What is raw food?

Raw food isn’t just a fad any longer’it’s a health choice. Here are some simple tips to get you started, courtesy of Living Raw Food author Sarma Melngailis

What is raw food?

Source: Excerpted from Living Raw Food, copyright 2009 by Sarma Melngailis, courtesy HarperCollins Canada

Many people (myself included) talk about eating raw as something to be discovered, as though it’s a brand-new innovation or a revolutionary and alternative way of living. However, while it still is somewhat alternative, it’s hardly new at all. In fact, it’s more like turning the clock backward, and a very simple concept. What’s so revolutionary about eating only plant foods that grow naturally from the earth and are fed by sunlight? What’s so crazy about eating plant foods that haven’t been sautéed, boiled, roasted, flame-broiled, grilled over flaming coals, fried in sizzling-hot oil, zapped in a microwave, or otherwise manipulated into a state of altered molecular structure? Why not leave the molecules as they were meant to be?

Raw food generally refers to a vegan diet that goes beyond just steering clear of animal products. There’s no cooking in the traditional sense (in that nothing is heated above approximately 118 degrees Fahrenheit), and ingredients are not chemically processed, pasteurized, homogenized, genetically modified, hybridized, or otherwise compromised. The basic premise behind a raw food diet is that cooking and processing foods generally decreases their digestibility and vitamin and mineral density, as well as their overall health-promoting qualities.

The creativity in raw foods as a type of cuisine comes from blending, soaking, marinating, slicing, dicing, drying at low temperatures, and incorporating fresh herbs and spices. This can be done in quite innovative ways, all while preserving the food’s integrity.

Part of that integrity has to do with letting enzymes survive the food preparation process. Apparently (though I’ve never tried this myself) if you split enzymes under an electron microscope, you’ll find an actual electronic charge, which is why many refer to enzymes as life forces. Why would anyone want to destroy these little life catalysts? When your food comes with its own living enzymes ready to do the heavy lifting in digestion, you won’t have to draw as much from your body’s enzyme reserves. When you eat raw food, there’s no more food coma. The effect of easier digestion is that you end up with energy to spare to put toward other uses, such as allowing your body to heal itself, or any activity you can think of that is more fun than digestion.

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