Eating a raw food diet, including a completely raw fruitarian diet (only fruits), means eating food ‘uncooked’ – in its natural unadulterated state. While this means you won’t use a pot or pan to prepare your meals, it doesn’t mean that everything has to be served ‘cold’. There is a difference between cold and uncooked.
It’s also not always be possible to eat ‘cold’. In certain cases, not even recommended. In Traditional Chinese Medicine the spleen doesn’t function very well when we drink or eat chilled or cold drinks/food. (The majority of drinks we buy are sold chilled in supermarkets, convenience stores and fast food outlets.)
Raw food includes the consumption of food at room temperature (not necessarily straight out of the fridge). Food is eaten raw to preserve the living enzymes and other ‘living’ qualities. The limit to which someone can warm their food before enzymes die, depends on the kind of heat, e.g. wet or dry, and the kind of enzyme. Enzymes generally start breaking down at a temperature minimum of 43 degrees and maximum of 65 degrees Celsius. The same goes for honey. This is the threshold before living enzymes are killed off.
For a moment think about the fruits or vegetables that are naturally heated by the sun while they grow. Or the dehydration process for preserving foods across the seasons. They are still in a raw state despite being heated by the sun or a dehydrator. How great the ‘heating’ effect is will largely depend on where you live, your region’s typical summer climate or your dehydration setting.
So the natural eating balance is room temperature.
A lot of foods do not need to or shouldn’t be chilled. They can be stored in the cellar, in your kitchen cupboard or displayed on your dining table. Unless you plan on freezing a lot of excess fruits and veggies, you really don’t need a fridge either – or perhaps a much smaller one. If you live in a hot climate, buying and eating fresh every couple of days is a nice option. The advantage of buying more often during the week is that you avoid food going off or sitting around any longer than it has to.
In certain countries it’s also not possible to be 100% raw. Let’s take Norway for example. Eating fresh and local is the most important rule above all. Sourcing fruit and vegetables locally and/or growing them in a backyard garden. In the Norwegian winter, little grows, so people are dependent on buying food from overseas suppliers. This goes against the philosophy of supporting the slow food movement, local producers, eating according to the seasons, wild foraging and always choosing fresh. The ideal solution in winter is to then eat a semi-raw diet consisting of fermented produce and 100% vegan wholefoods.
Even though the raw food diet is nothing new, it’s modern incarnation has some signs of being a finely tuned commercial trend. The growing awareness of what a raw food diet does for health is fantastic. That people can enjoy this kind of diet all over the world is partly possible thanks to the advances in food technology, production and distribution.
For a moment consider the following, one hundred years ago we didn’t have mass refrigerated transport. Food from around the world was a luxury and exotic, not to mention expensive. Today, it’s thought of as normal, we’re spoiled by an enormous range, and also abnormally cheap prices. If we are to keep in line with how a raw food diet must have been 100, or even 1000 years ago, then we have to be realistic about food production, sources and availability.
In summer and autumn, it’s possible to be 100% raw, as it’s possible to grow your own food, or source it locally, and eat fresh. During winter and spring, depending on where you live, the ability to eat raw drops down to maybe 75-50%.
Many winter crops and foods can be stored for a long time, and therefore also eaten raw; the rest of the food is pickled or fermented so that it can last the long winter. In some parts of Norway, there is no light for two months of the year; for a period of three to four months, the ground is frozen. What can you grow and eat locally and fresh during this time? Foraging is possible but very limited.
With the above in mind, the raw food diet needs to take more into consideration than simply going to your local supermarket and buying what you need. If this would be the case, then a raw food diet would be a piece of cake. But there is a lot more to think about which concerns the whole business of food production from seed to end product - in other words what is most sustainable and beneficial for nature.