Part I: Jill Eckart
Jill Eckart, C.H.H.C., is nutrition program manager at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting preventive medicine, especially better nutrition, and higher standards in research.
Part II: Karen Ranzi
Author, lecturer, Health Coach, Raw Vegan Chef, and speech pathologist, Karen Ranzi, M.A. authored and published her book Creating Healthy Children in 2010. Her fresh plant-based recipe book and a book about healing acne naturally will be available in 2013.
Karen travels throughout the United States and abroad delivering her impassioned message about raising healthy families. She has presented for universities, schools, health institutes, and associations. In June 2012, Karen was the keynote speaker at a health congress south of Moscow, organized by the Russian Association of Naturopathy.
Karen received enthusiastic audiences during her health and wellness workshops at the University of South Carolina, Penn State University, and Ramapo College. She was keynote speaker at Lesley University’s Obesity Fair in Cambridge, MA. She is a staff writer for Get Fresh Magazine, VegWorld Magazine, Vibrance Magazine and SAFbaby.com. Karen has been a featured guest on numerous TV and radio talk shows including several episodes on Dr. Gary Null’s Progressive Radio Network. She was the featured speaker on The Living Healthy Show of New Bedford, MA in the Fall of 2012, and that show is currently being viewed on Peg Media and 14 cable networks across the U.S.
Karen is also a speech pathologist working with children for over 30 years, and specializing with autistic children for the past 12 years. She incorporates health coaching into her program and has seen significant progress in the children’s communication skills and ability to focus and learn.
Karen found the natural path that enabled her son to heal from asthma, chronic ear infections and multiple food allergies in 1994. By means of her education, life-changing personal experiences and sincere desire to share her message, Karen has been able to guide thousands of families toward developing excellent health.
Caryn Hartglass: Hey everybody, I’m Caryn Hartglass. It’s time for It’s All About Food, and you know what, I just realized that this week is my fourth anniversary, here at Progressive Radio Network, hosting this show, It’s All About Food. I wanted to talk about that for just a minute. I am so grateful to have this opportunity, grateful to the Progressive Radio Network, the whole crew and the studio, and to Gary Null. I have learned so much from doing this show, and I have heard from so many of you and what you’ve gotten out of it, and I can’t say thank you enough. I can’t believe four years has gone by, and now what we are doing is this transcription project where we are transcribing all these shows, so many people that I’ve spoken with, experts in the food movement, getting their information down, documenting it, making it easier for you to access this information. Four years, can you believe it? Now, one thing I want to remind you of, for those who are new to the show or those who have been listening for four years, is why I do it. Obviously, I promote a vegan, plant-based diet, and my primary reason, all this this time, has been the animals. I became a vegetarian when I was very young, and I don’t believe in killing animals. It’s that simple, but during this journey I have learned so much, and it’s just a wonderful bonus to know that plant foods are healthy. Also, eating plant foods instead of animal foods is great for the environment. So it’s a win, win, win, and I love talking about food, healthy, delicious food, and it’s just been a great time for me. One of the things I do on this show is to talk to all kinds of people about food. Certainly, I love to give an opportunity to people who are vegan to promote the vegan message in any way they can through cook books or information about food and nutrition, and also doctors and nutritionists. I also like to talk to people who aren’t vegan because there are a lot of people out there who aren’t eating vegan, but they have a lot of good information about food that I think is important to talk about, such as food policy, for example, which effects all of us no matter what we choose to eat. Then there are people who are promoting different diets that I don’t agree with, but I think there is something there to talk about which is of value, and we talk about those things. So, we all learn something in the end. The bottom line is that one thing is for certain, nothing, and, although, I believe very strongly in the diet I eat, there is a lot of information out there that is confusing, and we are all not going to come to the same decision. So, I like to offer my opinion, common sense, and I love to hear from you and what you have to say. So that’s it, my fourth anniversary on It’s All About Food. Now, let’s get to my first guest whom we’ve had on our show before. Jill Eckart is a nutrition program manager at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, PCRM. We love PCRM, a Washington DC based, nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting preventative medicine, especially better nutrition and higher standards in research. Welcome back to It’s All About Food, Jill.
Jill Eckart: Great to be back!
Caryn Hartglass: Hi, Jill. I spoke to you earlier today, and I told you that I wanted you to tell us all kinds of horrible things about the food we are serving in schools.
Jill Eckart: I am ready, and unfortunately it’s not good news.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, it’s not good news.
Jill Eckart: What we are seeing is just really scary, and what I really want to zero in on today with your listeners, is processed meat, the risk with processed meat, and what we are seeing in the schools.
Caryn Hartglass: Now, I remember maybe 10-20 years ago we started talking about nitrates and things which are in processed meat, and it got some attention, but then somehow people forgot about it.
