A Symbiotic Partnership, Naturally
My love affair with fruit
Fruit is beautiful, fun and fanciful! Fruit is refreshing, and it grows naturally in varieties that are sweet, tart, sour or savory, juicy or creamy, lite or rich, large or small. In fact, there are at least 2,000 unique types of fruit, with often hundreds of different varieties within a type...there are about 1,000 varieties of bananas! Fruit grows on trees, vines, and shrubs of all sizes. Fruit grows in most climates on earth at least part of the year, but is most prolific and varied in the tropical forests (humans’ original native habitat). Nearly all fruit loves sunshine, and it grows easily and produces abundantly in its preferred conditions. Fruit comes in its own perfect packaging, and creates no trash. Fruit offers optimal nutrition and fuel for a great many of earth’s creatures, including us!
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For most of our history on earth, humans enjoyed a symbiotic relationship with fruit. So why did we eventually break up this primary natural partnership, relegating fruit to a snack, side-dish, juice or colorful garnish? I can imagine three major reasons: 1. we strayed from our native tropical-forest habitats into colder, drier, less fruit-compatible climes; 2. we invented hyper-palatable, hyper-stimulating, addictive processed food-stuffs; 3. we fell prey to modern messaging from authorities disseminating misinformation and disinformation about the health value of fruit (and other foods).
Alongside cautioning us to avoid eating ‘too much’ fruit (sugar), some of these same sources would have us shy away from appropriate, necessary exposure to the sun, or from walking barefoot on the earth every day. The inconvenient truth for the racketeers is that we can get our basic health needs met without animal products, pharmaceuticals, commercialized processed foods or countless other fancy products constantly being marketed to us. Knowledge is power, and if we take the time to tune IN deeply we can realize that we possess all the natural wisdom we need to thrive. Our true needs are deceptively simple.
A nice way to remember our more natural ways is to observe small children, while they are young enough to retain a strong, uncorrupted connection to the natural source of life. Before they discover sugary candy, very young children love to eat lots of fruit! And they love to run around barefoot outdoors, and naked in the sunshine if the adults will let them. And we love to witness their natural joy in these activities. We envy their unabashed exuberance and vitality.
When I rediscovered the rightful place of fruit in my own life, I found myself in an expansive, colorful, juicy love affair! No other food I had ever encountered could match fruit’s ability to honestly and completely love me back. Fresh juicy fruit helped my body to heal and rejuvenate, my heart to open, and my mind to clear. Fruit reconnected me in an inexpressibly palpable, ‘coming home’ kind of way to the loving, magnetic energies of the earth and the sun, the wind and the rain, the trees, the plants and the animals. This profoundly beautiful blossoming was set in motion quickly once I consented to my natural symbiotic partnership with fruit, embracing it as my rightful primary source of fuel and nutrition.
I traveled to far-away places to spend time with other people who had chosen this fruit-full lifestyle, and I studied the science and history of fruit in our diets. But nothing was more convincing to me than the evidence of my own personal experience of feeling the life-affirming effects on my own body and spirit. It was as if I was being released from unnatural burdens, and was newly free to access a child-like energy and a more joyful vibration. It was so fun to feel the urge to run and jump and play again, and often to simply feel happy or blissful ‘for no reason.’
One day, early in my fruitarian love affair, I brought my children to a playground and immediately kicked my shoes off with abandon so that I could join them in running barefoot through the playground in a fun game of tag. Before long, I was standing at the top of the slide, looking out at the other moms in our playgroup sitting in an orderly fashion on the park bench below (with their shoes on), chatting and doling out snacks to the kids. Something innocently joyful clicked off in me in that instant, as I made a regretful decision to shuffle quickly back to adult-land. I told my kids I was done playing, and I got off the play-structure, put on my shoes and joined my mom-friends on the bench. I replayed the energetics of this incident for months in my mind – I had consciously dimmed my natural energy, my high vibration or frequency, to match my perception of theirs, because I felt uncomfortable being the only adult on a different playing field, so to speak. I vowed never to mask my natural joy or energy again just to ‘fit in,’ but I can’t say that I’ve totally lived up to that vow. It’s often not easy living on a different wave-length.
I’ve always loved warm sunshine, bare feet, nature, and fruit – but putting fruit fully at the core of my diet really enhanced all of these natural pleasures, for me. It’s difficult to capture the exquisiteness of this heightened experience in words...much like it is hard to adequately describe the essence of being in love! I love the pure sweet simplicity of eating meals of just fruit, especially outdoors in the sunshine, and feeling how the fruit (and the sun!) truly does love me back. Fruit gives me an abundance of vitamins and minerals, along with gentle cleansing fiber and perfectly structured, oxygen-rich water. It gives me all the natural sugars my taste buds and my cells long for. True satiation, all offered generously in nature’s stunningly artful, colorful packages. It needs nothing added, and it leaves no trace but seeds and peelings which the earth wants back when I am finished, so that it can nurture the growth of more fruit...and so the symbiotic cycle goes on, infinitely.
The further I got along this road-now-less-traveled, the more I wanted to share the great wisdom and health-gift with my children. I found it hard to place new limits on their habitual food choices, so I made a ‘Fruit First’ rule (eat some fruit before any other kind of meal), and I decided that I would emphasize saying “YES!” to fruit. In fact, I told them that I would “never say no” to any fruit they wanted to eat, or to any new fruit they wanted to try. We had fun learning about different exotic fruits, sometimes bringing a very strange or beautiful (and often expensive!) fruit home from the store, all of us guessing what it might look or taste like on the inside. We’d give a ceremonial drum-roll on the table-edge with our hands, and one of the kids would do the honors of slicing or peeling it open for us all to see, taste, and fully experience. Sometimes we were inspired to draw or paint our new discovery. I approached it with a spirit of reverence, helping the kids to appreciate the magical magnificence of nature’s vast kingdom of fruit.
