WOW—what a whirlwind!
I just returned from a wildly successful two-week speaking tour of Australia. Now that both I and my circadian rhythms have returned to some semblance of normal it seems a perfect time to reflect on and share the experience with all of you.
My tour was mainly sponsored by a group called Nourishing Australia – a truly non-profit group oriented toward many of the principles of the Weston A. Price organization but more broadly based in its scope. They are self-described as “dedicated to raising awareness of food and farming and health issues.”
To call the organizers of this speaking tour passionate and utterly tireless is a gross understatement. The devotion these people apply to their mission of a healthy and sustainable future for all Australians is nothing short of dizzying and incredibly admirable. It is also deeply heartening. These are truly wonderful people in every sense of the word and I am both honored and humbled by their passion to deliver my message to Australian’s everywhere.
The primary board members associated with my tour were Sydney-based Holistic Dentist (and my kind, delightful and generous host), Dr. Ron Ehrlich, as well as the irrepressible and tireless Vicki Poulter – Food and farming activist NSW, charming and wonderful Tim Poulter – Marketing and business consultant NSW and organizer and supporter extraordinaire, Julie Phillips – Wise Food educator and health practitioner, WAPF Chapter leader QLD. For me it was like traveling halfway around the world to meet with old friends I’d never met before. It was an honor to be associated with any and all of them. Additional extraordinary supporters included Grahame Rees, a fourth generation farmer and sustainable livestock management advocate, as well a business management expert (who is now a much beloved friend) and Justine McKell, publicist extraordinaire and go-getter, bar none.
The flight to Sydney was the longest time I’ve ever spent in the air–a total of 18 hours from the time we left Portland, Oregon. For me a long flight is 3 or 4 hours–tops. The plane was an impressive spanking-new Quantas double-decker jumbo jet with plenty of amenities and reasonably comfortable seats. My problem is that–for the life of me–I just can’t seem to sleep on a plane. I found myself working on my computer for the entire flight (still no internet on international flights, unfortunately). Upon arriving early in the morning (Sydney time–God knows what time it actually was on the West Coast or anywhere in my body) I was greeted by Dr. Ron Ehrlich, a highly respected holistic dentist in Sydney (Sydney Holistic Dental Centre) and someone I’ve gotten to know and adore long-distance during the several months of planning the events here.
Ron drove my assistant, Lisa and I to his beautiful home where no time was wasted in meeting people and doing three media interviews in a row over the phone. Whew! My first afternoon in Sydney was spent having a wonderful lunch, together with Lisa Collins, Ron Ehrlich, Vicki Poulter of Nourishing Australia, and Grahame Rees at a beach side cafe in Bronte Beach. I had forgotten what real prawns could taste like and enjoyed an amazing prawn salad I’ll be dreaming about for a long time to come.
My speaking sojourn in Australia began shortly after getting off the plane (and continued throughout my stay) with a flurry of media interviews, including an appearance on national TV on Australia’s Today Show seen by millions. (watch the video)
It seemed every time I turned around–wherever I was (even in the car) there was yet another media interview request. My book tour received a full color magazine cover story in The Tweed—a mainstream newspaper on the Gold Coast where I was interviewed by news journalist, Nadine Fisher.
