Although my idea to start the co-op began in September 2007, I had long since been searching for an alternative to buying large quantities of fresh, organic produce for me and my family. This is because before I left for college in 2004, I was diagnosed with hyperglycemia, which can be considered the on-set of diabetes. I knew this condition as being characterized by high and low blood sugar levels, by chronic migraines, by weight fluctuation, by nausea, by days of vomiting followed by extreme dehydration, by anxiety, by an inability to focus, by a feeling of depression, and by a feeling of hopelessness. At the age of 18, I had never given any thought to any type of treatment other than going to the doctor. Going to see numerous physicians and specialists was all to which I was ever exposed. Therefore, I depended heavily upon the medicine, or drugs, that they prescribed to me. I was prescribed everything from allergy medicine to sleeping pills to Mucinex to focus pills to recommendations on what to eat.
Little did I know that my diet was one of the main reasons for my symptoms. Ironically, I did not think my diet, or what I ate on a day-to-day basis, was unhealthy in any way. However, the food I was eating was the root of my problem. Growing up in an Ecuadorian and Lebanese mixed household, my staples were rice, beans, and chicken when my dad made dinner and grape leaves, hummus, and other Arabic dishes when my mom cooked. I am convinced that eating nothing but these foods was the cause of my chronic migraines growing up. One could almost say that we drank olive oil. Vegetables and fruits were relatively unseen. In addition to my diet, the combination of the drugs (and the escalating increase of drugs that they were prescribing) with my diet at the time only increased my symptoms mentioned. Of course, I had no idea that exercise, sleep, my emotions, and even my thoughts played a factor in my overall health.
After having been at the hospital all night from vomiting, dehydration, and unbearable migraines (this was a normal occurrence), I was in Whole Foods buying all sugar-free processed foods as doctors had instructed me. I was unaware at the time that many of the chemicals in these sugar-free foods were escalating my symptoms. As I was sneaking organic, sugar-free granola in the grains isle, I was confronted by a man named John Rose about my choice of food, which led to a conversation about my health at the time. He explained to me that he was a raw-foodist, or someone who thrives off of only raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds—fresh, ripe, and organic when possible. At first I was frightened by all of the information he was sharing with me. When he told me that he did not eat cooked foods because it is unhealthy, I became scared of the information he was sharing with me. I knew that was he was saying was true, but I was hesitant and scared to change my ways. However, a few days later after having been in the hospital again, I called him for help. Although he addresses himself as a wellness consultant, his profession is to educate people on raw foods, juice fasting, and healthy living. After my first phone call with him, he told me eat nothing but fruits and vegetables all day (but to make sure that I ate enough for sufficient calories). I expressed to him that I could not eat fruits being hyperglycemic, and he told me that it was a different type of sugar. He told me, “Try it for one day. Call me tomorrow, and tell me how you feel.” The next day I was walking, I had energy, I had no migraine, and I was excited to eat fruit. It was the beginning of the rest of my life. He met me everyday that week for three hours at a time to open my eyes about health.
Becoming a raw-vegan has inspired me to pursue my one of my three majors (the health science one) at Rice University, and it inspired me to begin this co-op. Not only did I completely erase any signs of hyperglycemia from my blood stream, but also I influenced my family to eat similarly, and I am so blessed to be able to share this gift with them! Since then, I have interned with Dr. Douglas Graham in Seattle and in Costa Rica, and I have been an avid 80/10/10er for over four years. I run seven miles a day, and I love to visit organic farms. I have gained a personal relationship with all of the farmers with which we co-op, and they are now family to me. I also work as a personal tutor for middle-school, high school, and college students in all subjects. I am dedicated to spreading the message about living rawfully. Life is about living with an enthusiasm for health. I currently run this co-op, and I do it with love. What I receive from the co-op is more than I could ever possibly give. I thank you all for sharing amazing food, amazing relationships, and amazing community.