Raw Foods is a special lifestyle diet whose adherents eat only uncooked food.
The principle of Raw Foods is to ensure that enzymes and electrolytes in the food are eaten alive. You are advised that, given that these enzymes and electrolytes start to get killed off at 105 to 110 F (40.5 to 43 C), food cannot be heated over 104 F (40 C.) Some say, though, you can heat some foods as high as 118 F (48 C.)
Most people end up vegetarians by default, as there are very few forms of meat that can be eaten raw, though some raw food people do say they eat raw chicken and beef. Most, if they consume flesh at all, will eat fish or seafood.
Food processing techniques used involve sprouting, fermenting, and drying through dehydration or sun-drying. Forms of preserving food other than by drying are not allowed. Consequently, food dehydrators become very important to its followers.
Pasteurization is a no-no in Raw Foods. Milk is drunk unpasteurized, and the cheese and butter consumed must be from unpasteurized milk as well. Even pasteurized honey is out. Eggs are eaten raw.
Uncooked sauces are made of vegetable or fruit purées. Such sauces and soups might be warmed on a stove on a double boiler, but only to the point where enzymes are not killed.
A lot of nuts are used — in forms such as nut butters and nut milks.
A lot of sprouted seeds are eaten.
Despite the lack of “cooking” proper, Raw Food recipes are often a great deal more work than regular recipes, and many ingredients recommended can be very hard to find. The quality of the raw ingredients becomes very important because they remain raw.
Typical dishes made include salads, smoothies and vegetable or fruit snacks.
Japanese cooking has a larger number of ingredients served uncooked than in many other cuisines. It is 9/10ths preparation, 1/10th actual cooking.
Claims about the benefits of following a Raw Foods cuisine extend to longer life, higher physical and mental energy levels, and even pro-actively curing disease simply through the food you eat. Some promoters even talk about uncooked food having “stronger energetic fields” of electron clouds surrounding them.
Some clinical dietitians at universities feel that it’s an unhealthful diet. They say that many of the healthful properties of food is in fact better digested when the food is cooked, and they caution that a Raw Food diet may be harmful for children.
They say they are downright frightened by some of the claims that certain chronic diseases can be cured by the diet, without medical help, and by raw-fooders saying that the dangers of consuming unpasteurized milk are exaggerated.
One of the earliest promoters of raw-food diets was the Swiss doctor Maximilian Oskar Bircher-Benner (born 22 August 1867 in Aarau, Switzerland; died 24 January 1939.) During his first year of practice as a doctor, he felt that he cured himself of a mild cause of jaundice by eating uncooked apples. Between 1895 and 1900, he conducted experiments with raw vegetables and fruits with his patients. He invented müesli (also called at the time Birchermüesli), basing it on a dish that he’d eaten on his hikes up into the Swiss Alps.
One of the first modern North American promoters was Roxanne Klein who ran a restaurant for a few years starting in 2002 in Larkspur, California.
Literature & Lore
“One swears by wholemeal bread, one by sour milk; vegetarianism is the only road to salvation of some, others insist not only on vegetables alone, but on eating those raw. At one time the only thing that matters is calories; at another time they are crazy about vitamins or about roughage. The scientific truth may be put quite briefly; eat moderately, having an ordinary mixed diet, and don’t worry.” — Sir Robert Grieve Hutchison (28 October 1871 – 1960). Newcastle Medical Journal, Volume 12, 1932.
In German, an advocate of raw food eating is known as a “Rohkostapostel” (an apostle of raw food.)
Associated Pres. Is a raw diet healthy? St Petersburg, Florida: St Petersburg Times. 2 June 2004.
Associated Press. Top chefs join raw-food revolution. St Petersburg, Florida: St Petersburg Times. 2 June 2004.
Bancud, Michaela. Trendy chefs turning off the fire: Evangelists of the raw food movement spread the joy of uncooking. Portland, Oregon: The Portland Tribune. 30 September 2003.
Richard, Joanne. Raw food movement has long roots. Toronto: The Toronto Sun. 27 June 2011.
Tabias, Lori. Au Naturel – The Raw Food Revolution. El Segundo, California: Better Nutrition. 22 November 2002. Pages 35-38.