Recently on a hazy Saturday morning, I got out of my bed to do something I haven’t done yet in years; visit the Burbank Farmers’ Market. In order to give my readers a better understanding of what my topic was to be about, I felt it only necessary to follow Macrobiotic chef and teacher, Jeanne Beveridge around while she shopped for organic fruits and vegetables for her upcoming home menu. With camera in-hand I captured her picking out fresh bulbs of fennel, heads of bok choy and several funky types of squash that I’ve never seen before. “This is like candy, so sweet” she says as she holds up her favorite vegetable: kabocha squash. Some of these fruits and vegetables looked like they were visitors from other planets to me. Being a Macrobiotic chef for over 11 years, Jeanne teaches people how to self-heal naturally through knowledge and nutrition. Along with private in-home cooking lessons, she offers ongoing classes twice a week at Full ‘O Life Market on Magnolia Boulevard. Students get to actually eat the food she prepares during class. She creates new recipes weekly and all are welcome.
After our visit at the Burbank Farmers’ Market, I met up with Jeanne during one of her classes at Full ‘O Life and watched her dazzle the students on how people can reverse illnesses and aging, simply by what you feed your body. Full ‘O Life is the perfect place for this dynamic chef to teach because it is a health food store and restaurant all-in-one. This family-owned establishment recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. While other large, chain grocery stores have come and gone in Burbank, this little gem stays afloat and thrives by offering organic, healthy, nutritious options for all types of people, pets, too.
We sat at a small table in a quiet corner to conduct the interview. It’s 11:00am and we’ve beat the lunch rush. She orders veggie chili and a gorgeous salad made of freshly cut Romaine lettuce, sliced beets, and carrots with a homemade honey mustard dressing. I order a cup of their hearty vegetable barley soup and possibly the healthiest tuna melt on the planet, as it is topped with crispy cool bean sprouts and sesame seeds. Yum!
DD: I hear that nutrition can heal serious illnesses, heart disease being one of them. Can you really turn heart disease around, naturally?
JB: Most of the problems that people are having with their hearts is actually from having too many unhealthy saturated fat deposits in their blood. This means they’re over-consuming animal products. The easiest way to turn around heart disease is by eliminating animal products from a person’s diet and get them on whole grains, vegetables and vegetable proteins so you don’t have the high levels of saturated fat deposits within the blood. The body can and will heal itself as soon as you stop eating that which is causing the problem in the first place. In as short as three months a person can turn around heart disease on a properly balanced plant-based diet.
DD: There are theories out there that tell us we, as humans were designed to eat meat.
JB: This is a controversial issue for many. In the Macrobiotic approach we believe the length of our digestive track is what tells us we are not meat eaters but plant-based diet beings. Natural meat eaters also typically have many pointed teeth – fangs and claws for hunting and a short digestive track. We don’t have any of these things. Also, our intestinal track is way too long for consuming meat. Because of the slow process of our lengthy intestines, it takes food a long time to travel through us and meat putrefies as it goes through the intestinal track and creates acid. We do not even produce the uric acid needed to break meat down, like natural carnivores do. We, as human beings are designed to consume a plant-based diet as our foundational foods. The documentary, “Forks Over Knives” is one of the best films for pointing out the validity that plant-based diets are better for overall good health. It shows that the regular consumption of animal products, refined sugars and processed foods cause acidity in the body and this is the root problem for degenerative diseases. When we’re in an acid-state, we degenerate. When we’re alkaline, we rejuvenate.
DD: I have read that an acidic body can create cancer. What is your opinion?
JB: A lot of degenerative diseases come from being too acidic for an extending period of time. For example, long term acidity creates and then feeds cancerous conditions. If a person is eating refined sugars on a regular basis and they have cancer, they’re feeding cancer. If they’re eating animal products, which turn to acid very quickly, they’re feeding the cancer. If they’re eating highly-processed foods, which turn into acid in the body…. they’re feeding the cancer. Practicing Macrobiotics and other alkalizing diets and lifestyles can reverse a cancerous condition by creating an alkaline environment internally, so that the cancer has nothing to feed off of and over time goes into remission.
DD: Talking about healing foods, please tell us what else is good for you to eat. Obviously, vegetables and fruits…..
JB: When it comes to the human body, we need a balance of whole grains, land vegetables, sea vegetables, vegetable proteins, nuts, seeds and fruits in order to balance our diet. Each vegetable and whole grain is good for something different in the body. If we eat whole foods designed by Mother Nature we can naturally create good health. If we eat all highly processed foods that are de-natured, de-vitalized and difficult for the body to even identify, our body will reflect the imbalance in our health. And please be aware eating whole grains does not mean process whole grains – ex. a package of bread will say it’s made from whole grains, but it’s been processed into flour. It’s no longer a whole grain and the body does not treat it any longer as a complex carbohydrate but as a simple one, like sugar. So you no longer get the benefits of a whole grain which is a foundational food for optimal health.
DD: What do you normally eat for breakfast?
JB: I eat a macrobiotic breakfast, which is quite different than most American breakfasts. My meal consists of miso soup, a whole grain dish and greens. Sounds strange compared to the Standard American diet – but it makes a world of difference in my whole day. I start with miso soup to support the immune system. Miso has balance digestive flora and it is a good source of minerals. I get complex carbohydrates in the whole grains dish, for long burning energy, protein and minerals. Greens for a good blast of vitamins and green energy to boost me for a busy day. I was never satisfied with breakfast before and experienced blood sugar lows by mid-morning until I started doing this Macrobiotic approach to my morning. It is highly satisfying on many levels.
DD: Please explain what Macrobiotics is?
JB: It is a way of life based on Oriental medicine in which we are striving to bring the body into harmony with the natural world around us. So, we eat whole foods that are prepared using natural cooking techniques and fermentation. We balance our diet according to the seasons. It’s all about getting back to Mother Nature and giving the body what it needs to sustain optimal health, naturally. If you consume natural whole foods your body will create good health, it is designed to do just this. The body is constantly transforming to the way you feed it – you ARE what you eat.
DD: What made you want to become a Macrobiotic chef? Where did you study?
JB: To tell the story very simply – over a decade ago one of my family members was diagnosed with cancer. Western medicine could not do much for this person because it had metastasized into the bones, it was too far advanced. We knew about Macrobiotics and I immediately started getting educated and cooking a healing protocol to help reverse the condition. Six months later the doctors were astonished with the results – there were no signs of cancer. Over the course of the years to follow, I attended the Kushi Institute in Beckett, Massachusetts to get my certifications to become a professional chef and teacher. I have also studied with David Briscoe of Macrobiotic America, he is one of my favorite teachers and a wealth of knowledge.
DD: How easy was it to introduce this lifestyle to your children? Were they ever fast food eaters?
JB: My children were introduced to all of this at a young age, two and four years old. So they had little exposure with fast foods before this became a part of our lives. Although now, a decade later they do experience these foods on occasion. They are normal kids so of course they get into junk food sometimes, but I make sure they get a healthy foundation of whole foods when they are at home. And we have educated them through the years so they know how to be healthy naturally and how to cook.
DD: What changes have you witnessed in friends, clients, family, and your own body from eating this way?
JB: I have witnessed many different people with many different degenerative diseases reverse their conditions or put them in remission and return to good health. It has been an amazing journey. I have seen people reverse cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease, fibromyalgia, ovarian cysts, hypoglycemia, eczema, massive weight loss, Candida, irritable bowel syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, gout, heart burn, acid reflux and a whole host of other conditions. It has been wonderful to watch the human body do just what it was designed to do, self-heal. And to witness people getting empowered and taking control over their health has been the best part of teaching. Knowledge is power.
DD: At the Farmers Market, I saw many of the vendors advertising, “organic” foods. What’s the difference between organic and conventional foods?
JB: There are many differences between organic and conventional foods but the main one focused on is the chemical fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides that are used in conventional farming. These chemicals wreak havoc on the human body and are associated with a vast array of health problems. Also conventional farming pollutes soil and water supplies, so it is not only a problem for people but also the planet. Most consumers are concerned about the increased cost of organic foods but what I have witnessed is that those who eat mainly organic spend far less money on supplements and medical bills. So the money tends to balance itself out.
DD: How can people get a hold of you? What can they expect from one of your Full O’ Life classes?
JB: You can find more information about me and my partner Patrick on our website at www.The7thElement.com. I offer weekly cooking classes at Full O’ Life Market that teach you all about the amazing power of whole foods and how to use them to create good health, naturally. These are no ordinary cooking classes. You will learn how the body works and how to create balance in your diet and your life. You will learn how to read your own body and emotional patterns to understand the signs and signals that your body gives you on a daily basis. And then what to do with your foods to create harmonious balance naturally. I make it simple and fun. And these gatherings have brought together a wonderful group of people that make a great support system for those on a natural path to good health. We also offer private Macrobiotic services, workshops, and yoga classes too.
After we finished our very healthy, nutrient-enriched, and guilt-free lunches, Jeanne showed me around the store and explained what a lot of the different foods were and which were good for a Macrobiotic diet. Some of these items can be found in the organic section of your local grocer, but Full O’ Life really is a one-stop-shop. I picked up a bag of quinoa (an ancient grain that’s full of protein), long-grain brown rice and millet. I am not sure I would ever give up meat, completely, but this is a good start. Jeanne instructed me to start small and gradually incorporate this much healthier way of eating into my daily ritual. It seems so logical to just eat ‘naturally’ instead of choosing the over-processed, “convenience” foods that have crept their way into our daily diets. Taking care of ourselves should be our first priority in order to thrive, be happy and live longer, healthier lives with our loved ones. Jeanne reiterates that we can have anything in moderation. Make that drive thru experience a rarity instead of a daily habit. Yes, we all know this fact, but sometimes a reminder exactly what the doctor….or in this case, what the chef, ordered.
Thank you, Jeanne Beveridge for your time, talent, knowledge and your pure love of healing others in-need.
A very special ‘thank you’ to the family of Full O’ Life, for allowing us to shoot photos and conduct our interview.
Don’t forget to check out the Burbank Farmers’ Market every Saturday from Sat 8 am – 12:30 pm, located at 290 E Orange Grove Ave.