Are you a “Raw Foodist”

by Susan on July 25, 2010

I have been thoroughly enjoying the responses to the salt post. I knew when I wrote it, there would be varying opinions. To use salt or not is objective…as your responses to the salt post have indicated! It also brings up an important point. Are we labeling? I have wanted to address this for a while because we like to use labels and unfortunately division occurs because of those labels.

People like to separate into camps. There even is a new school-old school raw food dichotomy present these days. Unfortunately it is full of judgment. Which is why I don’t like labels and why I deviate away from calling myself a “raw-foodist”. Really what I am is a person who is interested in eating the food I like in the healthiest, most nutritious form possible. In my opinion, that is raw.

Yes, there are certain foods, like Kale that develop more of some nutrients when cooked. So does being a raw foodist mean I can’t cook my kale? Not in my book. Am I 100% raw? Sometimes. Am I high raw? Most of the time. But there you go again…another label, “High Raw”. Do we need that label just to make ourselves feel good? To stroke our own ego? To put ourselves ‘one up’ over someone who isn’t?

Google “raw-foodist” and you will come up with all kinds of silly descriptions of what eating a raw food diet means-mostly written by people who have no experience with a raw food diet. We are freaks, fadists – and, oh my – you better talk to your doctor before eating natural raw foods because, who knows what might happen when you introduce more healthy food and nutrients.* I think that people should be advised to consult their physician before they eat a fast food, super-sized meal at McDonald’s!

The problem with labels, whether it be raw, vegan, vegetarian…is that they are divisive. Society, our broken food system, corporate farms and advertising make it hard enough to eat healthy in our society. Do we really need to put a label on someone and separate and judge them by how good at being raw we think they are? It doesn’t bring us together, it drives us apart.

I have friends that are complete meat and potato eaters. A green vegetable? Never. Now, because of what they are learning, they are starting to make different choices. Small ones but changes nonetheless. In my book, that is fabulous. Because all it takes is that one small step and before you know it, you are on the road to better health.

What it all comes down to is you. Your body and what you feel is best for it. See if something resonates in you and figure out if it works for you. Determine what your goals are. Eating mostly raw does amazing things for me and many people I know. It is why I am here, why I dedicate so much time to getting the message out.

Instead of labeling, let’s supporting anyone who is making choices to be healthier with their diet, no matter where they are along their path. Ditch the labels and share the recipes. Set an example instead of judging. Be a community.

Peace and Blessings!

*If you have health issues you should always consult your doctor before making any changes.

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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Razia July 25, 2010 at 12:26 pm

I am quite happy to go half and half on the raw / cooked foods. Yep I agree with you why label.
Thanks for all the information you provide re salt, raw foods, whatever


Kathleen July 25, 2010 at 12:32 pm

I really like what you have expressed. I’ve been 80% raw since February and I can really relate to many things you said regarding friends and family. Judging in general is just not right and a quick way to lose friends. We are all given the gift of common sense and some of us have to get sick before we realize we have choices about our food consumption. Labelling is boring. I had to laugh yesterday when I was telling a 20 yr. old that I am a raw foodist, meanwhile amongst the bag of farmers market produce and health food store items…were my 2 bags of Little Bear Lite Cheddar Puffs. I don’t think those qualify for the raw food list : ) I also shared with her that 20% of my diet is eating other things…like my favorite chicken shawarma. For me, as long as I maintain the 80% raw…then I live life enjoying foods with my friends occasionally and also eating other things that are not always raw traditionals. I am honest with myself and with others and that example has intrigued friends/family to try eating more fruits and vegetables in general -vs- packaged. Biggest blessing is that my 80 yr. old father just made his first green smoothie…and he’s asking advice. I encouraged him because his blood sugars are so high. I also told him that I have dedicated my change in health to my family whom I love more then anything. Love speaks volumes.


Sandi July 25, 2010 at 12:53 pm

I am becoming raw. After devouring alll the raw info and blogs I could find this past month, I am so convinced it is for me. I admire your blog, the pictures and receipies are just amazing. I’ve made many of them for 2 weeks now. What’s even better, yours are free for the viewing. After this past month, feeling so much better and full of energy, I’ve convinced husband to join me in changing our eating habits. I explained to him that many of you experts give the great advice to start slow and not expect to be 100% raw from day 1. I am looking to invest in a dehydrator, considering TSM 5.
Thanks so much for all your inspiration and help.