On my first Friday night in Sydney I had the pleasure of appearing at an evening ticketed event called “Soul Sessions“, created by respected journalist Eloise King with the help of Tracey Wiltshire and Amber Jane Davis as a venue for those extraordinary stories often left out of mainstream press coverage. Soul Sessions is described as ” a provocative bi-monthly events drawing global leaders in holistic and western medicine, entrepreneurialism, enlightenment and wellbeing to our private Sydney studio for wildly stimulating evenings packed with visceral punch.” It was an amazing venue. The sold-out evening event was opened by an extraordinary performance by Gumaroy, an Aboriginal performer, who simply blew everyone away. I had nuthin’ primal on that guy. Incredible show. He was joined by another didgeridoo (known more properly as a “yidaki”) master and Aboriginal dancer to round out a jaw-dropping performance. It was humbling getting up to speak after that. The evening was a resounding success overall and completely memorable. (watch a short video of my presentation at Soul Sessions)
Come Saturday morning–bright and early–was my first all-day talk at the University of New South Wales to a huge and enormously receptive audience. To simply borrow from the Nourishing Australia web site description of the event, “Dr Ron Ehrlich’s introduction with Dr. Weston A. Price’s photos was fascinating, Bruce Ward’s presentation of how large herds of grazing cattle can regenerate degraded land while providing inexpensive nutrient dense food was an eye opener for the city audience and Costa Georgiadis from SBS Garden Odyssy inspired all about the importance of chemical –free food and healthy soils. His at times unorthodox and delightfully outrageous “Produce not Product” talk was hugely entertaining with a serous message. The food by Agape Organic Restaurant was sublime! A great day!”
As a side note, Bruce Ward is an Australian-based Holistic Management educator (for more information go to www.savoryinstitute.org) who regularly demonstrates through his lectures how properly managed grazing animals are not only good for our health but the health of the planet. He soundly and thoroughly dispels the cattle carbon and methane myths!
In each of three major venues I spoke in five, one hour segments on various topics, including diet and evolution, the role of dietary fats and carbohydrates, why eating grains isn’t the great idea its promoted to be, nutrition and mental health and “Primal living”, which included both a discussion of the role of exercise (what works and what doesn’t), survival in our modern world and the application of primal principles to everyday life. Interspersed throughout the day were additional presentations by one or two other speakers to round out the event. It was perfectly balanced and all meals for these events were organic, grass-fed and gluten-free…oh, and totally delicious!
Each of these events was quite a day–one that connected the dots between our ancestral heritage, the modern day farm, our modern day food supply and how it all ties together with health. The response from the audiences was exceptional. Australians seem ripe and ready for making these connections in a meaningful way and the audience (right down to a delightfully precocious little girl named Rhani who was an obvious fan) was incredibly receptive to the message. What a terrific experience. It was immensely gratifying to be heard in such a meaningful and enthusiastic way everywhere I went.
At one point a rather healthy and fit looking man raised his hand and identified himself as a “medical researcher with over 30-years experience”. He stood up and looked around the room and proceeded to say something to the effect of “if any of you in this auditorium have any doubt as to the truth of everything Nora is telling you I’m here to tell you she is RIGHT ON.” His name is Bill Giles, an immunobiologist with the National Institute of Biological Medicine and also with the Canberra Medical Ecology Center. He later generously provided me with a full compendium of his own life’s work (including papers, other published work and a beautiful binder full of research information). Bill, through his years of research and clinical study has essentially come to advocate a virtually identical diet to my own. In his letter to me he wrote: “What you are presenting is urgently needed by many people in our communities, particularly those at risk and I wish there were many more voices like yours creating a necessary buffer to the destructive commercial influences that lead people toward poor mental and physical health.”
The Sydney event was also professionally filmed by the MINDD Foundation. The MINDD Foundation helps practitioners and patients discover and implement effective treatments for Metabolic, Immunologic, Neurologic, Digestive, Developmental conditions that often affect the mind. Their focus is on pediatric disorders such as ADHD, Asthma, allergies, autism, chronic illness, depression, learning and language delay, and digestive and behavioral disorders. As stated on the MINDD web site, “research is showing that these children are coming from families with a history of “brain-immuno-gut disorders” triggered by toxins, malnutrition and infections.” Too true. Leslie Embersitis of MINDD was a tremendously supportive presence for my talk there. We are hoping to make the footage of my Sydney talk available in the near future.
