- Food and Cooking
Raw Food Shortage
Is "Raw" a Dirty Word?
What I am about to say is nothing new. We have heard this saying all of our lives. At school, at home, in the movies, in the news, on TV in general. You are what you eat. Five simple words that mean so much yet are disregarded daily by so many people. Diabetes, hypertension, obesity, the list goes on and on. There is a common factor in all of these illnesses: diet.
So why do these illnesses spiral out of control when diet can help reduce or even eliminate these illnesses in the average person? Is it education? Environment? Ignorance? A combination?
Do we really want to be able to eat whatever we want when we know that there is a chance it could kill us? What exactly is healthy? Why do people look at me like I have lost my mind when I tell them I am vegetarian...or act like they are gagging when I mention a raw food diet?
Let's explore some of the reasons why we eat what we eat.
Education: All my life, I have heard how healthy and good for you fresh fruits and veggies are. From my parents and grandparents to school, it is no secret. They teach kids about making smart food choices in school - but then they serve pizza and burgers and nachos in the cafeteria - a far cry from the healthy food they should be serving the nation’s children. (Note: there are a few exceptional schools that do provide truly healthful choices.) In fresh, raw fruits and veggies there are nutrients, micronutrients, enzymes, and all this good stuff that can even be healing to your body that is destroyed when cooked. I have been in a documentary-obsessive phase for quite some time, and have discovered a number of fantastically educational productions that have caused me to really stop and think not only about what I eat in general, but also what I put into my body period, from pharmaceuticals to vitamins to water. The educational materials are available, and most of us have been exposed in one way or another.
Environment: We live busy lives, and having fast and easy meals available is often a necessity to help us stay on track with our schedules. The abundance of fast food options available is amazing, but the unfortunate side effect is a lot of fatty, unhealthy, un-plant based meals being eaten. And no, sorry to break it to you: French fries do not count as a veggie. There is also the technology factor. We can now process foods in ways we never could before. We can create fake sweet stuff with no calories! We can add chemicals to keep things on the shelves forever as soft and gooey as the day it was born! Plus, we can process the food and then fortify it with vitamins and minerals.
Ignorance: Some people just don't get it. They may choose not to understanding the impact that their selection in food is having on their bodies. I have known a number of individuals with food related illness, such as diabetes. I knew a man who killed himself because he could not stop drinking soda and eating candy. He was only 26 when he passed away. He had been told by his doctors over and over again to change his diet. He did not listen: he thought because he was young he could fight it. It killed him. True story.
What about a combination? The rise in obesity has been blamed on many things, but in my opinion I believe that education, environment, and ignorance - among other causes- are behind why we eat what we eat even when we know it is not good for us.
My investigation into this subject led me on a little raw food adventure. For 30 days, I immersed myself fully into a vegan raw food diet. I will not say it was easy – nor will I claim that I am still doing it – although I do eat raw food every day now as part of my diet. The fact is, after several days on the raw food diet, my entire body felt so much better. I did lose some weight, but the best part was that my skin had this glow to it. I was getting compliments almost every day. My hair grew even faster than normal. I felt better. Much better. More energy on less sleep. While I am talking about sleep- I slept soundly all through the night (very unusual for me) and woke up feeling refreshed and full of energy early in the morning which is something so foreign to me!
I started off by doing a lot of research online. Although there was a lot of information in those documentaries, I like having information right at my fingertips. I found pretty much everything I needed, and then I also bought a couple raw food recipe books. A trip to Whole Foods and I had a sprouting jar, seeds, raw food bars, etc. The day before I started my experience with raw food-ism, I enjoyed some red vines and corn nuts. Then the adventure began.
During my 30 day raw food adventure, my diet staples were pretty much (all organic) bananas, baby spinach, raw almond butter, carrots, and raw agave nectar. I ate many other raw foods, but these I had daily. I found that a mixture of mashed bananas, raw almond butter, and agave nectar sprinkled with cinnamon is fabulous- and yes, I still enjoy this creamy “pudding” – it is absolutely delicious. I also experienced a chocolate mousse pie that was amazing – completely raw and dairy free...and did I mention amazing?
The truth is, if you take some time to plan your meals, you can eat some pretty amazing raw food.
So if eating raw made me feel like this and is so dang easy, why the heck am I not eating raw now? The truth is – it is hard! There is so much good tasting cooked and processed food available everywhere that not having any of it ever it just not an easy thing to do. For the people out there who can do it, I give you much deserved props. I do aim to eat as much raw food as possible and I still have days where I end up eating raw for the entire day. I also still have requests for my raw chocolate mousse pies from people who looked like they were going to gag when I told them it was raw. Like raw is a dirty word.
Please, people! Get over it! Raw food is good for you – and I am not talking “fake” good for you (like some of those companies tout calorie free sweeteners as a “smart” good-for-you choice) but actually for real good for you! Raw, plant based foods are full of enzymes and vitamins that your body needs. Have views on food become so distorted that the thought of a raw pie or almond milk makes someone cringe but all the chemicals in the Twinkie they are stuffing in their face doesn’t? Really?
Raw food can also taste phenomenal…and I did want to share some of the recipes that I discovered during my raw phase- recipes that even regular eating people who cringe at the thought of trying a drop of almond milk fell in love with…so if you are interested let me know and I will share. You will not be disappointed - and no cooking involved!
I am not telling you that you have to eat a raw food, plant based diet to be healthy. What I am saying is that eating plenty of raw fruits and veggies in your diet is good for you – and there is a raw food shortage in the American diet. Pay attention to what you put in your body and you will feel the difference!