Mindanao (and hence Samal Island) was for decades avoided by mainstream tourists because of its reputation of a troubled past. So it’s interesting to see how Samal Island has now developed into the ‘go to’ place for Russian Fruitarians.
For about the last two years, we made frequent sightings of Caucasian hippy activity as we traveled back and forth between Samal and Davao. Almost daily, we see (usually) young hippies returning from Davao clutching their prized Durian. It wasn’t until March or April this year that we had our first meaningful encounter when a young Russian couple crossed the road and walked into the Spice Hut looking for accommodation. Sacha and Irene ended up staying at our homestay for three-and-a-half months! In that time, we all learned a huge amount about each other’s cultures. Our introduction to ‘fruitarians’ was made. Interestingly, when I asked Irene how they chose to travel to Mindanao, she said that she had no idea about it’s history. Apparently Russian news skipped this part of recent history.
Not long after Sacha and Irene left for Thailand, Mikhail and Julia (Russian fruitarian initiates) and their chubby little boy arrived, also staying for 3 months. When a Russian fruitarian sees fresh fruit, not even a rotten ladder can hold him back!
Our new Russian friends taught as much about different diets (vegetarian, vegan, fruitarian) as we helped them getting to know Samal and Davao.
As you can see from the Russian Fruitarian website, at least one colony has been established and we now know of others in the southern part of the island near Kaputian. For more information on fruits, vegetables and more omnivorous foods see What to Eat.
After the Russian wave of fruitarians, we were found first by a young Austrian fruitarian and then by a Swedish couple (Andrea and Melinda) who came to stay for 2 weeks+ in November 2014 after finding this web-page.
It was the first of the festival’s many “Sweet Durian Nites”, a dance party that climaxed with the consumption of hundreds and hundreds of ripe durian fruits. The dining hall was packed with exemplars of health and youth and whiteness. There were lean kids in T-shirts and shorts, hippie chicks with rippling hair, sporty-looking guys wearing toe shoes – snug, rubberised foot-gloves that swaddle the foot in hi-tech materials in order to mimic the conditions of running barefoot. Everyone looked comfortable. Everyone had good posture. Everyone was attractive, or more precisely, all the attendees looked so well that I felt like I should be attracted to them. Even the older attendees seemed young: I had the experience many times of walking towards a girl with long hair and skinny legs only to discover up close that she was well over 60.
A narrow-headed man with arms like an action figure introduced himself as Jay and asked if this was my first time trying durian. I told him I’d only had it cooked in puddings or cakes, and he assured me that raw, fresh durian was a completely different thing. He said I’ll go nuts for it, especially if I stuck to a fruitarian diet. “The cleaner you get,” he said, “the more your body craves that sulphur flavour. And you’ll be able to taste more in it – coffee, ice cream, whiskey, lemon. If there’s something you miss eating, durian starts to taste just like it.”
I told him I hadn’t been raw for very long. “Yeah, I can tell,” he said. “You’ve got those dark circles. I mean, don’t get me wrong – you’re beautiful – but I can fix those.” Jay was one of the festival’s licensed massage therapists and encouraged me to sign up for a free massage with him down by the lake. He also invited me to live for free on a plot of land he’s bought in Ecuador, where he plans to grow 20 different kinds of durian and build tree houses.
Then I heard a whoop coming from the centre of the room near the kitchen. Volunteers began wheeling carts from the back kitchen thawing room, each cart piled 40 or 50 menacing-looking globes high, every spiny lump wrapped in protective plastic netting. The bodies near my own surged towards the carts in a scrabble of shouting, grabbing two or three or four durians at once, cradling the dinosaurish fruits against their bare arms and shirtless torsos. Some carried them towards the peripheries of the dining hall, the corners and isolated tables – feeding behaviours I’ve seen in zoos but never among human beings. The air filled with an alarming smell, something like shit, something like cafeteria meat. I alternated between thinking that something had gone horribly wrong and reminding myself that it was only durian.
