Raw to the bone

Of the millions of animals on the planet, human beings are the only ones that deliberately bring heat to their food. Cooking food has its obvious benefits: eradicating some dangerous bacteria, creating more palatable tastes and textures, and expanding the variety of foods we consume.

However, a movement fairly new in existence has given many people food for thought.  The Raw Foods Movement is responsible for the opening of raw restaurants dawning colorful dishes using only raw and vegan ingredients across the country, dismissing the frequent image of a sad, boring family of baby carrots when the term "raw diet" is mentioned.

Doctors, nutritionists, dieticians, and professionals alike all understand the benefits that consuming raw fruits and vegetables bring, like these raw "foodists" claim. Unlike so many dietary trends and fads, it remains a universal consensus. Once we dig a little deeper though, and discuss how "raw" you need to eat to be as healthy as humanly possible, the unity dissipates. This also applies to raw foods that go beyond fruits and vegetables like dairy.

According to the Los Angeles Times, in a survey of 17 Raw Food Movement leaders, their diets consisted of 85 percent raw foods for an average of 13 years. This sounds like an incredible feat to your average American, who considers the salsa in their burrito an appropriate serving of vegetables for the day (the tomato is indeed a fruit).

Their reasoning for adapting such a hardcore change in their diets mainly suggests a state of great overall health. An ideal weight, disease prevention, better digestion, boundless energy, and a stronger bond with the natural world are also possible advantages of this way of life.Collecting research on the good that a raw diet can deliver proves to be difficult with the amount of data available on people who live this way, but studies that have been conducted expose some flaws surrounding these habits.

A study published in the Journal of Nutrition tested 201 raw foodists from the Netherlands and found that 38 percent of them were deficient in Vitamin B12, a substance essential for processing amino acids in the body.

The Los Angeles Times went on to report that cooking certain foods, such as carrots and spinach, actually releases certain minerals that would not have been as easily absorbed by the body if they had been consumed raw.

Raw milk and cheese producers have also been directly linked to a few E.coli cases across the state, causing disbelief in the movement. It is important to note that most raw foodists remain vegan as well.

That is not to say that evidence doesn't strongly support a diet rich in vegetables, legumes, fresh fruits and vegetables reducing the risk of heart disease, obesity, and in some cases, even cancer.

While a totally raw diet still seems improbable to most, many people find satisfaction, intrigue and adventure in a raw dining experience and do so once in their lifetimes, maybe even several times a week.

You can do so at local raw restaurants like the well-reviewed Planet Raw on Broadway. Its neighbor, also on Broadway, Better Life Cuisine, boasts a Tropical salad with mixed greens, tomato, mango, avocado, jicama, raspberry dressing, alfalfa sprouts, sunflower green, and a raw caesar dressing if your taste buds are craving a different, raw kick.

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