When you hear packaged, you think processed for good reason: Ingredients in many packaged foods are picked (if they were fresh to begin with) dehydrated, cooked, processed in a machine, packed, shipped, and refrigerated or frozen ... far from raw. But a new wave of packaged products is redefining the term by eliminating multiple processing steps and bringing you closer-to-fresh ingredients. Yes, raw packaged foods do exist! Delicious Living interviewed raw foods expert Laura Fox to freshen up on the trend.
Why buy raw packaged foods?
When food is heavily processed, the enzyme and vitality count decreases. You add 'duration over time' to that and the count will continue to decrease.
Packaged raw foods on the shelves help us transition ourselves to a higher order of plant-based nutrition even while we are still in the habit of eating the more processed, tasty, 'gourmet' type foods that we buy in packages at our stores or prepare ourselves. These awesome packaged raw foods are available for all on the shelves of our supermarkets, and the companies involved for the most part are doing everything they can to move to more sustainable packaging.
How do packaged raw foods compare to other packaged foods (nutritionally)?
The manner in which raw foods are processed is way less harmful to the food's enzymes, vitamins and minerals than conventional heat processing.
The packaged raw foods are still nutritionally alive with vitamins and minerals that are greatly bio-available. The body can utilize the less tampered with nutrients to heal itself up and give itself the energy it is craving. Packaged raw foods are a great way to shift your diet and to keep your diet healthier.
What are some of the top trends in packaged raw foods?
A very cool trend I see right now is the continual movement toward eco-friendly packaging. The variety of flavors, textures, and price ranges for these packaged raw foods also continues to evolve and expand.
Another very powerful and important trend is the trend toward transparency. It has come to the community's attention that some things which have been labeled 'raw' have not been 'truly raw,' such as cacao powder and butter, cashews, and agave. Through a lot of behind the scenes effort, much of this is getting sorted out. We simply need to define as a community what raw on a label means, and invite companies to stick with these community-sanctioned standards.
Most of the raw restaurants are veering away from agave and going to raw honey and/or coconut syrup. There are cooked coconut syrups from a number of companies, as well as one truly raw coconut syrup.
What are some rising stars/surprising picks that you’re coming across?
Ben Ripple of Big Tree Farms in Bali is the first person to make a machine that actually makes a truly 'raw' cacao powder and butter. Kelly Johnson of Sedona Chocolate Superfoods also has a raw cacao powder and butter now, made with Ecuadoran chocolate. My all-time favorite cracker line is still Lydia's Organics. Her crackers are always so crisp and delightfully delicious and I love Luna Nori.
Kale Chips seem to be a big hit this year as well. My favorite brand is Blessings Alive & Radiant Foods. They taste amazing and they have a great crunch.
Jen Warr from the Chocolatree in Sedona has amazing goodies now available in Sedona stores, and available online. Also Janabai Amsden-Owens of Euphoria Loves Rawvolution Cafe in Santa Monica has a gorgeous new delectable packaged line available in some Whole Foods and at her restaurant.
I encourage people to ask their local health food stores to carry their favorite raw products. This is how we get the word out. Once the products are in the stores in your community, please spread the word to the local raw foodies!