What is Food?

by Susan on October 16, 2010

“What is Food?” This is the first question I asked a freshman class of 100 at the University of Minnesota last Wednesday. I was speaking to Professor Michael Stebelton’s class, Multidisciplinary Perspectives to Critical Thinking:  Food for Thought…and Action,  about raw food.

I was greeted with blank stares. Granted, it was morning, most of these kids brains probably were not engaged yet. But it was a simple question. Finally, a young woman raised her hand.  “It is something that sustains us”, she quietly said. It was a great answer. Websters defines food as: any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink, or that plants absorb, in order to maintain life and growth. The young woman who answered was one of the three people who had actually heard of the raw food diet.

For the next hour, we talked about Michael Pollan, the nutritial value of food, biochemical individuality, nutrigenomics and the wonders of raw food. We talked about grocery stores and how 90% of the  of the food in the store, I wouldn’t even consider “real” food. It is over processed, over packaged, and over marketed. It offers little in nutritional benefits and a lot in empty calories. We talked about the environment, and how eating raw food is green. We talked about how, with a raw food diet, you can achieve optimal health from fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds.

By the end of the class, they were engaged. The questions were flying and I was thrilled. A small group even gathered to ask more questions after I was done speaking. I walked across the campus of my alma mater, on a glorious fall day, happy and excited because for an hour, I got a class of young adults to think a little differently about the food they eat.

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Elizabeth October 17, 2010 at 12:55 pm

I had the good fortune of speaking to an Anthropology of Food Class at UCSB and they were equally engaged in the discussion. It was inspiring and exciting. I am so happy these young people are being educated at a younger age than I, when their choices will impact their long term health and the planet.


Jo Gifford October 17, 2010 at 2:56 pm

Hi, lovely photo!
I would love to eat raw and have tried it for about 6 weeks for severe endometriosis and without doubt felt so much better, but cannot sustain it costwise with 2 young children. Any advice?x


Barbcam October 17, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Did anyone record your talk by chance? I would love to hear it!


elizabeth October 17, 2010 at 3:12 pm

How fantastic that your talk inspired these young people to consider another way of sustaining us! Now we just need to get the wee ones on eating healthy! Thank you Susan for your blog & your infectious enthusiasm for a lifestyle that is so needed!


Mapuana October 17, 2010 at 6:45 pm

It’s so awesome to see this shift in consciousness and into real food as more become aware of raw foods. I’d also love to hear or see your talk if it’s on video or audio! Mahalo!


Patricia Robinett October 18, 2010 at 12:43 am

BRAVO, Susan!


rena October 18, 2010 at 6:24 am

I’m curious, how did you get invited to speak at the U of M?


Jessica October 18, 2010 at 6:48 am

What an awesome experience! I agree and would love to hear the talk as well. Please consider posting a link if it was recorded. :)


Susan October 18, 2010 at 8:18 am

I wish there was a recording…but there is not. I will be posting a link to my appearance on Fresh & Local from AM 950.


Kim October 18, 2010 at 10:59 am

Our city has adopted an amazing composting program. With that and a pretty comprehensive Recycling Centre, given that we live in the far north, we have very little garbage at all – a wonderful feeling!

These bags look great and will draw an amazing amount of attention to the cause – thank you!


Susan October 18, 2010 at 11:09 am

Kim…you need to put this comment in on today’s post to be entered… :-)


ELISA October 18, 2010 at 3:02 pm

Since eating raw I am loving that it takes so much less “fuel” to keep me going, I waste less, and use most of what I have by juicing, dehydrating…BEST use of resources!!!!


Terra October 18, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Staying green is just one step at a time; I put a 1/2 gallon container of water in the toilet tank to save water with each flush. Also starting a community composting along with raw food preparation demo’s. Wahoo!


Susan October 18, 2010 at 3:29 pm

Hey guys…for the UrthBag, you need to leave the comment on that post. It won’t be entered here. Also, the spiralizer contest is already over……


Lesli October 18, 2010 at 4:34 pm

Congratulations Susan for the courage and skill in opening up a discussion on food with young people! I would love to share a green idea–hang drying washed clothes 99% of the time on a drying rack or 2. The UrthBag is a fab idea–how does one leave a comment on that post? I don’t see any links to do that. Thanks.


Susan October 18, 2010 at 4:51 pm

Just click on where it says comments at the bottom.


Josh Neimark October 19, 2010 at 5:45 am

My favorite way (currently) to be green is sprouting at home. Mason jars, strainer lids and oh boy…I have living fresh sprouts in so many varieties. No plastic to recycle, no trip to the market…just pure and easy green living.



Kara October 19, 2010 at 12:32 pm

I am being more green by renewing my commitment to my health and the earth every morning when I wake up.


Damon October 28, 2010 at 9:11 pm

We gave a talk this week to our local preschool headstart parents about nutrition, GMO foods and how to get more whole foods into our diets. The energy was amazing and it felt really good to get out and do something positive on a rainy dismal day! I would encourage anyone else “nutritionally oriented” to get out and do the same. One person at a time if we have to, we would love to see some change here. Thank you for your inspiration!


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