Elements of Health – raw bliss

This weekend I attended Elements of Health, a 2-day Raw Food Course. Urban Sprout‘s turbosprout also recently attended the course, and you can read their review here.

Facilitated by Peter and Beryn, two experienced raw food vegan chefs, the course was lots of fun. Peter has a similar presentation style to David Wolfe, ie great enthusiasm and energy. I know he’s attended David Wolfe workshops, but I think it’s the raw food diet that results in the same constant high.

I came armed with lots of nutritional information. I have numerous superb books by Gabriel Cousens and David Wolfe, two of the raw food nutritional gurus, and a whole shelf-full of other books which I usually delve into for inspiration when writing the weekly newsletters for the Ethical Co-op. I was more interested in the practicalities of raw food preparation, as I’ve got some of the equipment, but my experiments haven’t usually been appreciated by others, with the exception of my loyal 5-year-old son.

A raw kitchen is completely different to a cook’s kitchen. No toaster, stove or oven. Instead, a blender, a food processor, a juicer and a dehydrator are the tools of the trade.

Food of course is provided, and it was superb, especially on the second day. I wonder if they’ve designed the course that day one is intended to ‘shock’ with the greens (green smoothie, green juice, green salad), while day two is deliciously decadent, with chocolate smoothies, chocolate cake, pizza and pasta.

All vegan and raw of course. And utterly delicious. Only time will tell whether any of their culinary genius has rubbed off on me. But it wasn’t only the food that was great.

Their nutritional knowledge is encyclopaedic. The person next to me whispered at one point that Peter must have a photographic memory, as he rattled of facts and figures, and answered challenging questions. To really learn anything, one must have a beginner’s mind, and I consciously went in with this approach, ready to learn from them rather than block any learning by thinking I knew it all already. But I didn’t really expect to learn too much theory.

How mistaken I was. I have a book full of notes, and astounding claims. About absorption of B12 through the skin by getting into the soil. Peter’s experiences in the sun since becoming raw vegan (if I recall they were vegan for a while before that, but only started getting the health benefits after going raw as well). About the hops in beer having an incredibly high phyto-oestrogen level (basically female hormones), higher than the more well-known soya. About biophotons, ormus, and of course, lots of information on the effects of cooking!

I’ll be checking on their facts of course, and I’m particularly interested in a claim about the link between sunburn and trans fats – perhaps there’s hope for me to go a golden brown yet!

And learning about the fresh water spring in Newlands was probably worth the course fee alone.

One of the adjustments for raw food preparation is that, in order to eat an interesting variety, it’s less easy to be spontaneous. Whipping up a standard pizza in 20 minutes is quite easy (and even easier when you phone for take-out), but doing the same raw requires often requires hours in the dehydrator. Perhaps that’s not true, as juices, smoothies and salads are all fairly instantaneous, but a raw pizza, for example, can take 24 hours of preparation. That’s probably why, until today, I hadn’t ever used my dehydrator, and, if it came down to it, probably the single biggest motivation for doing the course was wanting to get some value from the expensive dehydrator that’s been gathering dust since I bought it at the recent Natural and Organic Exhibition.

Right now it’s going full blast, and, all going well, I’ll tell you at the end of this post whether the meal’s been a success.

I used the weekend to go completely raw as well, and do a minor detox of sorts. I ate nothing the whole weekend but what I ate on the course. I was a little low-energy going into the course, thanks to some misbehaviour on Friday, but Sunday I had oodles of energy, and Monday proved to be the most productive day I’ve had in a long time. I even managed to clean my freezer (you don’t want to know how long the frozen banana mush has been festering at the bottom of the freezer), and licence my car! If you need any more proof of the course’s efficacy, I don’t know.

And, to top it all off, my virgin dehydrator meal, mushroom and pesto, was delicious, although I think my supermarket brand blender is going to explode if it has to chop nuts, seeds, garlic and greens like that every day!

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  1. I did the course and it was very informative but I have a number of reservations:

    1) I expected a small group for R1500 (2 day course). There were 50 people and it was lecture style.

    2) A lot of the course was used to push product sold by their company. The course should have been free or with a minimal fee.

    3) Comments during the course were unsubstantiated and lacked any scientific basis or referral to such. I do agree with a lot of the stuff but it is clear that Peter is a sales man and not a guru (having only been involved for 3 or 4 years does not make someone an expert).

