Uncooked Foods


   The Journal of Health in its issue of May 1833 and the Moral Reformer June 1835, affirmed as a general principle that no person, whether gentleman, farmer or tradesman, woman or child, could eat to advantage, or even with impunity, vegetable matter which had not been softened and changed by cooking processes.

   People were not only afraid of plant foods in those days, but they were especially afraid of them in their uncooked or natural state. It was a day of much cooking--vegetables were par boiled and then boiled again. The water in which they were par boiled was thrown away. Little was left for the eater but an almost foodless husk which had been reduced to a mush that required practically no chewing.

   Graham on the other hand, laid down the principle that man's "physiological interests would be best sustained by those vegetable products which require no culinary change, or cooking." He thought that cooking not only reduces the value of the foods, but that it actually reduces the digestive powers of those who eat cooked foods. Then he said: "It may therefore, be laid down as a general law, that all processes of cooking, or artificial preparations of food by fire, are, in themselves, considered with reference to the very highest and best condition of human nature, in some degree detrimental to the physiological and psychological interests of man."

   Cooking, the most universally employed process of denaturing our foods, is in every way injurious to foods and to man. Whether we cook plant substances or animal products, cooking is ruinous to the properties of the food. The fluids of the plant are, in great part, lost in cooking. With these go the minerals and vitamins of the plant. With them also go the natural flavors and aromas of the food. The nutritive value of foods are impaired or destroyed by cooking and their digestibility is lowered.

   We must tap the richest sources of vitality which Nature posseses and turn them to valuable account. We must supply ourselves and our children with superior nutritive substances and these can only come from nature. Not to the chemist, nor to the food manufacturer, must we go for superior nutrition; but to the original source of nutrition. In nature's products are the requisites of superior nutrition. All the sources of vigor and all the means of resisting pathogenic ("disease" producing) causes are found in natural products as these come from the hands of nature.

   In fresh fruits and green vegetables and nuts, or the juices of these, are all the minerals and vitamins and high-grade proteins, and other substances needed by the growing, developing human body to bring it to a state of physical, mental and moral perfection and to maintain it in this state indefinitely.

   All the virtues of foods are retained when they are eaten uncooked and they not only protect against the causes of disease, but they add to the joys of life, enhance bodily vigor, and give that strength to the sexual powers that means better offspring.

   Fresh foods, green foods, whole, natural foods, unprocessed foods, unrefined foods, foods that have not lost their substances nor had their values deteriorated by heating, drying, cooking, canning, and refining processes are full of the elements of superior nutrition.

   Graham wrote: "It is nearly certain, as I have already stated, that the primitive inhabitants of the earth ate their food with very little if any artificial preparations. The various fruits, nuts, seeds, roots, and other vegetable substances on which they subsisted, were eaten by them in their natural state, with no other grinding than that which was done by the teeth."

   It is obvious to even the least intelligent that animals in a state of nature subsist exclusively and entirely on an uncooked dietary. It is equally as obvious that man subsisted entirely and wholly on uncooked foods before he learned the use of fire. We have no means of knowing how long man lived on the earth before some enterprising young genius learned to make fire, nor how long it was thereafter before he began to apply fire to his foods. I think that we will not go wrong in assuming that the use of fire has persisted but a moment in his history.

   Prof. Jordon, of the University of Chicago, says that the people of the stone age were unacquainted with the art of cooking, but ate their foods in their natural state. Animals and, to a large extent, so-called primitive peoples, take their food directly from the hands of nature and eat it unchanged.

   The so-called primitive tribes live largely or wholly upon uncooked foods. The Esquamaux will catch a fish and eat him without taking the trouble to first put him to death. He will kill a walrus and feast off his fresh warm flesh at once. The Hawaiian will wade out into the sea with his harpoon or spear and dive down and spear a fish or catch some other sea creature, come up and eat him without troubling to first get onto the shore. Some African tribes will catch a grass hopper or beetle off a tree and eat it whole on the spot.

   The fact that primitive man ate his foods uncooked is evidence that raw foods are adequate to support life. Indeed there is much evidence to show that certain qualities possessed by raw foods are indispensable to life. It is quite probable that the enzymes of raw foods are of use to the body. Research may show that plant enzymes are the sources of animal enzymes.

