This past weekend we had the pleasure of Rhio and her partner, Leigh, visiting with us. Rhio was in town for a presentation on Genetically Engineered foods (more about that here) and she took the opportunity to spend some time with us. It was a lovely weekend and we talked about all kinds of things (yes, even non-raw food things!), laughed a lot, enjoyed delicious raw foods, and got to know each other better.

While they were here, Rhio and Leigh agreed to allow us to interview each of them for this blog. Since we needed to keep the interview under ten minutes (the maximum time allowed on most video sites), we decided to ask questions about topics we had already touched on with Rhio and Leigh during their stay--things we thought might be interesting for all of you to hear about.

We don't always announce birthdays of friends and family here. But this particular individual is an integral part of the raw food community and we want you all to meet her!

Today is the birthday of the radiantly beautiful Penni Shelton! For those of you who don't know Penni, she's an incredible woman; she's got a heart of gold and is filled with love and compassion. She has been a loving friend of Wendi and member of the Pure Jeevan family for a very long time.

As many of you know, Kevin and Annmarie Gianni (of Renegade Health) have now started their RV tour, for which they selected Pittsburgh as their official kick-off location. While here, we at Pure Jeevan took a special ride in "The Kale Whale," their veggie-oil-powered RV. Inside, we enjoyed a comfortable ride (which included hanging out with Johnny 5 -- their cat -- and drinking some hot tea prepared right there in the Kale Whale). Outside, we endured the freezing cold temperatures of Pittsburgh while pumping filtered used veggie oil into special holding tanks in the RV. Here is some video footage from our Kale Whale encounter!

It's been a while since we offered an update on Wendi's health challenge. So, I asked if she felt up to writing a blog post to let everyone know what she's going through, highlighting a few new directions taken of late. As usual, I added some color splashes and graphics here and there, just for aesthetics. But, the following post is from Wendi. -Jim

Many thanks and lots of love go out to all of you for the love and support you ve been sending my way. I can t spend much time at the computer, but Jim has been trying to keep up with my email and he s been passing along your love, concern, advice, and healing energy. Thanks so much for everything, including the things that have arrived through the postal service. I definitely feel the love from all of you and I want you to know that each and every one of you means so much to me! * blows kisses *

"I sent out over 100 emails, now, and have been corresponding with the chair of the almond board. He s an ass."

~Wendi, writing a few years ago in her "Almond Frustration" blog post.

Jim here again... Wow, that's an excerpt from a very fired-up Wendi, writing a few years ago about her frustration over the USDA's absolutely insane regulation that nearly all almonds sold in the United States must be treated with chemicals or heat prior to sale. I'm sure you know the story by now, so I won't rehash it here. (In case you do not, you can read about it in our original post, Wendi's Almond Frustration post (which even recounts a disturbing, related dream she had about this issue), or our last update post. It's an issue we've been following for years here.)

KDcat and I returned from the ashram last night filled with peace and motivation to move forward with our current goals (more about this in the upcoming newsletter). However, we also returned to a home with next to no produce in it (well, compared to what we normally have available). What to do? There's no way to run to the co op today (only one car in our home) or this evening, so it's time to be creative. Let's take a look at what Pure Jeevan has in the fridge and on the counter, and we'll see what we can create!

As you may have seen around the web, a number of individuals have attempted to single-handedly list all of the raw-food resources on one web page or one web site. However, when you consider how the raw and living foods movement has grown exponentially in recent years, you realize that keeping up with raw food information resources is an impossible task for any individual.

The answer, not surprisingly in this day and age, lies in a community-run web site -- a "social network" site devoted exclusively to creating and maintaining the web's comprehensive directory of raw and living foods resources. While the task is Herculean for a single individual, it is easy for a large group. My gift to the raw and living foods community is a place for us to do just that---the All Raw Directory! I'm confident that, in no time at all, our community can grow this raw food community database into the world's largest and most comprehensive (within our specialized niche, that is).

Special thanks go out to the many individuals who reviewed the site as it was being developed and to those who put in a lot of time populating the database, so it has a good start for the rest of us to expand upon.

One of our readers, Julie, asked me to update her on what kind of diet I'm doing and why I'm doing it. The last time I publicly made changes with my diet, I received many similar questions. So, I figured maybe it would be a good idea to respond to her question here on the blog for anyone else wondering the same thing.

I did explain, in a long post, about experimenting with my diet being important to me.If you didn't read that entry, it will answer a lot of your questions. For many of you, I think I know what you are thinking: "Wendi was pretty much morbidly obese, her health was horrible, but she's now healthy. Why would she change anything with her diet when she has already found what works "?

Well, it's true. I am extremely healthy compared to how I was before I started consuming raw foods. Here are some pictures to show the changes, to motivate some of you currently struggling with eating more raw foods...

It's been a while since we've made any major design changes around here. So, we thought a redesign was in order -- and we're happy to announce that we're about 95% finished implementing the new look. It's live and working right now, so we invite you to take a peek.

So many things have changed and/or been updated, not the least of which is the general look and feel of Pure Jeevan. (We did base the new design on much of the look and feel we established many years ago. But, the site has now been modernized -- adding a third column, leveraging more complex style sheets, and integrating more with social media sites like Facebook, and quite a few behind-the-scenes programming updates.)

When it comes to healthy eating, most of us know what is and isn't healthy for our bodies. Sure, we've been a bit confused by what the media and our government tells us, but overall I think we can all confidently say we know that consuming fresh fruits and vegetables is going to be a healthier choice than eating a McDonald's hamburger and fries. Right

But, what do we do when we're dealing with stress in our lives? What if when we're stressed we instantly head to McDonald's to eat the burger and fries we know aren't healthy for us? Or what if we consume large quantities of cakes, candies, or ice cream when we're overcome with stress

I want to admit something to all of you: Sometimes I still cry because of how people treated me when I was obese. Because I stuffed all of my "negative" emotions deep inside my entire life, it's going to take some time to fully release them. I'm working on it, however, and making tremendous progress with healing myself on all levels. I'm not telling you these things so you'll feel sorry for me, however. I'm telling you because I am thankful for all the pain I endured. It shaped me (in more ways than just my physical appearance) into the person I am today.

Even though it sounds strange, and somehow wrong to feel this way, I'm thankful that I was obese. I'm thankful for all of the experiences during my life, even the extremely painful, traumatic ones. Maybe if I was a different kind of person I would wish that those things didn't happen to me. However, I am using those experiences in positive ways. They've helped me understand people even better, and to understand myself on a deeper level, as well. When people reach out to me it's not only because I'm an approachable person, it's because they sense that I understand them--and they're right. I DO understand them. I understand you. My experiences, coupled with my gift of empathy, help me relate to you in a way that maybe not everyone else is able to do.