Food represents a connection with the world. Indeed it is one way of communing with the environment. As plants take in the substances around them, they become quite literal products of their ecosystem. The intake of food brings concentrated stores information into the body – a data and energy-digesting system. When food is broken down via cooking, most of its nutrients are destroyed through the hundreds of chemical transactions that take place. At the risk of sounding zealous, a good deal of what the environment is trying to convey back to us through a sophisticated biofeedback loop is also lost through modern-day food preparation techniques. The Industrial Revolution gave rise to myriad ways to process and preserve grains, fruits, meat and vegetables. Food had never before been so processed. Is it any coincidence that this era in history correlates with more ecological destruction and shortsightedness than any civilization which came before it?
The overwhelming majority of the global food supply is deadened through some means of processing, such as pasteurization, baking, heat-sealing, irradiating and canning, all of which destroy the naturally-occurring agents which would otherwise break them down. Hence, these food products can sit in warehouses, in trucks and on shelves for months and years, thus creating a profit for the distributing parties involved. In effect, this complicated matrix of middlemen severs the connection between the source of the food, the Earth, and the eater of the food. This is especially true when that which winds up in one’s grocery bag in no way resembles foods in their natural form. I’ve noticed a new trend in capitalizing on the disconnection between natural foods and the sensory experience that has led man to food for thousands of years. Children in the supermarkets of industrialized countries have become the target markets for things as unnatural as purple ketchup and neon cake mix. Make no mistake: these are not foods. They are born at the unfortunate intersection of food engineering, the need for convenience and, largely, the business of manufacturing desire for a particular product, or an entire paradigm of products.
The live foods lifestyle begets walking lightly on the earth by aligning one with health and the least energy-intensive foods. In production, uncooked plant foods require the smallest amount of natural energy expended for the greatest amount of calories yielded. Waste is well- suited for composting and biodegradation. With no industrial processing and minimal packaging required, raw produce, sea vegetables, seeds and nuts demand few, if any, kitchen appliances, zero gas, and minimal dishwashing. To elaborate on a point I mentioned earlier, perhaps the process of eating unadulterated plant foods enables the body to tap into the earth’s changes and needs. If so, raw-foodism catalyzes environmental stewardship. If the global village is truly hoping to thwart the skyrocketing environmental destruction (news which has become so prevalent it is virtually passe and certainly not newsworthy) let us examine not only our energy policies but also our diets. Raw food will not cause weapons manufacturing plants to close their doors, it will not reforest Brazil nor remove persistent organic pollutants from the adipose tissue of the last few remaining pods of Killer Whales. I can only speak from my own experience and I do not necessarily think that every single person should ‘go raw’. That said, a diet high in raw foods may make you or someone you care about feel better.
In order to stay raw, I need to sustain my palette. This means I must feel physically and, yes, emotionally satisfied after a meal. Some of the tricks to making live foods work for you is cultivating a food preparation style that is simple yet versatile. With the coming of autumn I feel drawn towards slightly more complicated dishes, especially on occasions when I spend time with family and friends who do not eat like I do…. This means just about everyone I know. The following holiday recipes are provided with the intention that both you and your loved ones will feel satisfied and also that you will not have to go to excessive lengths in the kitchen.
Remember what real food is and enjoy every moment.