   My esteemed friend and erstwhile co-worker, Dr. B. S. Claunch, said in an excellent talk on How Disease is Built, delivered at Sorosis Hall, San Francisco, Dec. 10, 1922: "There are nearly 700,000 species of animal life, and everyone of these species except man--the highes--lives exclusively on live, uncooked, organic food. No other animal except man eats devitalized foods that have been rendered inorganic--reduced from their organic structure to dead, inorganic substances. * * * "As I stated before, animals of every kind live on uncooked food with the exception of man. Incidentally, man is the only species in the entire animal kingdom that is sick, with the exception of a few that have their diet prescribed for them by man--domesticated animals. They are sick the same as man, because man supplies their food and directs their eating habits instead of permitting them to select their own foods.

   "Cooking foods and processing them--refining, sterilizing, preserving, pickling, flavoring and coloring--all tend to devitalize them. When such substances are eaten--these are practically the only kinds obtainable today in the modern eating places--about one-fourth in unchanged. The nourishment obtained from the one-fourth keeps you alive for a few years; the poison you get from the other three-fourths keeps you sick most of the time."

   Not a single truth in these statements of Dr. Claunch's is injured in any way by the fact that he has repudiated them. No truth is impaired by the desertion of its advocates. The fact that Dr. Claunch now advocates, or did, for a while, advocate an almost exclusive meat diet, and this well cooked, does not alter the fact that homo (SAP)iens is the only species on earth which eats cooked food. Nor does it change the fact that cooking and processing foods injures and impairs them. When a man changes his mind it does not change the facts.

   Cooking utensils only made their appearance a few thousand years ago and for a long time only some foods were cooked. During the Dark Ages the Black Art of Cooking was "improved" and popularized and the custom of cooking spread to such an extent that those who ate uncooked foods came to be looked upon as savages, but little above cattle. Cooking became popular during the thousand year reign of anti-naturalism, which cost the human race so much and yielded so little, and was popularized by the anti-natural dogmas of that time. The germ theory gave an added reason for thoroughly cooking everything we eat, for it taught us to thus kill the "pathogenic microbes" in and on our foods.

   Graham declares: "If man subsisted wholly on uncooked food, the undepraved integrity of his appetite, his thorough mastication and slow swallowing, and his simple meal, would greatly serve to prevent over-eating, and thus save him from the mischievous effects of one of the most destructive causes operating in civic life. * * * Whatever may be the kind of food on which man subsists when the artificial preparation is made as far as possible in accordance with the physiological laws of constitution and relation established in his nature, and is of simple character which leaves the proportions of nutritious and innutritious properties as nature combined them, or in the general average conforms in this respect to nature, and effects little change in the nutritious principles, and retains the natural requisition for the function of the teeth, and thus secures the proper chewing of the food, and the mixing of it with the solvent fluid of the mouth, and the swallowing of it slowly, the artificial process of preparation militates very little, if at all, against any of the physiological interests of the body. But if the preparation concentrates the nutriment properties, and destroys the true proportion between the bulk and nourishment, and effects improper changes and combinations in the nutriment elements, and does away with the necessity for mastication, and presents the food in too elevated temperature and enables us to swallow it too rapidly with little or no exercise of the teeth, and without properly mixing it with the saliva, the artificial process of cooking is decidedly and often exceedingly inimical, not only to the physiological interests of the alimentary organs, but the whole human system. And let it ever be remembered, that, as a general rule, the process of cooking, when regulated in the very best manner, cannot so perfectly adapt the substances which it is necessary to cook, to the physiological properties and powers of the human body, as to render them equally conducive to the highest and best conditions of man, with those substances which are naturally adapted to the alimentary wants. And, therefore, as already stated, all processes of cooking, or artificial preparation of food by fire--considered in reference to the very highest capabilities of human nature--must be regarded as in some measure an evil."

   Inherent in Graham's views and principles, though in the very nature of things, this could not have been known at that time, was the saving of the minerals and vitamins of foods by eating them as nature produced them without, first, processing, refining and cooking them. No doubt it was this fact that led Prof. Stiles to declare, when the discovery of vitamins was first announced, that it was merely a re-statement of Graham's views.

   We do well to remember that chemistry was a young science or hoped-to-be-a-science, and food chemistry was not yet born when Graham penned these lines. He covered all the ground in a general, and in some particulars, a vague way, which we of today, with greater knowledge, are permitted to cover more in detail. But it is a standing monument to the genius of the man that, with all our increased knowledge of foods and their relation to the body, we can only bow to him and say, "Yes, Mr. Graham, you are right." For Graham's book, now nearly a hundred years old, is up to date, and in some respects, he is ahead of us yet. If you want to know nature cure, read Graham. If you want to know natural hygiene, read Graham. If you want the newer knowledge of nutrition, read Graham. His was a master mind. He saw clearly then what the orthodox world is just beginning to see.

