I read this article in the Washington Post, about a new raw food restaurant opening this morning, which is funny because I was talking about this very subject the other day with Ryan.
I like raw food. I've been to raw food parties, I've made raw food (beyond salads...) and I like that it explores new ingredients and forces creativity, most likely caused by the strict parameters. I'm also really sceptical of the whole movement - I've never known anyone who managed to stick to a raw food diet. If it is so much healthier for you, and you feel so much better on it, then shouldn't you feel good enough to continue on it for at least a long time, if not forever?
The idea, however, that cooked food is "unhealthy" is total bollocks though. There is evidence that we have been using fire for cooking for at least 125,000 years. I've read arguments from raw foodists that claim that food loses all nutritional value after being cooked at a certain temperature and that cooking food results in toxicity.
Anyway, the menu in that article sounds really yummy - but they serve maple syrup, which it impossible to make without boiling ("Finished syrup boils at 7.1F above the boiling temperature of water"). Maple syrup -part of that stupid, stupid lemonade cleanse - is often touted as "pure" and "clean" but honestly, refined, processed sugar is probably "cleaner". That's not to say we should be pouring refined, processed things into ourselves and feel free to use maple syrup for other reasons (delicious, delicious taste for one) but you can't claim that it is a) raw or b) clean.
So, as delicious as some raw food is, I'm fairly certain that the movement can be filed away in the same category as self-diagnosed-food-allergy people and Whole Foods shoppers - people who want to feel better about themselves by buying "expensive" food and deeming themselves intolerant/allergic to things as a way to prove to the world that they are worthy of attention. I'm not saying don't spend more for quality (which I certainly do - or else, if I can't afford it, I don't buy) what I am saying is don't spend more for nothing. Whole Foods and similar shops are mainly just marketing ploys - you can get the same quality basic food at shops without a philosophy for a lot less money. And we should be supporting those kind of grocery stores and encouraging their healthy options because those grocery stores are the ones that are going to be providing "food for the masses". Whole Foods is never going to open up in urban Baltimore, but perhaps Tops might. What I'm trying to say is let's take the elitism out of healthy food.
Here's a great article by Ben Goldacre, MD about Gillian McKeith, one of the worst offenders and purporters of this kind of thinking.This quote here explains my thinking (it's about two thirds of the way through the article, in the section I found most interesting):
"And that's the most sinister feature of the whole nutritionist project, graphically exemplified by McKeith: it's a manifesto of rightwing individualism - you are what you eat, and people die young because they deserve it. They choose death, through ignorance and laziness, but you choose life, fresh fish, olive oil, and that's why you're healthy. You're going to see 78. You deserve it. Not like them."