Every week, a large refrigerated truck pulls up to the rural Hillsboro garage of Clarence and Chris Geisbrecht, full of fresh fruit and organic vegetables. The Geisbrecht family and 12 other area families help unload, check boxes, and divide the produce.
The weekly event is significant as it helps them create healthy eating options for a lifestyle choice they made several years ago.
“We believe organic food is better for our health and the health of the planet,” Chris Geisbrecht said. “We had to make a change in our eating habits, and buying fruits and vegetables this way makes it easier and more affordable.”
The Geisbrecht family is vegan, meaning they eat only fresh fruit and vegetables, and do not add meat, dairy, eggs, or any other animal products to their diet.
“We eat only raw foods,” Geisbrecht said. “Sometimes if we accidentally eat something that has been cooked or processed, it gives us a headache or makes us feel sick.”
The Geisbrechts have not always been so in tune with what makes their bodies feel good or bad. In 1998, Clarence experienced severe chest pains, spent the night in an intensive care unit, and his doctor scheduled him for a double-bypass heart surgery.
“My husband was dying, and I cried and cried and prayed to God to help us,” Chris said. “I very distinctly heard an answer to my prayer and it was to read Genesis 1:29 in the Bible. I did not understand at first, but finally came to realize we needed to change our eating habits. So we did.”
Geisbrecht said the first thing they did to improve their health was embark on a fat-free diet. The goal was to lower Clarence’s cholesterol, so Chris began cooking his meat separately, using only lean selections, draining the fat, blotting it dry, but nothing seemed to work.
“I wanted my husband to get healthy,” she said. “So I decided to join him in a complete diet change. We eliminated meat from our diet completely, and in six weeks he already felt better. At a six-month checkup, after the close call with a heart attack, his cholesterol went from over 200 down to under 140.”
Geisbrecht said the change was very difficult for the family at first. She did not like the taste of some of the vegan things she prepared. As time went on however, she learned the right combinations for good taste and healthy choices.
“Now we have a green smoothie almost every day,” she said. “Sometimes we vary the ingredients, and even use greens from our yard, like dandelions, bind weeds, plantains, wild lettuce, and mulberry leaves and berries.”
Geisbrecht’s green smoothie recipe is based on bananas. She mixes three or four bananas, 1 cup frozen blueberries, 1 ½-cup water, a generous amount of greens, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla in the blender for several minutes. Her children, Weston and Olivia enjoy the results.
“I am so blessed that our entire family wants to eat this way and we feel so much healthier,” she said. “We eat to live, not live to eat.”
Geisbrecht said the children take acidophilus, raw calcium, raw vitamin D, and vitamin B supplements. As a former registered nurse, she is very conscious of what it takes to create a complete and healthy diet for the members of her family.
“You can’t imagine the freedom we feel now, knowing that what we are eating is meant for our bodies,” she said. “What we do may not be for anyone or everybody else, but we feel so much better about how we are living now.”
Geisbrecht said the family used to eat out at restaurants years ago, but no longer has a desire for that type of food.
“We just think ours tastes better,” she said.
In addition to enjoying the flavor of completely fresh food, the Geisbrecht family has been amazingly free of flu virus, seasonal allergies, and common colds. Chris credits their increased immunity to the variety of vegetables and fruit in their diet, made possible by their cooperative, called Many Blessings.
“The organic food cooperative gives us a chance to work together with others who share our values of healthy food,” she said. “We compare recipes and try new things together. I feel so blessed.”