About Mike Lieberman

I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY in 1979 and moved out to Los Angeles, CA in April 2010.

I have always enjoyed cooking and baking despite being a picky eater when I was growing up. I’m not sure where my love of making food comes from because I don’t have any specific memories of anything growing up. For the most part my family was on a pretty typical processed food diet. Lots of meals came from packages, boxes and mixes.

You can’t blame my parents for that because I’m sure it was tough for them to raise three kids (with me being the youngest and obviously smartest) all while going through pretty rough financial times. They were doing their best.

Years of foot pain

Fast forward to 2006. At that time I was living in Philadelphia on my own. Since my teenage years, I had suffered from pains in my feet and ankles. Pretty much any doctor that I went to during my life wanted to either give me meds to dull the pain or have me fitted for expensive orthotics.

I was never one into taking pills and wasn’t able to afford orthotics. The pain in my feet and ankles got to be so bad that I was unable to walk barefoot in my apartment. It just hurt too much. It wasn’t excruciating pain, but very uncomfortable.

My parents convinced me to see the doctor again to find out if there were any long terms effects that I should be aware of. He had me diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, tarsal tunnel syndrome (carpal tunnel of the ankles) and arthritis. All of this at the age of 27.

His solution was to start taking pills. I refused.

There were some stretches that he recommended, and he referred me to a sports medicine specialist. The specialist pretty much told me the same thing. Thought he encourage me to buy some other stretching devices and Forest Gump type boots to sleep in. He then referred me to a physical therapist.

After going to physical therapy twice a week for four weeks, I didn’t feel any better. The foot massages that she would give me on the bottom of my feet were ridiculously painful. My post workout routines weren’t getting any better as I’d have to ice my feet and ankles down for at least 30 minutes to help with the discomfort.

All of this wound up costing me well over $1,000.

Inspiration from an unlikely source

Being a New Yorker and having a brother who is nine-years older than me, I was fortunate enough to be raised on The Howard Stern Show. Yes, I am saying that Howard Stern is what helped to cure me of my pain.

Check it – In his book Private Parts, he talks about the severe back pains that he used to have and how he helped to cure them. Stern was able to do this through the teachings of Dr. John Sarno who had a book published called The Divided Mind.

I thought, “why not give this a try?” Buying a book was certainly cheaper than the other crap that I had purchased, and what I was currently doing wasn’t working. I was open to other options.

The Divided Mind

I ordered the book and began reading it. I’m not going to lie and say that it immediately transformed my life. The book reads kind of like science textbook (read: boring), but for some reason I kept reading it.

Over the course of a few weeks, I had completed the book. The concepts made sense and was thinking of going to a doctor that practiced Sarno’s method of healing pain. For some reason, one night when I was driving home from my kickboxing training, it all clicked.

I started to have internal dialogue with myself about my life, growing up, relationships with friends and family…and within the next few days the pain was gone. I shit you not – 12+ years of pain was gone just like that and has ceased to return.

The concept of the book is that we all have a conscious and sub-conscious mind. The conscious mind represses feelings of anger, resentment or whatever it might be to a sub-conscious level, so we aren’t fully aware of these feelings. It represses these feelings because we don’t want to hurt someone or are ashamed of the feelings.

On the sub-conscious level, our body deprives a certain part of body blood, which results in a physical pain instead of focusing on the emotional pain. The pain actually exists, but the cause of it is not a structural thing. It’s an emotional thing. For me it showed up in my feet. Other common places for it to show up are in people’s necks and backs.
As I acknowledged to myself what was going on on a deeper level, and brought those feelings and emotions to a conscious level, the pain went away.

It sounds crazy, but it worked for me, so I’m a believer.

It’s easier for someone to take a pill or get surgery than it is to look at themselves in the mirror and see what’s truly going on.

Ok, what’s that have to do with food?

This has everything to do with food because it’s what got me thinking differently about how we go about our lives. We are taught to seek doctors and pills to alleviate our problems, but all they do is mask them.