Frank July 25, 2010 at 1:14 pm

I love this article. I have been thinking along these lines for awhile. I think the labels are peoples ways of saying I am more into it then you. I am raw plain an simple the majority of my meals are raw. I lost weight but gained it back over the past holidays. I have lost about 40 lbs since I went raw and a total of 67lbs. the key is with raw I am keeping it off and loosing at a healthy pace. I have come off of my blood pressure and cholesterol medicine. I am almost to the weight I was 30 years ago and I feel fantastic. It has made more conscience to the food I eat and how it is prepared. Your site has become my main focus in my lifestyle.


regina July 25, 2010 at 1:53 pm

I eat alot of things raw. but their are times when i cook my food, or add something cooked. for me, its more about knowing every ingredient comes from a natural un -processed source. no chemicals . So i do not call my self a raw foodist or a vegetarian or vegan. There are times when i have eating traits as one of those, but I am just someone who likes to eat healthy, but since eating is a social behavior, and not eating is a bit anti-social I will go out to eat and pick a steak,slice of pizza or something decadent . Once in awhile wont kill me. But in general i like to consider my self a natural foodist.


Emilie Unkrich July 25, 2010 at 2:35 pm

I am so grateful to have found your web site.
It is so gracefully put together.
I simply love coming here.
Thank you for all the information that you share.
This was a very good article and I also enjoyed the comments.


Jean Sarauer July 25, 2010 at 2:37 pm

Here’s to ditching labels and the expectations that go with them! I’m all for just making healthy steps each day and supporting others where ever they may be. Currently, I eat a vegetarian diet and am transitioning to a mainly vegan/raw diet. I’m leaning into the process and plan to be kind and flexible with myself even when I’ve ‘arrived’ at my intended destination. That seems healthy to me.


Joanna Rawvelous July 25, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Woohoo! I love this post. Spot on 😀


Debbie July 25, 2010 at 5:57 pm

I love this post too……I’m all for NO LABELS. Let’s all just accept each other and help each other out by sharing what we can.


zc July 25, 2010 at 9:29 pm

I fully support your views. And am greatful for your generousity in sharing your talents and gifts. Continue to be blessed… for no one among us need be concern on labels and judgement of others. Perhaps that works for them. But for those of us that finds well being in the comfort of enjoying being in tune to our bodies and minds discovering healthy choices…lets just enjoy the journey. !

As always, thanks for sharing and inspiring !


Tamie Spears July 26, 2010 at 9:45 am

Thank you for this post. I needed it today. I’m vegan, my husband and 3 kids are not. As a result of this, they eat very healthy because that’s what I buy and that’s what I cook. My husband came home last night from a guys weekend (with male family members) where they were absolutely relentless in harassing him about what he eats. For lunch, they all ate greasy cheeseburgers, fries and Cokes — he chose a veggie sub, chips and bottled water — and they gave him crap about it. When they went to dinner at a pizza place, they went ON and ON about him eat pepperoni on his pizza and that his wife was going to kill him, and ON and ON. He said he got a point where he almost shut down because he was tired of defending his choices. Why do people have to be like that? Why can’t people just accept what others eat and move on? And why do they care anyway? Sorry to vent, but your post hit the spot today since I’m already angry about family members making fun of our food choices. And I don’t know what to tell him to say back to them when they make fun of him. (Same for my kids, who get harassed at school for packing a healthy lunch.)


Jinny July 26, 2010 at 9:46 am

I was reading a write up in one of the local papers on some local people who have raw food businesses, over all the article was ok. Sure enough they had to add the advise of a local nutritionist from Duke University and of course she recommended seeing a registered dietitian before starting a raw food diet….. so I really appreciate your statement, “you better talk to your doctor before eating natural raw foods because, who knows what might happen when you introduce more healthy food and nutrients.* I think that people should be advised to consult their physician before they eat a fast food, super-sized meal at McDonald’s!


crookedmoonmama July 26, 2010 at 9:59 am

Well said!
I despise labels. Since we’re raising a family on vegan/raw foods…we get funny looks a lot!
My favorite incident is when someone asked my 5 year old why she doesn’t eat meat…”well, because it’s not good for my body (long 5 year old thinking pause) and because it’s very not good for the meat’s body either”. The woman just stared at her… :)


Susan July 26, 2010 at 10:00 am

Ok…that is really funny. I might have to borrow your 5 year old’s comment. :-)


Jessica @ Dairy Free Betty July 26, 2010 at 10:09 am

I fully agree with this! I think it’s funny that when you are eating mostly raw – some people ask what percentage? Really? Same with Vegan or Vegetarian!! No need for labels at all!! Just eat how you eat, and enjoy it!:)


MB July 26, 2010 at 10:13 am

Well written.

