Today, I had another opportunity to hang out with my lovely new raw friend, Lesa,who, like me, has relieved herself of half her former weight. I always love talking to Lesa. She is my first in-person raw friend, and, although her raw focus is not exactly the same as mine, we are able to share a lot. I am very grateful to have met her.
We talked about many things, and, at one point, we happened on the matter of organic vs. non-organic produce. Fortunately, there, we are able to agree 100%. Both of us being on limited incomes probably helps there.
Organic vegetables are better for us. We all know that. If we are eating raw food, it should be organic, so that our bodies, purified by the high quality, and/or higher vibration of uncooked vegetables and fruit, will not be sullied by chemical agents absorbed by or left on the food we eat by chemical fertilizers and insecticides. We know that.
We also know that organic produce comes to us at a much higher price than non-organically-grown fruit and vegetables.
In an ideal world, all produce would be organic. So, all produce would be the same price. High. The fact of the matter is that, the chemical fertilizers and insecticides that we eschew are exactly what has allowed our food prices to remain relatively low. Organic farming is much more labor-intensive, and the people who do the work probably like being paid at least as much as you and I do.
So…. what if someone wants to eat raw food but cannot afford organic produce? Should they just go back home and cook that non-organic cabbage with some tomatoes and rice, and bake a cake for dessert, and swill everything down with some Pepsi?
A while back, a young college student appeared on a raw food forum in which I was participating. She bemoaned the fact that she would like to be raw but that she was a poor college student and could not afford organic food. That “but” struck me as curious, and even funny. When I was college, I was pretty much broke, and I was working full-time and going to school full-time. I did not have too much time for preparing food, so I just made simple salads and seasoned them with apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and kelp powder. I called my special salad “progressive” because anything that I had not eaten went into my tiny refrigerator, and I added to it the next day. One day, I found a book about raw food, and realized that I was a raw foodie. I knew nothing about organic food, and my book did not mention it. I lived. I kept on doing what I was doing, and, when I had free time, I tried some of the recipes in the book. I saved up, bought a low-end Braun juicer (interestingly, juicers, even the low end ones, cost then about what they cost now) and I made some juices. I bought a food processor and started making all sorts of interesting things. I still was not organic, but I was eating raw food. The funny thing was, I wasn’t even thinking about it seriously. I was just eating intuitively. Not 80/10/10, but, yes, vaguely Ann Wigmore.
Over the years, I have just kept on eating intuitively. I read some of the older literature, by Ehret, Shelton, and Walker, and just kept on doing what I was doing, pretty much. I did find out about organic food, and, when I have been able to, I have bought organic ( in foreign countries, organic is not always available; moreover, low-paying jobs do not always afford one the luxury of buying organic ). About eight years ago, I went into a health food store. There I saw a raw food cookbook by Rose Lee Calabro. I was intrigued, and, bless her, my mother bought the book for me. Reading that book, I learned about the Champion juice r and the Excalibur dehydrator. I actually wrote to Ms. Calabro and asked her if I could get by with a food processor, instead of a Champion juicer, to make pates. Ms. Calabro took the time to write me back and explain the difference between the quality of homogenized and food processor-processed nuts, vegetables, and fruit. She explained that the quality would not be as good with a food processor. I could not afford a new machine, so I was happy to know that I could get by with my $10.00 1-cup food processor.
In 2000, back in New York, after a year’s absence, and following a low-carb/high protein protocol, I went to a health fair. I was hungry, and I happened on a table where they were selling dehydrated raw crackers made in an Excalibur dehydrator. I bought some and found that the mere pittance of 5 small crackers satisfied my hunger quite readily (they were made of nuts and low carb vegetables). I became obsessed with the idea of owning an Excalibur . I called the company and felt comfortable with their customer service, so I saved and finally, a little under 2 years ago, I bought my prize. I immediately began making crackers from a recipe I had found in Ms. Calabro’s book. I wanted to know more about ways to use my dehydrator, and I suddenly felt lonely for other raw foodies so I went looking on the Internet and found the rawfood Yahoo group (www.groups.yahoo.com/group/rawfood). I read everything in the archives (which was, ultimately, how I came to create the files for the list), and learned that organic food was the ideal way to go. Still, no one was saying that I could not be raw if I did not eat organic food – they were just saying that it was the best way.
On the list, the absolute best thing (among all the other wonderful things) that I learned was that Champion juicers can be bought cheaply on Ebay. A wonderful; list-member, Judy Cozza ( www.mawintheraw.blogspot.com ) told me that many people sell Champions on Ebay, and that super deals could be had there. (I immediately flew to Ebay for the first time, and bid on a weird yellow-colored machine, and won it for less than half of the price of a new machine. Today, my lovely banana-yellow Champion works like a Champion 30 years after it was manufactured, and I can still receive customer support and parts, if I need them, from the manufacturer )
Now, I am a member of a CSA, and, for the first time, I am eating only organic food. My CSA will stop distributing produce in the end of November, but, until then, I will receive organic vegetables. I have committed to finding a way to eat everything that comes (potatoes were the most difficult, but you can, actually, make a very interesting marinated dish with raw potatoes, which, is, surprisingly, digestible.)
When the CSA stops delivering, that will mean that the local farms are no longer producing (my macrobiotic training tells me that I should eat only locally produced fruit and vegetables, but, I am going to take a deep breath and continue eating vegetables and fruit.) If I wish to continue eating fruit and vegetables, I will have to depend on produce brought in from some other state, or, perhaps even some other country. In addition to the costs of production, I will have to pay transportation costs, if I wish to eat organic. I may not be able to afford the cost at every step of the way. There is this funny thing …. I have survived this long without full-on, 24/7 organic food. I might be doing better if I only ate organic, but I would certainly be eating much less. Were I to be following an 80/10/10 regime, with 24/7 grazing, I would be paying more than my New York City rent for food. Somehow, I don’t think that is the way things will happen. After November, I will have to go back to buying my food in some store. I will, of course, continue to buy my raw nuts and seeds where I always do, and I will check their vegetables and fruit to see if there is anything I can realistically afford, but, because I live in a large ethnically-diverse metropolitan area, I will have already been by the local vegetable markets and seen their prices (which are generally cheaper than those in regular supermarkets), and I will be making choices, about how much or little I will be able to eat, depending on where I make my purchases. My intuitive eating habit will probably win out … I will probably buy what I want to eat, and I will likely have to buy it where it is cheapest, particularly if I want to be able to save for the CSA one-time payment in the spring, pay the bills, and have a life.
To make a long story short, organic is better than non-organic, but, at the end of the day, raw is better than non-raw.