Category Archives: About Us

Camel’s Milk and Luke’s Baptism

I apologize for the lack of blogging – between Luke’s birth, our October Perfect Health Retreat, and other obligations, the last three months have been hectic. But everything has gone very well, life is returning to normal, and I will resume blogging soon.

In the meantime, let me share a video from Australia and some baby photos.

PHD Cameo on Aussie TV

The Australian television show “Sunday Night” did a special on camel’s milk, and reader Richard Price was featured. He managed to sneak a copy of Perfect Health Diet into the video (watch starting 3:19 for Richard’s story):

A note on milk: Milk and dairy generally are listed among our “pleasure foods”, meaning they are acceptable in small doses but discouraged in large doses. We often serve a mug of warm whole milk with honey and turmeric as a dessert at our retreats; but we recommend against using milk as a staple food, due to evidence of danger such as this study. Milk supports growth of a healthy gut flora, so it can be therapeutic; but I am not familiar with special advantages to camel’s milk.

Baby Photos

Luke was baptized yesterday, and Mom and Dad are proud. Father Mark Murphy presided, the godmother was present, and the godfather participated by Skype from Switzerland:

Father Murphy and company at font

After the ceremony Luke was able to converse with his godfather:

Luke and his godfather

Here is our family (minus two):

Family after baptism

We had been saving a bottle of Chateau Lafite Rothschild Pauillac 1998, originally received as a wedding present, for a special occasion. It was a very generous gift and we thought Luke’s baptism the best opportunity to open it:

Celebrating Luke's baptism

The activity may have tired him out a little:

Luke resting after baptism

Can’t get enough baby photos? I’ve posted a few more on Facebook.

Pictures from Korea

We’re in the midst of our Korean vacation, and I’d like to share a few pictures.

Our Talk at Reebok Crossfit Sentinel

Crossfit has come to Korea in an impressive way. Crossfit Sentinel has opened four gyms in the Seoul area and their facility in Seoul’s City Center, where we spoke, has a golf facility and a café that sells PHD-like food.

On Saturday I gave two talks, one on diet and one on lifestyle. Our photographer (Shou-Ching) neglected to take photos during the talks, but here we are afterward with the leaders of Crossfit Sentinel:

Korea trip 2


Our first priority, once our talk was out of the way, was a trip to Shou-Ching’s hometown, Yeongwol, to pay respects to her father. In traditional Korean Buddhism, graves are marked by a mound of earth, and our first step was to weed the plants on and around the grave:

Korea trip 3a

Buddhism assumes communication between our world and the spirit world, and descendants support their ancestors’ spirits with gift offerings, such as food. Here we paid our respects to Shou-Ching’s father with prayer and an offering of bananas, oranges, and chicken:

Korea trip 3b

We also sprinkled a bottle of wine around the grave to provide him with something to drink, and made a gift of gold and silver, transmuted by fire from gold and silver paper:

Korea trip 3c

Shou-Ching’s father was extremely sociable, the center of Yeongwol’s Chinese community, owner of Yeongwol’s most popular restaurant, the creator of the town’s Chinese school, and everyone’s first recourse in times of trouble. With food, wine, and money for gifts and gambling, he may be equally popular among the spirits.

Yeongwol would be a minor backwater in the Korean countryside were it not for a notorious event in Korean history. King Munjong of the Joseon dynasty died in 1452 when his son was 12 years old. The son, King Danjong, ascended to the throne, but regents ruled in his place. The regency was overthrown a year later in a coup led by Danjong’s uncle. After a counter-coup attempting to restore Danjong to the throne failed, he was exiled to Yeongwol. After a second failed restoration attempt when Danjong was 17, he was forced to commit suicide. Two hundred sixty-eight supporters of Danjong were executed. After the suicide, Danjong’s body was left to decay in the river, and a royal edict threatened anyone who rescued the body with three generations of persecution. However, a local man recovered the body and buried it in a secret grave, which was eventually found a few centuries later.

Over the course of subsequent centuries, Danjong and his followers were posthumously accorded greater and greater honors, in an attempt to appease their spirits; the man who recovered his body was given the status of a royal minister. Danjong began to be honored in art:

Korea trip 3e

His grave was moved to a suitable site for a king, on a high ridge overlooking Yeongwol:

Korea trip 3d

Today the tomb complex is a UNESCO world heritage site, you have to pay admission to visit, and the tomb is roped off. But in Shou-Ching’s youth, it was untended, and the village children would race up the hill to ride on the stone stallions, tigers, and sheep that surround the grave. If the sculptures look worn, it is not only because of the weather!


