The Raw Foods Evolution

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Raw Foods in Minneapolis

Hello friends

This is a great article from Whole Life Times.

Enjoy!

Mike
Author of the Raw Foods diet newsletter

Open Up and Say Raw

My first foray into living foods culture didn’t come in the hallowed halls of sun-drenched SoCal's pioneering raw restaurants. It wasn’t among the health-forward foodie trendsetters of lower Manhattan, or the Alice Waters-educated, farmer’s market-worshipping San Francisco sophisticates. No, the first time I sampled "noodles" made from fresh spiral-shaved zucchini, or dehydrated sprouted grains masquerading as pizza crust, was in that plain, humble, straightforward gem of the Midwest — that "third coast" surrounded by hinterland and 1600 miles from the nearest year-round growing season: Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Uptown Minneapolis’s Ecopolitan restaurant was a cozy, welcoming hideaway of rough-hewn wood, potted plants and cheery, well-turned-out regulars. With its display cases of hemp wallets and pink crystal health salts, its bulletin boards blooming with flyers for weekend cleanses and vegan meetups, it was clear from the get-go that Ecopolitan was more than just a restaurant — it was a Community, it was a Lifestyle, it was a Movement.

The apple cheeked young waitstaff waxed poetic on the menu’s particulars with a moony-eyed devotion I remembered from the short-lived oxygen bar in my college town (although I must admit, it was less startling to see devotees suckling Thai coconuts as opposed to oxygen masks). While the food was good, hearty and flavorful, what kept us coming back — for date and almond milk smoothies with friends, or dinner with family from out of town — was the oddball factor, the irresistible novelty of dining on rawsagna and pretending nuts were cheese, all the while stealing sidelong marveling glances at the folks who ate like this all the time.

As for real raw foodists, I could never picture joining their fevered ranks. These people were hardcore! Not only did they give up cheddar, bacon and sushi, they shunned coffee, tortilla chips, veggie burger barbecues and veganrella! The prospect of facing a Minnesota winter without the comfort of tomato soup and grilled cheese, a spicy Indian curry or a fresh-baked… well… anything... seemed like the grimmest deprivation. No wonder they needed so many support groups.

This month, Whole Life Times takes a second look at the raw and living foods movement, to see what has changed over the years. If you're like me, having long ago written off raw as a path for only the most disciplined health disciple, you might be intrigued to discover that the movement has grown far more accessible, practical and pleasurable than it began. Probably the most notable change has been the shift away from quitting cooked foods cold turkey (or… uhhh… tofurkey) and toward the concept of percentages — of gradually increasing the portion of raw foods in your diet to find a balance that's right for you. While most raw foods leaders still preach a high percentage, generally 80 or above, the community as a whole has become much more open to and supportive of the drop-in raw-curious. And in turn, the numbers of casually raw are growing, in large part due to more readily available raw options in restaurants and organic markets across the country.

But what's perhaps most newsworthy about next-gen raw foodists is their endless creativity and insatiable hunger for new tastes, experiences and flavors. Bound by the limits of uncooking, the best raw chefs rise to the culinary challenge by experimenting with the most outrageous ingredients and techniques on earth. We can thank them for introducing the mainstream to the wonders of sprouting, dehydrating and juicing, and to far-out flavors like sea veggies, agave nectar and raw cacao.

If you've never tried raw food, I hope this issue encourages you to venture out to one of the new raw restaurants that have been popping up like [insert favorite edible plant reference here] around LA. And even if you’re already hip to raw, I hope, as always, you find some food for thought in our pages. Or at least some good recipe ideas.

Want to read more? Receive a free raw foods digital book at TheRawDiet.com

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