When the crowd thinned I approached one of the carts. The durians that were left were smaller, less plump, and still somewhat frozen. I lifted one up gingerly by the netting and carried it over to a table. The more experienced durian eaters told me to “find the weak spot and start digging there”, but as I turned the durian over all I saw were strong spots covered in small sharp points. Eventually a stranger came over to help me out. He had a huge red beard and wore a T-shirt that said “VEGAN”. He flipped the fruit over and pointed out the seam, an invisible line at which the spikes of the durian began to part in opposite directions. When he put his thumbs on either side of the seam, the creaturely fruit popped open. Under his expectant eyes, I dug three fingers into the belly of the freezing-cold fruit and shovelled it up into my mouth. It tasted like custard and sour banana and very, very strongly like onion. “You like it?” he asked, and I nodded and made a couple of high-pitched positive sounds. When he left I gave away the remaining three-quarters of my durian to a group of people who had already demolished their fourth. My fingers smelt of cold egg and onion, and I was tired and still hungry.
This was the fourth annual Woodstock fruit festival, a 14‑day celebration of health, fitness, and the consumption of an entirely raw fruit-based vegan diet. There is no meat at the festival, no animal products, no processed food. There are no grains, no nuts, no cooked or steamed or sauteed anything. There is no salt, no oil, no refined sugar, no caffeine, no alcohol, garlic, or onion. Sometimes there are herbs or raw corn. What there is: fruit – more than $100,000 (£64,000) worth of fresh and frozen produce trucked in from fruit and vegetable wholesalers in the Bronx and Chinatown, greens from a nearby organic farm, and donated watermelon from a farmer in Pennsylvania. Approximately 1,750 durians from the tropical fruit distributor New Generation, over 4,200lb of tomatoes, and an almost ineffable amount of bananas – enough to fill one of the large back-kitchen ripening rooms several times over. I was there as one of approximately 600 attendees over the course of two week-long sessions – established or aspiring fruitarians who practise a more rigorous and restrictive diet than most people have ever imagined. For up to $1,795 (£1,145) a week, they seek to achieve elite health and to “plug their digestive systems”, as I overheard one woman say, “directly into nature”.
* * *
I was first introduced to fruitarianism by a close friend who crashed with me for a weekend in 2012. I opened the door and watched her roll a carry-on suitcase into the entryway, set it down, unzip it, and remove two 40oz plastic containers of red globe grapes, which she rinsed off and consumed in their entirety while standing in the middle of my kitchen. When she was done, she put the spindly grape-skeletons back in their plastic clamshells, and the clamshells back in her suitcase. She had been on a fruit-based diet for just a couple of months, but was already reporting astounding changes: an end to the stomach pains that had troubled her for years; bursting, glowy levels of energy; sharpened concentration; happiness. “I love it,” she told me. “It’s like the whole world is made of delicious, dripping sugar.” Her diet didn’t sound safe, but my friend looked well. She buzzed with intense wellbeing and her skin looked enviably great, although she took frequent naps.
Most faithfully described as a “plant-based raw vegan diet” (the term fruitarian is preferred among practitioners, although only a fraction are on an all-fruit diet), fruitarianism largely adheres to a nutritional regimen known as 80-10-10. This is a high-carb, low-fat diet in which at least 80% of one’s calorie consumption is expected to come from the simple carbohydrates found in fresh fruits and vegetables, with at most 10% each coming from protein and fat. As a point of comparison, the Atkins diet begins with a recommended ratio of 10% carbs, 29% protein, and 65% fat. Because fruits and vegetables naturally contain small amounts of fat and protein, Dr Doug Graham, an unlicensed chiropractor and the man behind 80-10-10, claims that you can thrive on a diet composed entirely of fresh raw fruits, raw leafy greens, and only occasional supplements of nuts or seeds. For a fruitarian, breakfast might be 1lb of kiwi blended with 1lb of orange juice, with 1lb 12oz of peeled bananas wrapped in romaine leaves for lunch, and a three-course dinner consisting of 1lb blended tangerines and pineapple; 1lb of tangerines, celery, and red bell peppers blended into a soup, and a side salad.
This diet is not easy to maintain, but raw fruit experts promise a vast array of benefits. In testimonials, fruitarians claim that going raw has done everything from curing cancer to eliminating body odour and changing the colour of one’s eyes from brown to blue. Unlike other diets, 80-10-10 promises to transform your experience of your body, revealing levels of thriving that you didn’t know existed. In this way, “going raw” breaks with the traditional function of diet as rudimentary medicine (seen even in early Hippocratic medical texts) and becomes a lifestyle. A diet tells you what you should eat; a lifestyle tells you how you should feel about it.
