We’ve been talking an awful lot about raw food diets, and I know I’ve been very vocal in my distaste for the cultish devotion that they seem to command in some. Even if there were some sort of sensible evidence that ancient human beings thrived on all-raw diets, I’d think these present-day people morbidly nuts to carry on eating in a way that essentially emaciates them and renders them incapable of normal bodily functions. I may be a bit hung up on this, but I find the idea that these people are so undernourished that 50% of women stop menstruating utterly appalling. When I first read that, all I could think was that this whole lifestyle was a slap in the face to people throughout the world and history who haven’t had enough to eat. To do that to yourself in some sort of self-righteous health-obsessed mania (yes, I’m generalizing. Yes, I’m biased. Yes, I’m bitter about all the sanctimonious hippies who have ever tried to press their eating habits upon me and shaken their heads in pity and disgust upon hearing that I eat cheese, or refined sugar) while there are people who can’t get enough food in themselves to produce milk to feed their babies… that really upsets me.
But I don’t want you to think I’m on a rampage, or harbour some vicious resentment or suppressed envy or god-knows-what-else for people who care enough for their health to make inconvenient changes in their lifestyles. To an extent, that’s admirable without being intolerable. And I think that, given America’s and the developed world’s growing problem with such food-related diseases as obesity, diabetes and heart problems, perhaps a middle ground between emaciated raw-food culture and fried junk ought to be advocated. I had very little idea a week or two ago of how cooking changes the accessibility of nutrients. If the American populace were more aware of this, and could think about that alongside its obsession with calories, carbohydrates, and the host of other nutritional factors we pay so much attention, a diet consisting of more raw foods (and consequently more foods that can be eaten raw, such as fruits and vegetables, and fewer wheat-and-corn products) might become a little more common… I’m thinking in terms of the way I’ve seen people diet. They try to eat less, or cut out carbohydrates entirely, or something so similarly drastic that they generally fail after a week or two. Consuming the same quantity of food, the difference being that a larger proportion of it is uncooked, could be appealing in terms of avoiding hunger. I don’t know, and I’m certainly not advocating this as a worldwide kind of deal – we’ve got enough of a food-distribution problem and ought to be trying to get more out of every piece of food we’ve got. But if I ever decide I want to lose weight and try to do it in some way other than exercising, I’ll keep this in mind instead of turning to the hot paperback weight loss book of the moment.