   Graham said: "If man were to subsist wholly on alimentary substances in their natural state, or without any artificial preparation, by cooking, he would be obliged to use his teeth freely, and by so doing not only preserve his teeth from decay; but at the same time and by the same means, he would thoroughly mix his food with the solvent fluid of his mouth. * * * Again, if man were to subsist wholly on uncooked food, he would never suffer from the improper temperature of his aliment. * * * If man were to subsist entirely on food in a natural state, he would never suffer from concentrated aliment * * * If man subsisted wholly on uncooked food, he would not only be preserved from improper concentrations, but also from pernicious combinations of alimentary substances * * * it is incontrovertible that the alimentary organs of man and of all other animals can digest one kind of food at a time, better than a mixture of different kinds. * * *

   If we cut this up we find that:

   (1) Uncooked food, requiring more chewing, supply the teeth with much needed exercise.

   (2) The necessary chewing insures proper insalivation.

   (3) Uncooked food would preserve the teeth and stomach from the injury produced by hot foods.

   (4) Uncooked foods would possess the proper proportion of "nutritious and innutritious (bulk) matter" to which "the anatomical construction and physiological powers of the alimentary organs of the human body are constitutionally adapted."

   (5) Uncooked foods tend to prevent "pernicious combinations."

   (6) Mono-trophic meals are the most easily digested. Today we may add the following other virtues of the uncooked diet:

   (7) Uncooked foods possess their vitamins and complettins, enzymes, salts, acids, carbohydrates, proteins and fats in the organic and unimpaired state in which nature produces them.

   (8) The necessity for chewing them insures tasting them to the fullest, and this assures proper adaptation of digestive juices to the character of the food.

   (9) Chewing and tasting the food tends also to prevent over eating.

   (10) Uncooked foods are not so easily adulterated as are the canned, pickled, embalmed foods so largely eaten today.

   (11) Uncooked foods do not ferment so rapidly.

   (12) Uncooked foods, if spoiled, cannot be "camouflaged" and passed off on us as good food, as cooked foods can be.

   (13) The uncooked diet saves time, food and labor in preparation.

   Graham and his co-workers had placed great emphasis upon the value of fruits, vegetables and whole grains in their natural, i.e., unprocessed and uncooked, state. The "raw food movement" may rightly be said to have been started by Graham. Though it never made great headway until after the discovery of the value of minerals in food and, later, the discovery of vitamins. There were three thousand "raw fooders" in Chicago alone in 1900.

   Uncooked fruits, nuts, vegetables and whole grains were not merely "protective" foods to Graham, Trall, Allcott, Densmore, Page and others; they were nutritive; indeed they represented the best and highest form of nutritive material. Dr. Trall proclaimed (1860) all fruits and vegetables to be protective, by which he did not intend to detract from their nutritive qualities. The world has been a long time discovering what Graham knew--namely, that cooking impairs or destroys the protective and nutritive values of foods.

   It is almost axiomatic that fruits, nuts and vegetables are the only foods that can be relished raw. Other foods hardly belong to man's natural diet. Buying fruits and vegetables to provide minerals and vitamins for yourself and your family and then destroying the vitamins and extracting the minerals and throwing these away in the process of preparing them fails of its purpose. Only when you eat your fruit uncooked and consume big salads of uncooked vegetables can you be sure of obtaining a sufficient supply of minerals and vitamins.

   The "orthodox" medical world became so frightened over germs a few years after Graham's death that they insisted on thoroughly cooking everything, to destroy germs; while their preoccupation with the calorie value of foods caused them to deny that fruits and vegetables have any food value. No wonder Prof. Stiles saw in the vitamin announcement, a re-statement of Graham's principles.

   The nearer their natural and unchanged state our foods are eaten the better for us. The natural "affinity" existing between the needs of our cells and the nutritional elements in natural foods supplies us with an infallible guarantee that we will get the needed salts, vitamins, and other food elements from natural foods. All true foods are more tasty "raw" than cooked. Cooked food, sans seasoning, are flat and insipid, as well as less nutritive.

   Eugene Christian says: "We have in this country hundreds of articles of food which can be most advantageously used without cooking; yet the cook intrudes his art, bakes, boils, stews, broils, and heats these things, until their original elements are wholly changed, until many of them are rendered almost totally valueless.

   "Thus robbed of their elementary and delicious flavors, the cook endeavors to make them appeal to the sense of taste by mixing, jumbling together, spicing, and using decoctions called extracts, the properties of which he knows absolutely nothing, until the original substance is so disguised that it cannot be recognized in taste, color and flavor."

