Within the raw food community, a controversy seems to have been brewing for the better part of a year! The topic: Agave nectar (also called agave syrup). Surely by now most people know what agave nectar is. For anyone who doesn't, it's a thick liquid sweetener made from, you guessed it, the agave plant.

In general, the production of tasty agave nectar involves heating the plant to a certain temperature (which varies widely according to which manufacturer is making it and which species of agave is used). The extent of this heating constitutes a significant part of the controversy (as most raw foodists believe that heating any food over a certain temperature, usually somewhere between 105 and 118 degrees fahrenheit, renders it "dead").

Day 6: Today is the final day of placing extra focus on the feminine qualities attributed to Goddess Lakshmi. For me, going within, shining light on the things that aren't so clear, the things that I've been avoiding, or the things that have been completely invisible is something I've revisited off and on my entire life. It's something that I often recommend to friends and family, as well. It's what has allowed me to continually improve my life (both physically, emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually), and something I'll always consider vital.

The more we search within for answers, the more we'll learn about our true selves. The more we understand ourselves, the more authentic we become in our interactions with others. The more authentic we are with others, the more others can feel comfortable around us. The more others become comfortable around us, the more they can experience their own authentic selves. And the more others experience their true selves, the more we all wake up and truly begin living a life of beauty, grace, vibrancy, and love.

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.

I'd like to talk with you about diet and experimenting. I've been learning about natural healing and foods/health since I was a very young woman. Somewhere along the line I knew that what I was eating was either making me feel better, or worse, and that food was related to health (it was more than just to fuel the body). It was with this knowledge that I stepped into the realm of natural healing and stumbled around for most of my life.I've learned about vegetarianism, herbs, the negative effects of dairy on the body, veganism, essential oils, Ayurveda, harmful chemicals in and around our foods, and so very much more. I don't claim to be an expert on any of these topics, they are just part of my overall bank of knowledge and experiences from which I pull to live as healthy as possible.

Just a quick notice that we've posted our December 2009 newsletter. Each month, we email a link to our newsletter to all Pure Jeevan family members. (If you're not receiving that, you're mising out on a ton of awesome raw inspiration and information. You can click here to sign up -- it's free!)

We'll be back tomorrow to continue our coverage of the Chicago raw food scene. As I've been saying for a few days now, you won't want to miss these great interviews!?

Some of you who are new to raw foods may be happy to learn that there are festivals for individuals interested in the raw foods lifestyle! They are a fantastic opportunity to meet like-minded friends. For those of you who attended the Raw Spirit Festival in 2008, seeing images from that event may stir the magical memories you collected while there.

Below is part one of a two-part guest piece by Rawbin Anderson, in which she recounts her 2008 Raw Spirit Festival J.O.B. experiences of working in the kitchen. Rawbin is now the Raw Spirit Festival East Coast Manager and can be reached at Rawbin [at] rawspirit.com.

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A while ago, I received an email asking whether I had any thoughts on how old or young a person needs to be in order to benefit from a raw food diet. Yes. Yes, I do have thoughts on that! Lots of thoughts! ... Here goes:

The easy answer, of course, is that people of ALL ages can (and should) benefit from raw foods. I can assert with confidence that, for most people, increasing your intake of raw fruits and vegetables will likely bring about positive changes to your health, regardless of your age, dietary habits, or current state of health. (Naturally, reducing or eliminating the "bad" things is also paramount.)

Something has come up and it may put some of our projects on hold for about six months, or so! What could come up to make us give up our goals/plans for 2009? Umm...how about being awarded The Best Job In The World, the Island Reef Job! Australia is doing some major tourism marketing for their lovely Paradise Island. For six months an individual will live in a 3-bedroom home, comb the beach, blog about the experience, do some video blogging, respond to interviewers, feed fish, and just basically live a life in Paradise!!

To live this dream life, you'll be awarded $105,000 USD and be flown to the island!

I love this video, in which Wendi interviews our new Portland-based realtor, Bill Futrell. It's a nice interview, but I love the way Wendi's enthusiasm for raw foods rubbed off on Bill almost immediately. There's even a moment in here in which Bill starts talking about Natural Zing. We thought for sure everyone would think we put him up to that, but he did it absolutely spontaneously! So, thanks Bill for helping to support our Snack Sponsor. Anyway, here's what he had to say about Portland, about where we'll fit in, and about his first exposure to raw foods:

One thing I can tell you for sure: Portland is WAY more expensive than Pittsburgh. A year ago, I invested a ton of time reading about low-cost cob houses, straw-bale construction, Earth-ship homes, homes fashioned from "obtanium," thatch roofs, off-the-grid systems, igloos, you name it -- anything DIY-oriented. (Okay, well not igloos; that was a joke. Even though igloos are probably pretty neat-o.) I'm sure we'll get to many of those types of projects one day still. But for now, as you can see, we're going to put down roots in a really great city out West. We're doing it with intention, though, and in harmony with our mission to help ourselves and others obtain the highest levels of health and happiness.

We're super excited to devote the rest to the week to featuring a variety of answers to the question "Are Raw Foodists Crazy " If you're just now tuning in, please read the back story and introduction to this, as posted yesterday. ?But, for now, let's get on with posting a few responses. We have at least 10 different ones to share this week, from a number of friends of Pure Jeevan. Some are short, humorous quips, others longer essays. Enjoy!! :-)

Today, we'd like to take the time to introduce some raw athletes who continually inspire others. There is a huge misunderstanding about the need for protein in our bodies, especially within the world of competetive sports. Many believe that without large amounts of protein we can't be strong, we can't build muscle. Raw athletes are proving that a vegan diet not only supplies enough energy to sustain the human body during competition, it also allows them to many times outperform competitors who are half their age.

Who Would Win