My name is Julie Genser and I was severely poisoned around 1996 when I inhaled a vaporized mercury thermometer. I naively used a regular mouth thermometer to measure boiled milk when making my very first pizza in my home. Unbeknownst to me, the mercury immediately turned into a gas form and popped out of the back of the thermometer into my face. I didn’t even know mercury was toxic, so I didn’t realize I was poisoned for four years, after the mercury had devastated my health and life. The very first symptom when my health crashed was severe and extensive food intolerances and sensitivities — the kind that brought me to the emergency room at three in the morning, night after night. Through additional environmental assaults — including being exposed to toxic fumes at an outdoor fire in a Oaxaca, Mexico garbage dump fire in 1998, and the subsequent toxic 9/11 fires that burned near my home for months in 2001 — I went on to develop severe environmental illness and PTSD. The journey back has been long and excruciating — but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. The character that has been forged through unimagined challenge, the body wisdom gained, and the nutritional knowledge and recipe experimentation have brought me to where (and who) I am today. I love the lessons learned and the person I have become through severe deprivation and challenge during those years.

I had symptoms of Crohn’s Disease from the time I was around twelve years old, so when I was exposed to the mercury at age 30 my digestion was already a point of focus and vulnerability. Due to the severity of my symptoms, I chose to go on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), developed by Elaine Gottschall for those with digestive disease. I remained on that diet for 7 years, but it never did more than keep me at a fragile state of homeostasis. One wrong morsel and things would get way out of whack again. Over the years I’ve experimented with many restriction diets. No grains, no gluten, no refined sugar, no soy, no dairy, no sulfur, low oxalates, low histamine, the list goes on and on. I’ve eaten my share of bone broth and organ meats, animal proteins, seafood and fish, as well as raw vegan and fruit + vegetable diets. Nothing made much of a positive difference (and some nearly killed me) until I discovered Steven R. Gundry, M.D.’s low lectin Plant Paradox Diet.

The late Yasmina Ykelestam, known as the Low Histamine Chef, taught us that being on a diverse + varied diet was healthier than being on a restriction diet for years on end. To that end, I always try to vary my ingredients and eat the most nutrient dense and “wild” versions of food. That means that I choose purple sweet potatoes when available, eat wild watercress from the riverbanks, and select more gamey proteins like bison and elk over beef and chicken.

Although I am very much an omnivore — my body demands I be so — I have a deepening awareness of animal cruelty inbred into our slaughterhouse agricultural system, the dairy industry, and even beekeeping practices. To that end, I hope to help increase awareness and compassion for the animals we raise to eat and help others make the choice to eat less meat and to eat more humanely raised meat. Please read more here: animal cruelty in the food industry.