Jill Eckart: Yeah, people have forgotten, but the science is really coming in more and more every week, and we are seeing really a consensus that processed meat is a stronger link than ever to colorectal cancer. We have seen a really great study come out just two weeks ago linking processed meat to premature death. We are also seeing a link to diabetes.
Caryn Hartglass: Where did that most recent study come from?
Jill Eckart: That came from the EPIC trial which is short for the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. It’s a ginormous study of 440,000 men and women.
Caryn Hartglass: Were they surprised with that result? Were they expecting that result?
Jill Eckart: Well, it supports the findings that we had seen prior, but it really helps having all this additional evidence. What it says is that eating red meat and processed meat increased the risk of dying by 14% for men and 44% for women. So, it is supporting what has come out in the past from Harvard, linking red and processed meats to premature death. So, we have bad news, but have good things that we can do about it.
Caryn Hartglass: Let’s not get to the good news yet, however. So, you said 14% for men and 44% for women. Both of those numbers are big, but why such a difference between men and women. It’s like men are supposed to eat processed meats, or they can get away with it? I don’t get it.
Jill Eckart: Yeah, it’s unclear, but it is an exceptional study with almost 13 years of follow-ups.
Caryn Hartglass: Have there been any critics of this study since it has come out. There are always nay-sayers saying they should have done this or that.
Jill Eckart: I’m sure there are, but this study is a really, really, well-known study, and it’s very, very large. The fact that it is supporting what we have seen come out before is really good. It’s not brand new news, but it really helps us to continue to try and get this message out to the public in a stronger way.
Caryn Hartglass: Right. Now, what other studies have there been that you are familiar with that point out this obvious, at least to me, information.
Jill Eckart: Yes, right. The Harvard School of Public Health found that a daily serving of processed meat increases the risk of premature death by 20%.
Caryn Hartglass: Wow!
Jill Eckart: Yeah, and basically what we are talking about is one hot dog.
Caryn Hartglass: Wow, one hot dog a day!
Jill Eckart: Yes, basically like a 50 gram serving.
Caryn Hartglass: Now, let’s talk about what are processed meats?
Jill Eckart: Good question! Now processed meats are deli meats, pepperoni, hot dogs, chicken dogs, any kind of dog is usually a processed meat. Also, bacon, sausage, turkey ham. Usually when people think of something with turkey in it, they think it is healthier, but these are really processed meats, like the turkey ham. Turkey is another category in itself, but, yeah, sausage, bacon, pepperoni, deli meats.
Caryn Hartglass: Bacon…there is a big trend, now, where people are getting back to bacon and really going crazy about it, and that’s a processed meat?
Jill Eckart: Yeah, and people are really putting themselves at risk because, as I mentioned, just one serving is increasing your risk by 20%, just one hot dog. So, yeah, people are going crazy for bacon which is the opposite direction we want to go in.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, and it’s also not very nice for the animals, and people don’t want to connect those dots. So, as I mentioned at the beginning of the show, my motivation all along has been about the animals, the cruelty that happens to animals and the factory farming and horrible treatment, and I know that’s where PCRM got started too; but, we have to prove in so many other ways the reasons for people not to eat animals, and health is such an important one.
Jill Eckart: Absolutely, and in terms of school lunches, we know how important meals are to students in terms of them thriving in their classes. There is a lot of good research supporting how important breakfast is. So, breakfast is one of those meals we zeroed in on in our research with schools. We just found tons of sausage, tons of bacon, and turkey ham on the menus across the country, and we saw that the cities and states with the highest amounts of colorectal cancer were linking up with the schools which were serving the most processed meats.
Caryn Hartglass: Like Mississippi, for example.
Jill Eckart: Yeah, very scary.
Caryn Hartglass: Why do they do that? Why are they serving these foods at breakfast? Who tells them to do that? They have nutritionists that are somehow involved with these programs, don’t they?
Jill Eckart: Yeah, they do, and I do think that one of our goals is to really increase education around this issue because I really think people don’t know. Even healthcare professionals are lacking in the knowledge about this. So, we really want to make a huge campaign around just educating people about the risk of processed meat. So number one, maybe some people don’t know. Number two, I think people are really mirroring fast foods in school lunches. So that’s what we are seeing for breakfast, what we’re seeing for lunch. I probably talked about this the last time we talked when we were talking about snacks for kids. We are seeing a lot of fast-food style foods on breakfast and lunch menus as well.
Caryn Hartglass: Now, fast foods. How much of the fast food’s meats are processed meats?
Jill Eckart: Oh, you see it in every menu. You see bacon all over the place. At breakfast you are seeing sausage on every menu, so it’s there, and, of course, hot dogs. It’s all over the place. When you go to a ball game people have hot dogs.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, so we have the evidence now that these foods are bad. What’s in them that is so bad. I don’t believe in eating any meat, but why are they worse than meat that isn’t considered processed meat?
