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The Problem With The Raw Food Movement

WetcoasterWetcoaster Posts: 1,790Member Member Posts: 1,790Member Member
http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevensalzberg/2016/02/22/whats-really-in-raw-food/#115d8d325fc3


The raw food crazies are making themselves sick.

There’s a thing called the Raw Food Movement that has been growing in popularity in recent years. Proponents argue that it’s far healthier than our usual (human) diet of cooked foods, claiming that cooking removes many of the natural enzymes that make food nutritious. They also believe that cooking creates harmful toxins.

What’s really happening, though, is that raw foodies are putting themselves at risk of serious bacterial infections. Just last week, we learned that a salmonella outbreak tied to raw food has sickened people in 15 states so far. The CDC reports that the outbreak is linked to Garden of Life’s RAW Meal Organic Shakes, which come in chocolate, vanilla and vanilla chai flavors. The company issued a recall and warned that “persons infected with salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.”

According to the CDC, no one has died from any of these salmonella infections, although four people have been hospitalized.


It’s not clear why raw food is so trendy, other than the obsession of some people with everything “natural.”

Natural or not, cooking is one of mankind’s greatest inventions. It allows us to spend far less time eating, because cooked food is much easier to chew and digest. We extract more nutrients from cooked food–not fewer, despite what the raw foodies claim. Chimpanzees, our closest relative, spend up to 50% of their waking hours eating, because they subsist entirely on raw food. A 2011 study by Chris Organ and colleagues at Harvard University pointed out that:




The ancestors of modern humans who invented food processing (including cooking) gained critical advantages in survival and fitness through increased caloric intake.

Cooking our food has another huge advantage as well: it kills harmful bacteria and viruses. The current salmonella outbreak could easily have been avoided if people had simply cooked their food instead of consuming raw shakes.

Raw foodies, though, seem to live in Opposite Land, where food science gets turned on its head. The website RawFoodLife.com claims that:

Science now proves that cooking not only destroys nutrition and enzymes but chemically changes foods from the substances needed for health into acid-forming toxins, free-radicals and poisons that destroy our health!



Er, no. Science proves nothing of the sort (nor does that website provide any citations to scientific articles to back up its claim). As Christopher Wanjek explained ten years ago at LiveScience:

Plant enzymes, which raw dieters wish to preserve, are largely mashed up with other proteins and rendered useless by acids in the stomach. Not cooking them doesn’t save them from this fate. Anyway, the plant enzymes were for the plants … they are not needed for human digestion. Human digestive enzymes are used for human digestion.



Raw foodies also love raw milk, another dangerous trend, which has sickened thousands of people in the U.S. over the past decade. That topic deserves another column all to itself, but for now, suffice it to say that one of the greatest scientists of the 19th century, Louis Pasteur, discovered that heating milk briefly can kill a host of dangerous pathogens. Pasteurization, which is named for him, has been rightly credited with saving millions of lives. A few years ago, the Royal Society named pasteurized milk the second greatest invention in the history of food (after refrigeration).

Obviously some foods, fruits in particular, are generally eaten raw, and fruits are indeed very healthy. But don’t be fooled into thinking that cooking somehow makes food bad for you: it doesn’t. Cooked food is easier to digest, more nutritious and to most of us, pretty darned tasty.

Steven Salzberg is the Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Computer Science, and Biostatistics at Johns Hopkins University.
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Replies

  • Need2Exerc1seNeed2Exerc1se Posts: 13,589Member Member Posts: 13,589Member Member
    I don't really care what others eat but the raw milk craze strikes me as just that - crazy.
  • OneHundredToLoseOneHundredToLose Posts: 8,587Member Member Posts: 8,587Member Member
    Well if they're making themselves sick, it sounds like a self-solving problem to me. I'm all for stupidity that results in its own demise - that's natural selection.
    edited February 2016
  • AmazonMayanAmazonMayan Posts: 1,168Member Member Posts: 1,168Member Member
    I remember a few years back someone feeding raw diet to their baby and he/she died of malnutrition .

    I just tried to Google it and unfortunately several such cases came up.

    If anyone needed proof that it's not healthy....so sad
  • JruzerJruzer Posts: 3,308Member Member Posts: 3,308Member Member
    You are knocking it out of the park lately, dude.
  • RUNucbarRUNucbar Posts: 156Member Member Posts: 156Member Member
    The raw food guys do annoy me. Sure, some raw stuff is healthy such as fruit or salad, but the actual act of cooking does not make a food unhealthy. Sure, you can take a nice healthy grapefruit and make it worse by covering it with sugar before grilling it; a decent bit of chicken can be ruined by being deep fat fried but come on! That is the sugar, salt and oil, not the heat. I have no qualms with a perfectly intelligent adult doing themselves some damage, they can take responsibility for themselves and a bout of severe illness may be the wake up call needed; it's the ones who are forced into illness through no fault of their own (children, vulnerable adults) that really makes my blood boil.
  • JJordonJJordon Posts: 858Member Member Posts: 858Member Member
    Some people, are just gunning for a Darwin award.
  • ClubSilencioClubSilencio Posts: 2,997Member Member Posts: 2,997Member Member
    Outbreaks happen all the time. We should be due for another million pounds of beef recall any time now. Cooked Food Movement problem?

