What is raw food?
With all the fuss around this topic, it’s worth posing the question “what is raw food”.
One would usually assume raw food to be anything uncooked. While that’s a good rule to go by, it’s a lot more complicated than that.
For example, what exactly counts as “cooking” – 50 degrees, 100 degrees, 200 degrees or something higher? How long can you cook something without killing nutrients? What about foods which are enhanced by cooking? What about meat and animal products?
As you can probably see, raw food isn’t simply anything raw.
Before we even begin, there are a number of important distinctions we need to make. For the sake of simplicity, in this article I will refer primarily to the raw vegan diet. If you’re looking for information about raw meat, scroll down to the bottom for an awesome raw meat website.
What is raw food temperate wise?
Raw foodists believe that enzymes are the life-force of food and therefore need to be preserved. Unfortunately, with modern methods of cooking, we literally kill enzymes and various nutrients, zapping the life-force from our food.
As a general rule, heating food over 116 degrees Farenheight (47 degrees Celcius) destroys enzymes in food, however they can begin to degrade in as little as 106 degrees Farenheight (42 degrees Celcius). This is the key to answering “what is raw food”.
When you think about this, you’ll come to some interesting conclusions. Firstly, raw food doesn’t have to be entirely uncooked. Some people mistakenly think that eating raw food is all about eating cold foods – cold apples, cold oranges, cold salad, cold vegetable smoothies and so on. However, the truth is far more accommodating.
A common appliance in raw foodists’ kitchens is a dehydrator. This “cooks” food by using low heat over a long period of time to dry the food out. In a sense, the food has been cooked but nutritionally, it’s still ready to go bang and make you feel great.
It you allow yourself to heat foods up to 116 degrees Farenheight, you will give yourself a lot of options. Rather than feeling restricted on a raw food diet, you’ll be free to enjoy the amazing benefits while enjoying a wide variety of foods.
If it’s a cold winter night and you feel like soup, don’t force yourself to choke down a cold salad. Blend up some vegetables with a little water and heat up the mixture to a maximum of 116 degrees Farenheight. You’ll be eating some hot soup while getting ALL the nutritional power.
What about food other than fruits and vegetables?
It is a myth that you can only eat fruits and vegetables on a raw food diet. However, before you charge through the local supermarket and have a party, stop and read the next paragraph about what is raw food.
Almost everything in a standard supermarket aside from the fresh produce has been cooked in some way. Remember that for our purposes, cooked means anything heated to about 116 degrees farenheight. You can rule out anything that’s been heat treated and eliminate canned food as most of it has been cooked and processed in some way. A good rule is to avoid anything wrapped in plastic or colorful synthetic packaging.
While you can heat raw foods, most of what you want to eat is fresh fruits and vegetables. If you’re running out of ideas for what to make, get creative. You can eat seeds, nuts, nut “milks”, sprouted grains, seaweeds and juices (such as this Beet Juice Recipe).
What about animal products?
Eating raw meat is a controversial topic. Depending on who you ask, you’ll hear a variety of answers. A lot of people will tell you that it’s a terrible idea and would never work. My first piece of advice is to ignore those people. Never settle for the first opinion.
If you’re wondering, yes, there are actually people who eat raw meat. While I’m not one of them, it’s something that I’ll be trying in the future, if only to see how my body reacts.
Start your quest for raw meat knowledge with a search on Google for the “raw Paleolithic diet”. A great site with lots of information about raw meat is Raw Paleo Diet. You’ll find some awesome information there with a guide to getting started with raw meat. Good luck and if you try it, let me know how it goes.
This article answers the question “what is raw food?”. Be sure to check out 11 Benefits of Raw Food.