Jill Eckart: There really isn’t a consensus on what it really is, and that can be part of why it is so challenging to get this message out to school food professionals as well as healthcare professionals. There is still some information we don’t know. Is it the nitrates? We need more information there, but we do know that these studies are coming out with this critical information. I think we just don’t really know exactly what is in the processed meat that is putting us at such a risk for colorectal cancer. So, we have more to learn on that.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, because those numbers are bigger than the risks if you are just eating a steak. That’s not good either, but the processed meats definitely rings a bell with great risk.
Jill Eckart: Absolutely. The other issues with processed meats above and beyond the link with colorectal cancer is that they are loaded with cholesterol and saturated fats. So, there is, sort of, this other picture of these processed meats, making a really good case for pulling them out of school lunches.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, now part of the problem is the government and what the government subsidizes, recommends, and supports. So, where is the government on processed meats.
Jill Eckart: Yeah, well I think they need as much education as everybody else. I think that a lot of groups are aware of these links and are seeming to wait for even more evidence, but actually the evidence is already in. We know that just one hot dog increases your risk so much, so we think that’s enough to take action, but perhaps some of these other agencies need a little more convincing. So we are working on some dialogues with these agencies, as well, that can make change, but I do think it is not required for schools to serve processed meat. So, a campaign to the schools to be a leader and remove processed meats from their school lunches is something that any school can do.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, so let’s say a parent is listening and they want to do something to get the processed meats out of their child’s school lunch program. What can they do?
Jill Eckart: I would recommend having a discussion with their food service professional, the director of food and nutrition, to make a request for either beginning slowly or removing altogether the processed meats from their menu.
Caryn Hartglass: It does take a parent or someone close to the individual school to make things happen.
Jill Eckart: I think parents have a great perspective. They can request a meeting with the principal or food service director. They can get a group of concerned parents together, go to the PTA and talk about it, or a wellness committee is a great place to bring in conversations about this.
Caryn Hartglass: Does PCRM have helpful materials that people can bring to their schools.
Caryn Hartglass: Now, what about vegetarian analogues to these processed meats, like vegi-deli slices and vegan hot dogs? What do you think of those?
Jill Eckart: Yeah, those things are acceptable. They might not be especially affordable for schools. So, our focus for this campaign with processed meats in schools is to have the schools remove them from the menu, and while these meat analogues, certainly, have no risk for colorectal cancer or premature death, they may not necessarily be affordable for schools. I think they are certainly worth looking into, and I have seen some of them on the menus in schools for lunch or breakfast, so I think it is a great alternative.
Caryn Hartglass: I think it is a great alternative for people that are thinking about eliminating meat from their diet, as a transition food. I think we both know that it is not the healthiest food on the planet because it is loaded with sodium, but it is probably a better choice than the actual meat products.
Jill Eckart: Absolutely. Just take baseball stadiums, for instance, all across the country. If they were to pull the hot dogs in the interest of what’s best for public health and subbing in the veg dogs, that would be fantastic.
Caryn Hartglass: That would be so beautiful, and most people wouldn’t even know. You give them a bun, sauerkraut, and mustard, and they wouldn’t even know.
Jill Eckart: Absolutely.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, so what are you telling the schools to substitute? What foods can they use that kids will eat?
Jill Eckart: Some schools really have good menus, but they are still serving processed meats. So, what we are asking is that they pull the processed meats off. If they need to substitute other things, there are tons of healthy options, but really our campaign is about getting this risk off the menu, pulling these off. There are other options. In talking about breakfast, we are seeing sausage-egg-and-cheese biscuits. We are seeing hot dogs for lunch. We really are seeing hot dogs on lunch menus as well as pepperoni pizza, but there are a lot of healthful options that don’t include processed meats.
Caryn Hartglass: One of the things is that schools serve foods that they think the kids will want to eat, and there is a whole discussion here in that is that really
what kids want to eat? Would they eat more healthful options? Is it partially the parents’ responsibility to not bring their kids up eating the wrong foods? The kids need education too. So, how is PCRM communicating to the kids about not wanting to eat processed meats? Is there anything for the children?
Jill Eckart: I absolutely agree. I think it is very important to talk to kids about this risk, and the way we are doing this is mostly educating the adults and having them try to take the action in their households or take action by talking to schools. We have rolled out this campaign to remove processed meats from school lunches. We are trying educate the school’s food service professionals as well, because it is very important that the food service professional have the education because they do influence the kid’s choices in the lunch lines, for sure.
Caryn Hartglass: So, have you personally worked with any school services? I’m just wondering what their response has been to the suggestion of removing processed meats?
