Monday, 14 January 2008

Health Food Junkies


As one raised a strict vegan from birth during the 70's and 80's, when all sorts of horrors such as stunted growth (I'm 5'9") and retarded intelligence (ok, so I did fail my 11+) were predicted by 'experts' who came to measure and prod myself and my sister at regular intervals, not to mention a couple of post-grads who came to study us as part of their zoology degrees or somesuch, I was naturally compelled to watch Channel 4s' 'First Cut: Health Food Junkies' on Friday @ 7.30pm exploring the fascinating world of the 'Raw Foodists' - a relatively new band of food evangelists who eschew Nigella, Jamie & Gordon to eat only raw food not heated above 45 degrees for fear of destroying the nutrients.
Whilst I acknowledge some logic in this, and accept that our food has probably lost the oft-quoted 40-50% of its vitamins since the 1940s, owing to intensive farming methods causing high levels of animal stress/adrenaline and employing the use of growth hormones, medicines, vaccines, cross-breeding, dye, flavourings and other manipulations of nature, I was at a loss to understand where the drinking ones' own urine and twice-a-day colonic irrigation came into it. Particularly if they were now eating such an uber-pure, high-fibre diet, they presumably had nothing to de-tox! Amusing too was how the aforementioned alternative therapist who drank her own wee every morning found the thought of kissing a carnivorous man disgusting, opining he would smell bad owing to his diet!
The children who had never been allowed to eat normal food, (for some bizarre reason their mother even regarded apples or a glass of orange juice as a 'treat'), or mix with other children who might lead them astray particularly struck a chord and made me realise just how lucky I had been to be allowed jacket potatoes, lentil soup and several squares of non-dairy chocolate every Easter.
However they also brought back memories of stealing sherbet dabs from shops and money from my parents to buy still more illicit confectionary contraband. Then there was the time I received a severely spanked bottom for being found sitting on the kitchen floor in the early hours in my jimjams, cupboard doors open wide, mainlining a packet of Demerara with a very large dessert spoon, but still fit to compound my crime with a bare-faced lie!
Her cherubs will not remain cherubs methinks, for all her naive protestations of 'Oh children just accept things'.
And the thing I was dying to know - ie the ages of the participants - was never revealed, except for the music producer who turned out to be 54, and to be fair, did look a little younger. However by and large the participants appeared somewhat pasty-faced, and not exactly sparkling-eyed or amazingly youthful, albeit impressively slim.
In addition they were spending vast quantities of money on superfood powders and vegan foodstuffs even I'd never heard of, and which must surely be unobtainable in the home towns of most of us and ruinous in evil food miles if they have to come from specific swamps in Botswana or are special desert flowers from Arabia. Furthermore the raw food diet did strike one as a labour-intensive, all-consuming lifestyle that was only possible if you had no other hobbies or interests. Almost a religion no less.
But hey, if they were really all about 70 years of age, goodbye cappuccinos, restaurants, social life and interests - raw food, coffee enemas and wee juice drink here I come! I have no pride when it comes to fighting the aging process - it's war my friends!
On second thoughts though, perhaps I'll just keep taking the vitamins, eating the five-a-day and save for the cosmetic surgery.

Top photo from Health Food Junkies, Channel 4

10 comments:

Stephen said...

The politics of food. The few periods in my life when I've been mostly vegetarian have certainly been the healthiest, but obviously things can be taken too far in either direction. The western world isn't getting thinner, is it?

Rol Hirst said...

Presumably then, all the food they eat is not only raw, but cold too?

Couldn't do with that - especially in the winter!

The image you painted of your shameful childhoood sugar addiction made me smile.

Reluctant Blogger said...

Wow, a vegan upbringing. I am seriously impressed. Are you still a vegan? Sorry, perhaps that is a bit nosey?

But yeah, children will find ways to get round their parents. We had some friends who were vegetarian, which was pretty rare in those days and they used to sneak round to ours and scoff sausage rolls like they hadn't eaten in a week!

I always wonder whether children of parents with strong views on diet, grow up to follow their parents' lead, take on board some of it or rebel and go to the opposite extreme?

I personally could not live without cheese or without cooked food. It sounds like torture to me.

I guess wine is not on the menu either? Dear me!

Steve said...

I'm sorry I missed this. I've heard all the crap about cooking destroying the nutrients and vitamins in vegetables but I've also heard that in their raw state the human body simply can't process these nutrients anyway... cooking them seems to be a good half way house and there's no real loss.

As for drinking one's own wee. It's a waste product! Our bodies get rid of it for a reason! Do these people ingest their own faeces too?!

The Poet Laura-eate said...

I guess you could have a point there Steve. Mind you my hygienist often says our teeth are being undermined by not being given enough to chew on to keep the roots strong and maintains they should be exercised like muscles!

And the obesity 'epidemic' is apparently linked to the vitamin deficit Stephen - ie the fewer vitamins processed food has, the more the brain convinces the body it is still hungry and makes it carry on eating to obtain the requisite vitamins...

As for your question RB, I've lapsed into 'strictish vegetarian' these days! Not that I've any 'beef' against veganism. More the sackcloth and ashes aspect I disliked, as prefer my food 'gourmet' to birdseedy. Nor do I like a diet to become an entire lifestyle, or worse still a religion-substitute, which often happens when enthusiasts get hold of anything. Then there's the impact on the social life if you can scarcely eat out at all. As for meat and fish, they've never been a temptation. I know too much about where they come from and the processes involved, and believe vegetarianism is a choice I would have eventually made for myself regardless of upbringing. Plus it's become so easy with so many ingredients and meat-substitutes these days. However I try not to go on about diet or be a pain, and am always considerate about letting dinner party hosts know well in advance, & offering to bring my own food if it's a problem. In addition I'm more than happy to get dairy in for visitors or pop an M&S meat dish in the oven for them.

But to leave on Sherbet & Sugar Puffs was my dream Rol!

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Oh dear, I appear to have just gone on about diet - I do apologise!

nearside said...

The vitamin deficiency thing is interesting... my doctor tells me that my Vit D levels are abnormally low, and puts it down to coming from a northern clime. Perhaps taking some supplements would help folks in many ways.

And I think your "going on about" diet is perfectly reasonable!

Lady Language said...

I would surely die on the raw food diet. I did meet a urine drinker once who was also a vegan - a friend of a friend - she was not healthy but sickly thin. Although I do agree we consume too much sugar and meat, we all need to find our own balance.

Dan said...

Hear, hear, Laura - a very well-balanced set of views.

Very funny bit about mainlining demerera - I used to have great spoons of cadburys drinking chocalate straight from the tub!

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