Joel Gazdar On Raw Food Living

| 21 August 2020

We’ve caught up with Joel Gazdar, founder, visionary, and executive chef of Wild Food Cafe to chat about raw, living foods and what it means to follow a raw food lifestyle. Joel has been on the path of full-spectrum nourishment for over 20 years and is deeply versed in all things raw food, thriving, wellbeing, nature’s wisdom and rewinding.

What is a raw vegan diet?

Well, some people categorise and treat it like a diet, which is not ideal as it becomes a yet another constraint in our lives and can become a bit too rigid, like any other ‘diet’. Yet, some people simply choose to live a lifestyle in tune with nature through appreciating it, studying it and celebrating it – that’s where we find a raw food lifestyle! There are infinite different approaches to this way of living since the nature of reality is infinite. It is, ultimately, the simplest way of living, as well as being. All it requires is never-ending curiosity, playful presence and moment-to-moment alignment with the cyclical continuously changing rhythms and seasons of nature. It is an invitation to live more in tune with nature and embrace more thriving. It requires an ever-deepening understanding and synthesis between all parts of the whole, from body, mind and spirit to kidneys, lungs and knees, to air-water, firer & earth as well as, mineral (from Argon to Zinc), plants (apple to zucchini) animals from antelope to zebra and humans. One powerful way to nourish these relationships is to enjoy interacting with nature forces firsthand, through engaging as directly as possible with truest sources of vitality and vibrancy which sustain us, as every other creature on earth humbly does. This includes plant foods in their closest to nature state (wild), enjoyed in full ripeness directly as was intended by existence without processing and adulteration, at ambient temperatures up to 40c, to the best of your ability. As always, it is more about the state we are in when we eat and how we utilise our connection to nature to bring about thriving. It is a journey, not a destination!

What are the main kind of foods to eat?

Raw, seasonal & dried fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, grains, legumes, milk, nut butters, oils, fermented food, algae, sprouts…

There are differing methods and philosophy, often which seemingly juxtapose each other.
The best foods from the plant kingdom start with In order of potency,
50% Fresh air: hydrogen & oxygen etc, also known as breath!
30% Fresh ripe organic fruits of wild genetic varieties,
15% Leaves, herbs, seaweeds
5% Seeds & nuts

What are the foods to avoid?

Refined Foods: Alcohol, sugar, all kinds of vinegar
The less cooked the food is the better, with frying and microwaving at one end of the scale; and gentle warming up until body temperature, and steaming at the other end.
Cooked fats: animal, oils, nuts & seeds
Cooked fruits, veggies & grains, roasted nuts, refined oils, sugars and flour, table salt, pasteurised juices, coffee & tea, alcohol, pasta, pastries, chips, any processed food or snack!

What are the main benefits? Is raw food healthier than cooked food?

Overall and generally yes, it is healthier, although, like with everything, there can be exceptions to the rule. It’s not about having fixed right answers, although once a transition is made which can take from a few months to a few years, then one knows exactly the right nourishment to enjoy for optimal health at each precise moment in time and space. In one moment 5-15 mins of breath-work will be the best health choice, in another moment it might be dancing or singing. In another it might be a bowl of cherries, at another, it might be some nettles when they are in season or some cooked squash. Tuning with our infinite self and nature’s wisdom, we know and trust our inner guidance system.
When I started on a raw food path 20 years ago, within just a couple of months, I’ve restored my health, my senses became more alive, I had more energy and vitality, the diseases, allergies and chronic conditions I was battling at the time virtually disappeared, my skin and hair became glowing and I felt overall more confidence and happiness. That’s a big deal for any 19 years old, and it was definitely a big deal for me to continue on this path for the next 20 years.
Of course, there are many other benefits, ranging from environmental to health, to beauty, yet they all stem from stepping into more awareness of living in tune with nature, which this lifestyle inevitably brings about.

What kind of methods can we use?

The best and simplest way to improve our diet, whatever it is, is by eating calmly and peacefully in full presence in ecstatic appreciation. The best option is always wholefoods in their peak state, just as they are. Blending and juicing are the next best methods, soaking is useful for nuts and seeds as it improves digestion, dehydrating is for recreational purposes, as it helps to preserve food and intensify the flavours, and fermenting is for the preservation of seasonal produce, probiotics, gut health and a warming element in food. Even if you don’t commit to full-time raw food lifestyle, aim to incorporate as much fresh seasonal ripe organic fruit and wild food into your meals as possible. That’s pretty simple and doable by everyone, and makes such a significant difference!

Give us an example of 1 raw day menu!

We are in August now, so there is a lot of ripe produce around, even in our garden. So today was breath-work and mediation upon waking up, followed by some stretching dance and yoga, then about a litre of water (without these other things, regular ‘foods’ are only fractionally as enjoyable & effective. Ideally, these subtler forms of sustenance should proceed more commonly excepted and denser forms of nourishment. Followed by a strong herbal tea a few figs from the garden and then our latest version of a “Cherry Pie” Smoothie, which is super yummy and nourishing.
The other meals throughout the day included a big bowl of watermelon, a big farmers market salad with a homemade Caribbean jerk sauce, hummus and olives (you will be able to try these at Neal’s Yard soon). And in the evening a bowl of grapes foraged from the garden and some more fresh salad with avocado and Aiste’s quinoa.

What would be the essential appliances to do raw food at home?

The most essential are hands and teeth and appreciating these tools to the max. As much as I love juice, I do consider a high-powered blender the next most import tool after a good knife. The blender combined with a high-quality strainer can turn any blended drink into a smoother finer liquid or juice. A plain old good grater is amazing! Which of course a mandolin or spiralizer or food processor can expedite all the other tools are great too according to fitting them into your resource allocation. It is important to remember, that it is as simple as having a pair of hands and a good knife!