The history of recreational dieting is fairly brief. Until the rise of natural-food communities in the 1970s, it could be argued that for most secular people, diet and lifestyle were imagined as distinct, compartmentalised aspects of daily life. Diets were faddish, seasonal, geared towards achieving a specific goal and then abandoned once they were no longer needed. They were not supposed to rearrange social ties or create new communities, only help you to succeed within your existing community by becoming a slimmer and more attractive version of yourself. From the 1880s onwards, after the discovery of food as a composite of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, most diets emphasised eating the right amount of existing mainstream foods in the right proportion to satisfy nutritional needs. That changed with the leftist utopian food communities of the 1960s and 70s – a precursor to today’s fruitarians – and the age of negative nutrition, which sought to reduce or eliminate foods that had previously been part of a nutritious standard American diet. Negative nutrition spurned sodium, cholesterol, sugar, and fat – and the suspicions it raised about the standard American diet lent momentum to the growing natural foods movement.
In the natural foods movement of the 1960s and 70s, activists and hippies combined diet, politics, and community, to provide a vision of how one could live a life that matched one’s diet. Foods were eliminated not only for health reasons but in order to cultivate a desirable personality – meat-eating, for example, was denounced as an impediment to spiritual growth and a cause of aggressive behaviour. Groups such as The Diggers in San Francisco gave food away for free and popularised wholewheat bread baked in emptied coffee cans as part of a broader experiment in creating a miniature society free from capitalism, while the macrobiotic Zen diet proposed eating your way to enlightenment through 10 different stages, each more restrictive than the last, until the eater reached an apex where she sustained herself on brown rice alone. The fruitarian lifestyle shares the narrative structure of the macrobiotic diet, its emphasis on eliminating toxicity within the body, as well as its ethos of restrictive decadence. Where it differs from macrobiotics is in its fixation on a utopian past. Like those on the nutritionally inverse “paleo” diet, fruitarians eat in hope of returning to a past that predates the primal wound of agrarian society, but whereas paleo dieters hark back to the era when humans were hunter‑gatherers, fruitarians look back to an even earlier time, when we were simply gatherers – equal, undifferentiated, and deeply in harmony with nature.
* * *
At the women’s support group that ran daily during the Woodstock fruit festival, in a large tented space out past the moist and muddying campground, an older woman in a brightly patterned head scarf and shawl was close to tears. She reminded me, distantly, of several grandmothers I have known. “I have come here,” she said in a soft Russian accent, “to talk about coffee. I miss coffee so bad here. I know it is bad for me, but it was like a friend.” The circle of seated women made quiet, sympathetic sounds as the Russian woman softly wept.
The topic of this day’s support group was “Emotional Eating/Food Addiction”, although in coming days I would discover that nearly every session focuses on the same issues: cravings, and how to resolve them. Ellen Livingston, the moderator, pulled her already taut body into a position strongly resembling a yoga pose and asked if anyone else in the circle had something to say about coffee. There was a moment of silence. “I miss chocolate,” offered a younger woman in running shorts. “We all miss something,” Ellen said calmly. “But maybe this would be a good time to remind ourselves of what we do not miss. What don’t you miss about coffee?” she asked the Russian. “I don’t miss … that I feel tired without it, that I want it to drink,” the woman replied. “You don’t miss needing coffee,” said Ellen, nodding. “I don’t miss needing it,” the woman agreed. Then her face contracted. “I want to,” she began, her voice wobbling, “I want to be myself and only myself. I want my energy to come from myself and not from any chemical. I want to shine with a light that is only my own, a pure light that comes from me and my life! I want to shine with my own light!” She wiped her face with a corner of her shawl and we all clapped for her, solemnly.
The Woodstock fruit festival began in 2010, a time when the fruitarian community was more scattered and less tech-savvy. Founder Michael Arnstein envisioned the festival as a place where eaters who had communicated online could meet in person, and where longtime practitioners could be brought into the spotlight and transformed into role models for those just starting out. Arnstein invited about 20 guests, established fruitarians, such as the YouTube celebrity Kristina Carrillo-Bucaram (aka FullyRawKristina), to speak at the festival and serve as fruit festival “pioneers”.
