Hello, this is Angela Hermes with RawPeople.com. Today I am speaking with Brigitte Mars, herbalist, and author of “Rawsome” and eleven other books. She is also a University professor. AH: Hi Brigitte. How are you today?
BM: I am so wonderful. Thank you!
How did you learn about the raw food diet?
I originally experimented with it in the early 1970s. In 1972, I had a vegetarian restaurant in Miami called “The Supernatural”. One of our occasional guests was Viktoras Kulvinskas. There was a fruitarian jungle somewhere out in the jungle in nearby Miami. They grew avocadoes. There were a whole bunch of people that were raw foodists. They would occasionally come into our restaurant for a juice or salad. We would sometimes go visit them. They were an interesting bunch. They would wash their hair with grapefruit and use avocado as a conditioner. These people were way into it for so early. So, I decided that I was going to go raw. But, I moved to Colorado to go to massage school in 1976. Even though my diet was maybe 80% raw, when I moved to Colorado, everyone said, raw food? You can’t do that in Colorado- its cold, macrobiotics is the thing to do here. I quickly forgot about raw food.
My daughter is Rainbeau Mars, who some of you might know. She is on the cover of David Wolfe’s book, “Eating for Beauty”. In 2000, she went to Hollywood and made a movie with Woody Harrelson, called “The People vs. Larry Flint”, so Woody Harrelson was a big influence. Rainbeau called one day and said “Mom, I’ve gone raw. My new roommate, Juliano, is raw and he says that if I go raw my career will skyrocket and I will have the best health ever”. I remember being quite concerned. I was thinking, “Oh no. My daughter is raw and I have heard about these young starlets becoming anorexic”. I really wanted to save her. So, my husband and I flew out to L.A. to talk some sense into her. That same weekend I met David Wolfe, Juliano and Jeremy Saffron. I just said the universe is trying to tell me something. I thought I would try raw foods for a year and see what it does. Really, I felt that the time had come because it was a lot easier now. We knew a lot more about it, there were a lot more books and kitchen gadgets out and one year has turned into 9 years.
What is your perspective on being 100% raw? Do you feel people need to be 100% raw in order to benefit from this lifestyle?
No, I really don’t. I think there have been times where I have been 100% raw and then I taught in Iceland last year and it was really hard to be 100% raw there. I just kind of said, “I think it’s great. I’m doing great, but 100% isn’t always feasible for me. I would rather once in a while eat a little bit of healthy cooked food like wild rice or steamed vegetables than over eat things like raw chocolate or fruit. But, most days I am 100% raw. I have also given myself some flexibility to say “I do the best I can”. Most days at home I am 100% raw. I think you need to use good sense when you travel. There are times when I am in the airport and I find myself saying “I am so glad they have pasteurized smoothies here!” Sometimes that is the best you can do.
What is your typical day like and what do you eat?
I usually have fruit in the morning. We do a lot of green drinks. We use mostly wild greens in our green drinks. So, instead of using kale which you buy for $2.00 a bunch in the grocery store, we might use stinging nettles, which don’t sting you when you puree them, or violets, or dandelion greens. I then have one salad a day. I tend to make one raw gourmet dinner or lunch every day. My preference is to have the main meal as lunch and then a small meal for dinner, which is usually either a raw soup or a raw salad. But, I do make a raw gourmet meal each day. I am trying to keep my husband happy so he will stay at home and not stray and go to restaurants. So, I will make a raw spaghetti or raw lasagna, with a salad. So we probably have a couple salads a day.
What advice do you have for others who are interested in transitioning to a living foods diet?
Well, I really think that you need to connect with community. When I had decided that weekend in 2000 that I was going to go raw and came back to Boulder, my question was, “Where are the other people who are doing this?” I really wanted to talk to people who had been doing it for years and years. So, I was blessed to find that there was a raw potluck group in my area. You can start a raw potluck group. If there is not a raw potluck group in your area, I would say put a sign up on the health food store bulletin board or whatever community access place you have. You may not want to invite a lot of strangers over to your house, but we are moving into spring. Why not have everyone meet on the library lawn or city park? Everyone can bring their own plate and fork. I am so grateful that we have a coordinator who sends out mailings. We all take turns hosting potlucks at our houses. In the summer we do have them in city parks. I think it is really easy to get cravings for things that you really miss. When you go to a potluck, you feel like you really get a wonderful feast. It really satisfies you.
The other thing is to find a raw buddy. I work one day a week at a holistic pharmacy as an herbalist. There is one friend who just seemed a little receptive. I would pack my lunch the night before and I would pack something extra. She ended up going to the “Living Light Institute” and got really getting into raw food. So, if someone is a little receptive, cultivate that friendship and then maybe they will put something in their lunchbox for you.
Another piece of advice is to pack your lunch the night before so you don’t find yourself in a jam.I have a lot of people who tell me that want to go raw and are having a hard time, and yet they haven’t gotten a dehydrator or food processor yet. I think that when you are transitioning you will want to have the similarity of things that taste like they are baked like cookies and pizza crusts, things like that. Get the right equipment, set yourself up. If all you eat is salad you are going to get bored.
I think that you need to keep reading about it and psyching yourself up. I just finished reading Tonya Zevasta’s “Quantum Eating”. I read a lot of different books at a time, but I always have at least one raw food book going. So, I think we need to continue our education and continually psych yourself up. We are still going against the gain of mainstream society. But they are catching up.
Are your friends and family members into raw food?
My husband is into raw foods, and he is certainly not 100% raw. Rather than rolling my eyes and saying “I can’t believe you are eating that”, I say “Thank you for trying everything I make and for liking my food”.
My daughter, Rainbeau, is really into raw foods. She is an international supermodel right now. She has found it challenging to travel to places like Korea and Dubai and be 100% raw. But when she is in L.A. her first stop is one of the raw restaurants. She has her raw food kitchen all set up. She does her best, but I think she has also found that in some places it is not that easy to eat raw when you don’t have a car and you are staying at a hotel.
I have a daughter named Sunflower and she has 2 children. I would say she is a natural foods consumer. She says that salad is her friend and she grows a garden. She certainly eats a lot of raw foods. I think we need to focus on our similarities instead of our differences. I love that my daughter shops at the natural foods store and the farmers market. I know they eat a lot of great organic produce. She just asked me for a nut milk bag, so I am hopeful.
What are some quick tips and hints you can share for other raw foodists that are just starting out?
I find myself doing a lot of food prep in the morning. I find this to be a really good time to rinse the nuts that I have soaked, or make snacks for the weekend. I think it is really important to plan ahead. I might look at what I have and if I am having people over for dinner, I might write out what the menu will be. Then I will know what I need to procure or harvest. I don’t drive a car, so I really have to plan ahead.
So, my tips are to plan ahead. Do your food prep in the morning or evening. Pack your lunch the night before. When I read the magazines, such as “Get Fresh!” or “Purely Delicious”, I cut out the recipes. I think it is important to try new things.
One more tip I would say is to invite your friends who are not raw over for dinner. By turning them onto it, you will get them more interested in it. I just simply tell my friends that are not part of the raw food group, “I am having a raw potluck Mexican dinner. Bring something”. So, then they will have to go online or look in a book and come up with something. Now, when I go to a dinner party that is not with my raw friends, there is a lot more raw food available because they are now more open to it.
Can a healthy diet contribute to improved sexual health?
I certainly think that when you feel good about your body, that it is great for your libido. I felt in my 40s that my libido was waning, but then as I got into raw food I said “wow, I am slender again, I have more energy, and I feel good about my body”. But on the other hand, I do think there is a cultural promotion of junk sex, kind of like junk food. In the movies people get so hot that they do it in the elevator standing up and they only have 20 seconds or something. That’s kind of like fast food isn’t it?
