There are a huge number of different variations on the raw vegan diet theme! On what I call the Social Raw scene you’ve got the Raw Restaurant foods (which often include some cooked condiments), the dehydrated Raw Packaged foods, the Raw Cacao craze, the Gourmet Raw foods, and the “Superfoods” – powders and potions and dried stuffs with a long shelf life, which are not fresh foods.
And on what I call the Extreme Raw scene you’ve got your 80-10-10 and other low-fat raw diets (taking one of the 3 major essential nutrient groups out of a diet that already has very few fat sources), Fruitarianism (just fruit), Breatharianism or Sun Gazing (claiming to eat nothing at all), Natural Hygiene, The Mono Diet (eating one food at a time), The Instincto Diet (includes raw meat and dairy), and The High Raw Diet (75%-99% raw), just to name a few.
Where does The Garden Diet fit in to this movement of growing awareness that heat destroys nutrients and creates carcinogenic toxins in our food?
I believe The Garden Diet falls somewhere in between the Social Raw Scene and the Extreme Raw Scene, in amongst the raw diets that are focused on fresh raw foods, a balance of a large variety of fruits, vegetables, greens, nuts, seeds, sprouts, and sprouted lentils. I believe that The Garden Diet is a raw diet that was designed to be simple, delicious, and effective on a long-term basis. It was designed to be doable for a family. As such it had to taste good, to get past 6 kids. And kids tend to be picky. We had to come up with universally accepted dishes or end up preparing 6 different meals at a time. And we had to come up with meals that were not only delicious, but also provided balanced nutrition to grow a body with! As adults we simply need to maintain our bodies, but children are actually building their bodies! All the building blocks have to be there in the food. All the nutrients and micro-nutrients have to be there in an easily absorbed form.
And as our oldest is now 16, and thriving, I believe The Garden Diet has passed the kid-test.
The Garden Diet also had to work for a man, an athlete, long-term. Storm has been doing the diet for 38 years, and is still going strong at 61 years old! The Garden Diet has passed the long-term-raw-diet test.
The Garden Diet also had to work for a pregnant and nursing Mother. Over the last 18 years, I’ve had five pregnancies, five home-births, and nursed each child for 3 years. And rather than taking a toll, I have only seen my health improve over time on this diet.
So what is The Garden Diet? On top of all the raw vegan food groups listed above, we also use Raw Honey (which by the way is not considered vegan), unrefined Celtic Sea Salt which is full of minerals, extra-virgin cold-pressed Olive Oil, and Flax Oil. We also use raw carob powder. We also use dried herbal seasonings and spices such as Marjoram, Sage, Cumin, Coriander, Cinnamon, etc…On occasion we’ll buy Wild Black Rice and eat it after soaking it. Also on occasion we’ll use raw steel cut rolled oats which we soak before eating. And in the past we have eaten soaked grains like buckwheat, wheat germ, and oat groats. We also eat olives. And we do some fermented foods including pickles, sauerkraut, kim-chi, and mustard.
We also eat a lot of seaweed, mostly Laver, Dulse, Wakami, Arame, and Nori. I believe we get our B12 from the honey, bee pollen, fermented foods and seaweeds. I think we get a little through the dirt on our veggies too. I purposely don’t wash them too thoroughly, especially the ones from our most revered organic farmers, so that we can get this bit of dirt. I started this practice after learning that people were popping dirt-capsules to get B12. Someone told me that just working in a garden can give you B12 through breathing the earth and getting it through your skin and under your fingernails.
We do believe that soaking nuts makes them more viable and easily digested, however we also use un-soaked raw nuts. We don’t dehydrate foods, but will eat dehydrated packaged or raw restaurant food on occasion. We don’t use any concentrated soy products like Braggs Liquid Aminos, Nama Shoyu, Soy Sauce, Miso, Tempeh, Seitan, etc… due to their MSG-like effects. Nutritional yeast, which we recently got in to turned out to have similar MSG-like effects on some of the kids, making them moody. We also don’t do any “superfoods” as in chlorella, spirulina, raw cacao, green drink powders, maca, lucuma, etc…
I think Storm’s motto “Fresh Is Best” really sums up our dietary philosophy. This is the whole reason we live in Southern California; to have access to farm-fresh just-picked produce year-round! It seems to make a big difference in the nutrient levels of the food. We are able to get all our nutrients from our food, and therefore we don’t take any supplements.
Although we learned that supplements can prevent our body from creating or absorbing the nutrients from food, we still hear about people in places where fresh food isn’t always available improving their health through taking supplements. We are not against supplements but our family has shown over time that, if desired, it really is possible to get all ones nutrients from fresh raw vegan foods!
I love the idea of eating locally, but significant raw fat sources are limited to avocados, durian, coconut, olives, olive oil, flax oil, hemp oil, purslane, okra, nuts and seeds. To ensure we are eating a sufficient amount of fat necessary to run the body and brain, we do eat durian and young coconuts, which come from Thailand. Without really trying to eat locally, I just realized that about 80% of our food is grown within the surrounding 100 miles. Most of our food is bought at farmers’ markets and directly from farms. The grocery stores we shop at carry mostly local produce.
As far as eating a percentage of this or that, it really varies. We just make sure we eat a variety of foods. There are rumors that Storm is a fruitarian. I think this is because he’ll now and then do a couple of weeks on just fruits, as a cleanse. My favorite cleanse is similar, just eating whole foods for a time… fruits and vegetables. The kids don’t do these cleanses.
Our 21 Day Raw Cleanse follows The Garden Diet principles above. Weeks one and three are full of our favorite recipes, like sushi, nut burgers, falafels, tacos, nut-milks, seed patÃ©s, nut-cheeses, deserts, ice cream, carob balls, apple pie, kelp noodles, salads, veggie juices, fruit smoothies, etc… The second week is the deep-cleansing week which is more of a whole foods fast with lots of liquids and greens. The 28 Day Transition-to-Raw Program is also a 100% raw vegan program which is based on the 21 Day Cleanse but with an additional weeks’ worth of recipes to help launch a person in to a raw vegan lifestyle easily and safely.
Dark Leafy Greens are like a raw vegan food group in themselves. With incredible health benefits and healing properties, they are also the best source of protein in the world. In fact, when we eat meat for protein it is the building blocks of the greens that the animal ate that provide this protein second-hand.
Frozen food retains 50-90% of its nutrients, and freezing does not generate toxins, so we will freeze fruit and make ice cream and smoothies with it.
I don’t believe one diet is right for everyone. But I enjoy sharing what has worked for us, and I hope that you may benefit from our experience and take from it the parts that make sense and feel right to you!