Later on in that year I went back to the doctor again. I was getting sick a lot. Nothing crazy just a really bad cold and flu every 2-3 months. It was unacceptable to me. At the time, I was doing what I thought was right in terms of taking care of my body and nutritional needs.

I worked out regularly, didn’t eat at fast food restaurants and prepared most of my own meals at home. I was still getting sick way too frequently.

Again the doctor just wanted to give me pills, and again I refused.

Howard Stern…again?

Yup The King of All Media again was there for me with an answer. It just so happened that around the time I was looking for reasons that I was getting sick so much, Stern’s co-host, Robin Quivers, was doing the Master Cleanse. She was talking about it on the air, and it made sense to me.

During my lunch break I went to the bookstore and picked up a copy of the Master Cleanse (I would not suggest doing the Master Cleanse, but instead getting a health coach or doing something like the Clean Program). I read it in a few days and decided to take the plunge. I was going to start the following week just like that. That’s the kind of person I am – all in or all out.

The Master Cleanse talks about giving our body and digestive system a break, how a lot of what we eat cannot be fully digested, sits in our bodies and that’s where disease and illness breeds. Made perfect sense to me.

I was committed to the cleanse and not eating for the next 10-days. After about day 3 or 4, I felt really good and had more energy than I had in years. I thumbed through and re-read the book again. It suggested adopting a plant based diet following the 10-days. I was in. There was no transition period. I was just in.

When I started it, I had no intention of cutting out meat and dairy products, but I felt good, so why go back to feeling shitty?

That lasted about four months, then I went back to eating animal products again, felt like crap and went back to cutting them out again. I think everyone goes through that phase.

On to raw foods

After doing the Master Cleanse, I began reading more books on alternative health, food and the environment. I realized that just because I cut out animal products didn’t mean I was eating more healthy. There was still lots of sugar, soy and processed foods to be eaten.

About a year after doing the Master Cleanse, I learned and began reading more about the raw food lifestyle. This appealed to me and made sense. I always did these things because they made sense, not because of some bullshit study.

Much like the Master Cleanse, I jumped right into the raw food thing. I bought a Vita-Mix, juicer and dehydrator. I was loving it.

Environmental impacts

During the time when I was heavily into the raw food lifestyle, I moved back to New York and into the raw food mecca of the world – the East Village. There were at least 5 raw friendly restaurants within walking distance from my apartment. It was great.

I still kept on reading books about health, food and the environment such as Fast Food Nation and The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter. These books made me understand that food was a business just like anything else and the decisions we make with our food choices impact more than just our bodies.

So I might’ve been eating raw foods, but I was also eating lots of thai coconuts, mangoes, bananas and other produce that certainly wasn’t grown in NY. What were the environmental and societal impacts of them? What was I supporting?

Growing my own food and raising awareness

The book that really put my food choices into perspective for me was Plenty. It’s about a couple that journals a year of eating foods that were grown within 150-miles of where they lived. I certainly wasn’t going to attempt to do that, but though that I could at least do something. Why not grow my own food?

The thing is that I had no experience and little space. I lived in New York City, I barely had living space, not to mention a place to grow my own food, but I was able to turn my 2×3 fire escape into a full on organic vegetable garden.

Since I started to grow my own food and this site, I have been continually learning and reading more about what’s going on with our food system and how it relates to health.

Here’s the thing to me – we are all different, but the one thing that most of us share is the kinds of food we eat. I look around and see obesity, cancer, diabetes and other illness. Something is surely wrong and I don’t believe the answer comes in a prescription.

It’s not about being a vegan or being an omnivore. It’s about eating real food. Not food that’s been sprayed with chemicals and animals that are jacked up on hormones. That’s the bigger issue.

This is why I use this platform and social media to continually raise awareness about our food and encourage people to start growing some of their own and reconnect with their food source by getting it from trusted local sources. I give people simple reasons why to grow their own food and show them how it can be done. I am not a gardener that shows people how to prune their roses and design pretty landscapes. I inspire people to grow their own food.

I always say that I don’t want to preach to the choir. The people that I like to speak with are the uninitiated. The ones that know they want to change, but are unsure of how, why or what to do. Sitting around the kumbaya circle and talking to each other is great, but change won’t come about that way.

As individuals, we have the power to make a difference with our actions. I want to raise awareness and show people that we can make a difference. Our actions and how we decide to spend or not spend our money will bring about the true change that we all want to see. Doing this through gardening and food is a great place to start. After all we are humans and growing food is what we do.

  • beliamcnabb

    Wow, it’s rare to find individuals who get it.  Love this site!  You are an inspiration to all of us little apartment dwellers.

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    Thanks. Glad you enjoy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/deb.e.does Debbie Ellerkamp

    i agree. and i’ve turned the front of my tiny apt into a veggie wonderland, i even took the front of 2 of my other neighbors spot, they haven’t said on word to me about it and everyone seems to like the madness of my green thumb!

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    Nice! That’s what’s up!

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    I dunno, but we are connected now. That’s all that matters.

  • Debra220

    I am trying so hard to eat healthy and give up meat and I get so much crap from my family!!!! Why do people act like you are doing something so bad when you are trying to make better choices!!!!

  • Farmerfanny

    I too am glad I found your site. You are one of the few willing to change your eating habits to get well. I was raised on a farm with meat and milk right from the cow and I couldn’t breath right for 40 yrs. Like you always had a cold or what ever bug going around. I read the “Eating For Your Blood Type” it tells how different blood types’ immune systems process different foods. I am an A blood type we have weaker immune systems and make more mucus. So no more milk products for me as I like to breath. A’s should also be vegetarians, I had given up red meat yrs. ago cause I went to a Dr. and he said “It hurts here you have a spastic colon change your diet.”
    I have to grow food it is in my blood, I get depressed when winter comes cause I can’t play in the dirt. Oh and after what I read in here earlier I’m glad bananas are on my avoid food list in the book.

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    I’m glad that we have connected as well. Your voice is welcomed.

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    Because they are insecure that you are making the choices that they can’t ;-)

  • Wes

    Mike, I just found your site and have really enjoyed it. I live in an apartment with a balcony in Atlanta, Ga. I am very interested in growing my own food but am a bit overwhelmed about where to start. Your site is so interesting, inspiring and informative! Keep up the good work! Thanks Mike!

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    Glad to connect Wes. Keep me updated on how things progress for you. 

  • Radha

    hello Mike,i just found your site and i really enjoyed it..good luck to u..Radha

  • Westcoaster

    Hello Mike, thanks for sharing all the great ideas and your life experience with us.
    When I read your years of foot pain article, I noticed your doctors diagnose “plantar fasciitis, tarsal tunnel syndrome (carpal tunnel of the ankles) and arthritis” , sound familiar to me. If you happen to have it again, find a physical therapist that has experience with the DORN Treatment. It is a great and simple method to help yourself and others. Doctors would not recommend this, because they can not sell it and they pills. Good luck to you. Sue

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    Thanks for the recommendation. Appreciated.

  • Hande

    Have you ever been in Rome Italy?

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    No, but would love to go.

  • Pingback: Are You Going to the Green Festival? | Front Yardening: urban organic vegetable gardening in the front yard

  • Al

    So just last week I had a relapse with back pain that knocked me off my feet. This was very discouraging bc I had also read Dr. Sarno’s book and have been doing really well for months. I have written it all off as BS as I am very discouraged. So here I am looking for a recipe for butternut squash and stumbled across your bio. Is the universe trying to tell me not to give up? Thanks for that. Timer went off. Squash is ready. Thanks for that too.

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    The universe is definitely telling you something. So will I…take a moment and reflect on how things are going in your life – social, professional, spiritual, etc. There could be some things creeping up on a subconsciously. I’ll also tell you something else…enjoy that butternut squash!

