I recently had the opportunity to spend an afternoon with Max Goldberg, organic food guru and creator of the Pressed Organic Juice Directory. Max and I went to an awesome Ashtanga yoga class and had an all organic (and vegan!) lunch at Angelica Kitchen in the East Village. Max is hugely inspiring to me because not only has he done great things for the health world, but he also made a personal commitment to his own healthy lifestyle 12 years ago and has never looked back.
Max quit drinking, smoking cigarettes, and nearly 11 years of anti-depressants, all within a few years of each other, and has never relapsed once. He is very active in the organic movement, especially with GMO-labeling. “It’s really important that people get involved and demand that our politicians in DC label GMOs. It’s one of the real injustices in our country that they are not labeled,” he told me.
Max and I discussed how he began eating organic, his upcoming memoir, who inspires him, and more. We also realized a lot of things that we have in common. Aside from the fact that we are practically neighbors, Max’s story made me think about a story of my own that I have yet to share on TBV – how veganism led me to quit taking the ADHD-drug Adderall after nearly 8 years of being on it and thinking that I could not focus if I didn’t take it. That story is for another day, but thank you Max for helping me realize that it is an important story for me to tell.
Q & A Time:
Q: How did you get into organic food and the organic lifestyle?
A: I started eating organic in 2001 and since then, I’ve been eating close to 100% organic. At the time, a girl I was dating had a session with a naturopath and I went with her to the appointment. While there, I asked the naturopath about organic food because I had been under the impression we needed the chemicals to kill all of the bugs. She told me that I was wrong, so I went home and started doing my research right away. I learned about the toxic chemicals they were spraying on our foods and about the synthetic growth hormones they were pumping into the animals. I pretty much switched to an all-organic diet overnight.
Q: Do you find that it is much easier to eat organic than it was back in 2001?
A: There are certainly a lot more people who are eating organic now, and there are a lot more organic restaurants. In that way, it is a lot easier. However, we still live in a non-
organic society where only about 3-4% of food sales are organic. Many of my long-time friends are not into organic and don’t like to go to organic restaurants, which has required me to find different people to go out to eat with. Eating out, eating at home, and even dating has been a pretty huge adjustment.
Q: When did you start your healthy living blog/website?
A: I started it in 2010, so it has been close to four years since I’ve had it. I started the Juice Directory in spring of 2013.
Q: How did you go about compiling all of the places for the Juice Directory?
A: I started researching in 2012 and had about 50 or 60 places on my original list. I launched it this spring and since then it has really grown. BluePrint came on as the original sponsor and now Suja is lead the sponsor. We also have sponsors in many different cities around the world. The Juice Directory has become a global thing: we now have locations in 10 countries and have more than 1,200 listings.
Q: Can you tell me about the memoir you wrote about recovering from Prozac?
A: I was on Prozac for close to 11 years. In the summer of 2001, I made the decision to go off of the medication, and this book is about my experience before, during and after Prozac. Going off was absolutely brutal and it took me three and a half years to recover. In the beginning, I thought about suicide all of the time and waking each day was miserable. Over time, it got a lot better and I learned how to adopt to a completely new lifestyle. For example, in the past I would only date a woman who drank hard. If she didn’t go out and get completely wasted with me, I wouldn’t date her. It used to be all about escaping, and now it’s not.
There are approximately 30 million people in the US on antidepressants, and since I began writing the memoir I have found that people open up to me about their own situations. It is an interesting thing, because there aren’t a lot of people going around talking about the antidepressant drugs they are taking.
Q: Did you notice that eating organic made it easier for you to adjust to being off of Prozac?
A: That was one of the reasons I did go off of Prozac. I became completely committed to organic food – keeping chemicals out of my food – yet would pop pills, or chemicals, into my mouth each morning. This made no sense at all nad soon went of my medication. Had I not found organic food, there’s a decent chance that I may still be on Prozac.
Q: Did you have many withdrawal symptoms in the beginning?
A: I didn’t have the classic withdrawal symptoms, but when I went off the drug, my life really fell apart. No one told me how to transition or what to expect. My family was not supportive at all of me going off, but I told them I would rather be miserable for the rest of my life than continue taking the drugs.
Q: What is a typical eating day like for you?
A: Of course, it’s going to be all organic. Usually, I will juice at home and do some type of nut milk smoothie or a chia seed pudding for breakfast. For lunch. I usually have a salad or a soup. Dinner is usually a grain like quinoa or millet with more salad and vegetables. Generally 1-2 meals in my day are raw, and my body is always craving green. Green juice, green salads. Anything green. I can’t get enough salad with avocados, sesame seeds and sea vegetables. I try to use as many fermented foods as I can, like kimchi and sauerkraut, because they have very beneficial bacteria to maintain a healthy gut.
Q: Tips for eating organic?
A: The biggest thing is to just start somewhere. I often tell people to start with breakfast. It could be organic oatmeal, organic cereal with organic milk or almond milk, a chia seed pudding, or even just fruit or juice. Even if you are just eating organic for breakfast, that is already a third of your diet. If that seems like too much, go into the market and buy an organic apple. Once you begin, you will feel more comfortable continuing.
Q: Who are you inspired by?
A: I’m really inspired by people who face tremendous obstacles or hurdles in their lives and succeed. One person is particular is Dana White who runs the Ultimate Fighting Championship or the UFC. He used to live in Boston working as a bellhop, and he has now become one of the most powerful people in sports. Anyone who can overcome a huge obstacle and do great things is someone that I am inspired by.
Q: What else would you like to add?
A: I’m an organic activist and am quite involved with the GMO-labeling movement. It’s very important that people understand that in the U.S., approximately 80% of the supermarket shelves contain genetically-modified food. This is food that has been invented in a laboratory, and no long-term safety studies have ever been done on humans. So, what’s happening in our country is that we are part of one big laboratory experiment. Despite the fact that 60 countries around the world label GMOs, the U.S. does not.
Fortunately, I am educated about GMOs and know how to avoid them, but the majority of the people in our country have never even heard of GMOs. As a result, they’re not being told that they are ingesting GMOs every single day. As American citizens, every person has a fundamental right to know what they are eating and right now, they are being denied this right. It goes against everything this country stands for.