Is cacao dangerous or is it a super food? Anyone who's been learning about raw foods knows about raw cacao (check out a recent episode of Know Your Food: Cacao). It's raw chocolate without all the processing and additives normally included in the chocolate bars many buy from standard grocery stores. In its raw form, cacao has different nutritional components than typical processed chocolate. Many claim that raw chocolate is filled with mega doses of nutrients, making it a super food, and therefore extremely healthy for the human body. Others claim that even in its raw state, cacao is a stimulant that taxes the human body and cacao is more like a poison than a food. I've heard murmurs about negative effects of cacao for many years, but that was always subdued by the vociferous praise of cacao.

Recently, my friend Kevin Gianni (The Renegade Health Show) spoke out about cacao and his experiences with it. Kevin is well known in the raw food community, so his words came as a shock to many people. He explained in his video (below) that he developed a rash on his stomach. After much investigating and diet changes, he came to the conclusion that cacao was causing the rash (eliminating the cacao caused his skin to clear). He also stated that cacao had been stripping his body of vital minerals. Kevin pointed out that he was simply sharing his own experience with cacao, possibly shedding some light on a subject that may need to be further investigated. He advised others to take a look at their own reactions to the food, to see if they are experiencing any problems.

Jim here... Just wanted to say quickly that I'm heading off to the Raw Spirit Festival (RSF) today! I'll be carpooling (or, vanpooling) with our friends Melissa and Dave Sokulski, their daughter Ella, and our friend Bethany. We're all volunteering at RSF, which should not only be a lot of fun, but should also be a great way to get to know many other fellow raw foodies.

So, we'll be arriving Friday to help set up, enjoying the festival over the weekend, and staying Monday to help them "break it down." Since we need to leave Monday, we'll likely miss a fun-sounding party at Rawbin's place Monday night. But, I'm sure it'll be a blast overall, and it'll also be fun to camp out again, as I haven't done that in a while. I especially hope I'm also able to light something on fire, as I always love the fire aspect of camping most. Maybe I'll run into some of those raw foodies who spin fire-poi and can learn a new skill!

To help keep all of you inspired, we ve asked some

remarkable individuals to share their raw food stories with you. Enjoy!

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.

I hear the question all the time: "Don't you miss eating out at restaurants " My answer is always, "No. I prefer the fresher organic foods I can create for myself in my own home. I can pay the same amount for better food if I stay at home to eat." It's true, too. I don't miss eating out at restaurants. Sometimes I miss the convenience of someone else doing my food prep and cleaning up afterward, but as far as the actual food that I consume, I prefer the foods we eat at home. Besides, when you eat out as a raw foodist, your choices are limited to only a salad if you live in an area with no raw food restaurants.

Sometime last year, as a treat for Jim, we went to a restaurant. I got a huge salad that I used to love when I ate cooked foods at that particular restaurant. I remembered the greens were always dark, the onions were nice and flavorful, and the dressing was a simple oil and vinegar with salt. Well, after consuming only fresh foods in our home for quite some time, the salad that I used to think tasted so great now seemed to be lifeless and limp. It wasn't enjoyable to eat, and I sure didn't like paying so much for a nonorganic salad that didn't even taste good to me. So, we didn't eat out again after that.

Just a few brief thoughts for you this Weird Wednesday...

Of all the species on this Earth, it's weird that no other animals besides people cook their food. Similarly, of all the species on this Earth, it's weird that no other animals besides people drink the milk of other animals.

You know that old saying about a picture being worth a thousand words? Well, today we want to add a thousand words to your daily informational intake.

Take the time to meet

Jim here... About an hour ago, I purchased $68 worth of ice cream from a local supermarket. Bet you thought you'd never read something like that here, eh ? Well, don't worry -- Wendi and I haven't suddenly decided to binge on dairy products. You see, in my corporate job, I'm often the event organizer; today that meant ice cream gopher.

For some raw foodies, that scenario might seem rather cruel. You may be thinking: Isn't it tough to have to go purchase nine tubs of ice cream, two jars of maraschino cherries, two bags of marshmallows, four containers of flavored syrups, two cans of whipped cream, and numerous boxes of waffle cones ? No, it's not cruel at all. To me, it's now the same as running out for, say, office supplies.

All this month, Jim has been experimenting with a low-fat, raw vegan diet. He discusses his reasons for trying a low fat diet, and how he s been feeling with the changes, in his first and second posts so far this month.

Many of you have heard us mention the famous low-fat, raw vegan 80/10/10 diet here on our blog. Well, today I d like to highlight the individual behind that diet. So?

Sometimes you meet someone and you just know they have tapped into something special, something most of us search for but never quite find. That was the case when I met this lovely woman I'd like the rest of you to meet. There's a centered peace about her, down deep in her core, and yet she's overflowing with an energy that I've never seen matched by anyone else. She's delightfully insightful, intelligent, and playful all at the same time. ?

Take the Time to Meet

To help keep all of you inspired, we ve asked some

remarkable individuals to share their raw food stories with you. Enjoy!