My children became quite familiar with making their own smoothies in the Vitamix, creating artful salads from our garden with colorful fruit and edible-flower additions, and making lovely fruit pies and other fruity creations. My daughter Rose, when she was about 8 years old, invited a friend for a sleepover. She cut a cantaloupe in half, scooped the seeds into the compost, and put a half in front of them each, with a spoon stuck in it, to be their simple dinner. We will never forget her friend’s astonishment: “Your mom lets you eat this much cantaloupe?” Rose answered, “Yes! Do you want another half?” To which her delighted friend replied, “Sure! Wait...your mom lets you have only cantaloupe for dinner?” And Rose, “Yeah, she actually prefers it!”
Mono-eating is the practice of eating only one kind of food at a time. It’s what virtually all animals do, in nature. We are the only creatures who feel the need to fabricate fancy recipes! Most people have become convinced that we need these combinations for our health, but strictly biologically-speaking, we are designed to eat simply of the foods nature offers freely to us, in their pristine uncooked, unprocessed state. That is how we digest our food best, and maintain more of our precious daily energy for other things (including cleansing and healing). But we humans have learned to use food in a fruitless attempt to satisfy our deep emotional and spiritual cravings – we eat when we’re not truly hungry, we eat things we are not designed to consume, we pile things together to be creative and add extra stimulation to our lives, we eat to fit in socially, and we overeat to numb painful feelings of emptiness, anxiety, and stress of all kinds.
Rather than keeping the focus on what we do wrong and how we harm ourselves, I like to mostly inspire instead, by shining a spotlight on all the fun and benefits we get to enjoy when we make choices that steer us back toward more nature-connected ways of eating and living. It’s so beautiful to feel a daily connection to nature, and to our life-source. It’s calming, healing, and deeply, quietly joyful. And eating ripe fruit in its simplest form, especially as a mono-meal, facilitates this connection in an immediate and powerful way. When I took people on retreat in Costa Rica, we would hike to jungle waterfalls and sit on rocks warmed by the sun, peeling and eating mangoes with our hands. We tossed the peelings into the jungle and watched the iguanas snatch them up. And we washed up in the river. Sometimes this pure and simple ritual would move a participant to tears….tears of happy recognition, primal reconnection, a glimpse of an emotional reunion with a long-lost lover.
Also in Costa Rica, my kids delighted in climbing a water-apple tree and picking bushels of this sweet juicy new fruit discovery to feast on! My 9-year-old son learned to use a machete to open coconuts we found on the beach. We would drink their sweet nectar and then eat the tasty, fatty white insides, sometimes jelly-soft and other times chewy like a candy-bar. We felt like we were on “Gilligan’s Island!” After a long water-fast which I completed as a participant with a group in Costa Rica one year, our first food meal was a paper-thin sliver of watermelon. The sweet red deliciousness of this, after the long fast, was so incredible it is forever etched in my memory. And it is a clear example of the extent to which our taste buds can regain their exquisite natural sensitivity, when given the opportunity.
Traveling with friends to a fruit festival, I remember sharing a fantastic feast of the coveted, huge and exotic durian fruit, as we sat on the grass by the side of the road. And then there was the time I saw a grocery store produce-worker removing all the fully ripe peaches from a display. I asked what would become of them, and he sent me home with a huge box of them, for free! I announced to my kids that we would be focused on peaches for a while. I have so many memories of glorious fruit mono-meals! At a California fruit festival, I had large bowls of the most delicious fresh organic figs, picked and donated by a local farmer. My own little fig tree in Michigan produced exactly two perfect figs, which were ready to pick the day a fruitarian friend came to visit. We treated them like precious gold, and savored every amazing moment of that tiny regal meal together. Nearly everyone can relate to the experience of picking berries and filling their belly up with them along the way, out in field or forest.
When it’s ripe and smells sweet, fruit in its thousands of varieties invites us to pick it with our hands, and eat it while it’s fresh. There is no more satisfying meal (for a human) that comes ready-to-eat, fresh and whole and direct from nature’s bounty. It’s a pleasure to harvest fruit outdoors, a pleasure to eat it when we’re hungry, a pleasure to easily digest it and feel energized rather than drained, and it’s a pleasure that there is very little preparation or clean-up required of us. This, I believe, is how we are designed to eat. Anything else seems to me an aberration which is chosen out of unintended ignorance, custom, habit, modern convenience, or some type of unnatural craving. There is an important difference between a co-dependent and an inter-dependent relationship. Co-dependencies weaken all involved, or build up one at the expense of weakening the other (think of a company getting rich selling you food or products that cause you to become sick and/or addicted), while inter-dependencies develop to enhance everyone and improve outcomes for all. Humans have an inter-dependent, or symbiotic relationship with fruit. We need it to maintain our health and overall well-being, and it needs us (and other animals) to spread its seeds far and wide and ensure its successful proliferation. It’s a healthy love affair.
There is really only one way to find out what bringing an abundance of fresh, ripe, whole fruit to the very center of your diet can do for you, and that is – you guessed it – to try it!
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