As seen in the Globe and Mail Toronto Canada
By Karen Von Hahn
As seen in the Globe and Mail Toronto Canada,
Saturday, November 23, 2002 Print Edition, Page L3
As it happens, wrestling fans and porn addicts aren’t the only ones who like it raw.
Angela Bassett, Alicia Silverstone and Woody Harrelson do too. Practitioners of the latest health chic, they are Raw Foodists. No food that has been heated to a temperature over 118 degrees Fahrenheit is permitted to pass their lips.
In what seems like a triumph of Primitivism Moderne, the idea behind this new culinary fad is to eat like our caveman ancestors. That is not to say that Sting, Matt Dillon or Carol Alt, who are also Rawists, are out hunting the wilds of Bel-Air with wooden clubs, tearing at hunks of bloody flesh.
They are, however, making the scene at Roxanne’s, a San Francisco all-raw restaurant that has won rave reviews in Gourmet and the Wine Spectator, or munching on takeout “Raw-violi” of thinly sliced sweet potatoes stuffed with macadamia “cream” from L.A.’s Seed Live Cuisine. At home, where they and the growing numbers of like-minded Rawists have equipped their kitchens with industrial juicers and $3,000 high-tech dehydration ovens (uncooking food appears to be a lot more labour-intensive than cooking it, as The New York Times observed), they are instructing their personal chefs to follow the latest recipes from Chef Juliano’s Raw, the Uncook book — at least until Chicago cooking legend Charlie Trotter’s raw cookbook comes out next spring.
The shared belief, as articulated on the many and growing Web sites dedicated to the practice, is that cooked food is poison — “dead food” — that we primates were never designed to eat. “In nature, all animals eat living foods,” wrote T.C. Fry, an early raw-food advocate who nonetheless passed away six years ago at the relatively early age of 70. “All the diseases of civilization — cancer, heart disease, diabetes — are all directly attributable to the consumption of cooked food.” This health regime goes beyond mere Veganism: For the Rawist, even a simple baked potato has been rendered not only less nutritious, but carcinogenic by virtue of its time spent in an oven.
It’s not hard to imagine how such a far-fetched concept has taken hold. Right now, we are living not in fear of when we’ll get our next meal, but of what we put into our mouths. As Eric Schlosser so frighteningly documented in his brilliant bestseller Fast Food Nation, 90 per cent of the food Americans eat is highly processed. Mixed with chemical additives for long shelf life, it is also textured and scented for “mouth feel” and flavour.
Outside Bel-Air, where less than 9 per cent of Americans manage to reach the five daily recommended servings of fresh fruits and vegetables, more than 60 per cent of Americans are now clinically obese. Here, in the bloated West, the real terrorist threats are fatties stuffed into XXL sweatpants, along with their best buddies, heart disease and cancer.
Fear of catching this modern plague has turned Hollywood primeval, with a New Age twist. Paranoid food obsession has become so fashionable that a new term, “orthorexia nervosa,” has been coined to describe the afflicted, who spend much of their time planning and worrying about eating healthy food. As supermodel Carol Alt told Bill Maher on Politically Incorrect this spring: “The problem is we’re not getting nutrition from the food we’re eating because we’re cooking it, we’re processing it, we’re radiating it. When you cook fat, you transhydrogenate, and your body can’t molecularly read it.”
Such eloquence aside, can it really be true that cooking food before eating it — a practice that’s been fairly well accepted since the discovery of fire — is actually bad for us? According to the experts, it’s all pseudo-science. “It is true that you do lose some nutrients through the cooking process,” says Toronto nutritionist Barbie Casselman, author of Good For You Cooking. “But there are some vegetables that actually have more nutritional value when cooked. The carotene content can be absorbed better in cooked carrots. And the lycopene content in tomatoes, which is a cancer-fighting agent, increases with cooked tomatoes.” And as for why we ever started cooking in the first place, it must have been observed very early on in human history that caramelizing food didn’t only make it taste good, it sterilized it.
According to Nichols Fox, author of Spoiled: The Dangerous Truth About a Food Chain Gone Haywire, raw vegetables themselves can be a treasure trove of toxins. As Fox told USA Today, “In terms of pathogens, we’re looking at a whole host of bugs we haven’t seen on vegetables before, including salmonella and cyclospora.” Heat, she determined, is one important weapon we have on our side. All of which won’t deter the fashionable, for whom raw foodism is both a balm to neurosis and an effective beauty aid.
The New York Times says the biggest boon for raw foodists is that they are rakishly thin. In one of the few studies released, the body-mass indices of a quarter of the women and a fifth of the men on a raw-food diet for four years were markedly below normal, so much so that a third of the women had stopped menstruating.
Alicia Silverstone, whose three dogs follow vegan diets, touted raw foodism on The Tonight Show recently. “People have de-aged themselves by being raw,” Silverstone said. “There’s this woman in Chicago who is in her 70s and looks like she’s 30.”
The woman Silverstone was referring to is Karyn Calabrese, whose 20-year raw-food regime earned her a spot on Oprah. As Carol Alt told Bill Maher on Politically Incorrect: “I eat raw food. You can laugh all you want, but I’m going to look like this when I’m 90.”
By Karen Von Hahn
Additional Comment by Wayne Gendel
Some people get the ‘it’ (eating RAW, Living Foods) some don’t!
There is a wide range of factors on how to eat raw properly and those that stick with it have great success! Most who comment negatively on it, have either not stuck it out, or have improperly done raw foods. The ones who have done it and are thriving, know the difference eating raw and living foods! Clearer mind, more energy, natural weight management, less body and breath odor, absence of aches and pains, happier, more positive moods, less sickness .
We carry two excellent books on raw foods, one by Gabriel Cousens called “Conscious Eating” and another by David Wolfe called “Sunfood Diet Success System”, and two excellent Forever Healthy’s own short manuals – Healthy Kitchen Level 1 and Cooking in the Raw Level 2.
Your success should be greatly enhanced by gaining knowledge from successful raw-living foodists!
Please look for our spring Raw Food and Tropical Fruit Tasting Lecture Series!
Buon Appetito and Rawk On!