The Road Trip to Real Food- From Macca’s to Sadhana

Nothing reminds me more of the overall state of health in this country than going on a road trip. Now, I don’t wish to make broad assumptions or unfair generalisations and I must admit that my assumptions about what people eat and how people care for themselves is also drastically biased living in a place like Byron Bay.

The community herein Byron Bay has access to a wonderful array of health food stores, farmers markets and fresh, local, organic food- be that in shops or at the cafes and restaurants we frequent. There is access to clean fresh air, good water, plenty of nature, sunshine and places to walk and exercise. The community for the most part is passionate, educated and motivated to live a healthy and vibrant lifestyle and no matter where you turn your eyes, you are likely to see broad smiles, natural skin, active children and a radiance and vitality that I have come to consider to be the norm.

20130310-111810

I frequently read stories and articles about the country facing a health crisis, about Australia being the most obese country in the world, about illness and disease levels skyrocketing and about people feeling stressed, fatigued, malnourished and less than whole. Yet it is only when I leave the bubble of Byron Bay that I see this evidence first hand.

Last week I went on a road trip from Melbourne back to Byron Bay via Sydney. It was a wonderful adventure and a beautiful time spent with my family, yet in the back of my mind, these issues kept plaguing me. From the moment I arrived at the airport, at the hour of 9am, I was confronted with businessmen eating doughnuts, tourists munching on snickers bars and children slurping on soft drinks. On the plane, I was subjected to the greasy snack food that cruised the aisles; chips, nuts, cheese, coffee, more soft drink and alcohol. In the cities I was taken aback by the air, the pollution, the water, the lack of connection, the lack of nature and the lack of smiles. Above all though, it was the service station after service station I witnessed that I think inspired this post more than anything. People walking back to their cars with armloads full of McDonalds, KFC, kebabs, more doughnuts, chocolate bars, florescent candy,  jumbo coffees and energy drinks.

images-2

Of course, we had shopped before hand and had a plethora of healthy snacks – granola bars, superfood mixes, raw nuts, raw crackers, avocados, fresh fruit, seaweed snacks and 10 litres of natural pure H2O! The scary thing is, we were the odd ones…

Around 4 hours south of Sydney, happiness appeared in my world in the form of a place called Oliver’s Real Food. Tucked beside a large service station, Oliver’s was like a mirage of cool, clean water in a dusty, barren desert. Inside its gleaming walls were refrigerators lined with slow pressed juice, homemade sushi, fresh salads, chia puddings, fresh fruit and made-to-order smoothies, wraps, sandwiches and soup. I walked around as though in a daze, looking at the retail section, which offered healthy snacks as well as educational books on health and wellness and kitchen staples such as coconut oil and herbal tea. The 10 minutes (and $50) spent inside these walls revived me, made me believe that YES, there is hope, a better way and a step forwards in the right direction away from obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

oliver-s-real-food-2

However, walking back to the car my little heart still dropped. I looked at us with our arms laden with healthy, vibrant, delicious food, yet still, the majority of people were leaving the larger service station, still choosing the greasy, sugar-laden, nutrient-void, chemical crap that was wrapped in colorful packaging and served by staff that resembled zombies.

What would it take, I wondered, to get these people into Oliver’s? To chose REAL food over the garbage that people considered to be food?

I pondered this question for some time, watching kilometres of landscape pass by, perplexed by the fact that even when given such an attractive alternative as Oliver’s, the vast majority of people were opting for the poorer choice. Oliver’s was reasonably priced, had lots of options and was bright and cheerful. It was a few metres away from the fast food chains, but surely that couldn’t be the deciding factor?

When I reached Sydney I had breakfast out one morning with my father. He had texted me the night before and told me he had walked past a café that he knew I would love, a new place called Bare Naked Bowls that served fresh, healthy food and donated a portion of its profits to Nepal. I was thrilled, so touched that he had gone to the trouble to think of me and was excited to meet me there.

Article Lead - wide997893611gi9b4ximage.related.articleLeadwide.729x410.gi4bmz.png1437630217708.jpg-620x0

Between three of us we tried the acai bowl, the green bowl and the protein bowl, all vibrant and topped with superfoods and homemade raw granola. We enjoyed green matcha lattes and chai tea and sat in the sunshine on a busy Saturday morning, surveying the streets of Manly. The place, although newly opened, was buzzing the whole time, people filing in and out in their lycra yoga clothes, fit men in their running attire, young mums with their babies in slings and healthy couples hand in hand, getting takeaway green smoothies to take to the beach. I felt totally at home, in my element, surrounded by the types of people I see day in and day out back in Byron Bay.

I asked Dad if he had been here before and he said something so fascinating to me. He said ‘Kel, I would be too embarrassed and intimidated to walk into a place like this on my own.’ He went on to say, ‘I don’t know what half the menu items are,’ and he pointed at words on the menu; lucuma, mesquite, chia, matcha and buckinis. Again, to me these words were as common as apples and oranges, but to people new to this type of food, of course it was confronting!

The conversation shed a bright light on my road trip ponderings. Suddenly, it made a little more sense. Yes, some of the behavior I saw I believe was habitual – people making do with food they were used to eating – but I also saw the behavior as people being too intimidated to walk into a healthy Mecca, unsure of what they were going to order.

images-3

In that instant, sitting there with Dad, I felt such a genuine desire to help people. I saw my mission very clearly. I saw that so often I am preaching to the converted, handing out green smoothie recipes to people who already make them every day. Suddenly, I realized I wanted to help people like my Dad, to introduce people from all walks of life to simple, fresh healthy eating, to draw people away from poor habits towards easy, new, healthy ones.

The following day I was exceptionally keen to visit a raw vegan place called Sadhana Kitchen, located in Sydney’s inner city suburb of Enmore. My family was enthusiastic to join me and, although I was a little nervous that they wouldn’t like the food or they would be freaked out by the menu, we ventured over together. The tiny space was full to the brim with people enjoying the most amazingly colourful plates of food. We waited for a table and then looked over the menu together, I explained to them what cashew cheese was, how falafels could be made with seeds, how the frozen ice cream was made from coconuts and how the lasagna would have zucchini for the noodle sheets. It was all very new to everyone but orders were placed courageously! When the meals came, they were demolished! The food was amongst the best raw food I have ever had and it was such a wonderful feeling to show the people I love this fun, healthy and inventive cuisine. We left feeling radiant, with dessert in little boxes to take home for later, my family assuring me they would be returning again!

sadhana_1

The road trip was eye opening for me on so many levels and since returning home I have continued to look at things differently. I scroll through my Instagram feed and see images of overnight oats, Paleo desserts, raw zucchini pasta, vegan ice cream bars and reishi lattes in a new light – of course these are confusing and intimidating if it is all new! What the hell is reishi? How do you make pasta from zucchini? What on earth is Paleo?! Being out in the greater world has helped me to come back to basics and to approach this way of living and eating with fresh eyes.

So, I am hoping to hold onto this new way of seeing and to make my food, my posts and my articles available and accessible to everyone, no matter what they know about chia seeds or kale. Creating big changes begins with small steps. My desire is to help, inspire, motivate and assist people to make these first steps and to feel comfortable to ask questions and seek assistance. Healthy food isn’t just for yogis, fitness fanatics, hippies, new mothers or middle age women. It is for everyone.

Chatting to my mum at one of the last service stations we stopped at (that again, served nothing that resembled real food), Mum said to me with exasperation in her voice, ‘If people had better options, they may choose differently.’ I agreed with her, but taking that idea one step further, I believe if people do have another option and are also educated about that option, then they may choose differently.

So, here continues my journey to close that gap.

25-healthy-foods-medley-16314809