Jill Eckart: Yeah. So our campaign to get schools to remove processed meats is fairly new, but in my work with schools, many of them are very interested in trying to reduce meat, in general. There are some challenges to that, and some of it is that they think the kids won’t eat the foods, but there are lots of ways to work with schools to make these healthy changes, and we have had some really good success in some of our pilot programs aside from this processed meat campaign. We really are just at the beginning which is really exciting, and we are going to be making a request to schools across the country to remove processed meats from their menu, while at the same time working on a policy level to try to change the national school lunch programs so they don’t allow it to be served.
Caryn Hartglass: Right. I always see it as a three-prong problem, this whole food thing. One is the individual that includes the person who is eating or if it is a child, their parents and all the people around them, and another prong is the government and the food policies that make it either affordable or not affordable or provide information so that people know what the right foods are, and I don’t think the government is doing a very good job at that. Then there is marketing and media and all that information that brainwash us literally about what we should be eating. So, we need to attack all three of those in order to make change.
Jill Eckart: Absolutely. It’s very important to be working on all levels, and were excited to be doing that.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, Jill, thank you, and I am so glad you are doing this work with processed meats. I’m certainly going to do my best to stay away from them. Oh, wait, I already am (ha ha). I love all the work that PCRM is doing, PCRM.org. Any last tidbits before we go?
Jill Eckart: Yes, absolutely. We also have the site HealthySchoolLunches.org, and we appreciate anyone coming to the site, and helping us spread the word.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay. Thank you so much for joining me, Jill. All the best to you.
Jill Eckart: Thank you.
Caryn Hartglass: Wow, stay away from hot dogs, but you know that already, though, don’t you. I don’t eat very many processed, vegetarian meats either. Although, when I was transitioning a long time ago, they came in handy. They still do come in handy for some people, and once a year, maybe July 4th , I actually may indulge in a vegan hot dog to try to feel American in some bizarre way. I wanted to tell you some more things I am involved with. This is really super exciting. I can’t wait to tell you. Last week I mentioned some of the places I was going to be speaking. I’m going to be in California in mid-April until the end of April, and I will be speaking at Berkley Vegan Earth Day on April 20th. The real exciting thing is that we have started a new project called the Swinging Gourmets, and it is a vegan musical and vegan cabaret act that we will be premiering in Los Gatos, California, on Earth Day, which is my birthday. We are going to be having a big birthday party and a musical show with a vegan message. It is going to be fun, funny, and if you are in the neighborhood, I really would love for you to be there. You can find out more about it by going to ResponsibleEatingAndLiving.com, or we have a bright, shiny, and new website SwinginGourmets.com. If you would like the Swinging Gourmets to come to you, send a message to me at info@RealMeals.org because we will be touring. We will be going to South Florida in May, bringing it home to New York sometime in late summer or fall, and honing the show and bringing it all around. I think this message is so important, and there are so many different ways to communicate about eating plant-based foods. We need to get it from all angles, and entertainment is a very important part. I am a believer in theatre and how people can learn from watching a performance piece. Somehow that is a way in to connecting the dots for people, in addition to reading books and listening to radio shows, a whole host of things. So, I think this is also an important piece, and I am really excited about that. So, I hope to see you somewhere along the tour. That’s SwinginGourmets.com. I talked about this once before, and I have to bring it up again because it is just crazy, but walking up Broadway here in Manhattan on the way to the studio, very often there are people out soliciting one thing or another. Very often there are people who want you to sign a petition for one thing or another. There could be Green Peace or other organizations, some of them being very worthwhile and having great missions, but I always want to bring people to what I believe in. So, when people come up to me to sign a petition or ask me something, the first thing I ask them is “are you vegan?” This lets them realize that what they are talking about is so connected with food. With Factory farming our environment is being devastated primarily because of all the animals we are growing on this planet to feed people, and if we stopped, or at least reduced it, we would have dramatic positive effects on the environment. So, when people stop me to talk about the environment, one group or another, that’s the first thing I ask. The response I usually get back is, “well, no, maybe I should be,” and it’s kind of vague. So I proselytize right back to them with my message. Today, a woman came up to me who had some Biblical message. She had some pamphlets talking about the Bible, and my question right back to her was, “are you a vegan?” She did not know what vegan was, so I asked her if she was a vegetarian. My question to people like that who want to promote their religious philosophy, I want to remind them of a number of things, such as in the ten commandments there is that little one about how thou shalt not kill. So, I always ask who, who are we not killing? Is it white men saying I am not going to kill other white men? Is it men saying I’m not going to kill other men, or I’m not going to kill people of my religion, or does it just mean not killing any living thing? So, I like to always throw that out there. Then there is this other thing in the Bible, and you have to understand, and I have said this many times, I am not a religious person, but I respect other people’s philosophies, but I am not a practicing anything, other than being vegan, but there is this one little line in the Bible in Genesis 1:29 which talks about how all we should be eating is plant foods. I remind people of that because I’m always looking for an angle, one way or another, to stop this cruelty to animals. So if it’s through religion, through entertainment, whatever it is, I’m going to use it. So, why don’t we take a break. That sounds good to me, and while taking a break visit SwinginGourmets.com, ResponsibleEatingAndLiving.com , all those great websites, so much to do, and It’s All About Food. We will be back in just a few minutes.
