Some people think raw food is a new thing - a cutting-edge way of eating, newly discovered by scientists or Hollywood trainers for optimal beauty and health. In fact, raw diets are not new. They are not the latest fad. Hominids have evolved over seven million years, and for the vast majority of that time we ate only raw, living foods.
The raw-food diet is about getting natural - about rediscovering the natural way for humans to eat. Because despite all the knowledge of humankind - all our science and technology - what will make us healthiest and happiest is to eat the foods that nature, in its wisdom, has provided. This original and longest-lasting human diet comprises primarily fruits, berries, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and greens. This is the way our ancestors ate until the relatively recent discovery of fire.
The Organic Choice
A raw-food lifestyle is about eating pure food from nature and giving ourselves the best food possible, so the choice to eat organic foods is fundamental. While the cost for organic products is a little higher, I view it as money I won't have to spend on visits to my doctor. We can choose foods that have been treated with herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides (I call this slow suicide), or we can choose unadulterated, living, vibrant foods from nature.
The Vegan Choice
The vast majority of raw foodists are vegans. If you haven't heard, there is a lot of new data pointing to the incredible health benefits of eating a vegan diet. Check out The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell. It's a book about possibly the most comprehensive study of human nutrition ever undertaken, which concluded that, in Dr. Campbell's words, "People who ate the most animal-based foods got the most chronic disease. . . . People who ate the most plant-based foods were the healthiest and tended to avoid chronic disease."
According to the American Diabetes Association, vegetarian diets are associated with a reduced risk for obesity, coronary artery disease, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, colorectal cancer, lung cancer, and kidney disease. Additionally, virtually every health organization in existence advocates eating more fresh fruits and vegetables.
Then there is the ethical side to it. It's a nice feeling to finish a delicious, nutritious, and satisfying meal knowing that no animal had to be born, bred, and killed in miserable conditions so you could eat.
Or how about the fact that the livestock industry is one of the biggest polluters of all and is right at the top of the list of industries that contribute to global warming? Did you know that the single most effective thing any individual can do to minimize their negative effect on global warming is to eat less or no meat?
The Real Deal
I would like to remind you of one simple fact. And it's such an important fact that I am going to write it in bold.
Human beings are the only animals on Earth that cook their foods.
Think about that. Then think about this: human beings are the only animals who suffer from a high incidence of degenerative diseases and other health challenges such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. There is a connection here!
I'm not saying that eating raw is a panacea for modern humankind. However, I am saying that ultimately a primarily raw-food diet is our natural way to eat and, if done correctly, will bring most of us maximum health and happiness.
All right, so what are the amazing possibilities? If you're wondering how many ways you can prepare raw carrots and celery, I want to tell you that there is a whole cuisine that has been largely forgotten but is being rediscovered - and it is delicious! In raw cuisine, we can create virtually every taste and texture without adulterating the food.
Raw-food cuisine has rediscovered some of the oldest and healthiest food preparation techniques known to humankind, such as sprouting and low-temperature dehydration. Did you know that the way humans first made bread is the same way we still make it in raw cuisine? In this kind of bread, the digestive enzymes are not killed. The food retains its natural nutrients - in fact, sprouting the grains greatly increases their nutritional benefits for the body.
Relationship with Food
Many of us in this culture have lost our relationship with food. The only relationship many kids growing up today have with food is going to a drive-through or popping a package into the microwave. The raw-food lifestyle is all about reestablishing our connection to our food and the planet. Raw food is more than just a cuisine - it's a lifestyle. It is part of a more holistic way of looking at the world and our relationship to it. We see nature, and ourselves in it - nature is something we are part of, not something to be overcome.
Rod Rotondi is the author of Raw Food for Real People. His endeavors include an upcoming DVD series, Leaf Organics restaurants, Leaf Organics raw packaged food line, raw food prep classes and retreats, and a forthcoming television show. He lives in Los Angeles, CA. Visit him online at http://www.leaforganics.com.
Based on the book Raw Food for Real People ©2009 by Rod Rotondi. Printed with permission from New World Library.
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