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Jan 12, 2007

Adventures in the Raw

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1576860-1,00.html

It wasn't until I ordered a week of raw meals that I realized just how lazy I am: I not only don't cook for myself, I don't not cook for myself. But the raw-food movement--whose full-time practitioners believe cooking saps ingredients of nutrition--actually requires a lot of equipment: dehydrators, blenders, food processors. It's not exactly as if I'm going to make an uncooked nut loaf with barbecue sauce myself.

With restaurants that don't even own a stove opening around the country, and delivery services in New York City, Atlanta and Los Angeles, I decided to eat nothing but raw food for a week. This didn't quite work out, since most of the food I'm offered is cooked and I'm not very good at turning down a free meal. But I made it for almost three days, during which I ate some surprisingly awesome stuff and felt pretty good, if often hungry. Plus, I saved a lot of time because I could shop in only one supermarket aisle. And to put it delicately, I did not waste many minutes in the bathroom.

When I first tried to decide what to eat on my new raw diet, I quickly discovered that I had no idea how most food is made. Is yogurt raw? Peanut butter? Oil-and-vinegar salad dressing? Like most raw-foodists--who are predominantly vegan and believe that cooking robs food of most of its nutrition--I wound up eating only fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds. I was living exclusively on the bottom of the new nutritional pyramid.

To make things easier, I ordered a week's worth of meals from Matt Amsden's RAWvolution, which makes home deliveries in the L.A. area. Even so, it took me a while to adjust to the whole raw idea. When I opened the container of onion soup, I spent some time trying to figure out if I should heat it up in a pot or in the microwave before I remembered that I was supposed to pour the stuff cold into a bowl.

The soup wasn't bad, if a little intense and sharp. In fact, a lot of the food--especially mushy stuff like the no-bean hummus and the pecan crumble--had a biting, rough quality. But some of it--like the mandoline-thin zucchini that served as pasta in the vegetable lasagna or the marinated shiitake sandwich made with thin layers of dehydrated soft crackers--was bright, fresh and fun. For dinner one night at a raw-food restaurant in L.A. I had clever little vegetable "pizzas" and a bowl of squash shaved into a linguine shape, bathed in curry and topped with vegetables. It turns out there are a lot of ways to eat a salad.

But what shocked me most was how much uncooked, healthy food I had to eat to get even close to full. Raw-foodists are not heavyset, and many of them have an anticonsumerist philosophy that fits in nicely with small portions. I do not have such a philosophy. The $100 RAWvolution delivery that was supposed to last five days was half gone by the end of the first. I resorted to carrying around a lot of nuts, apples and bananas in my car for the three days I lasted on the diet. They didn't fill me up--or make my car smell good.

In the end, it wasn't the taste or smell that made me bail. Nor was it the lack of options or even the hunger. It was the difficulty--the social exclusion of being in a cult whose members talk about food all the time. But I did like a good deal of what I ate. And I liked the way the diet packed nutrition into each of its precious calories. I'll probably order from RAWvolution again. And I'll probably knock off most of that week's delivery on Monday night. But it will make me feel much better about the ribs and mac and cheese I'll have on Tuesday.



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Posted: Jan 12, 2007 10:00am

 

 
 
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pElAgUS hellot
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Tamarindo, Costa Rica
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