Transcribed by Ann Dungey, 3/25/2013
Hey, it’s Caryn Hartglass, we are back its March 19, 2013 and we are talking about food, my favorite subject. It’s All About Food. I am here in the studio with Karen Ranzi. I haven’t seen Karen in a long time, but it’s good to have her here in the studio. She is an author, lecturer, Health Coach, Raw Vegan Chef, and speech pathologist. She has authored and published her book Creating Healthy Children in 2010. Her fresh plant-based recipe book and a book about healing acne naturally will be available in 2013. There is a whole lot more about Karen and you can go to www.resposibleeatingandliving.com and read it. Right now we are just going to be talking.
Caryn Hartglass: Welcome to It’s All About Food Karen.
Karen Ranzi: Thank you Caryn. It’s exciting to be here.
Caryn Hartglass: Now I met you maybe 8 or 9 years ago when I was going through my raw food journey. I was all raw for about 2 years.
Karen Ranzi: Right.
Caryn Hartglass: But I am not anymore.
Karen Ranzi: We met at a raw foods, well vegan café that had half the menu raw.
Caryn Hartglass: Which one was that?
Karen Ranzi: Caravan of Dreams.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh, Right. Caravan of Dreams has a wonderful, wonderful menu of raw food and vegan food.
Karen Ranzi: I think that is the best way to go about it because it really gives people a choice. Everything is vegan. That way people who want to follow through with raw foods, there is plenty of raw vegan.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s still one of my favorite restaurants in Manhattan. It interesting because it’s been around since the 90’s I think and there have been so many other restaurants that have either come and gone or come and stayed that are vegan. It still has, I think, my favorite menu.
Karen Ranzi: Really. They have a great menu there.
Caryn Hartglass: They have, I wasn’t even thinking about talking about this and now I am really hungry. Laughs. They have wonderful salads on their menu.
Karen Ranzi: They have so many choices. It’s fantastic. It is really a vegan paradise.
Caryn Hartglass: Vegan paradise. I used to go there a lot in my raw days.
Karen Ranzi: Yeah, definitely.
Caryn Hartglass: Now you have been, you’re on an all raw diet?
Karen Ranzi: I am on an all raw diet.
Caryn Hartglass: And how long have you been doing that?
Karen Ranzi: 19 years.
Caryn Hartglass: 19 years! Oh my goodness!
Karen Ranzi: It started with my son. I made a lot of mistakes and I don’t necessarily recommend..
Caryn Hartglass: They are not mistakes, Karen, they are learning experiences.
Karen Ranzi: They are learning experiences, exactly. Yes. At the beginning, what was really a powerful and meaningful experience was my son’s healing from asthma, ear infections and multiple food allergies. We were already vegan, but we were eating a lot of processed food. Pasta and bread was our main staple. I was sick a lot. When my son was an infant, really young, 5 weeks old we were at the hospital.
Caryn Hartglass: One of the worst places you want to be. It’s so dangerous in the hospital and it’s worse now than it was then.
Karen Ranzi: He was only 5 weeks old. It was so scary. For the next 3 years of his life he had wheezing all day long and it got much worse at night. I would sometimes sleep with him on top of me I was so fearful. We were running to doctors. He had chronic ear infections, he was in pain all the time and he was allergic to almost everything; pollens and foods and animal hair. Having this child out in the world was really difficult. We tried everything. We tried allopathic medicine. We tried alternative kinds of therapies that had validity in and of themselves, but they weren’t taking care of cause of the problem. After 3 years I just hit rock bottom with going to practitioners. I realized there had to be another way. That’s when I realized that what my own grandmother had done, right in my very own family, really was the spark for me to take off on doing raw foods. As a young child my grandmother had told me all about the benefits of eating very high in raw fruits and vegetables. She didn’t say the word raw, she said natural. They didn’t have that word raw back then. It was just natural, uncooked, getting all the nutrients. I ignored her, growing up in the 50’s and 60’s.
Caryn Hartglass: Better living through chemistry.
Karen Ranzi: Yeah, my father and grandmother, they ate fruits and vegetables all day long and big salads and some steamed vegetables. They didn’t go to medical doctors and they were always healthy. My family, my other extended family, ate differently, my friends ate differently and I ignored that. My grandmother had asthma and emphysema in the early 1920’s.
Caryn Hartglass: Wow, did she smoke?
Karen Ranzi: She did not smoke. No. They gave her some rounds of penicillin at the hospital and that didn’t do anything, just made her worse. They gave her only several months to live.
Caryn Hartglass: Been there.