   In one of his splendid Health and Diet Bulletins, Ralph E. Sunderland says: "These are true foods because their original organic nature has not been changed, by oxidation, to inorganic status. Only organic substance is food. No inorganic substance is food because it is not assimilable in the body. This is a law. Every cooking process which involves exposure of the original organic food substance to the oxygen of the air fosters oxidation. This is true whether the cooking is done at home or in some factory. There must be life in food. Life in food is expressed only by its organic nature or condition. There is no life in oxidized (inorganic) substance. Upon this foundation all scientific diet teaching must rest."


   In its original sense "raw" meant "unfinished." We speak of "raw materials" and the "finished product." It originally had no reference to cooked or uncooked foods. Custom, however, or usage makes language and since usage now sanctifies the use of the word "raw" in the sense of "uncooked" we shall accept this usage and so employ the word in this book. But let us keep ever in our minds that nature finishes or perfects her foods and they require no fixing to complete them.

   "Foods that have been ripened and brought to a state of maturity by nature cannot consistently be called 'raw'," says Eugene Christian. "Think of applying this ugly word to a luscious bunch of purple grapes swinging to and fro in bowers of green. Or to a hickory nut that has ripened in the top of a mountain tree, whose life-giving properties have been filtered through a hundred feet of clean, white wood. Or to a delicious apple, or peach, reddened, ripened and finished--nursed in the lap of nature, rocked in her ethereal cradle, and kissed from the odorous blossoms of infancy on to maturity by the soft beams of the life-giving sun, ready for use; they are perfect, they are not raw, they are done; and when they are cooked they are undone. They are as far removed from their finished condition as if they were green or but half grown."


   Cooking is claimed to be a predigesting process; it renders foods more digestible and thus saves the energies of the body. We are advised to avail ourselves of the advantages of this "pre-digesting" process. Invalids are especially admonished to eat well-cooked, toasted, dextrinized, etc., foods.

   It has been previously shown that cooking does not pre-digest our foods. With rare exceptions, such as that of egg white, foods are rendered less digestible by cooking and all of them are rendered less nutritious.

   But if this claim were true, there still seems to be no reason why we should cook our foods. Why we should substitute the wasteful processes of cooking for the conserving processes of digestion.

   We should certainly avoid "pre-digested" foods. Our organs of digestion are made to perform the work of digestion and we should look with much suspicion upon all substitutes for these. If we do the work of the digestive organs for them, we weaken them and their functions. I do not believe that we can strengthen a weak digestion by eating so-called predigested foods, any more than we can strengthen a weak arm by refusing to use it.

   The digestive juices are the natural food solvents and instead of weakening these by resort to half-foods, so-called pre-digested foods, and by resort to drugs and various "aids to digestion," we should correct the causes of impaired digestion and feed naturally.

   If there is a need for rest of these organs and functions, give them a rest; but do not try to do their work for them. To "nourish" a sick body on "pre-digested," denatured products will not produce health and strength.


   A raw food diet saves time, labor and money. It is estimated, and the estimate is probably approximately correct, that "as compared with cooked, it only takes about half the quantity of uncooked food to sustain life." The digestibility of foods is not increased by cooking; but their food values are greatly reduced. Cooked foods do not nourish the body as well as uncooked foods. It is impossible to nourish the body on a diet consisting exclusively of thoroughly cooked foods. We subsist largely on the uncooked foods in our diet and on the uncooked or but partially cooked portions of our cooked foods. Cooking renders a large part of food valueless as food. He who lives on uncooked foods may, therefore, live cheaper at the same time he lives better.

   The Esquimaux, in his remote haunts, lives largely on a flesh diet. He eats practically the whole of the animal and eats it raw. He catches up a fish out of the water and eats it "blood-raw" with as much relish as his civilized brother eats a piece of candy. But where he attempts to live on a diet of cooked meat, his health and strength fail and he becomes diseased.

   The un-fired diet eliminates entirely the fuel bill in as far as this relates to cooking. But of greater importance than this is the saving of the time and energy of women. "When the house is provided," says Dr. Christian, "and the woman who has dreamed of a true home is settled therein, it gradually dawns upon her that instead of being a queen, she is an imprisoned vassal. She finds she must stand over a miniature furnace for an hour in the morning and breathe the poisonous odor of broiling flesh, and spend another hour among the grease and slime of pots and dishes, instead of occupying that time walking in the life-giving sunlight and drinking in nature's purifying air.

   "She soon realizes that the fires of the morning are hardly out until those of the noon are kindled and the labors from luncheon often lap into the evening, and those of evening far into the night. The throne over which she dreamed of wielding the queenly sceptre has been transformed into a fiery furnace, gilded with greasy pots and plates, blood and bones, over which she has unfurled the dish-rag, and by the common custom of her country, it waves over her helpless head as an ensign of her rank and profession, under which she is really a slave."

