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Where did my watermelon go?
by Gosia
(summer 2007)

It was here, right in front of me, I have only just cut it and put in the bowl, all ready to eat. Wasn't Julia in the kitchen a moment ago? Aaaah, there it is! Julia must have grabbed it when I turned my head away. She is sitting in the lounge room, eating it away. So I go there too, sit next to her, and we share. Smiling, I recall how when she was just a little bit younger, not so long ago (she is 6 now), whenever I was eating something she liked, she would ask very kindly “Can I share with you?” How could I ever refuse such a sweet offer ha ha!

Several days ago I spotted Odys having a mango “bonanza” (eating lots of mangoes in one sitting) in the kitchen. I asked him what happened. "I thought that apple was your favorite fruit???". (Odys loves apples and has been eating lots of them for months and months. I have been wondering whether this pattern would ever change. Odys was diagnosed with high functioning Asperger's syndrome 7 years ago, at the age of 8.) He said, “No, mangoes are my favorite fruit now”. Two days ago, I saw him having a nectarines meal by the kitchen window. And yesterday, he was immensely enjoying white peaches from the basket. "Where are the peaches?" Luke (my husband) exclaimed with disbelief and a hint of despair in his voice. He was hoping to have some too. Oh well, we will get some more today. Earlier this morning my kids demanded a banana smoothie, as they do nearly every morning. “With blueberries and raspberries!” this time.

They both got hooked on durian. We've been buying durian for some time after a friend told us about a Chinese shop selling it in our town. Julia and Odys tried some. Then, a few days ago a breakthrough. They both become true competitors for durian in our family. We need to buy more! Julia opened one with her own hands. She was so proud and happy. “Mum, mum, look at me!” We all praised her for being so good at it. The following day she was asking for durian when she got hungry in the afternoon. Unfortunately, there was none ready to eat. Tomorrow we are going to a raw food party in the Botanical Gardens and we will eat some durians again. We will take three big durians with us. And a pomegranate, which I am curious to open. Is it ripe? I may have had some when I was a little girl, Luke does not remember having any ever. The durians are basking in the sun in our backyard, thawing for tomorrow. We all look forward to the party, meeting our friends and having fun, like we did last time.

Going shopping. I am packing a bowl of watermelon and a green bag of apples and bananas for the trip. Luke takes a jag of a banana smoothie. On the way to the city Julia announces “I am hungry!”. “What do you want? I've got some watermelon” I say in a promising tone. “Yeah, yeah, watermelon, watermelon!” she exclaims jumping up in her seat with each word. I decide to enjoy the white peaches, my recent favorite, so sweet and juicy. Luke reaches for his smoothie jag.  In the supermarket I buy three bags of peaches. Luke announces: “One is mine”. He is going to keep it away from Odys. The shop assistant asks “What do you do with all these peaches?”. I respond “We eat them!”. “???” he gazes. “We had one bag yesterday and it is already gone” I explain. “As big as this???” he wonders. “Yes! There are four of us” I add. Later, after spending quite some time in the fabrics shop, buying the sheets and fabric for the curtains, Julia and I decide that we are both hungry and so we go to the car. Julia wants watermelon again. I settle for bananas. “May I have a banana?” Julia changes her mind. She eats a few. On the way home, we drop at the local market and I get 10 large mangoes and a 13-kg box of bananas. Home, at last.

I am checking the greens. I think they need some watering. Perhaps I will do it this evening. Greens stay on my mind. I can't resist them suddenly. I cut the market-bought lettuce and put it into a large bowl, then take the bowl and scissors, and cut lots and lots of various baby greens growing in our backyard, in the pots and the raised-bed garden. I then separate the greens into three bowls, squeeze the juice of two oranges in, add a tablespoon of tahini per bowl and voile. A simple salad is ready! Who wants it? Odys, Luke and I.  We each get a large bowlful. Julia is not too keen on it, she eats her watermelon instead. She had some greens yesterday. Last night I walked in Julia's room with an avocado-lettuce wrap in my hand. Julia said with disappointment "Oooghm, I want one too-oo...". So I handed it to her and made some more for her and myself.

This evening, Julia, Odys and I sit in the lounge room and munch on peaches. Julia has a banana after that as well. Luke is at work. He took a cardboard box full of various kinds of fruit with him. I tend to do the same when I go to work, and take fruit in a large green bag. I put fruit in baskets around my office and eat when hungry. Fruit is pretty much my favorite food. I have some nuts occasionally, but usually I am not very keen on them. I make some raw recipes for the children sometimes. Their  most recent favorite is cinnamon rolls. They like sushi too. But now, when so many yummy fruit are available, our preference is fresh fruit, as is. My recent gourmet recipe is a fruit salad made of papaya, mangoes, bananas and cherries. Does it not sound gourmet enough ha ha? Well, to me, it does. I love it sometimes, but I really prefer my fruit mono, it feels so much easier on the tummy.

Luke noticed today that the plums on our plum tree at the back of the backyard are ripening. Tomorrow I will check them out, I look forward to that. Last year plums were really nice. Small but nice. This year so far I enjoyed the raspberries and the apricots from our garden. The apricots were especially yummy. So juicy, soft, sweet and full of a delicious taste, like no apricots I ever bought anywhere. Luke built a large net around the apricot tree and the raspberries. Without it, the birds would get them, no doubt. The other trees  and bushes that we planted around our home are still too young to bear fruit. There are oranges, mandarins, black currants and gooseberries growing in the front yard.  In the backyard, there is the apricot tree, walnut, nectarine, peach, fig, persimmon, grapes, raspberries, and cherry, apple, plum and a pear by the creek. We are planning to plant more. I would like more apples and cherries, local fruit, which will grow well here, although another persimmon sounds very irresistible too. We prefer tree-ripened, organic, homegrown fruit, which taste so much better (and costs so much less) than the bought produce. This is why when we bought our house last year, the size of the land was an important deciding factor, and 1200 m2 seemed large enough. More recently I also discovered that homegrown tender baby greens taste so much better than the supermarket packaged ones, which could not tempt me much. I am now determined to have a never-ending supply of them, just in case anyone feels like having any. I am not an experienced gardener at all, but this will not stop me!

Smart people break the norm, and not just copy what all others do. About 20 years ago, in my early 20s, after a self-imposed study of micro-nutrients, their daily requirements and availability, I made an intellectual connection that there must exist a natural diet for humans, other than the existing standard diet, that would meet all the nutritional needs. “What is this diet?” I asked. Macrobiotic diet that I tried for some years did not click with me. An experiment of mine, eating salads only for several weeks was a nice experience, but my intellect rejected it as a temporary cleansing diet, not a way of life. Similarly, despite having numerous spontaneous experiences of eating fruit mostly for prolonged periods of time, I never thought of it as anything more than temporary. Vegetarianism, that I progressed to spontaneously, felt better than the omnivorous diet, but did not spare me from various health problems that I suffered. Veganism sounded weird to me, even though I did not like eating dairy or eggs anymore, as I progressed in my vegetarian adventure. Anyway, after my second pregnancy, at the age of 40, I felt that my body was on the way to decline. I deeply resented that feeling and was refusing to give in. I realized that my previously adopted lifestyle patterns were failing me. In July 2003 I decided to have an experiment and try how it really is to be on this freaky raw food diet. Within a couple of weeks I observed so many positive changes in my body that I knew I would continue the experiment. Within a couple of months Luke joined me in the journey. Within a couple of years our children's eating patterns changed dramatically (It all started with them discovering that banana smoothie was a far better breakfast deal than cornflakes). Luke stopped buying hay fever medications and his weight dropped by about 18 kg. My gum problems went away as did my frequent yeast infections and joint pains. Odys's terribly stinky breath became nice and he gained some color in his skin. Debilitating colds and flues became the history for all of us. The little experiment turned into a grand change of lifestyle. How wonderful!

Take away experience from learning and you will end up with a void. I like to think critically and not just reproduce the existing ideas. I like to experiment, observe and analyze the outcomes of experiments. I would say that my analytical mind is not the result of being a scientist, but rather, I became one because of my analytical mind. In high school, I think I was quite hopeless in history, as memorizing facts was hard for me. However, understanding relationships between mathematical objects was easy and enjoyable. I could then reproduce any mathematical facts I needed without the need to memorize all the formulas. I entered my raw food experiment with an attitude of a learner, with a preference to learn from observations rather than by memorizing facts. I like to understand the relationships. To me, facts are merely the outcomes of these relationships, and I prefer to understand the core of the idea rather than memorize the outcomes. Anyone entering the raw food diet quickly realizes that there are myriads of various way of doing it. Raw food ideology is not a congruent set of ideas, but rather a collection of many different and sometimes even contradicting approaches. In my view, this is the result of many various people having different ways of approaching the diet due to their different sets of preconceived ideas and a different understanding of how to learn. It became evident to me that the only way to verify which raw food diet is the best, is to observe which raw foods my body feels most comfortable with. This task became easier and easier as I progressed, as the signals that my body was sending were harder and harder for me to ignore. I discovered sensitivity in me that I had never experienced before. My body, after so many years of struggle, was finally getting the nutrition it craved, and my intellect was learning to hear it.

