The more than 500 members of the Central Florida Raw Food Connection, including many from East Orlando, learn how to make raw dishes like kumquat cheesecake and no-bake vegan spaghetti and meatballs, ask questions about vitamin deficiencies and take field trips to events like mango festivals.
Raw is a diet consisting mostly of raw and foods cooked at temperatures no higher than 125 degrees (degrees vary from 105 to 125 depending on personal belief). The premise of the diet is that the living enzymes in raw food that help in digestion are damaged when the food is cooked.
Some reported benefits to the diet are increased energy and stamina, weight loss, and even relief from such afflictions as high blood pressure and cancer.
Olive Mackey’s diet consisted mostly of meat and potatoes. She even avoided lettuce and tomatoes on her cheeseburgers because she hated the way they slid off the bun. She regularly visited a chiropractor for achy muscles and a myriad of health issues including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, poor vision and dull hearing.
Seven years ago she attended a lecture on the 10 most deadly foods — all of which were featured stars in Mackey’s diet. She was determined to change.
In searching for the best diet, she stumbled upon raw foods. She tried the diet for 30 days, during which time her body underwent an intense transformation. She shed 20 pounds — 117 overall since adopting the diet — was able to stop taking her high blood pressure medication, strengthened her hearing and vision, and had a ton of energy. She remembers the “fabulous” taste of cooked food, but said the health benefits of raw food far outweigh the flavors lost. “I thought raw food was only salad. I could not imagine what else there was,” she said. The goal is to make it tasty, said Joe Diaz, owner of Café 118, a Winter Park restaurant that does not cook food over 118 degrees. The restaurant’s concept is to make raw food available and appealing to all walks of life — herbivores and carnivores, alike. He hopes to make raw food the next sushi craze.
“Years ago a lot of people did not eat at sushi restaurants because it was just a slab of fish on your plate,” he said. He found a way to make raw more appealing to the average consumer, successfully luring in all kinds of people with dishes like vegetable lasagna, zucchini and carrot noodle pad Thai, and nut-based mint-chocolate chip “ice cream.”