Cleansing is in. It’s no wonder this fast-growing, billion-dollar industry, marketing the promise of weight loss, eternal youth, even spiritual enlightenment, has hit Idaho. “I’m cleansing” can mean a variety of things. For some, it’s crash dieting, the latest weight-loss fad. Others look to renounce indulgent behavior, clean the proverbial pipes, honor their bodies by fasting, juicing and eating purposefully. A cleanser’s aspirations are as varied as the methodologies.
Cleansing may be in vogue, but it’s nothing new. It can be found throughout history in all the world’s major cultures. In the Wood River Valley, cleansing has definitely found its footing and I was lucky to visit with three leading practitioners, each creating communities of cleansers with their own unique approaches.
Molly Brown, nutritionist and proprietor of Glow Live Food Café, says spring is a great time to cleanse: “The more vital and fresh the food is, the bigger the benefit.” Last spring 100 people joined her in a fiveday, plant-based cleanse highlighting locally sourced fruits and vegetables with an optional one to three days of juice fasting. Brown believes even one day of juicing gives your body the ability to reset, picturing it as returning to its original high-functioning state. “People wake up feeling amazing. It takes you back to your body’s blueprint, to where you optimize genetic expression. Your digestion is clean and clear, your body can assimilate so many more nutrients from the food. Your energy improves.” Central to the success of Brown’s cleanses is being able to rely on local farms, which maintain quality soil and provide well-mineralized organic options.
Tifney Stewart, an acupuncturist and herbal medicine practitioner in Ketchum, explains spring is the time of year when our bodies call for fresh, energy-laden foods. “When you are able to go farm to table, you have energetically powerful food, with more enzymes and more vitamins. The fresher it is, the more your body is soaking it up.” Throughout Stewart’s 3-6 week cleanses, she brings her group together to share recipes, learn about the detoxification process from both a Western medicine and a spiritual/emotional perspective. Her favorite community builder is “potluck night,” where everyone comes sharing their favorite recipes. Chocolate mousse? Lasagna with cashew cheese? Ingredients are readily available to make innovative dishes and desserts through Idaho’s Bounty, organic farmers from the Hagerman Valley, farmers markets and local stores.
Last but not least I stopped in to see Julie Johnson, nutritional therapist and owner of Nourish Me Café, stirring a fresh batch of dal, a mainstay of her springtime cleanse. Living for a time in the French Alps, eating fresh chickens and hormone-free cheeses, she found the transition back to processed American foods intolerable. Flash forward 15 years and she is bringing organic farmers’ produce, wellness products and seasonal cleanses to the local community. Her spring cleanse is nine days; the first half focuses on quieting the system with easy-to-digest foods ? her delicious coconut dal, FlorEssence tea, lacto-cultured vegetables and then, afterward, feeding the liver with amino acid-rich bone broths. She hands me a piece of her homemade Idaho flaxbread, a staple on the simple cleanse diet she provides. “The enzymes are alive,” she tells me. “That means it can support life… your life!”
I walk away from each of these meetings nourished and glowing, if not entirely from the foods I sampled, then from the passion with which these women are sharing their philosophies. Cleansing supports the lifestyle here, and our local farmers feed it.