2003.11.12 They're all eating it raw

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

WHEN I was kid, a popular epithet to yell at someone was this: Eat it raw! I know it wasn’t a good thing to say, but to this day I don’t know what it actually means to eat it raw. If I knew, I’m sure I wouldn’t be writing about it here, so I’ll just plow forth in ignorance. I thought about the phrase after I hesitated to hit delete as I went through e-mail recently.

The subject of the letter was “Something new for Thanksgiving: raw food.” Incorporating a new trend into the holiday meal can be an exciting way to eat your vegetables.

The e-mail didn’t offer a lot of details, so I headed to Google for more information. Some of you won’t know this Google business. It’s an internet search engine. You type in a word or phrase and Google searches the internet for mentions of your inquiry. It’s become so popular that it’s a new verb: to Google something.

I quickly discovered that eating raw foods is a big deal. Within a quarter of a second, Google had found 2.79 million references. That’s a lot of vegetables, nuts and seeds.

Here’s some of the theory behind it. I’m not vouching for any of this. I’m just reading and passing it on. It could be a bunch of wacky pseudo-science for all I know.

The body has three kinds of enzymes: digestive, food and metabolic. If you eat cooked food, the enzymes in the food are destroyed and the body has to use its own, finite supply of digestive enzymes to break down the food for use by the body. Once those run out, the body turns to its metabolic enzymes. That’s the beginning of the end. When those enzymes run thin, the aging process begins. The deterioration is underway.

I’m back now. I had to run into the kitchen to get an apple.

THE RAW foodists set a heating limit of 115° in order to maintain the raw status. That means you shouldn’t look forward to a hot bowl of anything during the cold winter. Sometimes the plates are warmed first and the cooler creation is placed on top. This helps with the wafting of the odors, which everybody knows is an important part of eating.

There’s a chef in Miami who “cooks” a specialty known as Elephant Garlic in Vapors. He cuts the garlic into thin shavings and sprinkles them with truffle oil. They’re placed on a sheet of plastic and suspended over 100° water for six hours. An apple is fast food. “Roasted” garlic is not.

The raw food people don’t want the uninitiated to think they’re just eating salad all day long. That’s far from the truth. They have pizza (although the crust might be made of sprouted buckwheat), tacos (a purple cabbage leaf serves as a tortilla) and pie (with a crust made of walnut, almonds and dates).

No-Pasta Marinara uses angel-hair zucchini. Grain is sprouted and eaten rather than ground into flour. Sweet potato soup includes a sweet potato, red onion, garlic, an apple and spices. The potato is soaked overnight and then everything is blended. The morning oatmeal is soaked overnight rather than cooked. “Mashed potatoes” are created from cauliflower, walnuts and spices.

I found an interesting comment about the mental stability of raw food eaters. Actually it was about the lack of stability. Apparently the diet can produce mental changes in some eaters.

There’s a lot of garlic in raw food recipes and that’s not always good news. Eating raw garlic isn’t the easiest thing to do for many people, nor is it easy for those around them. But take heart, I found the solution to that problem. Allow me to quote: “You can eat it raw but if you don’t want garlic breath, place a peeled clove up your anus. Your body will naturally absorb the clove and you will not have garlic breath.”

Maybe this solves the mystery of that high school taunt. Perhaps this is the way to “eat it raw.”

    – Nov. 12, 2003 
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