Hold the Heat: 'Raw foodism' in the High Country
Raw foodism: it's a trendy way to eat, and not just for rabbits.
Try to think past salads and vegetable trays. What raw foodies come up with may surprise you.
Just ask Megan Ward, owner and operator of Hold the Heat Raw Food Makery. She, along with other area foodies are holding potlucks twice a month to spread the concept.
"You just bring a raw food vegan dish to share, and that's pretty much the idea," she said. "We're just kind of creating a community for healthy lifestyles."
From kids to seniors, the community has come out, curious about how the foodies do it: Creating and enjoying balanced meals without spending time over a stove.
Ward understands the disbelief. After all, prior to four years ago, she ate cooked food like everyone else. Her parents' poor health and a family history of obesity had her hitting the research.
"It seems like everyone is surrounded by health problems," she said. "We just kind of started looking into different diets that would really help."
She heard about raw foodism and decided to "give it a shot."
Four years later, there's no going back.
"I don't have to worry about so many things I used to have to worry about," she said, very real things, like obesity.
"When you're eating fresh, raw foods in as close to their original state that they grow from the ground or whatever, you're getting all the fiber and all the nutrients," she said.
The main benefit of going raw? The enzymes.
"Whenever you cook things, you kill enzymes," she said. "Enzymes die at 150 degrees or so."
And diabetics get an added benefit. "The sugars are going more directly into the blood stream," she said.
With allergies on the rise nationwide, the fact that raw foodism is wheat- and gluten-free is another reason to make the switch, she said.
There are a few obvious drawbacks. Eating fresh each day may tick up a grocery bill. It's worth it, Ward said.
"Do you want to pay more for your medical bills or do you want to pay more for your food now?" she asked. "Whenever you cut out meat and cheese and dairy, you actually are reducing your grocery bill by quite a lot ... but you can't just pull into Wendy's, and that's just the truth of it."
To help educate raw foodies on ways to save money, her company hosts workshops, counseling people on joining co-ops and ordering food in bulk to save cash.
All in all, she feels the way she shops is cheaper than it used to be.
"I really think about everything I buy and am not just giving into consumerism," she said. "I honestly think that the value of eating healthy can't have a dollar on it."
And the 30-plus people who show up to the potlucks agree. While most of those in attendance aren't making a complete lifestyle change, they're still taking the raw food challenge, inserting more raw food into their diet, and that's what it's all about. It's about the changes, like those Ward sees in her own parents, who, inspired by their daughter, substituted just one meal a day with a salad.
"My mom lost 20 pounds, and my dad's blood sugar went down," she said, and that was after one month.
"It's about learning how to incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet," she said.
Healthy eaters, raw foodists and otherwise, are encouraged to come out to the potlucks to increase their dietary variety. Don't be intimidated by the premise. A fruit salad and cut-up local produce are both popular potluck additions.
Seasoned foodies, well, they'll surprise you with their dishes.
"People bring these amazing desserts like summer cobblers made out of all raw ingredients," she said. "You won't believe it ... it's this really great eye-opening experience. People just think you're eating carrots all day, but that's not it. It's all delicious and really good."
August is full of events for raw foodies. Saturday, Aug. 7, from 6 to 8 p.m., marks the Raw Foodism Ice Cream Social. Attendees are asked to bring raw food vegan "ice creams," sorbets, fresh fruit toppings, nut toppings and other raw delights to Daniel Boone Park at the corner of Horn in the West Drive and Oak Street in Boone. Tuesday, Aug. 17, from 6 to 8 p.m., marks the second monthly potluck, this one at Goldenrod Gardens (920 Odes Wilson Road, Zionville). All are welcome to attend, and the potlucks are free.
For more information or to sign up for a Hold the Heat Raw Food Makery raw food class, send an e-mail to (firstname.lastname@example.org) , or check out the Hold the Heat Raw Food Makery tent at the Watauga County Farmers' Market Saturdays at Horn in the West.
Got dining news? E-mail editor Frank Ruggiero at (email@example.com) , snail mail Mountain Times Publications, Attn: Frank Ruggiero, 474 Industrial Park Drive, Boone, N.C. 28607, or call (828) 264-NEWS and ask for Frank.