   She is forever washing dishes, greasy dishes, in the sink. She spends six to eight hours a day preparing meals and washing dishes. The realization of this great waste of human time and labor was forcibly brought home to me during World War I. I served for seven months in a kitchen where we fed over two hundred men three times a day. We had a mess sergeant, several cooks, a dining room orderly and several kitchen police. The work started before dawn when the other soldiers were all asleep and ended late in the evening about the time the other men were ready to retire. We spent our time spoiling good food or further spoiling foods that had already been greatly spoiled at the factory or cannery, and in washing greasy pots, pans, dishes, etc. An army of men was required to feed the army.

   Hotels, restaurants and house-wives have spent ages in competition with each other to see which could prepare the greatest variety of tempting, but foodless dishes, with which to tickle the palates, usually the perverted palates, of the eating world. I am not alone, however, when I say that experience has shown that men are usually more willing to accept a dietary reform than women. Women want to "fix" things and mix things and prepare that which appeals to the eye. For ages the kitchen has been the chief medium of expression for her and it was through the art of cooking that she expressed herself. She finds it hard to break away from her traditional channels of expression. Dietary reform is greatly handicapped by the opposition of those who would profit most by it.


   It is frequently objected that "prolonged maintenance of the body in a state of health and fitness on a diet of raw foods is possible only when the foods are judiciously chosen." The same is true, but to a greater extent, of cooked foods.

   Dr. Kellogg says: "A person who desires to live upon a raw diet, in arranging his bill of fare cannot base his selection upon the supposition that all raw foods are complete nutriments, but must possess a sufficient knowledge of the newer facts pertaining to nutrition to enable him to make such combinations of food stuffs as will constitute an aggregate complete in all the elements required for perfect nutrition and in adequate quantities."

   This fact is equally true if one is going to eat a diet of cooked foods. The cooked diet must also be made up of "such combinations of foodstuffs as will constitute an aggregate complete in all the elements required for perfect nutrition and in adequate quantities." I know of no one who claims or supposes that "all raw foods are complete nutriments." But the newer facts of nutrition prove beyond a doubt that it is much easier to be properly nourished on a raw than on a cooked diet.

   There never was a time when any portion of the human race lived almost entirely on cooked foods, nor was there ever a time, until within very recent times, when a large part of the race subsisted chiefly on cooked foods.

   Well does Adolph Just say in his Return to Nature, "If you are well and would keep well, why not listen to Nature's appeal? Think you; were there no fine men and women roaming about the earth thousands and thousands of years even before the discovery of fire, and before either the first chef or medico was evolved? Will you believe that nature, at the outset, overlooked the matter of man's health, and that he remained an outcast in the plan of things, until, by his own wit, pills, drug-lists, and patent foods had brought him his salvation? Man's food was sun-cooked in those ancient days, and the sun cooks our food at the present time. Artificial cooking is no blessing to mankind. It may be accepted as an axiom that cooking kills; and there is a vast variety of natural foods--beautiful, sweet-scented, and delicious--on which we may draw both for our sustenance and for the mere pleasure of the palate."

   An objection has been raised to the use of uncooked foods in Northern climates because the "shipped-in green-picked fruits and sprayed vegetables come devitalized during the winter season." That the people of the North do not always have access to the best of green or fresh foods in the winter months is true enough, but this is all the more reason why they should consume them in the uncooked state. Cooking these fruits and vegetables wilts and devitalizes them still more. Cooking them renders them less nourishing than they are when purchased. The less suited are these foods for nutritive purposes the greater is the need to avoid further reduction of their nutritive values. It is necessary to preserve to the utmost, all the food values they possess and not destroy them in any manner whatsoever.

   Rather than a "good five cent cigar," what this country needs is a great teacher, one who, with the eyes of a superior being, can see the roots of our troubles, the causes of men's perennial lassitude, constant seeking after stimulants, the causes of their deterioration, weakness, decrepitude, impotence and suffering; one who possesses a deep knowledge of the secrets of nature, who knows the almost magic virtues of fresh fruits, uncooked vegetables and nuts, and who can stir our people as no man ever stirred them before.

   Piles of shattered pottery, superfluous stew pans, crushed baking ovens, and the ash-heaps left from the burning of "food" factories, refineries, etc., would be found in the wake of such a saviour of our nation. Our people must be made drunk with enthusiasm and wild with eagerness for a new life based on a new and superior nutrition. The man who can stir this nation to its roots and bring it back to a pristine state of health and perfection will deserve to rank among the world's greatest men.