Last night I mentioned that I'd had the chance to attend this month's Beam Green meeting, courtesy of Gena's invitation. I'll always be grateful for that, as I really got a lot out of it! Just so you know what we're talking about, allow me to poach a bit from one of Gena's older posts on the subject:
I began my evening appropriately by treating myself to dinner at Bonobo's, a casual raw cafe in the Flatiron district of Manhattan. I ordered the nori roll, which turned out to be probably the prettiest thing I've eaten in a while.
I also had to have a coconut chai, which will from now on be a requisite to dining here. SO GOOD! As for the contents of my nori roll, you're allowed your choice of the live nut pates plus five vegetables, all of which is wrapped in seaweed and served with greens and a house-made dressing.
The vegetables I chose were beets, bell peppers, zucchini, red cabbage and sprouts.
I let the Bonobo's staff coach me in my pate choice, which ended up being half dill-sunflower seed and half walnut. I can't even remember what-all spices were involved!
Excellent recommendations, for sure. I think the restaurant's employees took pity on me when they saw what must have been a look of bewilderment on my face, confronted with so many choices of fillings. They generously let me sample nut pates until I'd found the magic combo. I was also very happy with my choice of salad dressing, which was their sweet basil. I could eat this meal every day!
On to the main event, which was held at Tavern on the Green. My camera's battery drew its final breath with the above picture, so I have no photos, but you can go here for an idea of what the scene looked like. The attendees were basically all women, except for the tech crew and the featured speaker, Gil Jacobs. I noticed a range in age among the women present. I suspect I was at the younger end of the spectrum (which was well represented). Since the founder herself, Mary Boehmer, is no older than I am, I doubt that the oldest women there were any more "matured" than my own mother. Mary's mother is very involved in Beam Green as well, so quite literally I was able to see no less than two generations represented at the meeting.
You might be wondering why someone at my stage of life would bother with an organization devoted to the Green Baby Movement, when I'm clearly not anywhere close to bearing children myself. To answer that unspoken question, I'm going to poach from Gena one more time, because I think she said it really well:
I can't argue with that! And so it was that I attended my first Beam Green meeting.
There were some familiar faces in the room when I arrived, so I was glad to catch up with fellow bloggers Emily and Melissa during the meeting. I also got to meet Katherine, and it was great getting to know her a bit between lecture segments. And of course, I met Gena "in real life" for the first time. After dozens of emails exchanged since she started her blog, it was really exciting to finally meet her in person. She's definitely everything you would want Beam Green's resident Healthy Lifestyle Coach to be! Here's hoping last night was just one of many future meetings, Beam Green and otherwise.
As for the lecture, I have to say, Gil Jacobs was a completely vibrant and magnetic presence. There's more meaning to that statement than meets the eye - I learned so much from his talk that I found myself taking copious notes througout. In case you're not familiar with his name, Gil is one of the foremost colonic therapists in New York City (and beyond, most likely). As you might assume, the bulk (heh) of his job concerns ridding the body of toxins, which is of particular importance to those adopting or following a diet involving raw foods.
While his talk (I might even call it a dance, at certain points!) couldn't help but discuss the importance of raw foods in the diet, what I took from it was not necessarily an urgent need to shift my eating habits towards the raw end of the spectrum, let alone embrace the "colonic action," as he called it. The way he discussed detox and keeping the body as clean and free of disease as possible was very accessible to someone following the Standard American Diet (SAD), and those of us on the receiving end need not have felt coerced into the raw lifestyle (unless one was already inclined to do so).
If I were to choose one word to associate with the talk, it would be PERSPECTIVE. This is something we lose sight of often, and the diet is no exception, wherever we may fall on the health spectrum.
Here are some highlights from Gil's introduction to cleansing:
- Raw food has the capacity to awaken blockages and release them. Raw fruits and vegetables have a negative ionic charge, which is optimal for the human body. Because processed foods, meat, dairy, etc. carry a positive ionic charge, that which remains impacted in the colon can be dislodged by the raw foods because their opposite charges attract each other. In this way, the putrified (old, bad-food waste) matter can then be eliminated.
- Organic is trumped by Order. It is important to consume foods in the correct order for optimal digestion, because whether or not the food was organic means nothing when the order in which it was eaten causes fermentation. (His example was to point out that Person A, who eats organic raw almonds--which take hours to digest--followed by an organic salad might as well not have bothered spending the money to buy the fancy organic products, when Person B is better off having eaten a head of conventional lettuce--which takes minutes to digest--from a bodega followed by Blue Diamond roasted almonds.) For more on proper eating order and food combining, see Gena's Digestive Health and Cleansing 101 page.
- If you are new to cleansing, be sure to keep some "good heroin" in your diet--foods that you love and which may not be optimally healthy but keep the body from detoxing too quickly and causing unpleasant "quitter's flu" symptoms.
The above points are but a tiny percentage of the information I took in. I have been reading on this subject for about a month now, so Gil's talk helped me to flesh out my beginner's knowledge. That said, for someone completely new to the idea of cleansing through diet (and colonics, if necessary), I have to admit, this would have been a lot to handle in the first shot. Exhibit A: audience member who raised her hand to ask, "What's a colonic?" Cue Gil to back up a few steps. And he did, quite graciously, too. Lucky for me, I was keeping up--for the most part!
Back to the notion of PERSPECTIVE, I now want to highlight what Gil talked about concerning the greater picture of our health:
- Keep a macrocosmic scope. Improving your lifestyle is about feeling better, preventing illness (physical and mental) and raising the next generation to be healthy. It is not about fitting into a smaller pair of jeans.
- The goal (whether or not this involves raw foods) is to elevate yourself from your current condition. I think this is a great point, because it applies to everyone and reminds us that it's all relative. We all come from different places mentally and health-wise, and the idea should be to improve upon your current condition, not to adjust to someone else's health standard overnight. Which leads me to the next (and most important, IMHO) highlight...
- "Progress, not perfection."
While Gil's lecture might have overwhelmed one who is brand new to the kind of health- and eco-conscious community represented at Beam Green, I really felt that his overriding message spoke to everyone, regardless of how they feel about the practices he espouses.
Beam Green, I'll be back! For those of you in the NYC area, Gena has extended a complimentary invitation to attend the next meeting on July 22 (I hear there's wheatgrass involved!). Click here to learn how to RSVP.
For some reason I don't really feel like posting pictures of the chicken I just had for dinner! ;) I'll be back with that recipe another time. For now, good night, and happy weekend!
RIP Michael Jackson (my first love, no joke) and Farrah Fawcett. :(