So, I think that with raw food we are able to make more conscious decisions and come from a place of love and integrity. Being sexually active is a wonderful gift, but we don’t want it to be an addiction where we are making poor choices. I really do think that when you feel good about yourself and you are in good health, your libido will go along with you. So, if you think your libido might be lower at one stage in your life, know that it can get better as you grow into more health. I have a book coming out in early 2010 called “The Sexual Herbal”.
Where do you see the raw movement heading?
Well, it is so great that there are more and more raw restaurants. You can Google “raw restaurants”. You can also find raw potluck groups. So, if you are travelling across the country this summer, check to see if there is a raw potluck in say, “Salt Lake City”.Even a steakhouse now will have a vegetarian entree and herbal tea because enough people have asked for it. I think that we are going to find that more restaurants will offer raw choices.
I think that raw food is going to be become more main stream. It would certainly be good for the environment, think of the energy we would save. It certainly would be good for people’s health. I think we need to realize that humankind cooked food for a long time and it may have been as a result of lack of hygiene , lack of running water, lack of refrigeration, but it really didn’t bring people great health. I really think our destiny is to get back to a living foods diet.
I have been reading a book called “The Edantia Book” and it says that Adam and Eve were not the first humans on earth, that there was evolution from primates. But, Adam and Even came here about 38,000 years ago from the start system Edantia and they were raw foodists.
It is interesting that there were humans here a million years ago and they discovered fire and how to cook food. I think people just got into cooking everything because of the warmth, light, fire and protection. You know, if there are flies all over that mastodon carcass, maybe you should cook that. But how is that working for us? I think that we are going to move into a time of more light and life. I am very hopeful right now. I think people are waking up. I even think the main stream media is catching up. I think they are calling the shots on injustices and I think that we want to make the world a better place.
Can you tell me a little bit about your book “Rawsome”?
I wrote “Rawsome” pretty soon after getting in raw foods. I am an herbalist and nutritional consultant. I had a lot of questions about the raw food diet such as, “Where do you get your protein”? and “Won’t I be cold in the winter”? and “What do I do when I go to my grandmother’s house for thanksgiving”?
I wanted to include all of those topics that I think are so important as well as some easy recipes. You can go to “you tube” and punch in my little “you tube”. It is called “Seven minutes to raw”. I make seven raw dishes in under ten minutes. This includes a complete meal with dessert. I really think that people don’t need more complicated things to do, we need to simplify. I love that I spend less time in the kitchen and that the cleanup is so easy.
“Rawsome” also has a great list where you can look up which foods are high in chromium, selenium, molybdenum, lithium, calcium, magnesium, etc. So, you can look these nutrients up to see what they are for and where to find them in foods. I have a list of seasonal things because I know the conscientious things Is to do your best to eat seasonally and locally.I also include theme dinners such as a French dinner, Japanese dinner, or Thai dinner. I include all of these dinner menus so you can make theme dinners and wow your friends.
What are some possible alternative functions for household lawns in America?
Well, this is really one of my big things right now. Americans use about 1/3 of our nation’s water supply to water our lawns. If we think that gas is a precious commodity right now, wait until it comes down to water. It is not going to be a pretty thing when most of our water is polluted and unsafe and contaminated and we are fight over it and it is being used up. Watering lawns is kind of wasteful. Most people are growing non-native grasses that are very water intensive. My feeling is that if you stop watering your lawn, the grass will die and the weeds will survive. Either you can water your lawn and water the weeds or you cannot water your lawn and the weeds are going to grow anyways because the weeds are survivors. They are not genetically modified, hybridized or delicate, they are survivors.
If we want to have a stronger survival capacity, it makes sense that if you pick some dandelions and you put them in a green smoothie and drink that, and those were harvested 5 minutes ago, there will be so much more life force in this drink than the kale you bought at the grocery store that was harvested maybe 2 weeks ago.So, we really need to rethink that the weeds are not our enemies, they are our allies. The pioneers deliberately brought dandelions to this country and they put fences around them to keep the wild animals from eating them. This whole concept that everyone needs to have an antiseptic pea green lawn was started by the British aristocracy to show off how rich they were. Well, times have changed and I am so glad that the white house is planting a garden. There is an old Hindu proverb that I like to say” If you have water to through away, throw it on a plant”. If you have compost to throw away, give it back to the earth. We just need to connect with the earth more.