  • Donnie

    I notice you use coconut oil for cooking, and am interested in trying it as part of my weight loss and metabolism boost. Do you have any suggestions on the best ones to purchase, besides organic, which I plan to get because I try to buy organic as much as possible and the local farmers market. Love your video’s

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    Dope. The brands that I usually buy or Nutivia, Artisana or Dr. Bronner’s.

  • Dee

    I too suffered from plantar fasciitis. It was BRUTAL, as you are well aware.  A doctor told me to start wearing Birkenstock sandals (good support) around the house or when I can, so I did, as well as shoe supports for the insides of my normal shoes. The result was dramatic!  Within 2 – 3 months, I no longer felt any pain. I still am cautious about the shoes I wear and try to wear my Birkenstocs from time to time, but the pain is gone and doesn’t seem to be coming back. I’m amazed you cured yourself naturally, but anything is possible, so kudos to you on this. Looks like mind over matter wins again!

    Thanks for the heads up on that book. Sounds like something I’d like to read.

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    It’s amazing. Ain’t it?

  • AmyMeyers

    Mike, I can’t help but notice that when you speak you look and sound like you have a hearing loss or are deaf ( tongue movements and speech patterns). I just want to say that I am so glad you did not let this disability stop you from blogging and doing what you love. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    Thanks for sharing our thoughts too and for the kind words Amy, but I am neither deaf nor suffer from hearing loss. 

  • Raven

    Talk about awkward…

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    Or comical ;-)

  • Oilrigpilot

    WOW !!!  Thanks Mike… Plain english and well said, my friend.  I’m excited to start this new mindset of mine too.  

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    Nice.

  • Nicole Guzman

    I dig ya! I am looking forward to my new garden adventures!

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    That’s what’s up!

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    That’s what’s up!

  • Guypleases

    Try using seaweed as fertilizer .

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    Ok

  • http://gustoso.wordpress.com/ Gustoso

    Thanks for sharing your story. I agree, we need to keep gardening simple and accessible for everyone.

  • http://www.UrbanOrganicGardener.com Mike Lieberman

    True. True.

  • Moonfuller

    God, I love practical people.

  • shanti

    hi Mike, I think u are gr8 and love your video coming up out of the Grand Canyon with your buddy. Maybe another hike there in the winter would be cool! I have a bunch of tomatoes going wlld in big containers !

  • Jen

    Hi Mike. I live on 1.7 acres and have planted a garden several times (about 30′ x 30′), only to have success once or twice. I get so overwhelmed with the weeds and grass. I think the solution might be a container garden. Any suggestions on where to get free 5 gallon buckets? Free or affordable soil? Thanks so much!!

  • Diana

    I just found this site and is already inspiring me so much. Great work and Thanks!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/andy.millette Andy Millette

    I just found your site and it’s fantastic. My family and I started this journey a few years ago, and are excited to continue to grow and learn.

  • Judi

    Awesome, Mike! A common sense approach is sorely lacking in our current society. I, too, have suffered from chronic pain that the doctors wanted to medicate or cut into. I too, told them to shove it & found another way… & am into the gardening thing. :) One little tip for those of us that love our meat… check out a small butcher that perhaps does private butchering. Stay away from the supermarkets… Ask around at the small butcher shops find out where their meat comes from. You might get lucky & find someone that processes locally grown meat from small, private farmers. :)
    @Jenn: I don’t know where you’re located at directly but you can find cheap/free compost materials if your city has leaf pick up, or there’s a farm anywhere near. Usually horse stables are only too glad to let you take their manure. They have a bumper crop of that. :) Throw it all in a pile & in a couple of months you’ll have all the top quality soil you could ask for. The 5gal buckets, you can pick up from the local Home Depot/ Lowes or a local contractor. The ones at HD/L will cost a couple of $, but sometimes the contractors & even garages would be too happy to have you haul them off. Be sure to clean them thoroughly w/ Dawn & bleach. :)

    Didn’t mean to butt in, just wanted to help.

  • Judi

    Or just New York. :)