“OPINION” My journey into raw food (Part one – An Amazonian adventure)

The world of diet is an enormous world to explore and to say one diet works for all is the equivalent of saying there is only one planet in the solar system. After five years of being a raw foodist, I have had the opportunity to explore a broad spectrum of people and their diets. Starting my raw diet at 19 has given me the opportunity to meet and befriend some of the biggest raw diet guru’s in the world. As a naturopathic nutritionist, herbalist and having a background in science and anatomy, I am interested in the body, learning how it works and discovering what type of diet will make us thrive and live long healthy lives.

Obviously, the raw food diet has the key core ingredients for the human body by nature to thrive, as it is pure and 100% natural. I have observed that in the general raw food community, wild foods are rarely a major part of the diet. 100% raw food is an amazing concept, but what are we missing here? Surely if the raw food diet is normal and natural, we should eat 100% wild food. Our ancestors were possibly wild foodists and this is evident anthropologically — we were once tree-dwelling wild food eating frugivores. Having had the privilege of visiting the Amazon, I observed the diets of the indigenous people there and found that raw food was quite scarce. Not only did they cook the plants they were eating but they also ate quite a lot of meat. Wild plants contain alkaloids and many Amazonian wild plants are poisonous so to remove the poisons, it is necessary to cook those plants to make them edible.

The majority of plants in the Amazon jungle seem present only to serve as medicine. Roots like yucca are a staple food for the tribe with whom I was staying and instead of eating it raw, they chewed it, mixed it with their saliva, fermented it, then ate it like porridge. Sometimes they would ferment it for longer and make an alcoholic drink. The indigenous people that I stayed with were very powerful, slim, strong-minded people and extremely spiritual. The moment I arrived at my destination, my entire ego completely evaporated, by just being in the presence of these people. After sitting down with the tribe and my guide to eat in the late evening, I quickly realised the main staple in the diet of the tribe seemed to be that of animal flesh.

Coming from a raw vegan community, with the idea that the raw food diet is the perfect diet for humans and that we do not have to eat meat, you can imagine the culture shock I experienced, not to mention the life-changing experience of the ceremony.

After observing the tribe, I started asking questions such as “where’s the salad?” and then “why are they eating meat?” The latter had me thinking about karma. Since beginning the raw food diet, I have never eaten any meat as I cannot personally hold that type of karma spiritually. Nevertheless, after observing the tribe I understand they eat meat for calorific and dense nutritional value. In the jungle, foods such as nuts are scarce and the main nut available is the Brazil nut, a good source of fat. However not only are Brazil nut trees hard to find but the nuts drop to the floor at such a speed that it can actually kill a man. In addition, monkeys have usually eaten the nuts before the tribe can find them! This is a lot of effort and risk for a small amount of calories.

Fruit trees are bountiful in the Amazon and come in many forms; some are famous to us in Western civilisation, others not so. We picked fruits such as sapote, which is quite common in the Amazon, as is camu-camu. There are thousands of fruit trees yet strangely enough, the tribe I stayed with ate very little fruit, as it was not accessible — most tribes do not travel outside of their immediate area.

My question about the karmic load associated with killing an animal and eating its flesh was immediately answered one morning, when I witnessed the most amazing sight. I saw a young woman from the tribe breastfeeding a spider monkey at the same time as her newborn child. This woman was actually sharing her baby’s milk with a young spider monkey, the baby of a spider monkey they had killed for food. It seems in the natural world bad karma is non-existent; everyone lives in harmony with his or her surroundings.

With the westernisation of the Amazon jungle, it is much easier for the different tribes in the jungle to obtain food and items of clothing. Nevertheless, they seem quite happy with what they have and how they obtain it. My understanding teaches me that they eat meat for dense nutrition and calories and that it is a localised food, making it more accessible and easier to sustain life. The whole tribe, as well as a number of other tribes in the same area, eat in the same way — different strategies with different tribes do apply but they eat similar foods and everyone in the tribe eats exactly the same foods. I noticed that they do not have breakfast, in fact while staying with the tribe my breakfast consisted of ramming wild tobacco under my tongue and sipping strong alcoholic beverages right up until early evening. We would then sit and eat, I did take plenty of my own things to eat and shared my food with the tribe. This was fun and they all enjoyed what I had. They seemed very excited with the amount of cacao in my bag!

The alcoholic drinks we had throughout the day are loaded with B vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and lots of bacteria as well as enzymes. It is fermented using saliva and so vitamin B12 is probably if not definitely present. The women and children drink these beverages too, right up until early evening. They also seem to use the tobacco as food to help overcome fatigue from the shortage of drinking water.

Graham Jevon

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2 Responses to ““OPINION” My journey into raw food (Part one – An Amazonian adventure)”

  1. Trevor Doge #

    That is a remarkable story! I have always wondered how the raw food diet existed amoung tropical tribes.

    March 28, 2015 at 12:13 am Reply
  2. lynn #

    Thank you, wonder and informative article. Thinking of going raw as of today. Have MS and believe it will help my symptoms and eventually lessen my need for meds.
    Peace,
    lynn

    February 6, 2016 at 2:57 am Reply

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