    4) I was most disappointed to hear Peter airing his views that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS and found this incredibly irresponsible as he has no scientific background or experience in this area and should not use this professional forum to air his personal views. His comments that Manto Shabalala Misimange had been correct about Beetroot and Garlic was even more disappointing.

    5) Peter attested to the ability of raw food diet to cure cancer and other serious illnesses was again highly disturbing. Obviously, a healthy diet helps to reduce illness but it is not a cure.

    6) Peter is highly critical of the Medical profession. He criticizer the use of medication as a toxic substance that has no place in your body. This is rather like – throwing the baby out with the bath water and is either ignorance or merely knocking the competition.

    Having said all this, I still walked away with some good stuff. Raw food is definitely improving my health and helping eliminate my ailments. I feel a hundred times better. If you choose to do the course then try to keep an eye on what is fact and what is sales talk.

  2. In response to Jan’s comments:

    I have been seriously studying nutrition, health and healing for the past 23 years. During this time I have also developed a refined understanding of the myths related to health and disease and the various agendas behind their propagation.

    I have also attended Peter and Beryn’s course and have studied the work of many luminaries within the raw foods, natural healing and integral nutrition paradigms.

    I wish to make specific response to Jan’s points to provide a balancing point of view:

    1. Fair enough – expectation not met. I found the course format with a large number of people fine (about 60 in my group) – more enjoyable with a larger group actually. I don’t feel anything was lost by not having a smaller group. Lectures + demonstrations and group interaction made for good experience.

    2. I disagree that product was “pushed”. Certainly direct references were made to the products that Peter and Beryn sell, but that is logical since they believe in what they sell and they have obviously found these products very useful within the raw food paradigm. Personally I agree that their products (a growing line of superfoods) have a meaningful place within a raw food lifestyle. They should not dominate a raw food diet necessarily (especially products like cacao) but do have a place there. I did not feel that their products were inappropriately emphasized, and was comfortable hearing about them in that context.

    3. I agree Peter is not a guru. But as someone who has over 2 decades of study in the field, I found his understanding of the subject excellent. I agree with you that referral was generally not made to scientific substantiation, but I don’t think the format of the course would allow for this (unless the course went to 10 days instead of 2). I disagree however with the comment that Peter’s comments lacked scientific basis. All the science is there for the study if one has the will and patience to do it. Nothing Peter said was “off” in my opinion.

    4. On this issue I agree entirely with Peter’s point of view on HIV / AIDS. Dr. “Beetroot”, though unsophisticated in her approach, was correct. HIV is one of the biggest and most sophisticated and insidious hoaxes ever played out on the world stage. AIDS (as a breakdown of the intelligence of the immune system) is real. HIV as the supposed sexually transmitted bug-cause is horseshit. ARV’s, as, the purported “cure” or “treatment”, are also nonsense. See the work of Peter Duesberg, Christine Maggiore and the movie House of Numbers as an educational starting point.

    5. Actually in many cases it can be a cure. Not always obviously, but the human body-mind has a profound innate ability to self-correct when given the opportunity to do so. The raw vegan diet, intelligently applied, provides maximal support for this. Of course its real value is in prevention in the first place.

    6. The Medical Profession is a noble and well-intended endeavour. I do not exactly recall Peter’s comments in this regard, but my own critique of Western allopathic medicine has to do with its sometimes simplistic, relatively immature (and often arrogant) point of view in relation to disease, and the causes and treatment thereof. I am 100% in agreement with Peter that pharmaceutical medicines are toxic substances (and are so by definition even). They all work by disrupting natural bodily processes to accomplish their results, and I feel they are way over-prescribed in our culture. I believe they can serve a purpose as life-or-death emergency treatment, as for example in the case of major systemic infection which will lead to death if not treated with antibiotics. However, I consider them health-compromising in all other situations and would personally never use them (and have not for 15 years). There are more benign and ecological ways to positively adjust bodily bio-chemistry using naturally occurring substances.

    I think it is great that you are noticing how raw food (and I hope organic too) is improving your health and helping eliminate your ailments. Good on you for making the change and I trust you will go from strength to strength.

  3. It’s great to hear you are already experiencing benefits from your dietary adjustments after just a few weeks. It always inspires and amazes me to see what healing is possible when the body is given the chance.

    For the sake of clarity I thought I should reply to your comments above.

    1. Although the info sections are in a lecture style the food demos are around a table. I can honestly say I have never received feedback that our course is overpriced, quite the contrary, I have actually had the exact opposite expressed. I suppose value is a personal thing. People will spend 100 times the course fee to feel just 10x better, but 100 times better? Who knows.

