Breakfast- 1/2 head red leaf lettuce, 1 pint cherry tomatoes, 1 large cucumber
In The Raw Food Diet: A Raw Deal, Christopher Wanjek discounts the importance of a raw food diet, but he doesn't make any reference to having spoken to any practicing raw foodists or raw food experts. He writes about it in his "Bad Medicine" column. I responded with a letter to Wanjek; here's what I wrote:
Dear Mr. Wanjek:
I felt disturbed while reading your views on the raw food diet. There are many people who have experienced tremendous improvements in health and overall well being after adopting a raw food life style. Have you spoken with anyone of these countless numbers of people?
It is a fact that there are cancer sufferers who have experienced complete remission after having adopted a 100% raw diet. Frequently, when some of them began to eat cooked food again, their cancer returned.
The fact that humans can survive on a wide range of substances doesn't mean that these are ideal for our long term health. Neither does it mean that anything raw is okay. This is a survival mechanism and I'm glad that we have it. No one above weaning age needs milk, raw or not. After weaning age we no longer produce the digestive enzyme to digest it and consumption of it causes physiological distress.
The presence of live viable enzymes are an indication that a food is alive, that it has value. Cooking destroys food at the cellular level, it coagulates proteins and renders them and other nutritional components practically indigestible.
There are many unknown factors in the B12 issue. It's important to note that we require very little B12. Vitamin B12 grows in bacteria in the soil and places like the natural crevices and folds in the surfaces of fruits and vegetables. It's possible that the now conventional farming practices that introduced chemicals and pesticides into the soil beginning in the 1930's & 40's has killed most of the bacteria that produce B12 in our food crops. This is why organic food is important. It's also possible that if we ate our food in it's natural state, dug, pulled, or picked up and eaten on the spot, we would receive B12. Cattle eat grass and grains, where do they get B12? Do we need to eat cattle to get B12? Why can't we get it from the same place the cattle get it?
In our original natural habitat we probably would have munched on a raw bug or a grasshopper now and then and it would probably have added to the array of nutritional components that we needed.
We no longer live in our biological natural setting but that doesn't make raw food wrong. On the contrary, it is an opportunity to use our creative abilities to discover how to be raw in our modern world.
Its been my experience that most people who discredit the raw food lifestyle have never tried it for an extended period of time, beyond the normal period of transition and cellular detoxification that ensues with this type of change.
I encourage you to speak to successful raw foodists and raw food experts and find out what makes them successful and healthy on the raw diet.
Chris responded to my letter and with his permission I am printing his response:
Thank you for your message. I agree with some of your points. I did indeed talk about the diet with folks at a vegan restaurant I go to sometimes in Baltimore. A couple people there have tried the diet but just
couldn't stay on it. Is this cultural, or is the body telling them something? Either answer is valid.
By coincidence, Baltimore's City Paper ran a feature article about the diet... all very positive... in which the reporter hung with the dieters. I thought the article was well written, but it glossed over the science. It did reveal the people and their beliefs... and their difficulty staying on this diet.
I should add that the genesis of my column was indeed a conversation at a graduation part about a month ago with a woman talking about enzymes and worms in meat and a lot of stuff that was simply wrong. It was a pleasant conversation. And I knew of the raw diet before hand, but her belief system pushed me into writing something.
I think the raw diet is better than the crappy diet most Americans eat, but I don't think it is ideal in the long run.
Freelance Science Writer & Author
Food at Work / Bad Medicine