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StarChefs Raw and Living Foods Feature StarChefs Raw and Living Foods Feature StarChefs Raw and Living Foods Feature StarChefs Raw and Living Foods Feature

The Debate
On Raw and Living Foods
by Merrill Maiano

      While the raw and living foods movement is nothing new, it has received an increased amount of press in the last year. The minor controversy surrounding it has raised multiple questions in the minds of many a serious culinarian.

StarChefs Raw and Living Foods Feature StarChefs Raw and Living Foods Feature StarChefs Raw and Living Foods Feature StarChefs Raw and Living Foods Feature
StarChefs Raw and Living Foods Feature StarChefs Raw and Living Foods Feature StarChefs Raw and Living Foods Feature StarChefs Raw and Living Foods Feature StarChefs Raw and Living Foods Feature
  CherriesMostly, people appear to question the legitimacy of what might appear to be a diet of "rabbit food". Raw foods diets evoke images of late-night pay per view juicer offers and waking up on the couch. In light of this history, some incredulity is hardly surprising regarding the general skepticism many Americans feel towards vegetarianism and veganism. For those who scoff at the hamburger-denying populace, the living foods movement may be entirely too much to bear.
  LettuceRaw and living foods proponents not only uphold essentially vegan principles, they attempt to avoid anything that's been heated above 115° Fahrenheit. Rawfoods.com is a website whose goal is to educate the public about living foods and to serve as a support source for raw foodies everywhere. They claim that based on sound scientific studies, cooking deprives food of almost all nutrients, vitamins, antioxidants, and life giving energy. They even go so far as to say that proteins denatured during the cooking process are rendered "toxic". This is a significant statement considering common belief holds that proteins are more digestible as a result of exposure to extreme heat.
  Cut LemonAside from the doomsday claims about cooked foods, there appear to be some very appealing benefits to a living foods lifestyle. Glowing health, long life, increased alertness and a more positive outlook all sound very good. It supposedly staves off cancer, heart disease, and high cholesterol. On some levels, it's hard to argue with living foods advocates. Greens cooked until they are brown are thought to be completely void of any antioxidants, nutrients, minerals or any other good stuff. Not to mention, they taste bad. There is also a certain aesthetic appeal to enjoying foods in their most natural state. It might be refreshing to experience food that hasn't been preserved, plumped and prodded.
  Cut StrawberryPhilosophically, the living foods movement holds some very respectable views. They believe in sustainable organic and biodynamic farming practices which are gaining serious momentum in the mainstream. Organics are becoming less and less about "fruity" hippy culture and more and more about logical responsible stewardship. A reduced need for non-renewable energy sources is a nice benefit of eating all of one's foods raw too.
  WheatOn the other side of the debate, some people say that cooking is what makes these vitamins and minerals available to us in the first place. More significantly, the act of cooking approaches the ritualistic. Imagine a kitchen without a stove. And, what about pasta? Bread? Cookies? Are we ready to let go of these things? The living foods movement runs completely counter to what the USDA food pyramid tells us to eat. For these people, the food pyramid isn't just part of the past, it's ancient history. But, most Americans would argue that a strict diet of raw foods would lead to something approaching malnutrition, if not starvation. Eating a lot, however, does not mean that one is eating well. Americans are grossly overindulgent when it comes to proteins and starches, and as a result could technically be considered malnourished themselves. Cows and potatoes are practically national symbols. We could all probably benefit from eating more raw fruit and vegetables. Why not serve them in creative new ways?
  PeasNext summer, renowned chef Charlie Trotter will be putting out a cookbook written in collaboration with Roxanne Klein, Chef/Owner of Roxanne's, a restaurant in Larkspur, California, dedicated entirely to raw and living foods. Should we open our eyes to what may be a natural culinary progression? Or, is the increased interest in this trend nothing more than an extension of a desire to return to a simpler world? In other words, is the living foods movement just a reaction to what has become an over-processed world filled with over-processed chemically tainted food? Will restaurants everywhere be looking to hire a chef de crudités?
  Let the debate begin.
   
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