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Instinctive Eating:
The Lost Knowledge of Optimum Nutrition

by Zephyr
(1996) Pan Piper Press, Pahoa, Hawaii.

Review by Kirt Nieft
Copyright © 1998 by Kirt Nieft. All rights reserved.
Contact author for permission to republish.

This book is an intensely first-person account of one instincto's journey, parts of which may baffle (shock?) vegetarian readers, but there is no question of the environmental sensitivity of the author, or his commitment to a sustainable lifestyle. Written in a lively, generous style, it should appeal most to the new-age crowd, and least to those who have a personal subscription to the New England Journal of Medicine.

Along the way we get a healthy dose of instincto theory topped with a lot of idealism regarding instinctive living. What will prevent it from taking hold in the average crystal and incense book store is that it is not vegetarian. Indeed, Zephyr takes a clear relish in recounting his first animal kill/consumption.

He makes up a very clever semantic distinction between denatured food and "real" raw food, calling the former "fude" and the latter "food." You gotta take your hat off to any method of avoiding the word "denatured" as an annoyingly overused modifier of food. ;-)

Zephyr juggles the role of humble servant, mythical guide, enigmatic guru, and your guide to the new instincto age. And somehow it's all a lot of fun to read, even for a fellow like me who starts to gag when the dawning of Aquarius is deja vu-ing all over again.

But back to the book. It is difficult to summarize. If Severen Schaeffer's Instinctive Nutrition is the third-person-bystander introduction to instincto, Zephyr's book is the first-person smell-my-breath-but-don't-worry-it-doesn't-stink-anymore version. Much of the book is written in question-and-answer format, and it sets up some great lines, but there is a lot of baggage-carrying along the way. Zephyr appears committed to some nifty ideals (permaculture), some utopian desires (tribal community), and also some adolescent indulgences (polygamy).

In 1997 the author had a very trying bout with trichinosis and ended up resorting to medication in order to stem his deterioration. Based on reports posted to the Raw-Food listgroup by both his significant other and himself, it appears that he may well have died without such medication. Knowing this while reading his book gives one a sense of unavoidable realism which tempers the effervescence in his writing. I suspect the author would be the first to admit that the subject he is writing about (instinctive living) is nowhere written in stone, and that he is learning all the time. It will be interesting to see how he handles the trichinosis incident in any future editions of his book. Probably with his usual straightforward aplomb.

See the Pangaia community page on the Rawtimes website for further information about the instincto community on the big island of Hawaii where Zephyr lives for part of the year (includes ordering information for the book reviewed here).

--Kirt Nieft

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