The raw food movement is gathering a lot of momentum and I totally understand why, not only is it novel it also has undeniable health benefits. Raw food is defined as not being heated above 40 degrees, so that enzymes, which aid digestion and nutrients are not killed off by the heat. It therefore has a higher concentration of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes. It is also completely unprocessed so avoids additives and flavour enhancers, and has none of the damaging effects associated with heating oil and fats. Plus, it is largely plant based so is a wonderfully alkaline, anti- carcinogenic and a all round health super star. It is also supposedly a much greener, more planet friendly way to eat, as it doesn’t waste precious fuel through heat, but I am a bit dubious about this selling point. By the time you’ve finished with your blender, food processor, spiraliser & dehydrator, it would probably of been more planet friendly to fry a couple of steaks.
The current innovations with raw food are amazing and really exciting, not to mention delicious! It probably won’t be long till London has it’s first Michelin starred raw food restaurant. Some of the plates people are producing are so stunning and tasty, it would convert even the hardiest McDonalds fan. It is also great as it encourages use of lots of plant based foods, demonstrates how vegetables can be so much more than a plain bit of boiled broccoli, and avoids the beastly gluten and other over consumptions, associated with modern diets.
The more momentum it gathers the more changes high street places will make. Pret a Manger has already introduced ‘kale chips’ and cold press juices, which is great to see. As for too long, eating on the go has been like running the gauntlet in terms of avoiding sugar, trans fats, additives, & preservatives. Not so long ago I was in a self styled ‘healthy cafe’ chain in need of a mid afternoon snack the only thing on sale that didn’t look like it was going to send my blood sugars to the moon and back was a little pack of salt and pepper cashews, which I purchased as best of bad bunch strategy, only to discover the list of the ingredients on the back was as long as my arm, including; wheat flour, sugar & presevatives, I mean seriously, why? What is wrong with just cashews sprinkled with sea salt & pepper!
It makes it really hard for the consumer as so many things are labelled as healthy but are actually the complete opposite, I think our current packaging labelling system has a lot to answer for, but that is topic for another day. However, this is one way in which the ‘raw food’ movement is brilliant as by gaining popularity it highlights an educational message, stressing the importance of real unadulterated food. This in time will encourage food manufacturers to stop producing rubbish. As people will demand better. You never know before too long you might actually be able to stop at a petrol service station and get something more nutritious that a Ginsters meat feast slice. We live in hope.
I think it is great for everyone to include raw food in their diet and I will certainly be adding lots of recipes to this site. But hold on a tick, before we all start spiralising a courgette for breakfast, let us not forget that we live in England, which as we know in the peak of summer, is highly prone to a cold rainy out burst, normally timed with the one planned barbi or picnic of the year, so sometimes our bodies need a bit of warmth. On a cold winters day having a cold green juice over a steaming mug of soup, I’m sorry it is just not going to cut the mustard.
Raw food can also be tough on the digestion, anyone who suffers from IBS or needs to heal their gut, I strongly believe is better off with warm nourishing foods, I know I am much more suited to a bowl of porridge and stewed apple than I am to doing a raw juice cleanse. The healing properties of chicken stock and bone broth are well documented and will do far more for some people than a kale chip. Raw food is also very heavy on dried fruit which is certainly not something that suits everyone, plus dates which are most raw foodies best friend actually have a higher GI than white sugar! It also does not cater for the large quantities of people with a nut allergy, just walking into a raw food restaurant would be enough to bring them out in hives.
“One’s mans cure is another man’s poison” could never be more true when it comes to food and our bodies. In both Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine, which have a more holistic approach to health, they are fully aware of the importance of eating right for your body type. Some people need warm nourishing food, some are natural carnivores, some are not. Like some people are great with beans, others for the benefit of everyone else should probably stay well away!
What is important, is to know yourself and recognise what your body needs (and no, I can assure you it does not need that mid afternoon snickers or the almond croissant to go with your vente caramel cappucino) I’m talking real food. One thing I will not be splitting my opinion on is the benefits of real food; unprocessed, unrefined and as close to nature as possible with oodles of vegetables.
Excited as I am to try new raw food restaurants popping up in London, I would never let myself be limited to purely raw food, as for me, there is nothing that beats a friends home cooked food, shared over a bottle of wine, the warmth, laughter and smile you gain from that is good for the heart, body and soul and no amount of raw food nutrients can beat that.