Karen Ranzi: So you can relate to my story. My grandmother was a single mom. My father was only 4 years old. For most people, as Margret Need says, it’s easier to change your religion than to change your diet. That’s why I also think that it’s hard. A lot of people want to go vegan and then they try and they bounce back an fourth. My grandmother was more determined because of her situation and so she turned to a friend who had healed and she got some information about a book that had just come out at that time, by a German professor named Arnold Ehret. The book is called The Mucusless Diet and Healing System.
Caryn Hartglass: I have it.
Karen Ranzi: So she had someone bring her that book when she was in the hospital. She read it and said “I have nothing to lose”. She became a vegetarian overnight. Then she moved to vegan and then she moved to a diet that was very high in fresh plant foods. So she still had some steamed vegetables, maybe some vegetable soup or something like that, but she had most of her food was raw fruits and vegetables, some nuts and seeds. She healed in under a year. So when my child was sick later on after trying everything else I could, I eventually came back to that.
Caryn Hartglass: And it worked.
Karen Ranzi: And it worked. So we did green juices and green smoothies and fruit and vegetables.
Caryn Hartglass: You were ahead of your time. Now people are more about green juicing and green smoothies. It is becoming trendy.
Karen Ranzi: Yeah. We did it back then when nobody was. A few people, but not much out there and there weren’t really any support groups, festivals or food expos for families. There was really no support group for my kids. I just learned from experience. There was a group in Manhattan that was run by a man named Matthew Grace and that group brought me into Manhattan on Monday evenings to get together with other raw foodists and hear their success stories and help to transition. I made a lot of mistakes along the way or have some life changing experiences, but eventually I think I found my way. When I work with people though, I don’t really ask them to go to 100% raw. I feel that just adding significant amounts of raw food is extremely beneficial and can certainly create a healthy lifestyle. Sometimes, especially for children, there can be social ramifications of going 100% raw. I tell the parents to leave that up to their kids.
Carryn Hartglass: I like to say, I said it earlier in the show, one thing is certain that is: nothing. We are learning a lot about nutrition, far more than we have ever known and unfortunately people get educated about nutrition by commercials more often than anything else. Our doctors don’t know much. We hang on to one word here. We listen to Dr. Oz or the doctors shows and that is not a place to learn about healthy food. Occasionally they will have a good program on, but they also bring on information about sensational things that are just nonsense so it gets confusing. There are magazines that have articles and sometimes there is good information, but usually it’s kind of mingled with some other stuff that’s nutty. One thing is certain, that nothing is certain. There are things that we know now today. We know that humans need to live on a primarily plant based diet. We know this. Now we don’t know if a 100% vegan diet vs. a primarily plant based diet with a little bit of animal food in it is better. We don’t have that information in terms of clinical tests. I personally think that eating all plant foods is superior and it’s superior not just for health, but also for other reasons ethical and environmental.
Karen Ranzi: Oh right and we’ve seen this in the longest lived cultures. The Okinawans, they are known to have about 1% of animal products.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, a very small amount. Underline small.
Karen Ranzi: The same as the other long lived cultures like the Costa Ricans who live on the Nicoya peninsula. They are also 1-2% animal products.
Caryn Hartglass: In the last 50 years or more now we’ve started to get into trouble because technology improved and things became more convenient and things started to get processed. It’s interesting because we are learning more about diet and nutrition more than we ever learned before. There is more bad things for us to eat at the same time. It’s confusing everything.
Karen Ranzi: In addition to that the meat and the dairy council…
Caryn Hartglass: So strong.
Karen Ranzi: Have a monopoly over the school system. So kids are learning in school that they definitely have to have meat and animal products to get enough protein. They are not taught about all the protein you can get from eating plant foods. There is plenty of protein in the plant world.
Caryn Hartglass: Can you say elephants and gorillas? Where do they get their protein from?
Karen Ranzi: Exactly. That was one of the things I really direct people to do is look at the animals out there. The biggest animals, big beautiful muscular animals, are plant eaters. The horse the cow the bison the rhino the elephant, they’re all plant eaters.
Caryn Hartglass: They should be plant eaters. Unfortunately the ones we raise for food we feed them all kinds of things that they shouldn’t be eating.
Karen Ranzi: The domestic animals get the same diseases that humans get because of that.
Caryn Hartglass: I come from a scientific background and when I read information I like to see the science. It makes me feel better. I like to see clinical studies. I don’t believe in all the clinical studies I see either because very often when I read the original report I see flaws in the study. They didn’t compare the right things in order to come to the conclusion that they did. I still like to see studies. That being said, there is plenty that we don’t know. People that we both respect like Dr. Fuhrman for example, he recommends that we eat at least 50% of foods should be raw plant food. We know that they are important. We don’t know exactly why and I think it’s just that science isn’t there yet. Raw foodists get a bad rap a lot of times because they are using terms that are not based in science and scientists might roll their eyes. When people say this food is alive or this food has an aura to it or something. That’s because we don’t have the science yet to measure what’s in these foods that we know are so important.
