During a talk I gave on the body, mind, spirit effects or raw food I was asked, in a slightly accusatory manor, ‘but what about the ethics of raw food?’. They were referring to all the fresh fruit, veg and superfoods that you eat when following a raw diet that are commonly flown in from abroad. It’s a good question, but not for the reasons most people think.
What we should be asking ourselves is ‘where does ALL our food come from, cooked or raw?’ Fresh fruit and vegetables in the supermarkets often have their place of origin right on the front for all to see, but most people are used to consuming foods that are far less beneficial for the environment without even thinking about it. The vast majority of the foods we eat aren’t grown in this country, from rice and pulses to beef and butter; from mange tout to mangos. It’s not just raw foods that contain this ethical issue, and it’s important to keep this in perspective. Any kind of lifestyle that seems extreme (e.g. raw food) tends to make people analyse and criticise more readily, as is common once you move out of the mainstream.
Air and shipping miles are, of course, a consideration if you want to be ethical about your food. Luckily it’s becoming easier and easier to find UK grown products in the shops these days. Local farmers markets are a great way to get hold of low-carbon fresh produce, and growing your own is the very lowest carbon impact food possible. The great thing about eating raw food is that you can actually eat most of your food straight out of the garden if you choose to. I’m lucky to have an organic source of fresh fruit and veg which sells as many locally sourced seasonal products as possible, and the rest is shipped in rather than flown in. Ask in your local veg shop where produce comes from and how it’s been transported. Be curious and then you’ll be able to make informed decisions about which fruit and veg to buy and which shops to visit.
It’s become normal for us to eat fresh fruit and vegetables out of season too. By bringing your awareness back to the seasons and choosing seasonal foods you’ll reduce the carbon impact of your food as well as becoming more in tune with the Earth’s rhythms.
When you’re eating raw food you may choose to eat superfoods that have been flown in. Your diet in general, however, will have a reduced environmental impact because you won’t be consuming animal and dairy products, one of the highest contributors to today’s environmental issues. You’ll also be consuming mostly organic foods, which are much better for the environment, and if you can buy locally you’ll be able to greatly reduce the plastic packaging passing through your hands. Most of my rubbish is compost, which I feel great about! And, of course, most raw food enthusiasts are naturally eating less animal and dairy products and therefore aren’t contributing to the energetically negative farming methods used on animals today.
So you can feel good that choosing raw food is an ethical choice and you can reduce your environmental impact even more by being aware and curious about where your food is coming from.