I agree. When you berate people for not being good enough it doesn’t actually inspire them to do better.
And frankly, there are enough things to stress out/get down about in life that I refuse to let my food be something that makes me feel bad about myself.
I enjoy my food and you should too. Yum yum!


Stacey July 26, 2010 at 10:47 am

Personally, I think the labels come because 1) our minds are organized by categorizing (think of how we structure languages in our thoughts: mental picture of deer, word spelling: deer, sound out: deer, connected to: dear, picture of: one we love, etc.,almost like spreadsheets!) and 2) as much as our friends and family love us, a little piece of them wants us to fail because it re-affirms the choices they make and made for us (growing up) and for us to come crawling back to them for love, reassurance and that big ol’ piece of cake they’ve made for us since we were little.
Our communities (family and friends) need parameters to know when to bake the cake!

Others who may not be friends or family just want the benchmark to know when you’ve failed and can’t wait to fly the “failure at yet another diet” flag over your head. As sad as that is, some people need to re-affirm their choices by seeing other people’s choices not work or are not adhered to with the strictest guidelines.

This is where i LOVE the concept of raw. My “label” on raw food is if you get one more green choice in your day (and I’m not talking about some moldy somethin’ or other at the back of your fridge), you are a success in the raw world. Because the community around raw is not finite definition centered on a 100% commitment as mandatory to use the term raw foodist (at least that I’ve seen in my wanderings), it opens the door for acceptance and the sense of open community that has been expressed here.

Raw food runs the risk of becoming a finite as it gains popularity with the general public. LIke Vegan and Vegetarianism, the terms have been honed down to an absolute measure through time and meeting the finite definition is what leads to acceptance in their community. You can’t sorta eat meat or dairy.

Where raw foodist, people who focus on adding raw, as close to the living state food into their daily eating plans (my definition! :), we have opportunity to make sure the finite door does not slam shut on who can be considered raw. There is an interesting parallel to this in the Deaf community. Each member of the community decides what they are, Deaf or Hearing. I may be deaf, but use hearing aids so I call myself hearing. Or I may use hearing aids and yet affiliate myself as Deaf. Each person has the right to decide how to define their sound experience. Hopefully, raw food will continue to follow this path of openness as natural food preparation grows.

Lastly, food is very social, and when we change what we eat and are no longer in the mainstream, it makes people uncomfortable…no matter how logical the change is. Even yesterday, my sister made a cake with some fruits that are coming ripe in our yard. I am a diabetic who’s successfully gotten off all my medications due to raw foods. I gave her permission to bring down a 1″ square on Saturday to try her wares (she’s not a big kitchen person, hubby does all the cooking). Today, she brought another piece. I did not tell her I composted over 1/2 the piece from the day before, not because it wasn’t good but because it wasn’t good for me. She asked how my blood sugars were through the day. I didn’t measure as much because I didn’t eat more than a bite of the cake. She was so eager and hoped that I could eat it and come back to the “cooked food” fold, that she’s forgotten that I’m never going to be able to eat that way again unless I want to get back on the pharmaceuticals. I don’t.

So, Labels “R” Us! It’s the way we think, but how we each interact and promote our labels makes a big difference on how our community is shaped and grows.


Kelly Parr July 26, 2010 at 10:52 am

Excellent! This could preach!


Elizabeth July 26, 2010 at 1:03 pm

Love it!! Well written. You do a great job. Keep sharing your gifts!
Peace and Raw Health (no matter what %),


Ida July 26, 2010 at 1:56 pm

Thank God ( or whoever ) for your sane approach. This is why I am on your mailing list. I sometimes call myself an omnivore, or a flexitarian. These days I’m eating mostly raw, but I love to cook up a vegie broth with seaweed, burdock, and all kinds of good stuff. It keeps me warm and nourished. I believe like you, we need to bring people together, there’s already enough out there to divide us- black/white, gay/straight, Christian/Muslim, ad infinitum. When it all comes down to it, we have more in common than not. We all need food, shelter, and love.


B&E July 26, 2010 at 3:49 pm

I Love Labels of all kinds.
Whether it is about a Product,
a Person, a Group.
Labels are very informative.
I’m a Wife, a Christian, a 100% Raw Food Eater.
Love being Labeled them all!


Jodie Bonfrer July 26, 2010 at 8:37 pm

I read with great interest the blog and the comments.
About labeling I know all about that as I’m a 69 year old trans gender from New Zealand and openly live my life as a girl no matter where I go.
And people are quick to label you as gay and I certainly are not gay at all and live with my female partner on a nice little farm growing as much my self as I possible can.
I always have been very health conscious and used to steam rather than cook my food and at my age are very very fit and have not been on any medication for at least 30 years.
I believe in balance, to much alcohol or any thing else in excess could imbalance you, I never eat processed food at all,I want to know whats in my food and control how much salt or any spice added.
I also believe in food fermentation rather than freezing the food.
Make kefir and rejuvelac almost every day.
Life is so wonder full if you give love and share life with others.
So yes lets stop labeling and do what you want to do with out hurting others What a heavenly life we could have here.


J. Bosley July 26, 2010 at 9:13 pm

Beautifully written article! A joy to read! I too believe that labels of all kinds can often times be helpful and informative but labels tend to peel off, then they become partial labels. We are constantly changing and we all have much to learn so lets avoid the “absolutism” of labels and give them less credence.


Elizabeth July 29, 2010 at 2:17 am

Woo-hoo! I love this post.
I will be a guest speaker next week at a local University for a class called “The Anthropology of Food”. It has occurred to me that I am the specimen/the freak to be analyzed. I do eat a lot of raw and most closely represent your point of view. It will be interesting to hear and see their reactions.
I agree with you 100% :-)


Nzingha July 29, 2010 at 8:40 am

I think labels, like electricity, can be harmless or harmful, depending on the mindset that is using them. Vegan and raw foodist are just words, and when used wisely, they aid communication. They’re descriptions, short-forms, which convey information in a very concise way.

I’d rather tell a waiter I’m a vegan, or raw foodist, than provide a long list of what I can and cannot eat. And I wouldn’t feel I was labeling myself. To my mind, I’m just communicating. Likewise, if someone tells me they’re an environmentalist, or a feminist, an enormous amount of information is communicated to me about the person’s beliefs, passions and worldview (provided I have enough awareness), without me having to conduct a question and answer session.

However, labels become a problem when they’re misused, or used in propaganda, as this article demonstrates:

I think it would be difficult to do away with labels completely. They serve a purpose; we just have to be mindful how we use them, or allow them to be used in our presence.


Andrea July 29, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Labels are OK as long as they aren’t accompanied by unbearable smugness. I think that’s what bugs me the most about people who define themselves by their diets, no matter what that diet may be. There are so many aspects to your humanity, and your diet is among the most boring (this is based on the hours upon hours of conversations that I have had with Atkins people). :)

I don’t say this to disparage your site, which I enjoy thoroughly.


Andrea July 29, 2010 at 4:36 pm

I just realized that what I said can sound a bit harsh – I don’t mean that people who come to food-related web sites are not supposed to talk about their diets, I’m just thinking of how I have met people who become so obsessed with their diets that they can’t talk about anything else, and become defined by it. And I find that dull.


Sherri July 29, 2010 at 5:46 pm

I love this website and I’m so glad I found it.

Labels can be difficult to get past. Telling someone you eat raw food or follow a raw food diet can turn people off fast. Although telling someone you are a raw vegan translates a lot of information in just a couple words. I did my first 30 day raw challenge this spring and I had amazing results. For instance, after 5.5 years of infertility I became pregnant naturally! My husband didn’t shift completely raw, but kept eating lean meats and just upped his raw intake and had amazing results in his health.

I just started a new raw challenge today on my blog. I’m really hoping to expose more people to it. The health benefits are simply amazing. I wish more folks would just try it.


Dodie Herrmann July 29, 2010 at 7:26 pm

I love this site, so don’t get me wrong, but I must disagree. I really don’t think that most labels are used with a bad motive. Really, to insinuate that most people are judging when they label is kind of a judgmental statement, isn’t it ? :o) Just something to think about.

If I know someone is raw or vegan, I like to ask them how “raw” or vegan they are, because it let’s me know what to plan if I have them over or want to share recipes or whatever. For example, even when I am trying to be 100%, which isn’t all the time, I have no problems with raw eggs or raw milk or cream, which most raw food adherents don’t like, so I usually say I try to be 80% – 100% raw, but not necessarily vegan. I think it is good to have a label once in a while for a little clarification. I don’t see it as a bad thing unless we use it disparagingly.


Susan July 29, 2010 at 7:32 pm

If you read what I am talking about, I am not saying all labels…I am not saying all people. I am trying to bring to light how I feel when I see people being divisive or elitist with labels. That is all.


Joanna Rawvelous July 29, 2010 at 7:45 pm

Susan, I think that you nailed it with your statement towards the end of the post:

“Instead of labeling, let’s supporting anyone who is making choices to be healthier with their diet, no matter where they are along their path. Ditch the labels and share the recipes.”

Let’s join hands in support of one another’s journey. I’m in…



Juli Novotny August 4, 2010 at 2:08 pm

This sounds EXACTLY like a post I wrote recently.

Your views are exactly the same as mine. I mean I GET the Vegan label to some degree because you’re taking a stance on animal issues. But who cares if you are HIGH raw or whatever?

My sister went a raw food demo/course a few months back and the couch/chef started the demo off saying he had to admit he “ate cheese” last week which is ‘cooked’/’pasteurized’! Like WHAT? Who cares!? OMG. So weird.

Thanks again for post. You know I love your stuff. Haven’t been here in awhile so I’m excited to peruse the site. :)


Jo August 8, 2010 at 12:19 am

Brilliant post :) I love this quote “What it all comes down to is you. Your body and what you feel is best for it. See if something resonates in you and figure out if it works for you. Determine what your goals are.”

I work on the same premise, I love eating mainly raw as my body just feels so much better, but I also love my soups and do on the rare occasion have fish- when I returned home to Melbourne I was so excited to go along to a raw food group meeting until I got asked what % raw I was -I had no idea but guessed that it would have been 70% or there abouts at that time. while the question itself was a little off putting what scared me off meeting anyone from the group was the following response- oh thats ok dear you’ll get there…..

like the song words ” what the world needs now is love, sweet love, its the one things that there is just too little of”


lisbet August 17, 2010 at 10:18 pm

I am always so surprised when someone asks me about my eating habits in a challenging way- although I mostly get the confrontational attitudes about my vegetarianism- much more so than anything else. I don’t even bother to explain to anyone the complexity of my diet (I’m a part-time vegan/full time vegetarian who dabbles in raw foods, is still addicted to dark chocolate and cappuccinos, but generally eats really healthy.)
I usually deflect debate on the topic by smiling at people and just explaining that I’m a ‘good old-fashioned health-food nut’.
My friends who eat conventional diets are not the people who feel threatened by my choices.


Dodie August 27, 2010 at 12:21 pm

I didn’t mean for my post to sound harsh–I thought I was putting a smiley-face emoticon after my remark to show I was kind of joking/teasing, but it came out wrong. Sorry ’bout that! I guess I just don’t really get it because it never bothers me when someone asks me how raw I am or whether I am vegan or not. I don’t think I have ever had anyone ask me about my raw food choices in a way that I felt was meant to be divisive. Maybe I will know what you mean as time goes on. But I love your site and all your creativity!


Susan August 27, 2010 at 12:33 pm

Dodie, don’t worry! :-) There were a lot of people who didn’t agree with me…I was just trying to clarify what I was talking about…


Mary November 26, 2010 at 12:28 pm

I completely agree! We don’t need the labels. Let’s just eat what is healthy for us and support others on their journies toward more healthy eating.


melissa moss November 8, 2013 at 8:13 pm

Susan you are incredible and your site is so fun and makes me mouth water! Your photos are beyond words (lol, no pun intended). Just love being here!
not too much to comment on the label controversy…other than nothing that grows in my garden has a label on it my stuff just seems to grow without any labels and that’s pretty much how I eat everything…uh, I guess it’s a ‘man thing (as in human or “modern man”) to slap labels on everything. So, to me, I guess they (labels) are basically useless…lol.


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