In exchange for giving talks and leading exercises for free in the festival’s first year, pioneers are invited back each year, for varying amounts of compensation. At Woodstock, the pioneers lead exercise classes, tie-dye sessions, support groups, and give lectures. They chat and take photos with attendees, do interviews, and frequently sign festivalgoers up for paid services, such as nutritional testing or health retreats. Above all, they motivate. They offer themselves up as physical embodiments of one’s best self – the kind of person you could be, if you ate this way.
Many of the festival presentations advised on how to deal with cravings. A craving for rich foods and desserts, for instance, might mean that I was not consuming enough calories. It was true that I had found it difficult to consume enough calories since I got there. At one lunch, I ate eight longan fruits (each about the size of a large marble), four tangerines and two kiwi halves, and was completely full. I was told that I’d be able to eat greater volume with time – the stomach needs to stretch to accommodate the large volume of watery, fibrous foods – and I saw this borne out in the eaters around me: the belly of a skinny shirtless young guy eating a huge bowl full of bananas stuck out hugely like a child’s, but when I saw him again a couple of hours later, he’d resumed a completely normal shape.
Having a stomach packed with fruit is a strange and not unpleasant sensation. After eating 3lb of mixed kiwis and nectarines, I felt agile and my mind seemed to work at double speed. Although I wasn’t hungry, I wasn’t full, and the idea of achieving fullness was daunting – I didn’t know how much I’d have to eat, or how much time I’d have to spend peeling, tearing, chewing. Fruitarians make continual reference to how “digestible” fruit is, and one consequence of this digestibility is that you burn your meals quickly and are hungry again soon. Other consequences of digestibility are scatological. Any bathroom shared by 14 women is bound to be busy, but in the close quarters of our female-only cabin it was hard not to be aware of the steady procession into and out of our single shared toilet. Frequent defecation is an open secret of the fruitarian lifestyle, and while leaders of the movement don’t talk much about the downsides of this, they often tout the improved quality of your poop as a perk of the diet.
* * *
The summer after my friend became a fruitarian, she went to her first Woodstock fruit festival. The year after that, she went again. But when I said I was interested in going along in 2014, she told me she wouldn’t be there – she was one of many fruitarians boycotting the festival after the festival’s board of governors voted two of her YouTube vegan role models out of the pioneers: DurianRider (aka Harley Johnstone), a chiselled Australian cyclist, known for his freestyle rhyming mantras (“Raw fruit’s about gettin’ it from the tree, gettin’ it from the vine, feelin’ divine. It’s not ordering food online!”), and his girlfriend Freelee (aka the Banana Girl), a video celebrity who makes about $20,000 (£12,780) a month from branded content and YouTube ads. The couple were supposedly voted out for their lack of purity: they had begun to endorse a “Raw Till 4” diet that includes eating some starch in the evenings.
After being thrown out of the pioneers, in December 2013 DurianRider struck back with a video on YouTube. In the video, which has since been viewed 110,000 times, Freelee sits on DurianRider’s lap, their skinny arms wrapped around each other. They tell the story of how they were demoted in a secret vote headed by Dr Doug Graham. They go on to express “disappointment” in several of the other pioneers, including Graham, who voted against them under the premise that “raw is law” – a maxim that DurianRider and Freelee believe alienates many potential converts.
Other pioneers have responded to DurianRider and Freelee’s accusations with a mixture of hostility and sadness. FullyRawKristina has said that the promotion of cooked food was just an excuse – DurianRider and Freelee were ousted because they were aggressive and disrespectful to the other pioneers. Still others view their endorsement of cooked food as a genuine health threat. Some have even said cooked food does more damage to the body than cigarettes. In an interview about the rift, Woodstock fruit festival founder Michael Arnstein expressed distress at ousting DurianRider, whose videos helped him enter the fruitarian lifestyle. Nevertheless, he views their occasional cooked foods as a sign of both physical and moral decay: “They went from eating health first to being cold-stone back on food addiction. That’s what it is. And that shit will spin you around.”
