Going raw: Eating your values
As I near the end of my two-week raw food challenge, I realize I've thought about food more during the past two weeks than I probably ever have before.
Monday, August 23, 2010 - 20:44
Food. In the last two weeks, I've thought about it from more perspectives, eaten it in different ways, and learned about its impact on the body more than I had in my previous 25 years of living. The raw food challenge has allowed me to be a much more mindful eater.
It has been challenging at times, particularly in certain social situations (as I discussed in my last post). I've made a lot of smoothies, eaten a lot of salads, sprouted a lot of seeds and cut a lot of vegetables. And certain activities, like the 60-mile bike ride I made on Saturday, seem to require lots and lots of pasta to recover from.
I've learned about a different understanding of food, and reflected on my own dietary needs and wishes. I feel quite healthy and cleansed after eating this way for nearly two weeks, though I can't categorically claim that it's a direct result of this diet. Perhaps the biggest attestation to its impact though, is that abstaining from coffee for two weeks straight hasn't had a devastating affect on my energy levels!
Before making any judgment of raw foodism, though, it is definitely worth realizing that it is more than a diet. I've discussed this in some detail, but understanding one's dietary choices within the larger context of lifestyle and value systems is not something most people are accustomed to doing, in my opinion.
To this end, I've realized that whatever diet we chose — rawism, veganism, vegetarianism or an omnivorous diet — it's best when it contributes some meaning to our lives, reinforces specific values, enriches us ... more than just nutritionally.
My experiences with rawism have definitely served these deeper, less tangible roles. But while I've felt healthy and alert during this diet, it has still been a "challenge" to me and not a wholesale shift in values and lifestyle. A lot of my personal values and habits are very compatible with rawism outside of the purely dietary — such things as using nontoxic, natural hair and body care products, phosphate- and detergent-free kitchen and laundry soaps and fluoride-free toothpaste. But I still don't necessarily believe all the internalized assumptions about cooking and nutrition necessary to be a pure raw foodist. My philosophy tends more towards moderation than the certain level of extremism necessary to lead a full-on raw lifestyle.
Ultimately, though, rawism can have a lot to teach us about how we interact with and value our world. I failed to mention it so far, but the amount of waste I've produced during this challenge has been extremely minimal. When you buy things as fresh, local and unprocessed as possible, there is very little packaging or transportation involved and almost all of your remaining waste is compostable. At its core, rawism is a very earth-friendly practice.
Perhaps the biggest mental connection I've learned to make, though, is not simply between what I consume and my personal health. It's a greater appreciation for how this stuff impacts the world around us and the role we play in that cycle — from production to consumption to disposal. If nothing else, this two-week raw food challenge has given me a much greater appreciation for the many different ways we have of valuing and relating to food. And that alone — being able to value and relate to our food, where it comes from, how it's prepared — is a significant advancement.