, and even in spite of the airline's misplacing my luggage (though the inspection note I found near the Raw honey tells me it was probably just delayed for that reason), I soon remembered I'm pretty darn resourceful when I want to be. My first call after landing was to my parents to let them know I had arrived safely. The next was to a local farm north of the city. (I found it through a simple Google search for "raw milk in oklahoma" which generated a link via to a list of farms nationwide, courtesy of the Weston A. Price Foundation.) The very next afternoon, after a stop at the city's brand new Whole Foods to pick up some grass fed beef, I was braving my mom's car and Oklahoma's cold winter weather to drive 45 minutes or so out of my way to pick up 2 gallons of delicious, local and fresh, raw cow's milk... and, as luck would have it, some goat's milk soap too (the perfectly synchronistic and healthier alternative to the Irish Spring I was using at my parents' home because I'd forgotten to pack soap).

I was excited to meet the woman on the other end of the phone, and I had a feeling we might spark the profound connection that we did. During the nearly two hours we spent together, Jennifer was kind enough to give me a tour of her farm, letting me meet her goats, cows and chickens, and say hello to her family. We chatted about world history, food politics and the urgent need to change imbalances in our governmental system. She even spoke of a drought earlier in the year that had caused the prices of winter hay to go sky-high (by as much as 4-5 times the cost) forcing some of her neighboring farmers out of business. These were intensely important subjects, and I think we both could sense the passion and frustration present in one another. Even so, we were able to share our stories and ideas with a compassion and familiarity unique to our Raw foods community, and for a moment that perhaps still lingers, we each felt more supported in our respective journeys.

Jennifer's lovely, lathering, goat milk soap.
Photo used with permission of Providence Farms.
And perhaps we both garner additional encouragement from the fact that the Raw community seems to be growing. At some point while I wasn't looking, a Raw (vegan) restaurant called Matthew Kenney, named for its founding head chef, made Oklahoma City its home. By some miracle, I even managed to talk my parents and brother into an experimental visit to investigate this oddity in the land of 'meat and potatoes'... And we ALL loved it! In fact, I'd even venture to say that it seemed to me both tastier and fresher (with less emphasis on dehydration) than some of the Raw restaurants I've frequented here in Southern California.

Looking back now on how fearful I had been before travelling, I cannot say what might have possessed me to be so eager to limit myself in what I thought was possible with my new lifestyle. In doing so, I was only forming new little prisons for my mind, when the whole point in living and eating the way I do is to have more life and freedom, not less. In any case, new information and new experiences are essential for growth. And oh, what we discover when we choose to be open instead of closed! I am truly amazed at how powerful, capable and fearless we become, when we finally let go our self-imposed chains. I've since met a number of people who manage to maintain a Raw lifestyle all over the globe, simply by taking a little time to educate themselves on what is available locally, and then going to get it. It's really not so difficult!

In fact, I must take a moment here myself to acknowledge that I am deeply inspired by and eternally grateful for people like Jennifer, who risk so much to provide us with healthier, easy-to-find, local food choices. (By the way, when we insist on maintaining our Raw lifestyle while on the road, and thus reach out to small farmers like her, we actually have a wonderful opportunity to support local dairy communities in other parts of the country - or world, for that matter.) I am equally humbled by folks like my family, who are willing to consider different ideas and abandon their own belief systems - if only for a moment - to try something new. These folks challenge me every day to break any habits of fear and laziness I may have developed, and to continue questioning whatever it is I think I already know.

Brave people like these help me feel more at home than I've felt in a while, wherever I am. For they are all my family. And wheresoever my path shall lead, I will carry in my heart the strength and support of that sacred home.

1 comment:

  1. I found your post because I was looking for the address of the very farm you mention. I am new to the cause and want to support all those hard working organic farmers all across the USA. I travel a lot and am so sad sometimes to leave a country with much better food than we are eating here. My children feel the same. Thanks for the post and for helping point out that in some states you simply can't get raw milk, not easily and sometimes not legally, which makes me sad. I used to go with my grandpa every Sunday to buy fresh milk from a local farmer and I long for my children to have that experience.