I have been eating a mostly raw diet since 2008 and love it! Simply put, raw food is anything edible that is unprocessed and unpackaged except by nature. Thus you may peel back the outer layers of a cabbage to find the tender juicier ones inside, and similarly unpack a banana or an orange. More often than not you can eat the packaging too.
Raw foods have packaging that can be disposed of in the garden or out of the car window, with a flick of the wrist. They have packaging that does not build up, add to landfill and pollute the planet.
I am primarily writing about a raw vegetarian diet here. Many raw fooders eat a vegan diet but as we investigate this topic further, you will discover the variations on a theme that our individual beliefs and experiences bring to our palate.
In 1996 along with my first purchase of goji berries, I bought the book that was to change my life: ‘Radical Rejuvenation’ by Roxy Dillon. I read it voraciously, devouring all the information on herbs and enzymes and skin and sea weeds. Then I reached the end where the diet itself popped up in all its glory. RAW FOOD? Hmm, not liking that part, the 36 year old me said. Old enough to know better, young enough to think I’d never get old!
This is one of those defining moments that retrospectively cause me to sigh with exasperation at myself. If I had embraced the raw diet then I would have remade myself in ways that I could not compete with so easily or rapidly some 12 years later when I finally took the raw food plunge.
Gillian McKeith writes about super foods and produces a dried blend made from raw plants. She became known for the catch phrase, ‘You are what you eat’, but actually makes a crucial difference in her book ‘Living Food for Health’ namely, ‘You are what you absorb’. This is heard the raw food world over, as it is the very crux of why people eat raw.
Vital enzymes within our food are destroyed when heated over 118F or 49C. Add to this fact that the enzymes in your stomach are destroyed by either hot food or food that is too cold. Therefore any nutrients still in the food to start with cannot be extracted by your body.
Thus cooked food may fill you but it is not feeding you.
It is not rebuilding your cells, remaking your hair, nails, skin and other organs. In fact to be really clear about this, your body treats cooked food like it would an infection. More white blood cells are generated in order to move the enzymes into your body. This was discovered way back in the 1930’s by Dr Paul Kouchakoff and is termed leucocytosis.
Most Raw Foods Are Living Foods; There Is a Slight Difference as Noted Below by Wikipedia:
“Raw foodism (or following a raw food diet) is the dietary practice of eating only uncooked, unprocessed foods. Depending on the exact philosophy or type of lifestyle and results desired, raw food diets may include a selection of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, eggs, fish, meat and dairy products.”
“The concept of live food is easy – raw, uncooked fruits and vegetables, and sprouted grains, nuts and seeds. It is a whole new way of looking at food. The benefits of live food are many. Uncooked foods have all the vitamins, minerals, enzymes and phyto-nutrients that cooking destroys or alters.”
An actual raw diet can be as different as the variety of people who start to eat this way. The connecting thread is that everyone desires to feel their food is giving them life enhancing nutrients. Raw fooders eat consciously, listening to their body, and eat according to what is right for them, not anyone else.
Some turn to a 100% raw diet over night, others take months to transition and having reached a completely raw diet, ease off for reasons various.
Food is an emotive subject, it does more than act as a face filler in society as we know it. It is a social event, so putting raw into this must be negotiated without offending and upsetting others.
There are deceptions in the raw world – ways in which we accidentally eat non raw unless fully aware. For instance unshelled unroasted nuts are not necessarily raw. Often heat treatment is used to remove nuts from their natural childproof packaging, in particular cashews. Likewise carob flour is not always raw, but sometimes roasted before milling.
There is much to be discovered but happily, a wealth of information. I find the raw life to be one of interest, delight and continual learning.