Photo Credit: TN
Travelers Are Heading To Panama's Taboga Island To Learn From This Black Food Doc
Off of Panama’s Pacific coast lies the Pearl Islands, an archipelago consisting of around 200 small islands. The island closest to the mainland (Panama City) is Taboga, and it is home to the Sunfired Retreat Centre where Dr. Aris LaTham hosts his wellness retreats against a backdrop of lush green rainforests and jungles.
Born in Panama, in the town of Gatun, Dr. LaTham is among his family’s second generation to be born in the Latin American country. His grandparents came from Jamaica and Barbados with the wave of workers who came to build the Panama Canal.
Dr. LaTham is a food scientist with an honorary doctorate in Sunfired Food Science. The creator of Sunfired cuisine, he has developed the complete all-encompassing, vegan raw food cuisine, which features a variety of foods from soups to nuts. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink has acclaimed him a culinary innovator and Father of Gourmet Ethical Raw Foods Cuisine in America.
Having migrated to New York at the age of 17, Dr. LaTham traveled the world and lived in several places before finding himself back in New York in 1979. He set up a food co-op in Harlem for organic food, and shortly thereafter, Sunfired Foods was born. After continuously being approached by people wanting to learn from him, Dr. LaTham began offering retreats to educate people on his healthy cuisine and lifestyle.
“The co-op spun into a for-profit business to meet the demand of people asking me for some of the food off my plate,” said Dr. LaTham. “People would ask how I do what I do. They wanted to share in the vibration I was exuding.”
Decades later, that remains the case. At 75 years of age, Dr. LaTham is in perfect health and top physical shape. He is a prime example of the many benefits of consuming a raw food diet.
“At 75, I am not sick. I have no medical ailments. I have 20/20 vision. No borderline Alzheimer’s. I am fit and ready to go. I can run a good six miles on any given day. I cycle around a lot. Sunfired foods are foods that leave behind a minimal amount of residual waste matter in our system. And most diseases, most medical issues that we face today are basically tied to toxemia, toxins in the body that have been accumulating. So, the health benefit is great health, vitality, stamina, and glowing radiance.”
Dr. LaTham’s Taboga wellness retreats are comprised of a six-day program with six contact hours per day; three in the early morning and three in the late afternoon. Students have the remaining parts of the day to spend as they wish, whether that’s wandering into the sea or mountains, doing their work online, or meditating and getting lost in paradise.
“The first thing we do to start the day is to take our internal shower with what we call an ‘inner body soap’ like lemon juice, noni juice, mint juice, or ginger juice. Something that will stimulate the body to remove toxins that were released while sleeping at night. That is followed by drinking coconut water.”
“We go out and have some physical activities, depending on the program the individual signed up for, then we come back and load up with fruit juices. In the late morning, we have lots of whole fresh fruits and salads. During our sessions, our students are taught to make the most scrumptious raw food cuisines. Aside from the standard program, we also curate our programs to meet the direct needs or interests of the individuals.”
Some of the programs are centered around beach life while the Sunfired food certification course is centered around the culinary arts and science. There is also an all-juice retreat, as well as a regenerative retreat, which is a detox program in which individuals transition from their current way of life into the Sunfired way of living.
An intimate island of only five square miles and 1,500 residents, Taboga is an ideal location to get in touch with nature and yourself, and jump-start your healthy lifestyle journey. Only one percent of the island is developed, so it is full of vegetation, including fruit trees of various species.
“We have persistent sunshine. There are more sunny days here than most other places in Panama. The air is clean and pristine. We have a clay pit where we do our famous ‘mud up bath’ where we use the clay to detoxify the body. We also offer a good menu of spa treatments (massage, wraps, scrubs). We have a strong fitness component, as well. We offer yoga and invite different fitness practitioners/experts to host our students based on their requests.”
The Sunfired Centre has assisted many people in regulating their relationship with food. The main thing Dr. LaTham wants his students to leave Taboga island with is how to defend their lives through food so they can protect their well-being for the rest of their lives.
“We offer a very strong art and science foundation into raw food, veganism, the whole history of vegetarianism, and how to get hold of your life and take ownership of what comes on your plate. We do that through hands-on food preparation workshops, science seminar sessions which look at digestive care and immune building and maintenance, as well as looking at the concept of enzyme nutrition and how to protect your enzyme bank or life- saving bank.”