I was strolling through Kroger’s several days ago and noticed that it’s organic, vegan, non-gmo section has grown to about 25% of the store and that made me happy (and sad). I’ll explain that in a moment. As I’ve mentioned numerous times, my beloved wife Lee has been a positive influence on me in that I am on a vegan diet and a great deal of it is raw. The way I feel now, compared to the way I felt prior to two heart attacks is day and night.
So how could I have feelings of sadness that veganism and organics have become so mainstream. It goes way back to my twenties when I discovered herbs. No, not the kind they are legalizing in Washington and Colorado (though, yes I discovered those too and I did inhale and I’m not apologetic about it), but a woman I knew, a minister’s wife, had terminal cancer and the medical community sent her home to die. She’d come from an old country town where folklore medicine was still popular. She started taking chaparral tea by the box load. Within a year the doctors declared her cancer-free.
And though the story is only testimonial and there is no science behind it, it had a great impact. She outlived most of her doctors. There was no Internet. It was in the mid-1970s and I was selling real estate for my family business which I found extremely boring and unimportant. There were plenty of Realtors in the world who loved it. Why did that industry need me? So I walked away and opened a health food store after spending months in the library studying herbs, vitamins etc.
Even though nearly everything I learned was incorrect, and I even got “educated” with more information by vitamin and herb salespersons after I opened my shop, there was a great placebo effect, and it did motivate me to eat better, healthier foods.
And even though I was running marathons, taking karate and moving up the ranks and improving my lifestyle, there was still a price to pay for owning such a business in a narrow-minded thinking town in 1978. Isolation, misunderstanding (or being misunderstood) lies, rumor, innuendo, casted aspersions and you name it.
“Why won’t Rick come to dinner anymore? Is he that conceited? Is he okay? He’s gotten into all that weird witchcraft herbal stuff”. That was the public sentiment.
Still, I carried on for three years until I just couldn’t afford to keep the doors open any longer. The store (The Sesame Seed) was directly across the street from the local university and 90% of my business came from the school. It was not enough. It broke my heart to close it. It became a part of whom I was.
Time went by. I ended up living in Miami, NYC, and Washington, D.C. And though I visited health food stores and bought vitamins and herbs and such, I noticed others (and myself) not getting healthier, but not getting sicker. We were living, but we weren’t thriving. However, our peers, for the most part were getting sicker, and some sadly were dying. I worked in major media and the stress was usually a boiler pot. More often than not most grabbed a hot dog from a street vendor and came back into the studio or ran over to Congress or whatever to gather the “B-Roll” for the satellite feed going to a Senator or Congressperson’s local news station.
Fast forward 15 years. I had lived in L.A. and studied screenwriting, and my mom became ill and I returned to my home of Hattiesburg, Ms. After she died, I settled in my favorite small town paradise, Hot Springs, Ar.
This is where my soon-to-be wife Lee Hiller-London eventually moved from Oregon, and she was already on her way to an exercise (hiking) and better foods program. After moving here she soon became a vegetarian. I followed her footsteps within a year, and then she became a vegan. She got to the point where she could hike 3-4 mountains at a time and barely breathe hard. She was getting in shape so fast I couldn’t help but be curious. But could I eat organic vegan food? Could I make the goal of it being “mostly raw foods? I made that my goal too.
Within a year after Lee did so, so did I. Suddenly I went from staying home most the time except to go to the grocery or M.D. to hiking 2-3 times a week anywhere from 2-5 miles each times. Our mountains are steep, so it is not anything like walking 2-5 miles. It is a real aerobic working similar to long-distance running.
I also learned (doing my own research on the Internet) that vitamin pills are useless. They are heated and that renders anything that was once valuable for the body useless. I discovered a brand that was “flash-glanced”, which is very close to raw and retains a good bit of the live enzymes etc. But even those were not perfect. Lee discovered a brand called “Vitamin Code” that are totally raw and totally organic and 99.9% vegan (it has sheep lanolin for the vitamin D but they do not kill or injure the sheep to obtain it). So I order “Wiser Men’s 50+ Vitamin Code” on Amazon each month.
I also learned that herbal capsules or pills are also useless. Most have zero medicinal properties and those that do are so minimal one might as well not take them. Organic (and hopefully wild crafted) herbal tinctures are the key. And no herb works very well without taking it with extremely hot cayenne tincture.
The heat in cayenne tincture is measured in scoville units. The hottest organic cayenne tincture I’ve found is 100,000 H.U. (heat units). I have purchased 200,000 h.u. but it is not organic. I mix the organic cayenne tincture in with about 12 other organic herbs including one herb that is not organic, but it really doesn’t need to be as it grows on trees in the Peruvian rainforest. It is called Samento which is a form of cat’s claw, but it is toa-free cat’s claw. It is by far the most potent immune system herb on the planet leaving others like ginseng, Echinacea etc. in the dust. Herbalist consider cayenne tincture “the taxi herb” because it “knows” where the diseased or inflamed spot is, and carries other medicinal herbs in the mix to it to “do their magic”. Cayenne tincture has “magic properties” of its own, including preventing heart attacks and strokes, and reduce inflammation, blood pressure, etc.
But let me explain the sad feeling. Part of it was being ostracized by the medical community (mostly) back in the 70s. Later I found myself in circles that didn’t have any interest, so I received zero support in trying to watch my health. I worked on a time watch and deadlines were daily. Fast foods were tailor-made for people with my lifestyle. These days, I’m older and hopefully wiser and probably could have pulled it off (even in the fast-paced world of world market media).
The other day I read a story about Thomas Jefferson who was very much against slavery and wrote many papers on it (while he was a slaveholder) and obviously even more than that with one of his slaves.
As much as I admired, and still admire Jefferson, I wondered how he could ever have done something that cruel and hypocritical such as holding a slave. I decided to research. All the papers in the world that he wrote against slavery did not make any changes in anyone’s minds.
He tried for years. One can only surmise that he finally came to the conclusion that “If you can’t beat them join them”.
Though his dilemma was much larger and more famous than my lifestyle issues could ever be, they surely felt similar. I had tried and finally given up. His challenge of abolition of slavery was much larger than my challenge of abolition of putting bad things in my mouth. I’d lived other people’s lifestyles around me, letting them be the arbitrator of how I lived, instead of being a good leader and at least giving it a harder try to reverse the negative habits in my friends (and me).
Easier said than done.
However, if one is alone, or even better has a good friend and/or life mate (and in my case both; my wife Lee) who agrees wholeheartedly with nature, fresh air, vegan foods, organic herbs etc. etc. it makes it so easy. And there’s no reason to give up, especially watching both of us get healthier and feeling healthier.
It takes what it takes.
Rick London is a writer, songwriter, cartoonist and gift designer. He founded Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts in 1997 which have been #1 Google ranked since 2005 and Bing’s #1 ranked since 2008. Follow Rick on Twitter @RickLondon or his cartoons @LTCartoons. He is married to popular nature and wildlife photographer and blogger Lee Hiller who has HikeOurPlanet.com. You can follow Lee @LeeHillerLondon. Together they enjoy nature and hike often at their home in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas.