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June/July 2003
Books to Whet your Appetite
By Angela Starks



There are so many books on raw foodism out there, but which ones suitably introduce the concept to the uninitiated or provide a budding new convert with recipe ideas? Then there are the veterans who are looking for a juicy read to take them to a whole new level.

I’ve managed to stick to a diet of 99 percent raw foods for a number of years, against all odds (like, how do you say no to Mom’s chocolate cake?). So how did I get here…well, I couldn’t have done it (probably wouldn’t have even thought of it) without my support network, that is to say, books. I’ve read every book on raw foods I could get my hands on, and as a result, friends often ask me to recommend the best ones. While I have learned something from all of them, there are two that I find myself enthused about over and over again.

First of all, my bible: The Sunfood Diet Success System by David Wolfe (Maul Brothers, 2001). Wolfe justifiably describes himself as the foremost promoter of the raw food diet. As well as tirelessly hosting seminars and retreats all over the world, he sits at the helm of a mail-order company called Nature’s First Law that caters to raw-foodists’ every need. Note: Wolfe coined the term ‘Sunfood’ because, he says, this more accurately describes the ‘majesty’ of plant foods and the fact that they are nourished by the sun which in turn nourishes us.

In his trademark enthusiastic style, Wolfe begins with a treatise on the psychology of self-improvement. This serves to bolster the confidence of one who may be transitioning to raw foods in the face of contrary peer pressure, or struggling with what he describes as an addiction to cooked foods. Later we get into nutrition as Wolfe adds his “Sunfood Triangle,” a wonderfully simple, logical and workable method to help balance one’s diet between items like sweet fruits, green vegetables, and fats. Indeed, he considers healthy fats to be the missing ingredient in most people’s diets; he is a huge fan of olives and avocados and devotes a whole chapter to each. Other topics discussed include the importance of correct breathing, the healing powers of the sun, and the most insightful and challenging discussion on human evolution you’ll ever read. (See the Satya Interview with David Wolfe in June, 2000.)
Wolfe is quite a philosopher, so whether or not you adopt a new way of eating (my bet is that you will), you will certainly think very, very differently.

Secondly, there’s Sunfood Cuisine: A Practical Guide to Raw Vegetarian Cuisine by Frédéric Patenaude (Genesis 1:29, 2002). Originally written as a companion volume to Wolfe’s The Sunfood Diet, this incredibly user-friendly guide is designed primarily as a recipe book but it is much more than that. Patenaude, a veteran raw foodist and professional chef, introduces the Sunfood concept in layman’s terms, in an uncluttered and non-dogmatic tone.

Patenaude opens with a concise yet comprehensive explanation of the health benefits of raw foods and outlines some fascinating science on the dangers of cooked foods. Next, we get into the basic principles behind raw food preparation. Patenaude adds: “Not only will I show you great recipes, but I will also show you the basic ideas behind making [them], so that soon you will be able to make your own…without using this book.”

Included in this book is a huge section on just about every fruit, vegetable, nut and spice you can think of, with factoids about their origins and health benefits. This is useful for any would-be chef but also makes for an interesting read in its own right. I’d never before heard of the soursop fruit, and I didn’t know that carob helps to calm the nerves.

What about the ‘best of the rest’? Hooked on Raw by Rhio (Beso, 2000) is another great recipe book and, like Sunfood Cuisine, it begins by reporting the benefits of eating raw. Rhio also passionately discusses issues like irradiation, organic foods, the environment and industry exposés, and offers delicious inventive recipes. If you think raw kale sounds unappetizing, you haven’t tried Rhio’s marinated version. There’s even tomato sauce, vanilla ‘ice cream’, and pizza. If you enjoy anti-establishment philosophy, you’ll get a kick out of Nature’s First Law: The Raw Food Diet by Stephen Arlin, Fouad Dini and David Wolfe (Maul Brothers, 2003). When I first read it, I thought, “Whoa! These guys have a lot of nerve!” but on a second reading I began to get it, and sense how much fun they must have had writing lines such as, “We are superheroes and our job is to fight kitchen fires and save lives.” However, they take their message seriously, which is, in a nutshell: Humankind is designed to eat only raw plant food and cooked food is poisoning us. Don’t neglect to read the appendix—it’s as interesting as the rest of the book and lists fascinating studies to back up their arguments.

Last but by no means least, I highly recommend Conscious Eating by Gabriel Cousens, M.D. (see the Satya Interview with Dr. Cousens). It’s not an obvious raw food dissertation, but this is indeed the message woven throughout, along with the counsel: you must individualize your diet. This fact-packed volume is a mammoth undertaking, but a feast for anyone interested in veganism, a live food diet, or just good health. Fasting, Ayurveda, vegetarianism in religion, nutrition for pregnancy…those are just a few of the many topics covered. Especially noteworthy is the often quoted chapter on vitamin B12, which provides the most extensive and interesting reassurance for raw-foodists I’ve ever read.

I hope that my book recommendations have whet your appetite for further investigation of the raw food diet. If you can’t find these publications at your bookstore, they’re all available by mail order from, where you’ll find many more books on the subject. Enjoy!


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