In March 2014, DurianRider posted online a 26-page document, “Gimmetruthdoc.pdf”, that focuses on Graham, who Durianrider claimed was paid an additional $70,000 (£45,000) from Michael Arnstein’s personal funds to attend the 2013 festival – a sum that would vastly overshadow the compensation of other pioneers. It also publicised his 2009 arrest for money laundering (which Graham has described as a “set-up” – all charges were subsequently dropped), and alluded to the death or hospitalisation of several people who have attended Dr. Graham’s fasting retreats, which take place in Costa Rica and can cost upwards of $13,000 (£8,300). (Graham told me via email that, to his knowledge, there have been no deaths due to complications from fasting at his retreats.) Since then, DurianRider has publicised the video testimonial of Leah Branster, who claims she nearly died at one of Graham’s retreats after she developed extreme symptoms that he discouraged her from seeking medical attention. (Graham denies this. “At the retreat, I discussed the option of medical assistance with Leah almost every day, fully giving her the freedom and support to choose such an option if she wished,” he said.)
Graham was by far the biggest draw at this year’s Woodstock fruit festival. While most pioneers did 10 to 20 events over the course of the event, Graham did 54. Each day he ran a Q&A session, led a 9am exercise class, taught a class on raw food preparation (“Kentuckified cauliflower”), and at 4.30pm gave a talk from a five-part lecture, “How to be Happy, Healthy, and Have the Body of Your Dreams”. He also appeared daily between 5.45 and 7pm at his company’s FoodNSport Info Tent, pitched at the most visible point in the festival grounds, where his volunteers answered questions about 80-10-10 and handed out literature for Graham’s numerous wellness retreats.
A musclebound 61-year-old with a greying ponytail and the thick, ropy neck of a cartoon henchman, Graham radiated health, if not necessarily wellness. In his talks, he projected authority and casual chumminess all at once, sitting on the edge of the stage with his legs dangling or strolling through the hall giving audience members occasional pats on the back. He lectures like a trained professional, with the rolling, peaking style of a motivational speaker and a sound to his sentences that keeps you listening even if you aren’t really absorbing what he’s saying. When Graham speaks, you feel a whole-body urge to nod.
The last talk in Graham’s five-part series, subtitled “F.E.E.L. YOUR WAY TO HEALTH”, was the one that felt the most like a sales pitch. Unlike the others, which focused on conveying the nutritional backbone of the 80-10-10 diet and addressing audience concerns, this one dealt hazily with emotional wellbeing and self-realisation. We wrote down three of the things we truly value in our lives and meditated on them. We thought about our “negative” qualities and what positivity we might be able to find in them. Then Graham started talking about his fasting retreats, supervised water-only fasts in the jungle of Costa Rica that take more than a month to complete, including roughly a week of “refeeding” after the fasting period has ended. He showed slide after slide of people who had successfully come through his fasting retreats thinner, fitter, free of health problems that had plagued many of them for years. “Before” pictures tended to be sloppier, smile-free. “After” pictures showed people who were skinny, tanned, with eerily large eyes. “People who fast become more alive,” Graham said. I heard one girl in the audience whisper, “Not always”.
* * *
It was 5.30pm on a damp, overcast day and I had a deconstructed romaine heart in my bowl, a clod of cilantro, a couple of cups of sliced cucumbers mixed with dill, a pile of red bell pepper pieces, and about five tangerines on the side. The bottom regions of my salad sloshed with vaguely mineral-tasting liquid. The skinny kid sitting next to me was telling me about the diets he did before this one. Then he pointed at my arm: “Oh,” he said. “You’re freezing.” I looked down and saw my arms covered in goose bumps. “Yeah,” I replied. I was also damp, and a little dizzy, and mostly sick of the cold, sweet wateriness of plant matter. At the festival, I spent days talking to people endlessly about food: what kinds of fruit we could buy where we lived, what kinds we wanted to try, our dietary goals and aspirations. Many were working to become fully raw, and those who were already strove for intense cleansing or fasting. Many said they were “always hungry” or “always thinking about food”. It’s generally believed that the development of agriculture made civilisation possible, freeing early humans from lives in which nearly all of their time had to be spent planning and pursuing food. I would say instead that agriculture, and the divisions of labour it propagated, created the precursors of our present-day lifestyle options – specialisations in class, consumption, and daily routine that have grown more numerous and finely demarcated over time. Lifestyle differentiation made possible lifestyle choice, including the choice to adopt a lifestyle in which you would once again spend nearly all of your time thinking about eating.
In theory, fruit is free and abundant, a sweet package of harm-free profit. Fruit is literally made to be eaten, and the relationship between an apple tree and the creature that eats the apple and transports its seed to some other promising location is symbiotic. What better basis for a community could there be than fruit, which is symbol and sustenance at once?