    2. I present 1 x 45 minute info section on day 2 of the course on Superfoods. My products, as well as others I trust, are mentioned to offer the possibility of experiential benefits. I started out presenting workshops before I began offering products as I am clear that the products are only a support. The information applied is where the greatest benefits lie.
    My experience has been that Superfoods work. People feel better. This excites me. For this I must give the course away for free?

    3. I make it clear early on in the workshop that it is beyond the scope of a 2 day event to offer full explanations and site references. The course is simply a basic introduction to the topic. For those who wish to research further the scientific data is freely available in the recommended reading suggested during the event. It is for this very reason that I bring over 20 of my reference books with for people to look through at the event and offer a recommended reading list on my website. I completely agree that I am not a guru and thanks for the compliment. It’s crazy though how many people place their complete trust regarding their own well-being in those who only have a few weeks at best of nutritional training.

    Here is a list of books that would be excellent for a seeker to investigate further:

    The Sunfood Diet Success System, David Wolfe
    Superfoods, David Wolfe
    Conscious Eating, Gabriel Cousens
    Ph Miracle, Robert Young
    The Thrive Diet, Brendan Brazier
    Raw Family – A True Story of Awakening, Victoria Boutenko
    China Study – The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-Term Health, T. Colin Campbell, Thomas M. Campbell
    Blatant Raw Foodist Propaganda, Joe Alexander
    The Complete Book of Raw Food, Lori Baird
    Enzyme Nutrition, Edward Howell
    Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill, Udo Erasmus
    Living Foods for Optimum Health – Staying Healthy in an Unhealthy World, Brian R Clement
    Green for Life, Victoria Boutenko
    12 Steps To Raw Foods, Victoria Boutenko
    Eating for Beauty, David Wolfe
    Nature’s First Law Raw Food Diet, David Wolfe, Stephen Arlin
    Naked Chocolate – The Astonishing Truth About The World’s Greatest Food, David Wolfe
    Depression-free for life – a physician’s all-natural 5-step plan, Gabriel Cousens
    There Is A Cure For Diabetes, Gabriel Cousens
    The Live Food Factor – A Comprehensive Guide To The Ultimate Diet For Body, Mind, Spirit & Planet, Susan E Schenck
    Left in the Dark, Graham Gynn, Tony Wright
    Living Energies – Viktor Schauberger’s Brilliant Work with Natural Energy Explained, Callum Coats
    The Secret Life of Plants, Peter Tompkins, Christopher Bird
    Sea Energy Agriculture, Maynard Murray
    Wheatgrass – Nature’s Finest Medicine, Steve Meyerowitz
    The Sprouting Book, Ann Wigmore

    4. The entire event is made up of my personal views or I would not be in my truth. My personal views are an integration of years of research and personal experience inspired by the groundbreaking work of many learned and conscious people in service to the betterment of humanity. AIDS is not a topic generally discussed in the event as it requires a fair amount of background knowledge to avoid knee jerk reactions. There is plenty of scientific data to question the current accepted viewpoint. However, anyone who is versed in nutrition knows that beetroot and garlic merely point in the right direction but a far more sophisticated and considered approach is needed when dealing with a destroyed immune system and a high viral load.

    For more info on the topic see:


    5. What I find highly disturbing is that seriously ill people are lied to and experimented on with highly toxic and expensive treatments, when there are thousands of people who have experienced remarkable results by simply changing their diet and lifestyle. Most oncologists when interviewed have said they would not use the standard cancer treatments on themselves or their loved ones(http://www.naturalnews.com/023663_cancer_health_Oleander.html). It only takes a little research to see the truth in this.

    I highly recommend looking into the work being done at the Hippocrates institute(http://www.hippocratesinst.org/) and The William Hitt Centre(http://www.williamhittcenter.com/) as well as the following resources:


    6. Competition? It is a sorry state of affairs when those dedicated to healing are said to be competing against each other. I make a point on the course of saying that many MD’s do amazing work with the tools they have been given and that there certainly is a place for allopathic medicine in emergency situations, but in chronic conditions the results are dismal. At the start of the course I make it clear that I am a raw food chef, not a Doctor or nutritionist, and that people need to work with their health care practitioner in perusing healing through lifestyle changes.

    Thanks for the opportunity to provide more information to people and I wish you great success and wellness in embracing a raw food and natural nutrition lifestyle.

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