    Protein powder meal replacement thingies such as this product aren't really typical of what a raw foodist eats anyway. There's like 100 ingredients in that powder and it's all been sitting in a warehouse; it's junk IMO.
  • earlnabbyearlnabby Posts: 7,426Member Member Posts: 7,426Member Member
    I like raw fruits and veggies. I try to add in cooked ones too because many veggies are more nutritious cooked (tomatoes, carrots, the cruciform veggies, kale, spinach, mushrooms, etc).
  • robs_readyrobs_ready Posts: 1,489Member Member Posts: 1,489Member Member
    The real problem with the raw food diet is EVERYTHING
  • ariellenkovariellenkov Posts: 38Member Member Posts: 38Member Member
    the raw food diet, if done correctly, can be healthy. But I don't think it's good for long term. Adding one cooked meal a day is a good way to incorporate a raw diet while still eating some cooked foods and getting optimum nutrition
  • zdyb23456zdyb23456 Posts: 1,705Member Member Posts: 1,705Member Member
    I don't understand the raw milk thing either. I have a friend who's on that and spends a lot of money buying it from a woman who sells it. She's technically not allowed to sell raw milk but gets around it buy selling cow shares. Since you own a share of the cow, it's technically your milk to do what you want with it including drink it.
  • robs_readyrobs_ready Posts: 1,489Member Member Posts: 1,489Member Member
    the raw food diet, if done correctly, can be healthy. But I don't think it's good for long term. Adding one cooked meal a day is a good way to incorporate a raw diet while still eating some cooked foods and getting optimum nutrition

    So what does one eat on a raw food diet to get adequate protein? Nuts?
  • OneHundredToLoseOneHundredToLose Posts: 8,587Member Member Posts: 8,587Member Member
    zdyb23456 wrote: »
    I don't understand the raw milk thing either. I have a friend who's on that and spends a lot of money buying it from a woman who sells it. She's technically not allowed to sell raw milk but gets around it buy selling cow shares. Since you own a share of the cow, it's technically your milk to do what you want with it including drink it.

    Cow shares? That actually made me lol...that's awesome.

    "Well, I finally got around to investing. I am now the owner of 20% of that cow over there."
  • chastity0921chastity0921 Posts: 226Member Member Posts: 226Member Member
    robs_ready wrote: »
    the raw food diet, if done correctly, can be healthy. But I don't think it's good for long term. Adding one cooked meal a day is a good way to incorporate a raw diet while still eating some cooked foods and getting optimum nutrition

    So what does one eat on a raw food diet to get adequate protein? Nuts?


    So, I'm definitely not a raw foodie. But I think nuts, seeds, soy, fruits, vegetables (especially dark green). And some research has shown that we are getting too much protein anyway. A kidney workout.
  • AnvilHeadAnvilHead Posts: 18,543Member Member Posts: 18,543Member Member
    robs_ready wrote: »
    the raw food diet, if done correctly, can be healthy. But I don't think it's good for long term. Adding one cooked meal a day is a good way to incorporate a raw diet while still eating some cooked foods and getting optimum nutrition

    So what does one eat on a raw food diet to get adequate protein? Nuts?


    So, I'm definitely not a raw foodie. But I think nuts, seeds, soy, fruits, vegetables (especially dark green). And some research has shown that we are getting too much protein anyway. A kidney workout.

    Since we're in the Nutrition Debate section, how about a link to a peer-reviewed study? (actual research, not some vegan fearmongering blog)
  • V_Keto_VV_Keto_V Posts: 342Member Member Posts: 342Member Member
    People who follow raw food only diets are indeed candidates for the Darwin awards. It's like going against evolution. I just love how raw foodists try to convince people that humans are natural herbivores...that for some odd reason have teeth suited for being omnivores. Moderation
    edited February 2016
  • nutmegoreonutmegoreo Posts: 14,642Member Member Posts: 14,642Member Member
    robs_ready wrote: »
    the raw food diet, if done correctly, can be healthy. But I don't think it's good for long term. Adding one cooked meal a day is a good way to incorporate a raw diet while still eating some cooked foods and getting optimum nutrition

    So what does one eat on a raw food diet to get adequate protein? Nuts?

    Considering that poster has made her distaste for animal proteins very clear, I would think that indeed she eats a lot of nuts.

    http://community.myfitnesspal.com/en/discussion/10340649/animal-protein#latest

    ETA: As for the OP, I haven't read through the whole thing, but I have to say that what exactly is working for people is so confounded with other variables, that it's really hard to say. I think that all diets (in the overall choice of foods that are taken in sense, rather than the I'm trying to lose weight sense) have the potential for being harmful when the people choosing them are not careful to educate themselves and find nutritional balance.

    I grew up on a farm and we did not pasteurize the milk, but it was fresh every single morning. Plus, since we were doing the milking, we knew what conditions the animals were kept in, as well as the state of the equipment. Likewise with the eggs from the chickens. There are a great number of foods I wouldn't consider eating raw. Although I guess that the argument is if you can't eat it raw should you eat it. That depends on your personal stances, along with if you can actually meet your bodies nutritional need without.
    edited February 2016
  • EvgeniZyntxEvgeniZyntx Posts: 24,424Member Member Posts: 24,424Member Member
    Wetcoaster wrote: »
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevensalzberg/2016/02/22/whats-really-in-raw-food/#115d8d325fc3


    The raw food crazies are making themselves sick.

    There’s a thing called the Raw Food Movement that has been growing in popularity in recent years. Proponents argue that it’s far healthier than our usual (human) diet of cooked foods, claiming that cooking removes many of the natural enzymes that make food nutritious. They also believe that cooking creates harmful toxins.

    What’s really happening, though, is that raw foodies are putting themselves at risk of serious bacterial infections. Just last week, we learned that a salmonella outbreak tied to raw food has sickened people in 15 states so far. The CDC reports that the outbreak is linked to Garden of Life’s RAW Meal Organic Shakes, which come in chocolate, vanilla and vanilla chai flavors. The company issued a recall and warned that “persons infected with salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.”

    According to the CDC, no one has died from any of these salmonella infections, although four people have been hospitalised.

    I find the RFM annoying because it ends up at the wrong conclusions from real scientific observation - yes food may be negatively modified by cooking but as Steve notes it also has a protective and preparatory role. A lot of food can only be eaten cooked and is in fact dangerous to consume raw.

    Having said that, focusing on the fear of bacterial infection, as a reason not to eat raw is kind of fear mongering. The majority of salmonella outbreaks are not related to RFM preparations but massive commercial food processing.

    Personally I eat a bunch of raw stuff from vegetables to beef tartare, sushi, oysters and even the occasional mett (German raw pork - safe as it based on specific prep and testing) for taste and preference. Unpasturized cheeses are delicious. And while I do increase my risks of infection - salmonella is not really the issue, the other infections tends to be low level issues. Sourcing is certainly important. I'd never eat beef carpaccio from cheap supermarket cuts.
    It’s not clear why raw food is so trendy, other than the obsession of some people with everything “natural.”

    It always has been in so many cultures and food preparations. This is just the illogical extension of healthism.
    Raw foodies also love raw milk, another dangerous trend, which has sickened thousands of people in the U.S. over the past decade. That topic deserves another column all to itself, but for now, suffice it to say that one of the greatest scientists of the 19th century, Louis Pasteur, discovered that heating milk briefly can kill a host of dangerous pathogens. Pasteurization, which is named for him, has been rightly credited with saving millions of lives. A few years ago, the Royal Society named pasteurised milk the second greatest invention in the history of food (after refrigeration).

    Not quite as bad as Steven paints it - CDC records maybe a thousand people got sick on raw milk over 20 years.

    It is a relatively insignificant and the real issues with food born pathogens are norovirus and salmonella in non-RAW specific preparations like cucumbers, sprouts, chicken, nut butters and pets. Which places people in hospitals by the thousands each year.

    The real issue around these pathogen outbreaks are our food supply chain and testing. Large volume productions and imports just don't have the infrastructure or capacity to test to reduce risks. As dumb as RFM is, it isn't at the centre of the pathogen risk. Quality of procurement is a bigger issue.

    I'll continue to eat some things raw and live with reasonable risk.
    Steven Salzberg is the Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Computer Science, and Biostatistics at Johns Hopkins University.

    Great school and department. ;)
  • earlnabbyearlnabby Posts: 7,426Member Member Posts: 7,426Member Member

    Personally I eat a bunch of raw stuff from vegetables to beef tartare, sushi, oysters and even the occasional mett (German raw pork - safe as it based on specific prep and testing) for taste and preference. Unpasturized cheeses are delicious. And while I do increase my risks of infection - salmonella is not really the issue, the other infections tends to be low level issues. Sourcing is certainly important. I'd never eat beef carpaccio from cheap supermarket cuts.

    You are so right that sourcing makes all the difference in safety of raw food.

    YAY! Another who loves cannibal sandwiches. I really enjoy steak tartare and it is a Christmas and New Years staple in my area. In many ways this helps with the sourcing. Butchers know that customers will be coming in for meat for it and know how to safeguard the meat they will be selling for it. I also have no problem with raw milk, if you know the farmer and how clean they keep their equipment. I don't seek it out, but I live in a dairy state and I occasionally am served it (and the butter, cheese, etc made from raw milk) when I visit the farm homes of a couple of family members and friends.

    I am not a raw food advocate, but I am not afraid to eat certain things raw that many others would not touch.

  • kshama2001kshama2001 Posts: 19,444Member Member Posts: 19,444Member Member
    robs_ready wrote: »
    the raw food diet, if done correctly, can be healthy. But I don't think it's good for long term. Adding one cooked meal a day is a good way to incorporate a raw diet while still eating some cooked foods and getting optimum nutrition

    So what does one eat on a raw food diet to get adequate protein? Nuts?

    There's steak tartare, ceviche, and sushi from animals/fish.

    The few vegans I knew who tried raw for a while sprouted legumes. (They abandoned it when winter came.)
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