But real fruit is expensive, difficult to source and ship without compromising on these principles. Most commercially grown fruit is harvested by labourers who are overworked and underpaid, then shipped long distances in gas-guzzling trucks or oil-guzzling ships that exact a toll on the environment. There are also health concerns. In 2013, Ashton Kutcher was hospitalised for two days after following a fruitarian diet for a month, part of a Method-acting stunt designed to prepare him for filming the Steve Jobs biopic Jobs (“I was doubled over in pain, and my pancreas levels were completely out of whack,” Kutcher later told reporters at the Sundance film festival.) Conventional nutritionists confirm that the diet is too high in sugar, which can cause tooth cavities and overwork the pancreas, and too low in nutrients vital to maintaining the body. Fruit, for all its excellent qualities, is low in protein, calcium, vitamin B12, zinc, Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, iodine, and vitamin D. Sticking to the diet long-term can result in dangerous deficiencies that many fruitarians try to ward off with nutritional testing and vitamin injections. And while going on a restrictive diet is not necessarily the same thing as having an eating disorder, doctors warn that the severe dietary restrictions inherent in eating strictly low-carb or fruitarian regimens can trigger orthorexia nervosa, a term that literally translates to a “fixation on righteous eating”. Orthorexics are prone to anxiety over the purity or healthfulness of their food, to the point where their restricted nutritional and caloric intake can cause severe malnutrition.
By the last day of the festival, I felt OK. For seven days I hadn’t eaten anything cooked, anything seasoned, anything animal, nut, or seed, and I hadn’t had any water – at first because I couldn’t find any cups on the festival grounds, and later because I realised I didn’t really need to. I didn’t have many cravings, though sometimes I felt annoyed that I had to eat more fruit. But the dizziness that had started a couple of days prior had become worse, and I experienced a tilting feeling when I turned around too fast or stood up or sat down. Though I felt like myself, a slightly giddier version of myself, my boyfriend worried over how I sounded on the phone. “You keep trailing off and asking me what you were saying,” he told me. When he picked me up on the last day of the festival, he came with snacks: roasted almonds, hot coffee, and a mozzarella panini. I eyed them with a degree of suspicion. Over the past week it had come to feel plausible that these items could kill me – not all at once, of course, but in stages. I told him I wasn’t really hungry. After a few hours we reached the Sloatsburg Travel Plaza on I-87, where I went into the food court and ordered some french fries. They were hot, dry and dusted with salt that burned the roof of my mouth, and they could be eaten extremely quickly. Afterwards I felt fine. The next morning I had a breakfast sandwich and a yogurt and a huge coffee.
In September, a month after the 2014 Woodstock fruit festival ended, the board of governors voted by a large majority to exclude Graham from all future events after considering two documents that detailed the specifics of Leah Branster’s near-death experience at Graham’s Costa Rica fasting retreat. The fifth annual festival will take place in August 2015, and a promotional video from this past summer has already been released to encourage attendance. The video shows no lectures, no cooking classes, no FoodNSport info booth, not even much food – just a montage of smooth young bodies painting one another with mud, lounging by the lake, lifting weights, hugging one another on the dance floor. People smile wordlessly at one another, and share fruit.
Recently, somebody forwarded me an article from USA Today titled Stripping the Diet Raw which featured the many benefits of following a raw food diet.
The article commented on the fact that if we look at the natural world, we would never find any other living creatures that are overweight (unless its our overfed pets). It’s almost hard for our minds to conjure up the image of an overweight plant or an overweight lady bug.
This may be due to the fact that all other living creatures consume a steady diet of raw foods, while humans are eating more cooked, processed foods and artificial toxin containing foods.
Thanks to irresponsible commercial farming techniques that depend on chemical fertilizers, pesticides, genetic modification and hormones to grow crops on already overworked land, a large percentage of today’s food supply has become saturated with toxins and has very little nutritional value.
WHY ORGANIC RAW FOODS?
In todays world even the majority of raw foods may contain harmful toxins. If we can’t count on raw fruits and vegetables to be pure sources of nutrition, how are we supposed to obtain the energy necessary for life?
The answer lies in choosing organically grown or locally grown foods. Even better, you should grow your own food organically in a backyard garden, provided you don’t live near sources of pollution such as refineries, heavy industry, or freeways.
