This article was first published on Oxfam’s 3things website on 3 July 2013. It was written for Oxfam’s GROW campaign, which creates awareness of the changes needed to fix the broken food system. “Cook Smart” (and reduce energy consumption in the kitchen) is the fourth of six steps to a better food system. Read my previous GROW method blogs: here and here.
What we eat has global implications. We’ve already discussed the ways that sourcing local foods from small-scale farmers and eating less meat and dairy will be prolific in fixing the broken food system, but what we haven’t said is that how we prepare food also makes a difference.
The energy we use in our homes accounts for about 77% of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions per year and although food prep is only one aspect, it makes a dint.
By reducing our footprint, we’ll not only look after our own bellies and wallets in years to come, we’ll be caring for people in developing countries who will feel the biggest brunt of climate change.
Cooking smart doesn’t mean putting on an Einstein mask and studying relativity while you’re cooking (although you can if you’d like), it means reducing energy use in your kitchen. You can do this by buying energy-efficient appliances, switching to green power or using as little water when you cook as possible, but one of the best ways is to simply not cook (as much). By that I mean eat raw!
What is raw food?
When you hear ‘raw food’, you might be thinking of celery and a handful of carrots, and although you might not be wrong, raw foods aren’t as limited or as boring as they sound. Like wholefoods, raw foods are unprocessed, uncooked and often organic. They can be heated but at no more than 46 ° C (115 °F) for a few disputed reasons (that I don’t have room to debate[5,6] here). Don’t yawn!
Why should I eat more raw food?
There are plenty of raw foodies out there who say eating raw is the only way to go and, without tarnishing their reputation, I can’t say that’s the best way to eat (I’m no expert!). Instead, I’ve put together the top 5 reasons to eat more raw food every day. Here they are:
1. Reduce environmental impact
I’m about to repeat what I said above, but it’s a huge point so I’m going to make it again. By reducing harmful emissions and cutting down on wasted energy, we’ll be doing ourselves and the planet some good.
2. Harness the power of consumer demand
Politicians and governments play their role. So do we. Consumers demand; companies provide. You can demand companies and governments take a greater stand on climate change too.
3. Save money
Suggesting raw foods when we’re at the height of winter seems nuts and even futile but I’m doing it anyway. Wrapping up in a blanket in your onesie instead of putting the heater on is one way to save yourself a heart-attack when you get the winter energy bill; another is eating raw. No cooking = more money in your pocket. Plus it’s an investment in the world’s future food security.
4. Create easier and more convenient meals
Do you know anyone who can’t say they’re busy? I don’t! My point: we often seek convenience in our busy world and lives. We want recipes that are quick and simple, and that’s just what raw foods are, unless you’d like to make them complex. Chew on a carrot. Make this Chocolate Pudding. Create a smoothie. Follow any of This Rawsome Vegan Life, Raw Rob or Rawmazing’s recipes. As This Rawsome Vegan Life puts it: “It takes a lot of complication out of the equation… No need to worry about things baking weird, burning, under-cooking, or remembering pesky timers.” Keep it simple.
5. Enjoy the health benefits
If you read anything from anyone eating raw foods, I guarantee you’ll see lists of the health-benefits, such as increased energy and mental clarity, and even feelings of being healed. I’m not going to claim eating raw will heal you of health conditions, because everybody is different. What I will say is that eating fresh, unprocessed foods has often been proven to do us good. And often when they’re doing us good, they’re not so bad for the planet (and future) either.
As Raw food advocate, David Wolfe, says: “I like the impact it [raw food] has on me and the planet… You produce dramatically less trash and there’s an experiential change in the way you connect to nature and the planet.” You don’t need to make it boring and hard, enjoy it.
Remember: “A butterfly can cause a tornado on the other side of the world just by beating its wings.”
What else can I do?
- Find other ways to reduce energy consumption in the kitchen using WikiHow or the Nourished Kitchen’s article on mindful cooking
- Read the ‘Impacts of Climate Change’ and ‘Climate Change: Implications for Food Safety’
- Take the GROW challenge!
Comment below and tell us some of your favourite raw food recipes.