It's always a journey.

That's basically my post today, boiled down into four words. From all I've read, from all of those I've talked with / emailed / interviewed, and certainly from all I've personally experienced, this is a key concept that, in my view, it's best to come to terms with as soon as you can.

Over the weekend, we visited the spectacular Oregon Country Fair in Eugene and, once again, experienced a joyful and overwhelming sense of recognition that we're living in a place where people are much more accustomed to just being themselves.

Personal expression and nonconformity are so valued here that one becomes quickly enamored of the whole ambiance, which could well explain why more people come to Oregon than leave. The region seems to represent, to many, a chance to finally discover and explore an identity perhaps not completely free from outside influence, but at least free from the undesirable influences that society elsewhere seems to insist upon. Or maybe I'm misreading it all and providing just one of many interpretations.

Last year when I organized a raw food spiritual retreat at an ashram, I met some very lovely people. Two of those individuals were Patty and Denny (you can visit their blog to say hello to them). They were new to gourmet raw foods, so they were enthusiastic learners at the retreat. When they returned home after the blissful weekend, they began using their new raw food knowledge. Here are some excerpts of emails I have received from them since the retreat last year:

Well, you said you're motive in putting on this retreat was simply to pass on this valuable information and to help others; you were very successful where we're concerned - it is no exaggeration to say that you have changed our lives forever.

We've been almost 100% raw since the retreat. ... We're so excited about this new way of eating that we bought a new Vita-Mix. ...We can actually say that this has been our most notable and enjoyable dining experience - ever, in our entire lives! No one would ever put that much work into something if it were just for money; it is obvious that you did it from your heart. We feel blessed to have received such a gift.

Jim here... Exactly one month ago today, I announced my intention to do a month-long trial of a low-fat raw vegan protocol largely based on the well-known 80-10-10 diet. I posted a half-way point update on May 15th, and now here we are at June 1st already. So, are you ready for the thrilling conclusion

As I've stated before, I went into this experiment rather hard-core, with one full week of zero overt fats, and then gradually introducing a few richer ingredients (although keeping within the 10% fat ceiling). I found much of the past month to be an exercise in restraint and self-control, similar to the issue many people face when going raw while the rest of the family is still eating cooked foods.However, it got significantly easier as time passed.

In a recent post, I answered part of a message I received from Violet, one of our blog readers. Below is the continuation of my response to Violet (much briefer than my last one!).

Following my response to Violet is a response to Sarah, who has a fantastic raw food blog that I enjoy reading.

Violet's message continued:

Q: How Long Do Smoothies Last?

I responded to a similar question a while ago in an online forum. This issue comes up a lot, acually, so I figured I'd provide our response here on the blog rather than simply through an email reply. Here's that response, reworked a bit for our blog:

Optimally, I suppose we'd all just eat things whole, most of the time, instead of blending/juicing ...

In some recent Summertime Raw posts, we've focused on preparing delicious, nutritious raw foods *while* on the go. Today, however, we're doing an outing with all of the prep work done at home -- so no need to pack knives and cutting boards! We're also focusing in on a few seasonal ingredients. You'll see some really tasty uses for mint, and we'll also take a look at some wonderful edible flowers. Here's the video:

Today we welcome Leela Mata from the Peaceful Valley Ashram (www.LeelaMata.com) for another episode of Pure Jeevan's Makin' It Monday "Guest Raw Chef" edition. In this episode, Leela demonstrates how to make a delicious summertime chutney.

Since Marigolds are seasonal, and likely available only in certain areas, please consider them optional. Perhaps substitute another edible flower of your choice (and let us know if you do!). Aside from making this tasty recipe (which we later enjoyed on a salad), Leela also makes some important points about intuitive eating and intuitive recipe creation. Here's the vid:

As promised, here's another question I'd like to openly address here instead of via Wendi's email system. This one also comes up from time to time, and I told this person to watch out for my two cents on this issue. So, here it is. The reader asks:

... During your transtioning to a raw food diet & the loss of so much weight, what if any exercising were you doing along the way

As you read this, calming violins open a familiar tune and that sweet mellifluous voice of Etta James soon enters your mind: "At laaaaaaaaassssst. My looooove has come along....." Great tune, right ! Well, it's appropriate here because, at LAST, here's the long-awaited Episode #9 of Know Your Food! That's right, friends, today we're going to explore the wondrous FIG in all of its sweet, soothing glory. One taste and happiness blossoms within you, washing over your entire being... We only wish that the following video was as professionally rendered as this paragraph of evocative prose... (but, we promise we'll get there one day).

In case you missed the actual nutrition info in that video (what little there was, LOL), here's the transcript:

I had to write an update after my grocery shopping today! Remember I said just yesterday that sometimes people comment about the amount of produce we are buying? Well, a sweet older woman saw all of the bananas going into our cart and she asked, "What are you going to do with all of those bananas " You already know the response I gave: "Eat them!"

One of the really nice workers at the food co op commented that he can eat about eleven bananas sometimes. I told him, and another friend we saw shopping at the same time, that I can do that now, too. I explained how I used to get full on just one banana when I ate cooked foods. But, now that my system is so much cleaner and healthier, I can consume 10-11 bananas in a day (bananas should be covered with brown specks to truly be ripe and digestable). I don't remember the maximum I ever ate in a day--it's somewhere in my Going Raw journal, I'm sure. It might have even been more than 10 or 11 when I was going through my major banana-eating phase. Now I eat about 4-6 bananas a day, which doesn't seem like a lot to me (but in the past I would have wondered about all of those bananas in someone's cart, too!).