THE USDA NATIONAL ORGANIC PROGRAM DEFINES ORGANIC FOOD PRODUCTION AS:
- “‘Organic’ is a labeling term that denotes products produced under the authority of the Organic Foods Production Act. The principal guidelines for organic production are to use materials and practices that enhance the ecological balance of natural systems and that integrate the parts of the farming system into an ecological whole. Organic agriculture practices cannot ensure that products are completely free of residues; however, methods are used to minimize pollution from air, soil and water.”
It’s becoming increasingly common to see organic fruits and vegetables at many grocery stores. Most likely, you can find a local farmer’s market in or near your city, especially near rural areas. A farmer’s market is the best place to buy your food because it is grown in your local environment and picked ripe, plus it supports your local, small-production farmers.
WHAT IS A RAW FOOD DIET?
It is a way of eating that involves a huge dietary increase in the number of unprocessed and uncooked fruits and vegetables, as well as seeds, nuts, grains (mostly sprouted) and beans. A food is considered raw if it is uncooked or “prepared” below 116°F, as above this temperature range, food begins to loose its essential nutrients and enzymes, or its “vital life force.”
The more we can eat foods that maintain that aliveness, the more “life force” we ourselves will be able to embody. Remember Life=Life and Death=Death. More than half a century ago in his book Prescription for Energy, Charles de Coti-Marsh explained, “By eating live foods you create a live body. Live foods contain essential nutrients the body needs to create and maintain energy. Dead foods advance age, decrease ability, and decrease energy … they are useless when dead…”
The best way to approach raw foods is to gradually incorporate more and more raw fruits and vegetables into your diet. A good start is to try to eat 75% raw and 25% lightly cooked (especially in regard to whole grains). Although I personally do not condone eating meat, I have added the safest meats to eat (upon request from consumers) in this general raw food diet plan so some people can make a gradual transition to a 100% raw diet.
THE DOWNSIDES OF COOKING FOOD
When we cook foods, we inevitably destroy some of the enzymes, vitamins and minerals necessary for good health. If we eat too much overly-cooked, microwaved and processes foods, it can clog our colon, which may lead to a whole host of problems, including, cancer, heart-disease, diabetes and many other degenerative diseases.
Cooking may actually upset the natural structure of food, robbing it of its essential nutritional value. Ed Douglas, the director of the American Living Foods Institute, believes that the human body was never meant to eat cooked food. Stephen Arlin, co-author of the book Nature’s First Law: The Raw Food Diet, even goes so far as to state that, “Cooked food is poison.”
HEALTH BENEFITS OF EATING ORGANIC RAW FOODS
If you slowly begin to eat in this fashion, you will be amazed at your increased energy levels, youthful appearance and decreased visits to the doctors office. Increasing raw food intake has also been linked to a decreased need for sleep, with many reporting that they have more energy when they wake up in the morning, and that they find it easier to get out of bed!
Other benefits of following a raw food diet include improved skin appearance, excess weight loss, improved digestion, the reduction of many diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer, as well as many other health debilitating ailments. Raw foods typically do not have as many trans and saturated fats, as compared to most cooked foods, especially fast food, junk food and any other processed foods.
Raw foods are also extremely high in nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, fiber and plant phytochemical. A report from the Journal of Nutrition stated that increased use of raw foods in our diet lowers both cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the body , some of the main indicators for heart disease, obesity & high blood pressure.
Furthermore, a raw food diet usually involves less packaging and less use of energy sources for cooking, thus making them the near perfect solution for eco-friendly eating. Raw foods also do not usually come in cans or plastics, thus reducing our intake of the harmful chemicals that can be emitted through canned and packaged containers . Don Weaver, author of “The Survival of Civilization,” states that an increased raw food diet is the “most healthful diet for humans and the Earth as a whole.”
If you are beginning to eat more raw fruits and vegetables, make sure to buy only organic or locally grown, as many of the toxins present in non-organic foods, such as pesticides, will not be eliminated with raw eating. Also, avoid eating raw meat, as it can be a host to a wide range of bacteria and parasites.
There is so much information regarding raw foods and personally I believe the best raw food diet is the fruitarian diet. However, everyone is different and you should always do thorough research before radically changing your diet.
Sources for this article include: