Thursday, 8 May 2008

How many raw foods do we need for a 'balanced diet'?

The standard cooked diet has all sorts of tentacles with which to draw the newbie raw fooder back in, and I felt concerned a while ago to hear that someone had reverted to a normal' (ie part-cooked) diet because she felt that a 'varied' cooked-food diet was better than her 'limited' raw one.

Was she right to be concerned?

We are told from schooldays onwards to make sure we're getting a 'balanced' diet, that we need to eat a wide variety of foods in order to obtain sufficient vitamin this or that, mineral this or that, protein, calcium, etc. We' re told to eat from various 'food groups', to put meals together on that basis, or at least ensure we're eating from all within a day, within a can not only seem quite complicated, but this advice is still ringing in our ears when we embark on a radical change of diet, to raw.

Of course, 99% of life-forms don't appear to have such problems. Most animals eat just one or two sorts of food (perhaps varying by season) and, somehow... seem to make everything they need for their bodies from these foods. But then of course, they are eating their foods whole, and don't cook them.

Of course, the obvious retort to that is that we're not animals. Is it the case that it's all a lot more complicated for human beings?

Time and time again, in the cooked-food nutrition world, we hear that health and longevity are linked to very simple, rather than very complex, diets - diets consisting of a small number of foods rather than a large variety. We hear of those in other parts of the world managing to be strong and healthy, and relatively free from the diseases that plague people in the UK, without seemingly worrying about whether they're eating a balanced meal or getting enough of certain nutrients. What does appear to be common to all these accounts is that these people are eating a far higher proportion of their food whole and raw (if not all of it) than even the average 'healthy eater' in this country.

But when we damage and destroy our food by cooking it, boy do we make things complicated!

Here are some accounts of human beings, apparently living healthily on very 'limited' diets. To my knowledge, not one of these accounts is backed up with testimony of 100 witnesses, scientific evidence, etc, so I'll leave it to the reader as to whether to attach any credence to them. But, it would be reasonable to guess that, in these cases, the foods spoken of are raw.

The Roman poet, Horace, describes his diet: 'As for me, olives, endives, and smooth mallows provide sustenance.'

(The olive is a fruit containing all sorts of great things for us, including fat - see RawforLife Blog article here. Horace was combining this with green leaves.)

John The Baptist is reputed as living on 'locusts and wild honey'. I researched this some time ago and found evidence to suggest that 'locusts' was, before translation/edits, the 'locust-tree', another name for the carob tree. Many raw fooders will know carob as a highly nutritious pod with a chocolatey flavour.

Arnold Ehret, raw fooder, ate mainly apples, raisins and green leaves. Although, in Ehret's time, raisins had seeds, so he would have been consuming some fat within these.

From Hotema's 'Man's Higher Consciousness'
'Dr Evens said 'Among instances of longevity, we have the ancient Britons who, according to Plutarch, 'only begin to grow old at 210'. Their food consists almost exclusively of acorns, berries and water.'

'The oldest inhabitants of Greece, the Pelasgians, who came before the Dorian, Ionian and Eolian migrations, inhabited Arcadia and Thessaly, possessing the island of Lesbos and Lokemantos, which were full of orange groves. The people, with their diet of dates and oranges, lived on an average of more than 200 years.'

Should we believe these claims of longevity? We know that the Bible talks of men living 700 years plus in the distant past. Perhaps all these accounts are fictitious, perhaps people in those days measured time in a different way, perhaps they couldn't count... perhaps...

Raw fooder David Wolfe ('Sunfood Diet Success System') describes how he lived on a grapevine for a week once after a horse ate his food. Well, I'm wondering if the grapevine could sustain us for a lot longer than a week...the vine in my greenhouse produces thousands of grapes each September/October, and, of course, vineleaves. The leaves don't taste good this time of year, as the vine is still in the early stages of growth, but in the early autumn I can eat the leaves, the fruit, and because I always eat the pips in grapes (see RawforLife article here ) I get green leaves, fruit and fat from just one plant (note - please campaign to have the seeds put back into our fruit!).

The Essene Gospel of Peace tells us: 'Be content with two or three sorts of food'. (But it also said 'Cook not.')

People on a standard cooked diet will indeed find their bodies prompting them to eat lots and lots of different foods, in a frantic search for all the things that have been cooked out of their foods - our bodies know! But of course they will often eat and eat in vain, and be piling in those toxins that lead to illness.

And, despite sensationalist TV programmes on people purportedly living solely on chips, jam sandwiches, whatever, I haven't seen any credible evidence of people existing healthily in the long-term, on 'limited' diets consisting of a small number of cooked foods, and it concerns me that the grain we send to people who have very little to eat is often then cooked.

But it appears to be the case that the more raw, ie undamaged, foods in our diet, the fewer foods we need to obtain everything necessary for our bodies. My hunch is that if all our food is whole and raw we can actually meet our bodies' needs on perhaps two or three foods only, varying by season.

I'm a long way from that right now, as I am somewhat of a piggie and, although 100% raw, certainly don't discipline myself - my grocery bills are quite high...

But, I'm looking towards a far simpler diet in the future. I have in the garden the vine, which just keeps growing each year, with no upkeep needed save cutting back once in the winter. There's a mature hazel-nut. I've just planted an eating-apple tree and sown mallow. My baby olive tree, against a wall (the garden faces south), has lasted a winter that's included thick snow. A fig hasn't done much to date, but a friend has a mature tree, which is encouraging. And, if it does well, I'll be looking into methods of drying.

I believe we can meet our bodies' needs from a relatively small list of foods, many of which (not all - in UK!) can be obtained from the land around us, as long as they're eaten whole and raw, and suggest that if you eat all your food raw, as long as you're including green leaves, fruit and a little fat in your diet (eg from seeds), you can probably stop worrying about whether you're getting a 'balanced' diet.

And, if anyone's worried about the economy, look in the garden. And if you don't have one, move out of the city.


Anonymous said...

Dear Debbie

Thank you for another very interesting article! I must get around to ordering the olives you've previously recommended.

Everything you say here makes sense to me, including moving out of the city. Perhaps one day ... I'd love to have fruit trees, esp a fig tree!

In the meantime I shall continue to enjoy reading about your garden and learning how to make the most of my balcony. The coriander is growing nicely and the tomatoes are beginning to show.

I've got to try to source some more organic compost in London & then I'll be planting some more - I've recently got a wormery but I don't think I'll wait for them ...

I hope you enjoy this beautiful day.

Love, Antony

Debbie Took said...

Hi Antony

Tomatoes on the balcony - they'll smell so good!

Gina, at, is now selling two sorts of raw olives - both good. I appear to have gone through two packs of the Kalamata in two days; how did that happen? :-)

Kristen's Raw said...

Great post!

Cheers :)

Anonymous said...

I LOVE Gina's olives! I just finished off a pack last week.

Debbie Took said...

So did I!