I cherish every single ‘mistake’ that I make, because I learn from them. What some raw foodists call regrettable cooked food relapses, I like to call enlightening experiences. Insensitivity to toxins in cooked is just another name for obliviousness, for there is no such thing like a cause with no effect. There is no better way to find out how toxic cooked food really is than to ingest it after having been on a fresh food diet for a while. Consequently, transitioning to a progressively simpler, higher-in-raw and richer-in-fruit diet becomes an inevitable process of gradual improvements, as the body becomes healthier and the mind more capable of understanding of what it is that body wants. Since it was impossible for me to ignore the body’s signals such as sleeplessness followed by tiredness after having coffee, chocolate, spices, I gradually learned that those substances are not really food in the true meaning of the term. Stimulants, irritants yes, they are, but not the food. After my many various experiences, I say that the worst, the most sickening effect of having eaten cooked has to be feeling dehydrated. Conversely, the most powerful, the most beneficial outcome of my transition to raw has to be my properly hydrated body. I never understood what being hydrated meant, despite me sipping countless volumes of water from my bottle that I used to carry around and refill frequently, until I experienced the feeling of being hydrated by fruit-plentiful raw diet. These days I feel nutritionally deficient if I eat cooked food, and nutritionally deprived if I don’t get enough fresh, ripe, sweet, juicy fruit.

What about fanaticism? Well, the transition to raw foods has indeed required a certain level of obsession, initially. Since then, I have moved on. I eat to live, not the other way around, and so I have given myself freedom to eat whatever I want. I do not even like classifying myself as a follower of any particular diet anymore. It just happens that I love eating certain foods, so I eat them. I choose to discover my instincts rather than restrain them. Sure, I do have times when I experiment with other foods. Sure, my kids like experimenting too. I am acutely aware of the fact that ultimately their lifestyle will be their own decision. I respect their freedom to choose to live the way they want. I also appreciate the value of them learning from their personal experiences, the value of them discovering their own instincts rather than following anyone’s preaching. Of course, what’s on the kitchen bench-tops, or in our fridge, does affect what they eat, but it is them who determine what to eat when hungry, out of the range of healthy foods available. It is them also who request particular raw gourmet recipes, which I make for them. In my family, there is not so much focus on planning what to eat, but rather, focus on providing a good range of yummy foods, and then letting everyone choose whatever they want. As far as myself, I have no idea where I will be in a year or a few years from now. I have no idea whether I will still be eating the way I am eating now. Based on what I observed thus far, I can only guess that things will continue to improve, gradually. I live in the moment. And, when I am hungry, I reach for what I love most. This is my ideology of eating ha ha!

In my view, satisfying one’s body needs can be as effortless as following one’s natural instincts. In humans, this effortless and spontaneous process has been corrupted by unnatural practices that have more to do with our habits than biology. For me, overcoming these habits involves intense listening to my body signals. I learn by observing my body and responding to its needs. I also learn by ignoring my body signals and then experiencing the results of my actions. I learn by tasting, chewing, digesting and feeling. Living in denial is not an option for me anymore. It once was, when I was oblivious, but from the moment I realized that my body is very vocal in expressing its preferences, it is not anymore. Is it a blessing or a curse? Ha ha ha! I comfort my troubled mind with the undeniable fact that I truly love the foods that my body wants me to eat. Give me the option of dining in the most expensive, most gourmet restaurant in the world, or a meal of sweet, ripe mangoes, and I choose the mangoes. Of course! I can’t help feeling the way I do. I prefer to enjoy my life rather than not, and so I chose eating foods that I love, naturally.

I have a deep belief in science. I believe that hard-core scientists inevitably cause the breakdown of the beliefs held by the majority of scholars. And the process does not end there! To me, the difference between a scholar and a scientist is in that the scholar accepts what he/she reads as the ultimate truth, while the scientist sees it as an incomplete, or possibly even distorted image of the truth. The scholar blindly trusts references, while the scientist questions them. The scholar reads in order to learn, while the scientist discovers in order to learn. The scholar follows the old pattern, while the scientist breaks the norm. The scholar treats the human mind as the guru, while the scientist overcomes its limitations. The scholar calls himself/herself an expert, while the scientist is acutely aware of how much is out there to learn and un-learn. The scholar struggles to accept the change, while the scientist invites it. A struggle is born when we try to be what we think we ought to be rather than allow ourselves to discover what we are already. Effortlessly.

“Anthropoids, including all great apes, take most of their diet from plants, and there is general consensus that humans come from a strongly herbivorous ancestry” [7]. Bonobos, “humans’ closest relatives in the animal kingdom” [10], “eat mainly ripe fruit, supplemented with herbaceous terrestrial plants” [11]. “Humans and apes are remarkably similar biologically. In the wild, apes and monkeys consume diets composed largely of plant foods, primarily the fruits and leaves of tropical forest trees and vines. Considerable evidence indicates that the ancestral line giving rise to humans (Homo spp.) was likewise strongly herbivorous (plant-eating)” [6]. In fact, “Humans are ancestrally derived from frugivorous primates” [3]. “Study of the diet of frugivorous human ancestors is accordingly of relevance to understanding the nutritional requirements of modern humans” [8]. A frugivorous dietary heritage of humans is frequently posited [1][2][3][4]. The molar morphology of the earliest hominins implies “a fairly frugivorous diet” [5]. “Comparative data suggests that human nutrient requirements and most features of human digestive morphology and physiology are conservative in nature and probably were little affected by the hunter-gatherer phase of human existence” [6]. “We were not biologically selected by the evolution process to eat the way we do today” [9]. “The widespread prevalence of diet-related health problems, particularly in highly industrialized nations, suggests that many humans are not eating in a manner compatible with their biology.” Consumption of “more fresh fruits and vegetables in greater variety” is recommended [7].

[1] “Fruits, fingers, and fermentation: The sensory cues available to foraging primates”, Dominy NJ, Integrative and Comparative Biol, 44 (4): 295-303, 2004.
[2] “Ferment in the family tree: Does a frugivorous dietary heritage influence contemporary patterns of human ethanol use?”, Milton K, Integrative and Comparative Biol, 44 (4): 304-314, 2004.
[3] “Ethanol, fruit ripening, and the historical origins of human alcoholism in primate frugivory”, Dadley R, Integrative and Comparative Biol, 44 (4): 315-323, 2004.
[4] “Evolutionary origins of human alcoholism in primate frugivory”, Dadley R, Q Rev Biol, 75(1):3-15, 2000.
[5] “Origin of Human Bipedalism: The Knuckle-Walking Hypothesis Revisited”, Richmond BG, Begun DR, Strait DS; Yearbook of Physical Anthropology, 44:70-105, 2001.
[6] “Back to basics: why foods of wild primates have relevance for modern human health”, Milton K, Nutrition, 16(7):480-483, 2000.
[7] “Nutritional characteristics of wild primate foods: do the diets of our closest living relatives have lessons for us?”, Milton K, Nutrition, 15(6):488-498, 1999.
[8] “The Comparative Biology of Ethanol Consumption: An Introduction to the Symposium”, Dudley R, Dickinson M, Integrative and Comparative Biology, 44(4):267-268, 2004.
[9] “Similarities of prostate and breast cancer: Evolution, diet, and estrogens”, Coffey DS, Urology, 57(4 Suppl 1):31-8, 2001.
[10] “Divergence of T2R chemosensory receptor families in humans, bonobos, and chimpanzees”, Parry CM, Erkner A, le Coutre J, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 101 (41): 14830-14834 OCT 12 2004.
[11] “The social behavior of chimpanzees and bonobos - empirical evidence and shifting assumptions”, Stanford CB, Current Anthropology, 39 (4): 399-420 AUG-OCT 1998.

We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today.
(Stacia Tauscher)

You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance.
(Franklin P. Jones)

A three year old child is a being who gets almost as much fun out of a fifty-six dollar set of swings as it does out of finding a small green worm.
(Bill Vaughan)

Kids: they dance before they learn there is anything that isn't music.
(William Stafford)

Children are one third of our population and all of our future.
(Select Panel for the Promotion of Child Health, 1981)

Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man.
(Rabindranath Tagore)

In the United States today, there is a pervasive tendency to treat children as adults, and adults as children. The options of children are thus steadily expanded, while those of adults are progressively constricted. The result is unruly children and childish adults.
(Thomas Szasz)

Children are unpredictable. You never know what inconsistency they're going to catch you in next.
(Franklin P. Jones)

Children seldom misquote. In fact, they usually repeat word for word what you shouldn't have said.

Children find everything in nothing; men find nothing in everything.
(Giacomo Leopardi, Zibaldone Scelto)

Women gather together to wear silly hats, eat dainty food, and forget how unresponsive their husbands are. Men gather to talk sports, eat heavy food, and forget how demanding their wives are. Only where children gather is there any real chance of fun.
(Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960)

Anyone who thinks the art of conversation is dead ought to tell a child to go to bed.
(Robert Gallagher)

There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child. There are seven million.
(Walt Streighttiff)

A child can ask questions that a wise man cannot answer.
Copyright © Dr Gosia O'Reilly. All Rights Reserved.
Acknowledgements: Maura (logo).
Quotes on raw foods by fellow raw foodists.
Other quotes from The Quote Garden.
Photos: Free Stock Photos