On my day off I took an uncharacteristic detour from my “Primal duties” and experienced some fascinating healing work by Daniel Coates (www.danielcoatesmusic.com), expert in a method of unique acoustic-based healing work known as “Dream Sounding”, which for me was profoundly relaxing and rejuvenating. I had heard about Daniel some time back and wanted to experience his unique work for myself. Fascinating stuff–though decidedly off my own beaten path and an atypical departure for me from straight biochemical and neuroregulatory-based approaches. This was genuinely a way cool and almost ethereal experience. Powerful. What a resonant voice this man has…and what a heart. A truly natural healer, Daniel has lived and studied this and other healing methods throughout the world. His healing work was a welcome respite from the considerable demands of my own busy schedule and responsibilities and my Being is sincerely grateful to him for his generosity and considerable gifts.
From Sydney we traveled by car up to Armidale–to Australia’s rolling green, expansive and farm-based countryside. We stopped at a wildlife park along the way where I managed to actually pet a friendly wombat (usually an oxymoron) and view many of the country’s friendly, furry and many less friendly and furry denizens. Once in Armidale we were the lavished-upon guests of local rancher, Rob Blomfield. Rob and his wonderful wife, Katrina own and ranch 4,000 acres of prime Merino sheep and beef cattle grazing land co-populated by an estimated 200 wild kangaroos (www.karori.com.au). They also own what can only be called an eye-popping Estate overlooking thousands of acres of breathtaking expanse of national park land on the edge of the ranch. This dream home of theirs has deservedly graced the cover of architectural magazines and news articles and has won awards for it’s “green” design. It was jaw-dropping in every respect. As a gesture of gratitude, Rob and Katrina invited our group to stay at this wondrous location as their honored guests for two days. Turns out that Rob was formerly self-described as “sixty going on seventy+” with 35+lbs of excess weight, painful osteoarthritis, pre-diabetic, having a plugged, chronically and unsightfully infected tear duct, chronic toenail fungus and odd skin problems, as well as foot pain, muscle cramps and chronic physical and mental fatigue. His life had become miserable. Just getting around had become a challenge for him. Within six months of someone handing him my book (and adopting the principles therein) ALL aforementioned symptoms are essentially gone and he feels he has his life back and more. The arthritis pain had suffered for ten years vanished within two weeks of the dietary change. He now self-describes as an energetic “sixty+ going on forty” (with a decided twinkle in his eye) and has become a bit of a Primal Body, Primal Mind evangelist in his community. He has subsequently witnessed the transformation of the health and well being many of his friends in the community, many of whom attended my crowded talk that weekend at the University of New England, Armidale. Rob spoke from his heart during my event there and charmed the whole room. He is a very special man with a kind, open and generous heart. He thanked me for changing his life but I personally feel transformed by his kindness and (now) his friendship, for which I, too am deeply grateful. Rob was also interviewed for a news story in a widely read publication called “The Land” which went viral and attracted the meddlesome interest of multinational corporate “pro-grain” marketers (many with ties to Nabisco, Kellogg’s, etc) who attacked both me and the message. Nourishing Australia (Dr. Ron Ehrlich) quickly offered up an eloquent response to the obvious “marketing over health” message of these interests that helped beautifully drive our point home.
The talk at the University of New England in Armidale went resoundingly well, though the audience makeup was quite a bit different. It was, on average an older and more conservative crowd and there were many ranchers. There was quite a bit more emphasis on the benefits and importance of grass-fed meats, plus a lot of really amazing talk about healthy soils. It was fascinating to learn about the powerful role of grazing animals in cycling carbon back into the soils and restoring healthy nutrient content. Anyone with any doubts about the profoundly beneficial effect of grazing animals–not just in terms of the healthful quality of the meat but the profound benefit to the environment should research the work of Alan Savory in Zimbabwe and his Holistic Management model. This stands to literally change not only the quality of our diets but will change the world in its reversal of environmental degradation and destruction wherever it is implemented (see the link to The Savory Institute above). David Mason-Jones (the author of ‘Should Meat be on the Menu?’) talked about why grass-fed meat should be on the menu and did an excellent job of presenting the Holistic Management model. It is life-changing information.