Buddhist temples are found in remote mountain sites throughout Korea. They are places of retreat and meditation; it was central to their purpose that they were not, in the days before roads and automobiles, easy to visit. City-dwellers would have to make an arduous journey to reach them, and might spend a week in prayer and meditation repenting misdeeds and repairing their spiritual affairs.

A common feature of temples is a source of spring or mountain water, channeled into a drinking fountain.  At Geummongam in Yeongwol, my nieces and I had a contest to see who could stand the longest in a pool of cold spring water downstream from the fountain:

Korea trip 4a

At Baekdamsa in Inje, here is a typical prayer room. Three Buddhas and a large number of figurine monks are mounted on the back wall.

Korea trip 4b

Meditative prayer will typically be led by a monk who chants sutras and strikes a mok-tak to keep rhythm. In the temples we visited, a chanting monk would wear a microphone and loudspeakers around the temple would broadcast the rhythmic chanting.

Baekdamsa also had a wishing pond with water lilies. Tossing a coin into the central reservoir would grant a prayer:

Korea trip 4c

Around the river that runs in front of the temple, visitors had built rock cairns:

Korea trip 4d


We had a delicious meal at a traditional Korean restaurant devoted to an uncommon “safe starch,” acorn starch. Acorn starch is usually served as a sort of jelly, called Dotorimuk, but it can also be used to make noodles or other foods.

At this meal, almost every food (apart from the cured duck – the reddish ham-like food on the left of the large plate – and the vegetables) used acorns:

Korea trip 5a

On Sunday we went to a restaurant made popular by a TV special, which offered a wide range of vegetable dishes made with medicinal plants traditionally used in Chinese medicine, along with pork belly and rice:

Korea trip 5b

Lynh wanted us to blog about eating live octopus, so we had to go to a sashimi restaurant. At Gisamun-ri south of Yangyang, we had this feast.  First, the appetizers:

Korea trip 5c

Here I’m eating a barnacle:

Korea trip 5d

Then the sashimi. Puffer fish:

Korea trip 5e

Two other varieties of fish:

Korea trip 5f

Live squid, tunicate or sea squirt, abalone, and sea cucumber:

Korea trip 5g

Sea urchins (which taste like a seafood pudding):

Korea trip 5h

There is a risk to eating sashimi: many wild fish and shellfish carry parasites. This was brought home to us the next day. After our sashimi dinner, we stopped in Yangyang to buy some fresh seafood – scallops, clams, and octopus. The next day we extracted Anisakis worms from all three foods:

Korea trip 5i

Other Sights

Nearly all free land in Korea that has not been built upon and is flat enough to support agriculture hosts cultivated crops. Here is a rice field in front of a restaurant:

Korea trip 6a

Typically the farmers also operate restaurants or shops. This woman is a buckwheat farmer who operates a stall in the market at Yeongwol selling buckwheat, cabbage, and scallion pancakes:

Korea trip 6b

Here I am with Shou-Ching’s mom at the beach in Yangyang, sporting a seaweed necktie:

Korea trip 6c

Finally, some landscape photos. Korea is over 70% mountainous and resembles West Virginia or the White Mountains of New Hampshire, but the landscape is geologically younger and more rugged. Here are three photos from scenic Seoroksan National Park:

Korea trip 6d

Korea trip 6e

Korea trip 6f


Koreans probably eat one of the globe’s most healthful diets. They eat a tremendous variety of vegetables – probably rivaling the hundreds of species eaten by Paleolithic hunter-gatherers.  However, I noticed that Korean food has become appreciably sweeter and more processed since my last visit 11 years ago; the kimchi is now much less tasty than before, and inferior to our homemade kimchi; bread has made major inroads replacing rice and rice cakes; and the number of overweight Koreans has significantly increased.

Here is a slide from my Seoul talk, based on data from Gapminder. Korea and other east Asian countries have led the world in life expectancy:

Korea trip 7

If Koreans continue to shift their foods toward processed and sugary western foods, I doubt this superior longevity will continue. Korea, I believe, needs the Perfect Health Diet.

Thank You From Shou-Ching

I would like to thank all of you who wished me well on my baptism.

Ten years ago, in a time of difficulty, Paul told me that “Love conquers everything.”

I have been attending church ever since. It took a long time for my perspective to change: to shift from a reductionist perspective I thought of as “scientific” toward a fuller view of living, dying, and spirit. Only after this was I ready to enter the church.

I am still in search of wisdom, but now I am persuaded: true wisdom is found through love.

I would like to share with you a few paintings in which I’ve tried to express the spirit of love. This is a pastel I started the day after Paul and I met:

This is an oil painting:

This is an oil pastel of the first dance at our wedding:

God bless all of you and Happy Easter!