The Environmental Working Group publishes something really useful called the Shoppers Guide to Pesticides. In it, they offer two handy lists: (1) The Dirty Dozen -- conventionally grown produce items that contain the most residual pesticides, and (2) The Clean 15 -- conventionally grown produce items that contain the least residual pesticides.

While we believe that organic is always best, there nonetheless are times when most of us (for whatever reason) consider purchasing or consuming conventionally grown (meaning "sprayed with pesticides") produce.

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!

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!?

... just a quick interruption of "Crazy Week" to do two things:

1. Congratulate Natural Zing on their 8th year in business!

Tomorrow I'll finally be posting about the 3-Day Raw Food Spiritual Ashram Retreat that I organized. I took a few days to myself after the event, and then I needed to catch up on a lot of things (which included formatting an almost 150-page publication). It's hard to believe that two weeks have passed, already, since the retreat ended.

I have a lot of photos from the event! Some of the guests prefer to remain anonymous, however, so I can't share all of them with you. However, there are a lot that I can still post on a public page for you to view! I'm waiting to receive some more images from the ashram's camera. Once I have them, I'll be able to complete the photos pages and share images from that wonderful weekend.

BIG THANKS to one of the guests, Angel, who happily took my camera and captured images that weekend. I am extremely grateful that she did, and I'm also impressed with her creative gift with photography! The image she captured of another guest, Faye, is absolutely beautiful! I'm looking forward to sharing the pics with all of you!

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.

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As we have mentioned here and there, our home (affectionately called "The Luck House") is currently for sale. Once it sells, we will be hitting the road full-time, educating people all across the country about the benefits of the raw foods lifestyle. Until then, we're spending a good amount of time going through the motions of selling the place. It's a wonderful home!!!?

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 *

Today I answer the second part of a letter Jim received from a Pure Jeevan member who was seeking advice about her daughter who has decided to become a vegetarian. Rather than quote parts of her letter, I'll summarize the questions (because they are general questions that we hear a lot and our answers are given for everyone, not just the individual who sent the most recent letter).

1) I don't have a lot of money for all the produce and kitchen appliances, so how can I eat a healthy diet

2) I live with others who don't eat the same diet, so how can I possibly make this work

Rita Romano, author of the widely available book Dining in the Raw and executive chef for many years at the Hippocrates Health Institute, is a true pioneer of the raw movement. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to visit with her and her two lovely Boston Terriers, Angel and Oreo. Here's PART TWO of our talk with her: