Culture | Back to the basics

Uncovering the joys of uncooked cooking

The first time I heard the term ‘raw foodism’, I could not run for the door fast enough. The mere thought of limiting myself to a measly selection of uncooked, unprocessed fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds made my taste buds shrivel, and my appetite was instantly gone. But the North American food industry is a business, not a service, and it has become close-to-common knowledge that profit is a much larger concern in the eyes of these businesspeople than public health will ever be. The unappetizing realities of the meat and dairy industries, as well as the recent surge of genetically modified products into our supermarkets leave those of us who are “in the know” wishing that we weren’t. This is where raw foodism seems to make its sell, and David Cote, the owner of Crudessence, Montreal’s raw food restaurant, was thrilled to share his views on why raw food can heal the world.

Originally a juice bar, Crudessence reopened this past May as a restaurant. It has attracted a wide range of people and publicity, including features in nearly every Montreal newspaper, as well as a lengthy clip on CBC Radio. Cote describes his clientele as ranging from frequenting yogis to the wealthy women of Westmount, who don’t speak to anyone and order their food to go. Though the prices hit the higher end of a student budget, the food quality at Crudessence is undoubtedly worth the extra dollar or two.

“Eating raw food is about listening and being aware when you eat something. If you do this, you will naturally end up eating raw,” explains Cote. “It’s not about eating 100 per cent raw food. This movement has become far too dogmatic in this sense. If you try to do this, you’re going to find yourself in a freezer eating ice cream in the middle of the night.” Cote believes that our society is still stuck in a survival mode, and it is only when we realize that we can let this notion go that we can make peace with our health. He claims that unlike our parents and grandparents, our generation need not fear running out of food. It’s okay, he even dares to say, to feel a little hungry sometimes. “You’re not going to die tomorrow,” Cote laughs, and suggests that our society is painfully out of touch with our own bodies, as opposed to the profit-driven industries that benefit from preserving such ideas.

Cote claims that when eating a high percentage of raw foods, a university student couldn’t fall asleep in class if they tried. “It’s about efficiency, eating for energy. You no longer feel lethargic, and break away from habits of using food to numb yourself from your creative energy.” While such a movement can easily be dismissed as far too radical for many people’s liking, perhaps it’s what we need. “Eating raw food makes you responsible for your own life,” Cote claims. “Crudessence” roughly translates to “something that continues to grow larger.” But, to Cote, it means, “returning back to health, back to reality, back to raw.”

While it is easy to write this lifestyle off, we could all use a little more fresh food in our Kraft-laden diets. It is true that what we eat becomes a part of us, and even more apparent that what we eat dictates how we feel. After all, humans are the only animals that cook and process their food – and also the animals that suffer most from cancer, obesity, and diabetes. Perhaps the answer is to tune out the processed voice of Ronald McDonald, and tune into your own. Pop into Crudessence for a delicious smoothie, a raw meal, or a burst of inspiration and be a tad more kind to that precious body of yours.

Crudessence is located at 105 Rachel O.


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