Karen Ranzi: I think also that some of the talk about enzymes, which I had believed for so many years, is not really accurate.
Caryn Hartglass: Right.
Karen Ranzi: What I do know and what I truly do believe, is that it makes a tremendous amount of sense that raw plants and foods are more nutrient dense or most of them are more nutrient dense because when you put fire to something it’s got to take away some of the nutrients. There have been studies that have shown that for many of the foods that are cooked, that somewhere around 70-855 of the nutrients can be void from those foods. So that I think is the thing that really drew me in to really believe in that it was going to be better for me.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, I was drawn in to the raw food concept too around 2004 and I did it for about 2 years. I fell out of it for a lot of different reasons and one is because I got advanced ovarian cancer. My belly started growing and I was trying all different kinds of things with my diet because I thought I had uterine fibroids and I didn’t realize it was this giant tumor that got out of control. That’s a long story I’ve talked about it a bunch of times on this show. What drew me to the raw food diet was, originally I thought I want to eat what humans are meant to eat. I started thinking this is the most natural thing. I’ve changed my mind. I realize I was romanticizing a bit about the whole vision of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden and all of these lovely luscious fruits and things. Here it is 2013, and then it was around 2006, I don’t live in that world. This world is very different than the world of a thousand years ago or when was fire created, I don’t know how many millions of years ago.
Karen Ranzi: I don’t know.
Caryn Hartglass: So we live in a very different world today. I just think we need to be open about all kinds of things, our food is not as nutrient dense as it was originally because our soils are so poorly cared for even if it is to grow organically. There is a lot of things that are not natural anymore. That lead me to believe maybe I don’t need to be eating entirely raw. I realize that raw foods are really powerful, but sometimes when you cook food you make other nutrients more absorbable. So there is this whole conversation of what really is best. We don’t really have the answer to that. We all have to do what is comfortable for us.
Karen Ranzi: We have to do what feels best. For me I’ve had so many powerful examples and so many observations. I work with pregnant women and I’ve observed women who’ve had raw pregnancies. I just interviewed a couple who had their second child. For their first child she ate much differently. She had more of a conventional diet. By the end of that pregnancy she was vegan. She gradually went towards it. She was eating, especially before that pregnancy; she was eating the standard American diet. Her first pregnancy was a four day labor and very difficult childbirth. She had a totally raw pregnancy for her second child and she gave birth, she had a very easy birth and it was just wonderful. She had a home birth and she’s nursing. She’s got this beautiful, big baby. She’s nursing him and it’s only from her milk. She’s got a plentiful breast milk supply. Whereas with the first child she had a hard time with breast milk supply and she and her husband are just really quite sure it was from their total change in diet. Her husband lost about 100 pounds and she also lost weight. They were both extremely overweight. So there are a lot of positive things. They chose to go 100%. What I believe is that people can do really well just by increasing the raw plant foods in their diet from where they are. For me, not only did it make a lot of sense because of the nutrient density, but also because of the water. When we cook our food we are depleting the water. I don’t really need to have studies for that kind of observation. I know that I need to drink a lot more water when I was eating cooked food. When I went to raw foods, I am getting so much of my water from my green juices, my green smoothies, my big salads, and my fruit. I feel that I’m getting the protein that I need. I think that with raw food there are some things that we need to be careful of. First of all there are many people who go totally gourmet.
Caryn Hartglass: I was going to bring this up next, some of your learning experiences. Just like any diet, vegetarian, vegan, raw there are so many different shades. The fifty shades of vegan.
Karen Ranzi: I have seen some very haphazard raw food diets. Mine was that way for the first years. I did eat a lot of raw fruits and vegetables just the way they were, but I also ate a tremendous amount of nuts, loads of nuts. I could sit there with two cups of nuts a day. It didn’t do well by me. I just didn’t feel well after a while.
Caryn Hartglass: I remember going to some of the gourmet raw restaurants and eating and just feeling really heavy afterwards form all the nuts, the oil and the nama shoyu.
Karen Ranzi: Definitely and these are not health foods. We need a small amount of nuts and seeds, but we don’t need to have these huge amounts of nuts and seeds. Nuts are acid forming. The only one that is alkaline forming is almonds. Our blood is slightly alkaline. We need to be eating the foods that are more alkaline forming. That is why I believe in a diet that is very high in green leafy vegetables. I didn’t do that at the beginning either. I ate mostly fruit. I still believe that we need to have fruit. I eat fruit. I upped my greens significantly over the years.
Caryn Hartglass: Greens, greens, greens. You know how much I talk about greens on this show.
Karen Ranzi: I am sure you do.
