About this site
Many moons ago, I started this blog to combat some of the health myths floating around the vegan and raw-food diet spheres—especially wacky notions about human physiology, evolutionary nutrition, the toxicity vs. benign-ness of animal products, and other issues that tended to get me banned from raw vegan message boards when I talked about them. Hence the former site title, “Raw Food SOS.”
But I soon realized there were more exciting things to write about than hybridized avocados and raw vegans with bad teeth. Raw Food SOS was thus reborn into what it is now—a site that examines the science behind common nutritional beliefs, the ongoing scuffles between omnivores and vegans, and the emerging evidence for individual variation in human nutritional needs, along with cute animal pictures to make my long-winded blog tomes less insufferable.
This site isn’t specifically low-carb or high-carb, vegan or carnivore, raw food or cooked food, or anything else that could be neatly labeled. My own experience as a (recovered) raw vegan taught me that dogma allegiance is more harmful than anything we could put in our mouths, so the emphasis here is on unraveling research rather than building an ideology. My goal is to make nutritional science accessible and non-boring to those who really care about their health.
I’m not going to put my age on here anymore because I always forget to change it when I get older. So I’ll just let you guys know I was born on May 4th, 1987, at 6:11 PM Pacific Standard Time—you do the math. (Birthday emails are gleefully accepted.) Evicted from my mother’s womb in California, raised in Seattle, universitied in Flagstaff, long-timer of Oregon, sporadic resident of Los Angeles, former inhabiter of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, and currently bouncing between Portland and sunnier winter climes. I like Scrabble, cats, thunderstorms, knee-high boots, mysterious things, mountains, really old houses, aspen trees, albino gorillas, and the color red.
I typically spend about five hours a day reading and writing about nutrition—voluntarily. I may seem like a normal human being on the outside, but rest assured, I have enough nerd in me to make Steve Urkel look like the Fonz. In January 2014, I published a book called “Death by Food Pyramid” and am gearing up for a second one, which, considering how long the first took, will probably be released in the year 3031.
My interest in health started at age seven, when I first went vegetarian, and then resurged at the age of 11 when an undiagnosed wheat allergy turned me into a walking zombie for a year. Although cutting out wheat improved my health tremendously, that alone wasn’t enough to keep me feeling big-H Healthy, and over the years I cycled through various versions of cooked vegan, raw vegan, raw omnivore, and what could only be described as “How Could Any Single Human Eat This Much Sushi,” which was my favorite, but not for long, because money. Until I master photosynthesis and become a breatharian, my current diet is some conglomeration of real-food plant-based majority-raw Paleo with smaller amounts of seafood, eggs, and organ meats.
I firmly believe we all have the right to be healthy, and that an understanding of nutrition isn’t a privilege reserved for the elite. Speaking of which…
Who do I think I am, running a health blog without a nutrition PhD? Shouldn’t I be flipping burgers at McDonalds like all those other English majors?
I get this question a lot. It speaks volumes about how we view learning, and why we’ve abandoned personal responsibility for using our own brains when it comes to health. “We can’t possibly understand nutrition if we haven’t paid for a degree! Let’s just trust someone with formal credentials instead of thinking for ourselves.”
First of all, if you believe valid education only happens in a classroom setting, I sure hope you aren’t reading this blog on a computer—since both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were college dropouts without any credentials to work with technology. 😉
I guess I’ll start by explaining my perspective. I have deep respect for formal learning, and a touch of envy for those who thrive in a traditional school system. Most of my family works in higher education (my dad, a former college vice president; my mom, a former biologist who did postgraduate immunology research), and my original aspiration was to teach at the university level. Some awesome stuff happens there.
But I also believe that—for people who are self-motivated, have the time and resources for independent study, and aren’t learning something like dentistry or surgery that requires hands-on training—that a college education can be wildly inefficient and sometimes a barrier to objective thinking. Teachers, after all, come equipped with their own set of biases—ones students must cater to or even adopt if they want a good grade. (My college Women’s History prof comes to mind. Don’t agree that men are the root of all things evil, fattening, and smelly? Then no “A” for you!) At least in my experience, college fostered an atmosphere where the rewards (high marks, scholarships, making the parents proud) were more pertinent than what was actually learned.
My post-college education strategy has been simple. I approach the field of nutrition like learning a new language: total immersion-style. You didn’t learn your native tongue by sitting in a classroom following grammar lessons; you learned it by jumping into an initially confusing world and feeling your way around until it all started making sense. Every day, I make a conscious effort to surround myself with learning opportunities. I read everything I can get my hands on, from statistics textbooks to scientific papers. I find curricula posted on university websites, copy the lesson plans that look relevant, and acquire the reading material from the library instead of paying thousands of dollars for classroom instruction. If I can’t grasp something on my own, I email or call smart people and ask them to help me. My goal is to understand. I don’t stop digging until I’ve plowed to the bottom and broken my shovel trying to go even deeper.
I believe anything can be learned. I believe passion is the best fuel for knowledge acquisition. I believe the subjects that have personal relevance are the most enticing, intriguing, and fulfilling ones to study. This is why I blog.