CANDIA LEA COLE'S  JOURNEY
(From Learner to Leader) 

 

I’ve been living with environmental illness for most of my life and it has taught me so much about taking care of myself and living my life to the fullest. On February 23rd 1956, the day I was born, I could not have imagined that the chemical toxins I was exposed to in my mother's womb, would impact my life long health and vitality. But they did.

 

I was born with a dirty gene that didn't allow me to detoxify chemical toxins well, and that didn't work in my favor, when you consider the idea that I grew up during an era when nearly every product made, originated from toxic chemicals, and every food grown, contained pesticides, drugs, and hormones. My sensitivity to chemicals, I didn't realize at the time, was exacerbated by infections that I was dealing with, which had originated from bacteria, viruses, parasites, and mold.   

Unfortunately, the doctors that my mom took me to see, in order to try and figure out what was wrong with me, didn't have the kind of training that would have helped them to diagnose and effectively treat my condition: environmental illness. The doctors we consulted with only knew how to prescribe drugs, which made my condition worse. Thankfully, my mother was forward thinking. She made a decision on my behalf to explore the world of drugless medicine, and I curiously followed in her footsteps.

 

As a newly initiated student of the natural healing arts, I was inspired to study books whose topics addressed herbal medicine, acupressure, massage, fasting, detoxification, clay therapy, and Chinese 5 Food Element Theory. I was fascinated by what I learned about all of these topics, and I eagerly experimented with the healing protocols that were suggested by the authors of my reading materials.      

 

While studying about the role of nutrition in preventing disease, I also had the opportunity to learn about how food is produced for the masses. And that's when I became aware of the problems that result from treating food crops with toxic chemicals, and raising animals in confinement operations. It dawned on me that if the earth and living things were being made sick by industrial farming practices, I, myself could not be healthy. 

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Adopting an organically raised whole foods diet was the best decision I ever made for my health. As I learned about the powerful health properties contained in plant foods, I was inspired to experiment in my family's kitchen with the creation of meals that I imagined would be therapeutic for my health, as well as the health of plants, animals, and living things. 

I created "milk without the moo" beverages by blending nuts, seeds, fruits, natural sweeteners, spices, and flavorings, with liquids in my kitchen blender. I also created dairy-free smoothies by blending fruits (or vegetables) with super foods, spices, and liquids. I also taught myself how to cook whole grains, which I accented with vegetables, herbs, legumes, nuts, and seeds. All of these nutrient rich foods, I discovered, served to detoxify and nourish my body and support me in feeling better. 

     

During this very instructive time on my self-healing journey, my mom was invited to be on the board of an organization whose mission was to provide education about alternative forms of health care to people living with cancer and other diseases. Her job within the organization involved arranging hotel stays for the doctors and health experts who would come to our state to speak. As fate would it, she offered up our home as a "Bed n' Breakfast" destination for two pioneering doctors (and bestselling authors) whose names were Dr. Paavo Airola, N.D. and Dr. Richard Barmakian, N.D.

 

While under our roof, I had the opportunity to cook some of my healthful meals for each of them, and tell them about my health and my health quest. I was surprised and delighted, when they praised my meal creations, as well as my decision to walk the path of a self healer. When, before leaving to go back home, they signed copies of their books for me, I was deeply touched by the messages they wrote to me. Dr. Barmakian prophesized that I had "been chosen" to learn about health "the hard way" so that one day, I would help others. Dr. Airola echoed that sentiment and encouraged me to continue learning about nature's indigenous wisdom.          

 

 

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During the late 70's and early 80's, I use my newfound knowledge about food and nutrition to establish a natural foods catering service known as Gourmet Gatherings. I prepared artistic gourmet food buffets for a variety of health care professionals in my community. I later added Meals That Heal to my catering services, and cooked meals for their patients, who had special dietary needs.  

In 1989, I had the opportunity to participate in Minnesota's "Great Growing Organic Food Cook-Off" (an event designed to promote organic agriculture and sustainable cuisine. After being honored with the top prize, I managed to attract the attention of a California-based publisher (formerly known as) Woodbridge Press) whose founder agreed to publish my first cookbook: "Not Milk...NUT MILKS!" The success of this book, led to the publication of two others, including "Gourmet Grains: Main Dishes Made of Nature" and "Super Smoothies! Taste the Nectar of Life!"

 

Throughout the 1990s, I served as a freelance food writer and food stylist for popular magazine publications such as Vegetarian Gourmet, Woman's World, Vegetarian Times, Llewellyn's Gardening Almanac, Veggie Life, and numerous newsletters, including Dr. Julian Whitaker's Health & Healing Newsletter. I also shared my voice on several radio shows and local cable TV programs, and I collaborated with organizations such as VRG (Vegetarian Resource Group) and FARM (Farm Animal Reform Movement) to produce educational events at schools in Minnesota. 

During the mid-90's, after being invited to be educate and entertain a group of young adults about health on the west coast, I was awakened to my higher calling: The calling to serve as an Eco-Mentor in the lives of young people who are destined to help life go on for our generation and the next. An Eco-Mentor is a person, who, like me, is deeply concerned about the health challenges that are impacting people and the planet. They have the desire to lighten their ecological footprint and to make lifestyle choices that serve to protect and sustain life within their bodies and the earth.       

  

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