Last night I got a brief introduction to raw food when I visited a restaurant called in New York. I admit that I was skeptical about what the food would taste like—isn't raw food just plain uncooked veggies?—but I was pleasantly surprised by how good it was. (I sampled the "Nori Rolls of House Made Kim-Chee and Dr. Cow Creamy Tree Nut Cheese" and a ceviche-like dish featuring mushrooms, artichokes and tomatoes.) In fact, I came home and wondered if maybe I had misunderstood what raw food is, so I did a little digging online.
Turns out that raw food is, in fact, pretty much what it sounds like: It's food that's completely uncooked and unprocessed. People who follow a raw food diet will eat mostly vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. They may also eat uncooked fish (sushi) and even meat (like steak carpaccio)—though the restaurant where I ate was not only raw but also vegan, so no animal products were on the menu.
Raw food devotees believe that processing foods in any way—including heating them—is bad for your health. They say that it destroys precious nutrients and can even be toxic or carcinogenic. I personally don't subscribe to that belief; while some cooking methods can zap nutrients, others actually bring them out or make them easier to absorb. (Studies have shown, for example, that your body gets more of the heart-healthy antioxidant lycopene from tomatoes when you cook them). Still, I can appreciate the notion that eating as many foods as possible in their natural form—or as close to it as possible—is often the healthier choice. So while I'm not going to eat raw chicken anytime soon (OK, ever), I do understand that plain grilled or roasted chicken is a better pick than say, chicken nuggets.
—Barbara Brody, Health Editor
Have you ever eaten at a raw food restaurant, or tried to follow a raw food diet?