Saturday, 14 December 2013

Ilona talks about A Wholefood Lover's Guide to Sydney

Can you give us a little bit of background about A Wholefood Lover's Guide to Sydney and why you started it

When I went travelling in the UK last year, my friend and I were looking for healthy food options online and we came across a site that was kind of a dictionary  and I thought "I wish there was something like this for Sydney".  Something that kind of pulled everything together in one space.  I imagined plenty of international visitors to Sydney wouldn't know where to start to get a wholefood fix.

Eventually I would like it to grow the blog into a one-stop-shop for all wholefood related news and events in Sydney.  

Being into digital communications and PR, I'm a big believer in naming things so they reflect exactly what they are so people can find them easily!  Hence the name "A Wholefood Lover's Guide to Sydney"

For those who may not fully understand, can you explain Raw, Vegan & Macrobiotic and why they are an important contributor to our overall wellbeing

I wouldn't even want to start trying to put a definitive description on those three things because it's highly individual, but I think a good starting point is the beliefs and philosophies underpinning the labels, rather than the actual practice.

What I love is that each are based on a belief about the close relationship between what we put in our bodies and our state of mental, physical and often spiritual wellbeing.  

Raw foodies are of the belief that by eating a diet of uncooked (not heated above 40 degrees) plant and sometimes animal food, delivers the most benefit to the body.  For them it is the way nature intended food to be eaten and the way the body is et up best to digest and assimilate nutrients.  

Vegan's don't eat food that is derived from animals.

Macrobiotics see each type of food falling on to a spectrum of energy with yin (or expansive energy at one end) and yang (or contractive energy at the other).  The body and the diet should be in a stage of balance for optimal health and so foods that fall in the middle of the spectrum should form the basis of one's diet.

Fascinating stuff. 

Has this always been a part of your life or was there a trigger within that led you to this lifestyle

No - although, I am Italian which probably explains my deep, deep love of food....from shopping, to preparation to eating.  I have always been a good eater but developed a terrible relationship with food in my early teens and going into adulthood (eating disorders and a stint of trying high-protein, low-carb diets).  I was never really overweight but I was striving for perfection.  Also, I have always had bad digestion all my life, I just didn't realise the severity of it until I was old enough to really think about it.

I tried everything - naturopaths, chiropractors, conventional doctors, tablets..everything.  I was about 27, on antibiotics and thinking about having a radical experimental surgery to fix it when a good friend of mine said "enough!" and sent me off to see Ken McLean (a macrobiotic counsellor at Kensington).

After 3 weeks of following his advice, I noticed a change.  Two months later I threw out the antibiotics.  That was around 5 years ago and since then I've come to understand what my body needs to keep functioning properly and that's a plant-based diet with only a little bit of animal protein and some grains, with a lots of greens and probiotic enriched food.

You are a massive fan of both Frenchs Forest and Marrickville Markets.  How did you fist discover these pockets of organic paradise and what is it about them that keeps you coming back

As I delved deeper and deeper into the wholefood scene, I discovered that farmers markets were an excellent source of hard-to-find ingredients and they were also a place where like-minded people gathered.

Each market has a different vibe to it, depending of course on the locals that frequent it and create the demand for certain supply.

An old flatmate told me to check out Marrickville and I LOVED how bohemian it was and LOVED all the food stalls.  I go there when I want a meal, more so than to shop.

I recently moved to Manly so Frenchs Forest is a new discovery.  It is just a regular part of my Sunday now.  It's definitely a market for grown-ups - the stallholders are really forward thinking and sophisticated in the wholefoods space.  I was in heaven when I discovered the Caseus stall!

I've never eaten so much raw cheese in my life yet had so few digestion issues.

Sometimes I make a trip out to the market simply just for them!

From your stance, why are markets like these an integral part of their respective local communities

You are not going to find good food in today's standard supermarket.  Mass production (to grow huge quantities, preserve, store, ship goods thousands of kilometres away) strip food of what it is that makes it good!

People come together over food, so I think markets like these are as beneficial for our need to socialise as well as for health or economic benefits.

Being able to talk directly to the merchant or producer, in most cases, means you can talk and learn about what you're eating.  They unite communities over beautiful food - what could be better than that!

Absolutely!  Now if you would like to check out the goings on with Wholefood Lover's Guide to Sydney simply click "here" for the facebook page and "here" to go to the website.

AND we have it on excellent authority that there may be a focus or two on some of our Frenchs Forest Market stallies so stay tuned peeps!