I live in a condominium, and people ask “how does that work with gardening since you don’t own the land?” Well, I started going to condominium meetings and saying let’s make it organic, let’s allow the dandelions to flourish. Since I was the most hot headed at the meeting they said, “oh just let her do what she wants”. Another book I have written is “The desktop guide to herbal medicine”. So, you can look up to find what violet or dandelion is for. We just need to reconnect. It has been said that the average American recognizes over 1000 logos and the products associated with them and yet less than 5 plants in their area. So, we need to change that.
What ideas or inspiration can you offer to others who want to write about the “raw food movement”?
Well go to some of the festivals. I go to a lot of festivals every year including herbal festivals and healing festivals. I was at raw spirit festival last year. I won’t be able to go this year because I will be teaching in Iceland. But, when I look at where the conciousnous is, the new ideas including the environmental awareness and spirituality, I would say that there was more of the present at the raw spirit festival than any of the other festivals I have attended.
I love going to festivals and I am usually there talking about raw foods and herbal medicine so I get to meet a lot of great people. I like going to festivals where I can get inspired by others who have had more time on the path than myself.
I also think that if you haven’t read David Wolfe’s book “The Sun food Diet Success System”, it is a really great book to reprogram your life. That book was very transformative for me. I know that Rainbeau would say that a lot of her success was from reading that book and doing the work and making it happen. A lot of magic has happened for her.
Which of your projects would you like to be best known for?
Well, of course, I am delighted that I wrote “Rawsome”. I am also delighted that I got be a mom and now a grandmother. The fruits of my life have been exhibited in my children, although I can’t be totally responsible for them.
I am part of that flower child generation. I really like to show that it was not just a time of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. It was also a time of great introspection and commitment to making the world a better place. I like to be a living example to show that those experiments in our lives that we participated in did not destroy our consciousness. People sometimes say that if you can remember the sixties you weren’t really there. I totally disagree. I remember all of it, I was taking notes. Maybe it was because I was a parent at such a young age. It made me really want to be responsible and make the world a better place for my kids.
I am working on a novel right now. It is actually my memoirs. It is called, “Wildflower child: a tale of sex, drugs, and natural foods”. I think that there is a story to be told. I like to think that my direction has always been to do the highest good. We all do the best we can and contribute in different ways.
What projects are you working on currently?
I am also writing a wild edible plant book. It will have raw recipes. I lived in a teepee for 2 ½ years and ate nothing but wild edible plants. I want to do a wild food book that has healthy recipes. I do think that’s future. All of these people that are so concerned about the economy don’t realize that there can be free food growing everywhere. Plant edible flowers in your garden. It is just as easy to plant a tree that will bear fruit. Another saying I like is “the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The next best time is now”.
Can you share a favorite recipe with us?
I make kale salad a lot. You all know how to do that. You chop up the kale really fine. You add 2 Tablespoons each of olive oil and lemon juice and 1/ 2teaspoon of Celtic salt and 1 teaspoon of chili powder. You massage it with your hand. You can garnish it with tomato and avocado. It is so easy to make, I have made it in parking lots.
Is there anything else you would like to discuss that we have not already touched upon?
I encourage people to try this out, do your best. If you end up eating something cooked don’t feel bad about. Just get back on track. I really think we don’t need to be so hard on ourselves. This is really fun and delicious. It is so worthwhile. It’s not a discipline. It’s not something we have to make ourselves do. I really do believe that raw foods can make you happier. Think that you will find that more blessings happen in your life and that the universe can work through you and you will have more sincrinicity. These have all been my observations.
I encourage people to check out my website. I have many articles on health and nutrition.
It is www.brigittemars.com
AH: Thank you so much Brigitte. I really enjoyed speaking with you.
BM: Well many blessings. Thank you so much Angela. Exclusive RawPeople.com interview with Angela Coate-Hermes
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