||Is it Raw or not?
By John Kohler
One of the most frequently asked questions I
get is, "Is (fill in the product name) raw?" and "Is there a list of raw
foods that I can eat? Well I do not know of any such lists, but this article will
explain my answer to the above questions.
First, I think we need to take a step back, and ask yourself,
"Why I am I eating raw?" For most, it is to improve or maximize health.
So the questions should be:
- "Is it healthy or not healthy?"
- "Is it raw (processed at under 118 degrees?"
- "Has the food been processed?"
I can think of many things that would be considered "raw, but I
would NEVER eat it. Such as raw meat and dairy. In my opinion Meat and Dairy
are both not healthy to eat. While it is true they do some benefits, I believe
the harm that comes to the body is much greater. With that aside, I will break it
down into many three categories: foods to maximize, foods to include some, and foods to
minimize or exclude. The information is based on my research and based on being raw
for over half a decade. I always recommend eating organic whenever possible.
On a raw foods diet, you want to maximize your intake
of the following raw food:
- FRESH FRUITS and FRESH VEGETABLES. - Any fresh
fruits or vegetables. The fresher the better. If you can pick the produce yourself,
that's the best. The next best would be direct from a farmer or farmers
market, next best from a health food store, and last from a "chain store".
here is why- once the food is picked, the vitality starts to lessen. If the
produce is refrigerated, the vitality is lessened even further.
- FRESH SPROUTS - you can sprout your own seeds
yourself, and eat these life-force rich foods while they are still living and growing!
Next as a raw foodist you may want to consume some of the
following: (concentration should be on FRESH fruits and vegetables)
- Nuts and Seeds - Many nuts are raw and go through no
heat processing. Always purchase nuts in the shell whenever possible, since once
nuts are out of the shell, they start to oxidize, and can go rancid. Some nuts are
heat processed in the process of getting the nut out of the shell. There is an
excellent article, "What every raw fooder should know about nuts" in the article
section that I suggest you read. Most "raw" cashew nuts are not really
- Young Coconuts - Young coconuts are a excellent
source of electrolytes, the best purified water and a good source of fat and calcium.
- Dried Fruits- did you know that most dried
fruits in the natural food store are COOKED? Yes!! They are.
I have spoken with many manufacturers and distributors of dried fruits and even
"dried tomatoes" and asked them the temperature at which their product is dried.
Usually it is well over 200 degrees. They say this proudly, because its not
too feasible to dry products at an acceptable temperature to a raw foodist (around 118
degrees or less) because there would be an inconsistent and "ugly" looking
product. So cut down on the dried foods! Usually only "sun dried"
foods would be considered "raw" since they are dried by the sun.
- Dates - Dates are generally sun dried, if good
organic dates are purchased. Many "conventional" dates can be dried and
then steamed to make them look "plump" and moist. The Date People and
Flying Disc Ranch are my two favorite sources of dates.
- Sea Weeds - Sea weeds such as nori, dulse, Laver,
sea lettuce, kombu purchased from a "family" business are usually sundried.
Seaweeds from "asia or china" may or may not be sun dried. Sometimes they
are roasted, and it may not be mentioned on the package. This should be eaten
- Dried vegetables, herbs and spices for flavoring - I
have not checked to see if these are in fact considered "raw" or if they have
been heat treated in the drying process. Whenever possible dry your own herbs and spices,
and use as sparingly as possible.
- Olives - You may want to consume some raw olives.
Raw olives are hard to find. The best raw olives are sun dried raw olives, that
have not been preserved with salt. Most olives are preserved with salt. Most
canned olives are cooked in the canning process. Most olives are packed in a
vinegar or lactic acid brine, which I do not recommend.
- Green Powders - I believe a good green food powder
can be helpful as long as it is not heat processed, considered "raw" and dried
at a low temperature, and do not include toxic additives. Some examples would be
dried wheatgrass, blue green algae, barleygreen, etc.
- Raw Honey - I do agree that raw honey is probably
the best concentrated sweetener to use, I still reccomend minimizing concentrated
sweeteners such as honey. Get a honey that includes the pollen and propolis, a more
- Frozen Fruits - From the manufacturers I have talked
to, it seems that most frozen fruits are not blanched before freezing, so they could be
considered "raw". Although its best to eat FRESH FRUITS instead, or freeze
Things to minimize or cut out completely. The
items listed below are many times included in a raw food diet. I believe they can be
helpful while transitioning to a raw food diet, but have no place in a long term health
building raw food diet.
- Table salt and celtic sea salt- While table salt is
much worse than celtic sea salt, many raw foodists believe that celtic salt is good for
them. I believe it is not. This is primarily due to my research on the
potassium/sodium balance. Each cell in our body needs to maintain a ratio of sodium
to potassium and in the "standard American diet" has the sodium ratio way too
high. I also have ill effects when I eat any salt. I believe we get enough
sodium from fruits, vegetables and seaweed. (Use seaweed instead)
- Nama Shoyu and Braggs Liquid Aminos - Once again
these items show up often in raw food recipes, and many people think them
"healthy". Try drinking a bottle of the stuff, and tell me how you feel. I
bet you will feel sick to your stomach! These are highly processed foods that do not
occur naturally in nature. (try using seaweed instead)
- Maple Syrup - Maple syrup is another ingredient
considered as "raw" by many. Based on my research all maple syrup is
cooked, so it is not raw. I have not sucked on a maple tree to determine if FRESH maple
syrup is a viable food source at this point. Use fresh barhi dates (which to me
taste like maple syrup - there are many different varieties of dates to try!)
- Agave Nectar - While this "concentrated
sweetner" is very popular in raw cuisine, I believe it has no place in a truly
"raw" diet. This is primarily due to the fact that it is a
concentrated sweetner. The "nectar" is collected or "cooked" out
of the agave plant, then must be "cooked" or dehydrated down, much like
"boiling down" maply syrup. There is even some rumors about "corn
syrup" and other sweeteners being added to "raw" agave nectar to give it
the sweet taste. In any case, it is a processed, product, and not a raw, whole food in my
- Wine - Wine can be raw, but while it may have some
health benefits - I say drink FRESH made grape juice instead. Exclude wine from the
raw food diet. Alcohol does kill brain cells.
- Apple Cider Vinegar - Vinegar contains acetic acid.
Acetic acid is a toxic chemical. If you drink a whole bottle of vinegar, I
bet you wont feel too good. Did you know acetic acid is used as a pesticide?
- Bottled oils - Many raw foodists include oils in
their diet. I believe this should be minimized for a few reasons. Oil does not
occur naturally in nature. Once oil is extracted, it generally goes bad
(rancid) very quickly. It is super concentrated and hard for your body to break
down. Try drinking a bottle of oil, and tell me how you feel. Probably like
you want to sleep - its your body having to work overtime to digest the oil. Yes,
even if its cold pressed an organic. Eat the food instead- i.e.: eat olives instead
of olive oil. Eat coconuts instead of coconut oil. Eat ground flax seeds instead of
- Frozen Vegetables - I have confirmed with several
major manufacturers of frozen vegetables, that they are blanched before they are quick
frozen, so these would not qualify as raw.