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San Francisco Examiner
Sunday, May 4, 1997

Some Like it RAW!

By Leslie Goldberg

"Food is alive, just like you and me'

Two things for sure: You're not going to get a hot cup of coffee or a grilled cheese sandwich at Juliano's restaurant.

Picture from the Examiner of Juliano
Juliano (above), creates his version of sushi at Raw restaurant, where everything on the menu is uncooked.  Co-owner Carol Brotman(below), his sister, puts togeter a Raw-style pizza in the restaurant kitchen on Ninth Avenue in the Sunset DistrictExaminer Picture: Making a Raw Pizza

Everything at Raw is, well, raw - including the pizza, the burritos and the rice. And Juliano, who uses no last name, is not the only one in San Francisco into food that never ventures beyond 120 degrees.

Besides Juliano's small band of regular Raw customers, The City boasts a whole community of foodies, for whom a stove, a grill, a toaster and / or a microwave are totally useless.

"Instead of using killing heat, we use life-giving water," said the 24-year-old restaurant owner, who was wearing harem pants, his hair tied in top knot, while chatting with a visitor in his Sunset District restaurant near Golden Gate Park.

"Food is alive, just like you and me," he said. "Just stick your head in a pot of boiling water - how would you feel?"

Convinced that cooking not only gets food very upset, but robs it of its essential nutrients, Juliano has devised ingenious ways to avoid subjecting innocent edibles to global-warming fossil fuel.

Rice can be made a lot less crunchy and a lot more digestible by soaking it in water for two to four weeks, he said. And beans, if they're soaked for days, until they get soft and sprout, can be wrapped in cabbage leaves to make burritos. The pizza served at Raw is "baked" in the sun - an admitted impossibility in the foggy Sunset.

"One of our waitresses lives in the Castro," said Juliano. "She has a friend who has a deck. We bake it there."

"Baking" the crust, which is made from ground buckwheat sprouts, takes about 10 hours, said Juliano.

"We don't do deep dish," he added.

Blood, caviar and sashimi

Once the eater gets past the idea that everything on a plate or in a glass at Raw is as cold as a stone, the pizza tastes pretty good; so does the rice; so does a lovely apple juice and beet juice cocktail with a non-vegetarian name, "Blood."

Like most raw foodists, Juliano eschews all animal products - eating and serving only organic fruits, vegetables, nuts and soaked grains and beans. But apparently some things are just too difficult to completely give up. The restaurateur has fashioned "caviar" from pomegranate seeds, "sashimi" from beet-stained aloe leaf, "cheese" from ground up sprouted pine nuts and "milk" from blenderized almonds and water.

Some raw foodists include raw meat in their diet.

"I had three friends who got into that," said raw fooder Tom Billings, a 41-year-old graduate student who lives in Berkeley. "They all got really sick - one of them still is."

A registered dietitian and the director of nutrition for Kaiser Permanente, Kristie Patterson said that as long as people were eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, beans and checking with their doctor to make sure everything's all right, a raw foods diet could be fine.

"A vegetarian diet or a vegan diet (no animal products) can be healthful," she said. "But it's very dangerous eating raw meat, including fish. It takes great expertise to recognize microbes and bacteria. We cook meat to make it safe. (Eating raw meat) is like hunting for mushrooms in the woods - it can be deadly."

Most people eating an exclusively raw diet say they're doing it for their health. Juliano boasted of needing no more that six hours of sleep and rarely visiting a doctor.

"Even when I do get a cold or something, I don't feel dragged out," he said. "It's like, "Let's go party.' "

Dorleen Tong, a teacher of English as a second language for San Francisco Community College and a raw fooder, said she, too, needed but a few hours a sleep.

"I feel good," Tong said. "I feel happy. I used to be barely able to get up in the morning."

Billings who was once a fruitarian, said one of the problems with a raw foods diet was that sometimes people on the diet didn't seek medical attention when they should.

"They get these symptoms, and they're told (by other raw fooders) that they're "detoxifying,' " he said. "Too many raw fooders think doctors are agents of the devil."

Isolated by diet

For nine years, Billings, who is 6-foot-1, ate only fruit. His weight eventually dropped to 88 pounds. He recalled experiencing a drug-like high that he now believes was caused by a mineral deficiency.

"Sometimes people get into this, and they think now they're suddenly very spiritual," he said. "That isn't spirituality."

An older and wiser eater, Billings has expanded his diet to include 50 percent bean sprouts, 25 percent vegetables and 25 percent fruits - gaining 40 pounds in the process. "I'm still pretty thin," he said.

A lot of raw fooders believe in treading lightly on the planet and insist that the diet represents a higher environmentalism.

"I was looking for the most healthful diet for humans and the Earth as a whole," said Don Weaver of Burlingame, co-author of a book, "The Survival of Civilization." An organic gardener who describes himself as an "environmental volunteer," Weaver said he'd been totally raw for 20 years.

He acknowledged that a lot of raw fooders could end up feeling a little isolated.

"It's such a different way to eat," Weaver said. "But I believe that it's important not to separate from others on the basis of diet and philosophy."

The San Francisco Living Foods Support Group holds monthly potlucks at Fort Mason. They have a raw foods lending library and a hot line, called the "sprout line."

The group is sponsoring an all-day conference on raw food with lectures, "cooking" demonstrations and food samples June 1 at Fort Mason Center. Admission is $6. For information call (415) 751-2806


Just before the SF-LiFE Expo (this past June 1), I was interviewed for an
article in the San Francisco Examiner newspaper, (Sunday, May 4, 1997, pgs. B-1 and B-7). A quote from me in the article, suggests that I think
instinctive eating is not safe. I want to state on the record that the quote
is misleading, and is a misinterpretation of our discussion on the problem of
parasites in raw animal foods. Certainly instinctive eaters need to consider
the risk of parasites when eating raw animal foods, but one can get parasites
from (unsanitary) raw plant foods as well... - Tom Billings


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