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Book Review: Raw Food for Real People

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Raw Food for Real People: Living Vegan Food Made Simple by the Chef and Founder of Leaf Organics

Author: Rod Rotondi with forward by Michael Bernard Beckwith

Publisher: New World Library

Style and Raw Substance

I admit up front, I didn’t warm to the author, Rod Rotondi. It is abundantly clear that Rod has had an interesting and rich life, but his adventures don’t lend any credibility regarding nutrition or culinary training. That being said, so what? Regardless of these shortcomings, I’ve warmed to his message.

Science is not going to support the raw food philosophy, because science does not bother with investing dollars on unprofitable ideas. I was initially looking for the science supporting the live food diet in this great introduction Raw Food for Real People. Rotondi quotes and refers to “experts,” but it’s not established as to why they are experts. The book feels a little weak on support. He could have stuck with anecdotal evidence citing surveys of raw food eaters and proved his point to me. Those surveys are out there and the results are startling.

What did get my attention was the chapter about how food contains their own acids which help with digestion. So a tomato for instance comes prepackaged with acids to break it down in our bodies. When we cook the tomato, we tamper with nature’s digestive aid. Now our bodies have to use some extra effort to digest. Our body must take resources from somewhere else to eat the tomato. The idea that energy is being drawn from our immune system (and other systems) to digest food – that really left an impression.

The recipes go from simple to complex requiring special equipment, namely a food dehydrator. Many of the recipes also required sprouted grains which I’m pretty sure the average person doesn’t have experience with. In a way, the book speaks to us at an introductory level, but then leaves out some important things that the novice needs to know or would be curious to know. The book targets a vegan diet, for instance, but do I have to go vegan? Can I drop a raw egg in my smoothie and get all the same benefits? What about sushi or smoked salmon? I know this is a vegan cookbook, but since it’s also an introductory book on raw foods, you would think a line or two addressing these questions would be helpful.

Having young children myself I was interested in his chapter on kids. He refers to his two year old daughter who is enamored of raw food. I’d like to know what you do when your kid is six and will only eat mac and cheese.

The book is inspirational. The photos are gorgeous. It provides a good starting point. There are several books Rotondi references which are now on my wish list. I’d also like to check out his restaurant and others like it in the area. I’m interested in sprouting sprouts and eating raw oatmeal. What I’m really looking forward to is feeling energized, which is suppose to be a benefit of raw foods. We’ll see.


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