Following the event at Armidale and our magical stay there three of us flew up to Brisbane where I was filmed for a major documentary (starring Mariel Hemingway with additional interviews from Bruce Lipton, and others) on the subject of longevity and “eternal youth” (film title to yet be determined) which is currently slated for release in May. Stay tuned for upcoming details! (Like, pinch me, right?)
From Brisbane we continued to the Gold Coast (sort of the ” Malibu ” of Australia ) where I gave my final day-long talk at the prestigious Bond University. There my talk was enhanced by presenter Tony Lovell. Tony Lovell is a partner in Soil Carbon Australia and has given many great talks all over the world on the benefits of grazing management in regenerating grasslands and reversing desertification in Australia and overseas. His presentation on cattle, land/soil regeneration and methane effectively challenged and dispelled the “cattle are bad for the environment” dogma. His talk was brilliant.
The audiences in all three locations were wonderful and extremely receptive to the message. I had the chance to meet many fans whose names I recognized from my Facebook fan site, as well as those that had been working so hard behind the scenes for months to make this lecture series a resounding success. (blog post from a fan about the Sydney event)
Finally, we spent our evening after the talk at the Gold Coast at a lovely restaurant there with a large group where I sat next to beautiful (inside and out) journalist and television media personality, Sarah Wilson. Sarah had attended my talk earlier that day, having interviewed me earlier for her blog and podcast, and offered her own video testimonial of my presentation (watch it here). She has offered exceptional and enthusiastic support for my book and my tour from the beginning and I am most grateful to her. She is a remarkable person. I had Tim Poulter sitting next to me on my other side, which made for a delightful dining experience. It was a magical evening filled with fascinating conversation, excellent food and good spirits.
The next morning we stopped at the beautiful beach home of Julie Phillips’ parents on the Gold Coast where we enjoyed a “Primal” brunch in style and enjoyed the magnificent view filled with beautiful warm Australian sunshine (being early summer there I found myself less than enthusiastic about the thought of returning to a rainy, cold Oregon winter again in a couple of days). From there we went straight to the airport and back to Sydney for one last day (honestly, I didn’t spend more than 2 days in any one place at a time the entire trip). My last evening there was spent with Ron and his wonderful wife Annie in their gorgeous home overlooking the Pacific ocean in Bronte Beach, right where we started. Joining us was Vicki and Tim Poulter, now heartfelt friends, as well as fitness guru Aaron Mckenzie of the cutting edge Origin of Energy Cross-Fit gym and lifestyle center in Sydney. Aaron is a long-time fan of Primal Body, Primal Mind and an amazing person (not to mention an eye-popping and handsome specimen of human health). We were also joined by Dr. Bogdan Sikorski, a pharmacologist and toxicologist who was the Polish translator for a book entitled Homo Optimus–widely read and adopted in Poland (under the original title of Dieta Optymalna, or “The Optimal Diet”) and written by scientists, Jan Kwaśniewski and Marek Chyliński. The book basically espouses dietary principles that are somewhat similar to those put forth in my own book, though with much more tightly regimented and restrictive guidelines. His diet is also MUCH higher in fat. My own approach is not a “high fat” diet so much as a high percentage fat diet, though it is interesting to see the similarities and the positive effects of Kwaśniewski’s work. It became and remained a bestseller in Poland for four years and has literally transformed the health of thousands there. Kwaśniewski opted for the current new title in the English translated version because “optimal nutrition ought to transform an individual into Homo optimus, a member of the human species with yet unknown and unfulfilled potential”. Bogdan was a fascinating and charming individual and it was a genuine and fortuitous privilege to meet and speak with him.
All in all it was a fairytale journey Down Under with a hugely successful speaking tour and a wealth of magical experiences. I dare say the friends I’ve made there will last a lifetime and I suspect we all haven’t seen the last of one-another.
My deepest heartfelt thanks go out to all my new found family at Nourishing Australia for all their passionate hard work and for an amazing experience!
Video testimonials of the tour: