Jerry Garcia's widow shares her passion for organic living

Jeff Gilbride

In a room with tables stacked with vegetables and wheat grass, musician Jerry Garcia's widow shared her love for organic foods.

"Local organic foods enjoyed by friends and family is the future I want," Deborah Koons Garcia said Tuesday night.

Having directed the 2004 documentary "The Future of Food," which explores the politics and chemical makeup of non-organic food found in grocery stores, Garcia has spent the last few years visiting groups interested in promoting organic eating.

She spent Tuesday evening with members of the Raw New England Community, who meet monthly at the UMass Waltham Center on Beaver Street.

"They invited me to show the film and speak tonight," the widow of the Grateful Dead singer said. "It's often I've done this. People get together and eat and it's really nice. We talk and learn about serious issues."

Members of the the Raw New England Community don't eat cooked foods and all ingredients to their recipes involve organic vegetables. They believe enzymes from living plants help restore the body physically and mentally.

Last night's dishes included bowls of avocado sauce, a sesame- and sunflower-seed-stuffed celery dish and a beanless hummus dip, among others.

Joe Lucier of Quincy helped create the group in 2004.

"I had a vision to share this lifestyle with the community so I built a Web site," Lucier said. "But when Betsy and Waltham got involved, it exploded."

Lucier later teamed with 74-year-old Betsy Bragg who headed a similar group of 30 people who now meet monthly in Waltham. Their meetings usually involve speakers, meals and recipe sharing.

Bragg is convinced that eating raw foods has transformed her life, helping ease her arthritis.

"I had so much arthritis I couldn't move at all," Bragg said. "Arthritis is caused by acidity .... I needed to get alkaline to help it and that's in raw vegetables."

Bragg said her son Tom Lindsley, a Waltham resident who owns Tom Sawyer Painting, was the one who introduced her to eating raw vegetables a few years ago.

"My arthritis really lifted. Now I'm really able to do everything I was before," she said. "I'm really in terrific condition because of wonderful food and exercise ... my mission is to heal myself and heal the planet through raw foods."

Lindsley, a resident of Waltham for about 20 years, was introduced to the concept of eating only raw foods after exhausting a variety of protein shakes and other body building methods he deemed unsuccessful.

In 2002 he went on a 16-week test of only eating vegetables. From this diet he says he gained 16 pounds of muscle and lost 14 pounds of fat. He immediately got his mother hooked on raw vegetables.

"I never have to worry about her anymore," he said. "She's so amazing."

Waltham resident and voice teacher Barry Harris has tried the uncooked vegetable diet for a few years now.

"I lost 35 pounds. My blood pressure has gone down," he said. "The diet itself really transforms the consciousness ... just the detoxification of the bodies here brings out bright, creative, fantastic people."

A Waltham resident for 15 years, Randy Jacobs owns a Gloucester-based company called Magnolia Farms, which supplies fresh wheat grass to stores across greater Boston.

"I was introduced to raw and living (i.e. uncooked) foods a number of years ago through a friend," he said. "I found wheat-grass juice had a profound impact on my health and energy."

Jacobs said the food has a way of healing and cleansing the body.

"Your body is self-healing and self-rejuvenating, depending upon what you put into it," he said. "So when you are taking nutrition in through a living source through living foods, all of the digestive properties that your body needs to assimilate and absorb nutrients are intact ... it provides a very high absorption rate for all the raw materials your body needs to protect itself from diseases."

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Jeff Gilbride can be reached at 781-398-8005 or at