First and foremost I would like to thank Albert, his family and all the other Amish I hung out with who helped bridge the Amish/English cultural gap by allowing me, a raw meat eating, eccentric surfer from California into their homes and lives. I would like to thank my Mom, Dad and brother for putting up with my new choice of lifestyle once I came back from the Amish. I know raw chicken, 8 month old rotten buffalo meat and the multitude of scary and smelly jars that cluttered our house and refrigerators took some getting used to and I want you to know that without your love and support, it would have not been possible.
Diane O’Connell for her continued love, support and help in editing the book. Mary Beth Clark and her son Mathew for being my kindred raw spirits, and motivating me to get it published. Manis and everyone at Pangaia for providing a loving raw food community for me to live, work and experiment at. James Steward and everyone at the Rawesome Co-op for providing a place for me to sell my book and by creating an epicenter of health and community. My current success with my diet would not have been possible without the Rawesome Co-op. Weston Price Foundation and Sally Fallon for getting me started on the path towards health and activism and for supporting so many local farmers. The Right To Choose Healthy Food Foundation for their activism and support of local farmers. Aajonus Vonderplanitz, my good friend and raw food compadre. I credit you with saving my life. Your attitude and love for the truth is a continual inspiration for me and I look forward to growing together in the future. Finally, I would like to thank all of the “astronauts” out there. Those people who are willing to dietarily boldly go where no one has gone before. When friends and family have turned their backs and said you were crazy and that eating raw pork, pig intestines, trichonosis, rotten meat, rat lung worm, brains, mongoose, baby mice was going to kill you, you still pushed forward because you needed to know the truth. Your persistence and dedication has helped thousands of people to get healthy. I hope all of the raw foodists realize that most of them would never have transitioned to a raw diet if it wasn’t for the pioneers who had tested the waters by eating things i.e. raw fish, raw dairy that at the time, were considered extremely dangerous and crazy. I have learned that the biggest obstacle to my health is my own prejudices and close-mindedness and I implore the raw food community to support scientific, unbiased and unorthodox research. You raw pioneers truly understand me and are my kindred spirits and I thank you for your inspiration. Everyone lives, some of us die trying.
And I would like to thank Mary Jo for editing and support. I would like to thank Jim Ellingson for his tireless efforts in getting my first book online and for believing in me.
So how does a “never worked a day in his life” white boy from the suburbs of Dallas, Texas end up living with a raw milk bootlegging Amish family in Lancaster, Pennsylvania? To put it simply, the common love of good food.
I first met Albert at a Weston Price conference in Long Island, New York. I was volunteering for the event and one of the event organizers, a kindly old man named Harry was allowing me to spend the night with him. Albert as well as another Amish named Mathew Fischer were selling their wares at the event and needed a place to stay. So Harry invited them to stay the night also and we had a big sleep over party.
It was the next day that I truly began to fall in love with the idea of living with Albert. His booth was a veritable buffet of life. Cheeses, yogurt, eggnog, creams, eggs, breads, kvass. This was the first time in my life where I was truly able to eat anything I wanted without fear of ill consequences. I remember eating a cup of one of his homemade egg-nogs, then being so overcome by the flavor and nutrition that I asked for 2 more. The more I ate the better I felt (usually the more I ate, the worse I felt with food). My stomach was bulging but I was fat, happy and felt no pain. I was starting to believe that I found the answer, that I could actually feel good for once in my life. Years and years of praying to God to make me better were finally coming true. Then it hit me, I was graduating cooking school in a couple of months and I was required to do an internship. Why not ask Albert? He agreed immediately and that is how The Amish Diaries began.
What follows is nearly the exact transcription of my diary entries of living with Albert from December 13, 2004 to January 14, 2005. If it was up to me, I would have left it exactly as I had written it. However due to reasons of clarity I have been advised to do some minor edits, add foot notes and an index of names. Also, names and places have been changed in order to protect Albert and the other people mentioned in the book. As you will find out, the Amish are a private people and I wish to respect that. Besides what I have mentioned, everything that you are about to read is exactly as I have written it. It is my intention to preserve the soul and “rawness” of my experience and have the reader be able to experience the excitement and newness just as I was experiencing it.
There are many reasons I wrote The Amish Diaries. I wanted to bring to light the extraordinary struggles that ordinary people go through in order to make healing food available to the masses. In this day and age, nutrient-dense food is a luxury and not a right and I want readers to see that without the continued efforts of people like Aajonus Vonderplanitz, Sally Fallon, Albert and many others, their access to healthy food will be become more and more restricted. To this day, Amish Farmers are still being illegally harassed by the PDA and other government organizations and whether it keeps happening or not is up to you. You the reader must not expect others to do it for you, or as the old story goes, once everyone else is gone, no one will be left to stand for you.
I also wanted to share the journey that I went through as I was figuring out “which diet is right for me”. I often tell my friends and clients who are in the process of changing their diets that they need to be aware of how big a shift they are making in their lives. Friends, habits, lifestyles, living situations and relationships will all be drastically affected, for better and for worse, simply by changing what we put in our bodies. The public is generally not aware of the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual pain that people like myself and others must go through when we change our diet. We don’t do it because it is a fad or we are [hypochondriacs]; we do it because we must in order to live. There is an intense amount of self-reflecting that goes one. A continual building up and breaking down of the ego that must be done in order to rid oneself of the self-imposed mental barriers that much of the time are the real cause of our unhealthiness. I want others to see that they are not alone and it is normal for these feelings and situations to happen. If my suffering can help a few people transition easier in their diet, then I am doing something right. It has been said that it is easier to change ones religion than one’s diet and in my experience this has been true.
I hope you enjoy The Amish Diaries as much as I did writing them. When you have finished reading please check out Right To Choose Healthy Foods [an organization set up by my good friend Aajonus Vonderplanitz, that fights for us to get the foods we need to be healthy] and make a generous contribution...