Caryn Hartglass: I have a food show called It’s All About Greens on my website. The thing about fruit; when I started on an all raw diet a long time ago I was eating a lot of fruit. I think that was part of my problem. Eating a lot of fruit you can get a lot of sugar and sugar, if you are not entirely healthy can aggravate some problems that you already have. Some of the other scary things about fruit these days; I was talking to Adam Gollner who wrote a book called The Fruit Hunters. He was talking about what we do to tropical fruit to bring it to the United States or fruit in general. There are so many things; a lot of the tropical fruits actually get a little cooked before they bring them in.
Karen Ranzi: Yes, I know the mangoes that they eat.
Caryn Hartglass: When I think about all those things I think well maybe I should just wait until I get to Costa Rica and eat the foods that are there.
Karen Ranzi: Right. When I was in Costa Rica the bananas ripened. We would take off a whole bunch, but they ripened on the plant. It was just a whole different experience than the bananas that we eat here, but I still feel that we need not only the vitamins, but we also need the calories the glucose from the fruit. So I certainly don’t believe in giving up fruit. Some people say that if they have cancer they should give up fruit. I have also observed people heal cancer with fruit.
Caryn Hartglass: I was eating only berries during my treatment period; the not so sweet, high cancer fighting properties kind of fruits.
Karen Ranzi: Low glycemic.
Caryn Hartglass: Now, in your book, Creating Healthy Children which came out 2-3 years ago, you reference a lot of different people who have a lot of different things to say about a lot of different things.
Karen Ranzi: That’s right and some of them differ greatly.
Caryn Hartglass: A lot of them differ greatly. I wanted to bring up a few of them and maybe some of the things I didn’t agree with. Clearly we agree on the power of raw fruits and vegetables. Everybody has to be eating them, greens, kale is king and there is nothing that kale can’t do. I can’t say that enough. I eat soy foods and I think that organic minimally processed, tofu, tempeh have some preventative protective qualities when it comes to cancer. You mentioned Sally Fallon in the Weston Price people. They do not promote a vegetarian diet.
Karen Ranzi: They don’t. The only thing that I agree that they do talk about is the problems with soy.
Caryn Hartglass: So my question to you is: when they are so anti-vegetarian diet, how do you find their information on soy credible? Because I don’t. I just wondered.
Karen Ranzi: Well I do believe because it is not only their information. I also quoted Dr. Gabriel Cousens, who has done quite a lot of research on soy and he is vegan.
Caryn Hartglass: And raw. Is he all raw?
Karen Ranzi: Yes, and raw and vegan. I put their information in there because I felt that from all of the different observations that I’ve made and people that I’ve spoken with that their information on soy was accurate. I do feel that tofu and soy milk, that those products are highly processed. I feel that tofu is no better than eating white bread.
Caryn Hartglass: It depends on where you get it from. There are some that are better than others.
Karen Ranzi: Maybe if somebody is making it locally and you know exactly how they are making it and it’s not so processed. I think that the majority of the tofu out there and the highly processed soy products.
Caryn Hartglass: I tell people that there are plenty of plant foods out there if you don’t want to eat soy foods that’s fine. I am very comfortable eating the minimally processed tofu, tempeh and miso.
Karen Ranzi: Tempeh is better because it’s fermented. I never recommend tofu and the other more processed foods. They are all so highly allergenic. I know a lot of children who have been given soy early on and they become allergic. It’s also very hormonally unbalancing; it’s very high in estrogen.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s a difference in opinions. Some medical and professional people believe that it helps to balance the hormones. It depends. There is a lot of interesting information about that. So we just have about another minute or two left. You don’t just talk about food in here; you also talk about attachment parenting. We just have a minute where you might talk about it, but I think it’s important.
Karen Ranzi: Oh, it’s so important. What a lot of people ask me because half of my book is about getting those raw living plant foods into your family lifestyle and the other half of the book is about following the needs of the child. The physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs of the child through attachment parenting. What that is, is after the child is born the child doesn’t know where he or she is in the world. The child needs to be connected to the most important person in that child’s world and that is the mother and being held against the mother’s skin. Certainly not to be put in a crib at the end of the hall to scream it out, but to be connected to staying with the mother to be held against the skin as much as possible in those first hours days and even weeks after birth. Following that child as the child grows and develops. At each level there is a different aspect of attachment parenting that caters to the child’s needs.
Caryn Hartglass: Karen, we could talk about this all day. Unfortunately we are out of time. I can’t believe how quickly the half hour went. Thanks for joining me. Where can people find out more about you? You have a website.
Karen Ranzi: My website is www.superhealthychildren.com.
Caryn Hartglass: superhealthychildren.com.
Karen Ranzi: I also have a You Tube channel super healthy children
Caryn Hartglass: May all children be super healthy. Thanks for joining me and It’s All About Food. I am Caryn Hartglass and visit my website ResponsibleEatingAndLiving.com and swingingourmets.com and have a delicious week.
Transcribed by Mary Schings, 4/4/2013