Jim here with a weird little story for today... I was at a business seminar early this morning and someone I know came up behind me at the buffet and said, "I'm getting in line behind you to see what you eat. You've lost weight and I want to lose weight, too."

"Well, it's no secret," I replied. "Just chow down on all of this great fruit they have." (I'd already piled my plate high with honeydew, cantaloupe, pineapple, and strawberries.)

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I was grocery shopping in Giant Eagle with a friend the other day; I was just there to keep her company. When we left the Nature's Basket area (where they sell organics and more natural items), I felt a strange feeling. I hadn't realized it, but over the past two years I stopped shopping in the other areas of the store! I told her that by the time we hit the packaged shelves of the Nature's Basket area, I'd already be done shopping and my cart would be filled. We had a good giggle and went on shopping.

Anyway, that has since brought my attention to the shopping carts of those around me. We do about 5% of our shopping in Giant Eagle (last minute things that we've run out of, that don't merit a trip to our Food Co Op), so lately I've found myself in Giant Eagle looking into the carts of those around me. I'm not judging anyone, I'm just curious. On average, just about everyone has a small bunch of bananas in their cart. There are the occasional carts with something like a cantaloupe, a bag of apples, and once I saw a single tomato and a bag of lettuce. The rest of the carts have been filled with packaged foods. There is next to no living food in the carts.

There is a certain irony that takes place when you launch a raw foods web site because, no matter how much you love and believe in what you do, no matter how solid the proof may be that the information you're providing is true and accurate, no matter how clearly it can be demonstrated by analyses of blood tests or tons of "before and after" photos that this lifestyle heals the human body, you're still pretty much bound by legal best practices to include a full disclaimer on your site. And, as much as you just write it once and kind of forget about it, it's always there. For practical reasons, of course we understand all of that. But beyond all of that, there's an implied message that "only a medical doctor" really knows what's best for you.

Well, in fact, we DO recommend working with a competent health professional. But what we do not endorse here is simply accepting whatever that professional has to say without question. So, the operative word would be "competent" in that recommendation.

Jim here with another exciting installment of Weird Wednesday. (What, you thought that just because Wendi is out of town this week, we'd have no Weird Wednesday )

In any discipline, I think it's important to consider the entire argument in taking a stance on a given issue. Examine each issue from both sides (pro and con) -- and then make the best choice you can. That makes sense, right?

Here's Part Two of our interview with Hatice Yavuz, co-owner of Cousin's I.V. raw restaurant in Chicago. Yesterday we talked a lot about Cousin's restaurant and the stories behind that (as well as some interesting notes about European and Turkish culture and attitude toward raw foods). Today we'll get into some of the effects experienced by many after going raw -- things like raw food detox and the strengthened connection between mind and body. Interesting stuff!

Happy Summer Solstice!

Well, it's officially summer here! This time of the year is extra special to us now that we're healthier. Not only is there an abundance of fresh, local organics to eat, but the sun also shows itself to us a lot more (Pittsbugh is ranked as one of the places experiencing the least amount of sunshine per year). The sun actually used to make me feel physically ill (I wrote a bit about that in an earlier post), but ever since I've switched to a raw vegan diet I find myself drawn to the healing sunshine.

Before switching to a raw lifestyle, we used to go on a lot of outings (picnics) and we'd also go camping. I remember a friend voicing concern when my diet was beginning to change to raw foods. She felt I wouldn't be able to go camping anymore and that things like picnics wouldn't be fun for someone eating a raw food diet. She thought I'd need access to a refrigerator in order to keep all my raw foods fresh and a kitchen where I could prepare the delicious foods she had been seeing me eat.

Picking up from the previous installment, Wendi and KDcat absolutely loved beautiful Corvallis, but ultimately felt it had too much of a small-town feel for us. So, they decided to take a road trip to the nearest big city, Eugene. KDcat and Stephanie (one of the lovely daughters of our Corvallis hosts) were enjoying their time together, so Stephanie decided to come along.

The trip from Corvallis to Eugene is but one pleasant hour's drive.The group's first stop was the Buffalo Exchange, a new and secondhand clothing store. Everyone loved the store, which offered a great selection of? fun clothes you can t usually find in other stores or thrift shops. A barely worn pair of red hi-top Converse sneakers was the highlight of this stop for KDcat. She's been wanting a pair of these exact shoes for ... well, forever! She immediately began decorating them when she had the chance (after they were disinfected, that is).

From there, they explored greater Eugene, checking out areas others had suggested. There were a lot of cute shops, but they were geographically spread out. It wasn t like the neighborhoods in Portland, where you can walk blocks and blocks with unique stores, restaurants, etc., all in a row. There was a nice vibe to Eugene, Wendi said, but something about it just didn t feel like home for us. Wendi said there weren t as many people out and about as she'd expected, but that could have been because they visited on a Sunday. Here are some pics from around town -- and then we'll talk food.

Beginning today and running all through next week (and even spilling into the following week!), we'll be running videos from the Raw Spirit Festival (RSF East 2009) held in Upper Marlboro, MD, last weekend. If you've never attended a RSF event, you absolutely must. They're the best ever!

Yahoo recently ran a photo series on their "omg!" channel entitled "Celebrity Slim-Down Secrets." It actually has a nice set of before and after photos of celebrities who have lost weight. The set is here.Featured are Kelly Osbourne, Seth Rogen, Jennifer Hudson, Jerry Ferrara, Kirstie Alley, John Goodman, Jordin Sparks, Jason Segel, Drew Carey, Sara Rue, amd Kevin James. ?Most reported using personal trainers, changing up their diets, and getting more exercise (or some variation of those three).

We didn't read any reports of raw food diets in the story, but looking at before and after pictures is probably always a good idea, if only for visual inspiration. It's nice to see a broad range of people turning their health around, too. Some are younger celebs; others in their 40s, 50s, and 60s. So, it's nice to know that major changes are possible at any age.

Jim here... During one of our marathon sessions at a Border's book store, I recall reading somewhere about the notion of a fruit's "intention" to be eaten. It's been a few years since I've read that, but I immediately resonated with the notion that many fruits, nuts, vegetables, and seeds are actually evolved to be eaten by other living beings and, therefore, to consume them (or their fruits and seeds) is to participate in a wonderfully nonviolent act that is in perfect harmony with a kind of primordial Earthen symbiosis. Whether these plants, vines, trees, etc. feel a conscious intention to have their fruit eaten by others is a matter of metaphysical conjecture. But, within the context of discussing vegetarianism, the argument is certainly relevant and fairly strong.

If you walk up to a farm animal, it may be impossible to estimate what's going through its mind, but I feel intuitively that it isn't, "Please kill me and eat my flesh." In other words, there's no "intention" present in that scenario. On the other hand, it's very easy to imagine that a tree produces fruit, knowingly or not, in order to produce offspring. Throughout the entire evolution of that tree, part of that reproductive process has involved animals (including humans) eating the fruit and then "redistributing" (which is a nice way of putting it, I suppose) the seeds naturally.

Today we welcome Devaki, the yoga instructor at Peaceful Valley Ashram, for another episode of Pure Jeevan s Makin? It Monday ?Guest Raw Chef? edition. In this episode, Devaki demonstrates how to make raw Cabbage-Mango salad. We ate the salad shown just after shooting the video. It was quite tasty and refreshing! Here s the recipe: