Shopping in the Raw

grocery bag with produce

I kept thinking that I could go 100% raw.  I was always trying to eat consciously. I had always looked at packaging, trying to avoid anything that contained ingredients that I couldn’t pronounce. I had always carefully considered what I would feed my husband and children; even if they clamored for ‘Lucky Charms’, I would undoubtedly force muesli upon them. And it seemed like it would be simple for someone like myself to just go completely raw since I had – for the most part – always preferred fruits and vegetables anyway, albeit not exclusively. Yes, I’ve had my moments. But generally my cravings for junk food were minimal, standing up well to the onslaught of fast food establishments that beckoned with the welcoming arm of drive-through lane as I made into the heart of Santa Fe every afternoon. Sometimes I’ve been really hungry, having somehow managed to inadvertently miss a meal somewhere in the web of my day while attending to some unexpected event; an animal birth, an overflowing toilet. My stomach would be growling past every bright sign that might have seemed to represent a suitable , quick antidote – an instant gratification. Even then, I could usually resist. I always knew how bad that stuff could make me feel.  But resisting temptations such as these is one thing: 100% raw – going “all the way” – was a whole new ball game.

It is interesting when you first go to a grocery store with the idea of a raw diet in your mind. All of a sudden that whole, huge edifice is reduced to two aisles: the produce aisle and the bulk foods aisle where they keep the bird and squirrel food aka nuts and seeds and across from which they usually keep the agave nectar, honey and a smattering of raw nut butters. I could include the spice section but the whole spice thing is up for debate. A lot of the so-called experts will argue that commercially produced bottled spices are not raw. So, in a nutshell – if you can’t see a cinnamon or nutmeg tree in your backyard or vanilla beans dangling in their pods you are either not getting those raw or else you are simply not getting those. These are the kind of things that pose as great raw quandaries.
One could argue that shopping becomes easier. There are not as many choices to be made. Naturally we should aim for organic. But Braeburn or Granny Smith? Anjou or Bartlett? It’s all just apples and pears, after all. Isn’t it?
 I should add that if you want to stick with organic produce and are shopping in a store like Smith’s or Albertson’s in lieu of an organic grocery store, the square footage of space representing the organic factor of what a raw foodist can eat is even smaller – some 6 foot section of refrigerated shelving in the produce department sporting no more than 6 bunches of anything the staff could steal from their neighbors gardens on the way to work in the morning on any given day. Or so it would seem. In the winter there is barely anything… probably because it’s not as easy to forage for root vegetables in the snow. The first time I really noticed this was at the onset of my raw experimentations. “This is it?“, I spurted aloud at a handful of carrots in the Albertson’s organic section as some elderly woman in a kerchief rushed past me in a nervous attempt to escape an onslaught of Turrets.
Fortunately there is no dearth of natural grocery stores in Santa Fe. Whole Foods even has an actual Raw Food Section that seems to be growing by the hour, where you can find such tidbits as crackers and breads. I use the word bread in its loosest definition because it certainly didn’t look like any of the bread I grew up with in Europe, bearing a greater resemblance to WASA Thin Crisps than anything else. Anything else besides corrugated cardboard, that is. But if they wanted to call that bread, far be it from me to put up a stink. I had a lot of preconceived notions about things to get past. Most of us do.
 I put some Nori crackers in my basket and headed back to the produce aisle. That was what I had. Maybe it’s not 14 aisles. But no matter what, everything there was vibrant and beautiful and exactly what it seemed to be.
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