Letters to the Portland editor: June 19, 2009

Warning: Salad may kill you
By PHOENIX STAFF  |  June 17, 2009

In a recent issue, Brian Duff reviewed GRO Grassroots Organic Café, in Portland (see "In the Raw," May 22). I've never read anything on the topic of food and nutrition more arrogant or opinionated.

Duff referenced a primatologist named Richard Wrangham who has presented data that cooking foods helped man evolve. Perhaps he's correct. Wrangham has provided some excellent research in zoopharmacognosy, the study of how primates medicate themselves with clays and plants. But Wrangham's expertise on what constitutes a healthy diet for modern-day Homo sapiens is questionable at best. Evolution implies a work in progress, and if our supposed primate ancestors' food choices had to change in order to survive, now is no different.

The US holds some of the world's highest rates of diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, and depression. The standard American diet (or SAD) is mostly composed of processed/bleached grains, dairy pasteurized beyond its capacity to retain nutrition, and meats from stressed animals that are loaded with growth hormones and antibiotics. Swallowing food and living long enough to tell others does not mean one has adapted to it.

Duff believes eating raw food is unhealthy because of so-called plant defenses. Among these he's listed oxalates. Oxalic acid is a chemical found in many plants. This substance binds with calcium to form calcium oxalate, an insoluble salt. Eating too much oxalic acid is hard to do, but can lead to kidney-stone development. Evidence suggests heat will lower oxalic acid; however excessively heating food will diminish accessible nutrients. It's like burning down a house in order to prevent termite damage. Unlike Duff, it's not my goal to oversimplify complex chemical processes.

Duff believes raw food is based in cultism, and that GRO promotes violence because of a statement posted on a chalk board: "Freedom is something that is assumed, until someone takes it from you. The level at which you resist is the degree to which you were ever truly free."

Mahatma Gandhi ate a 100-percent raw plant based diet and resisted suppression through civil disobedience; perhaps Brian Duff views Gandhi as a violent cultist.

Jarmin Kaltsas


  Topics: Letters , Culture and Lifestyle, Food and Cooking, Foods,  More more >
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