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on November 5, 2011
Right now I consider this the very most valuable raw food book I've ever read. When I first read this book I thought, "This author is an idiot! Doesn't he know that nature created raw food and all raw food is good! Cooked food is poison...." I am six months into the raw food lifestyle, and in the beginning I hit it with religious enthusiasm, and religious ignorance (unknowing to me). This book opened me up to the idea that I need to be a little more practical in my approach to raw foods. According to the author, the ideal raw food diet is high in fruit sugar and greens, and low in fat (even raw fat). Yes, I am now a believer in this system. Based on the author's recommended style of eating I have been able to start running again because I have enough calories now. I am getting stronger and I have more energy because I have enough calories from the right source - fruit sugar (not raw fat). I needed this book to show me the light. I want to be stronger and have energy. Before reading this book I was not getting enough calories in my diet, and I was eating too much raw fat. I didn't have energy, and I stopped working out. Also, I lost 35 pounds (which was welcomed, but I didn't like not having energy). So, I'm ready to get my energy back. I do eat some vegan cooked foods at dinner as described in the book. It's about getting enough calories for me now.

Please let me quickly mention that I hated this book in the beginning. First, you get to read about the author's life. I didn't like that at first (I love it now). Then, finally towards the second half of the book you get some real meaty information (hahahah - meaty). I am a black-and-white thinker, and I disagreed with the author's conclusions in the second half of the book. To me, life is either all good or all bad, and this was my mistake. I had approached the raw food diet like a religion where my dogma kept me closed-off to new ideas. Basically, it made me ignorant. I put the book down for a few days because I didn't agree with anything the author wrote - I even wanted a refund. Then, I realized that this guy has been living a raw food lifestyle for 20 years. I have only been doing it for 6 months. And, he has a very practical outlook with balance and reason. My outlook was pure black-and-white dogma. I now have energy, and I have been running strong for the first time in four months.


P.S. I just read my own review and I see in the opening sentence that I said this is "the very most valuable raw food book I've ever read." Hahah! that's what I mean about black-and-white. I do that.
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on June 29, 2011
I've been on a mostly raw-food diet for going on 15 years now, and I didn't think there was much I didn't know about it. But there were some surprises in Fred Patenaude's latest book, "Raw Food Controversies."

Most raw-food books on the market today, even the newest ones, insist on treading old ground and cite why raw food should form the backbone of human diets and that you don't have to sacrifice flavor for maxinmum nutrition. But Fred, in telling his story of how he managed to become sick even on what was supposed to be the world's optimal diet, has some important lessons for all of us who think it doesn't matter what you put into your mouth just as long as it's raw.

Fred's story contains much new information that's worth tuning into on that topic and also the subject of dental health.

Whether you agree or not with his conclusions, it's crucial for the raw food community to start honing in on more sophisticated information than merely "cooked food is death." Because there are so many controversies out there, such as if 100% or 90% or 75% raw is optimal, how good dental health may be achieved and why raw foodists don't achieve the longest life spans, the raw food community needs to begin raising these issues seriously. There's a dire need for more useful information about this diet. Fred has begun to address some of them in earnest.
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on February 5, 2011
People are interesting. Memoirs about people are interesting. But to be able to read a personal story on a topic I have such a great interest in was a true pleasure!

Frederic Patenaude is one of the premiere health authors in the raw food world. His experience, clear communication and pleasant writing style make this book a MUST-READ for anyone ever involved in the raw/vegan lifestyle.

When I began my raw food journey, everything seemed so simple. Just eat raw! More nutrients! Enzymes! Superfoods! 100%, and it'll all be great, right?

Not so fast, young Jedi. The raw food diet is a powerful tool, but with great power comes great responsibility. If done improperly, health decline ensues. If done right, however, it can be a great addition to your lifestyle design.

Raw Food Controversies offers helpful information woven into a page-turning read that many foodies can relate to. It gives insight into the dynamic world of diet -- the good, the bad, the ugly, and how to navigate the seas towards better health.

Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this book. Frederic's other titles, including the well-known Raw Secrets, and Raw Vegan Coach, are also excellent information tools to help you succeed.

Brian Greco
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on October 9, 2012
First off, I am not a friend of the author's, and I rarely am moved to review books. I have to say this because what you are about to read may lead you to believe that only a friend of the author would say such glowing things about the book.
This book is, in a word, sobering and terribly important. I have been an ovo-lacto-vegetarian for 27 years, and a full-fledged vegan, along with my wife and two children, for the past year after having read the equally sobering book "The China Study" by T. Colin Campbell. The vegan diet thing has been going really well, we in my household are all healthy, I have maintained my bodyweight (which is desirable, as I was not overweight to start with), and my children are growing, gaining weight, and doing quite well in school. All is well. But it was just recently that I encountered a couple of people locally who claim to be 100% raw vegan and tell me how much more energy they have. Who wouldn't want this? I sure do. So I went to a raw vegan cooking class (can you tell I live in California? ha ha) and learned how to make a few really terrific dishes, and the chef teaching the class also extolled the virtues of raw veganism. So I was intrigued. However, I could just never figure out exactly what it is I was supposed to eat day-to-day. The food prep books I've glanced at are full of salad-y kinds of things, which is great, but was I supposed to live off of this? Well, Patenoude's book clarified everything for me. In a nutshell, folks who attempt to do this generally fall off the wagon, and how soon they do so is mostly just related to how determined they were at the get go. As John McDougall rightly points out, our bodies are adapted to using carbohydrates (mostly in the form of starch) for rice, wheat, potatoes, yams, these sorts of things. And notice: these are cooked foods. Patenoude rightly points out that no culture in history has survived as a whole in the absence of a stable starch source. The exception of course are cultures that had a stable meat source, like the Eskimos. But quick now, answer this: what historic culture has lived off of leaves and fruit? None. The relatively small number of people, largely out here in California, who have tried to do so have run into some serious problems: lack of energy, or an over-reliance on very high-fat food, which even though plant-derived, is still a questionable proposition at best. Most likely healthier than living off of McDonald's, but swapping out one extreme (the "standard American diet") for another (raw vegan) only introduces new problems, like terrible food cravings from the lack of carbohydrates and lots of cavities from excessive fruit consumption.
With a couple of good vegan cookbooks (there are many out there, like Tal's "Refresh," which is terrific, and Nava Atlas's "Vegan Soups and Hearty Stews for All Seasons," also terrific), you can enjoy meal after meal of warm food that includes some raw, and enjoy optimal health without succumbing to the numerous degenerative diseases plaguing our modern, and frankly mad, culture.
Yes, Patenoude is not a skilled writer. So what. It's the message he brings in this book that matters, and it is a VERY important one if you're pondering raw veganism. And his little cameos of some of the crazy personalities in the raw vegan movement are at times entertaining if you're open to it. Thank you, Frederic Patenoude, for a timely and honest contribution.
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on May 10, 2012
This book was really fantastic. I originally bought it because I was considering transitioning back to a raw food diet after many years. I had heard stories from friends of mine who had gone all raw and years later developed mysterious illnesses. Actually two close friends of mine had each developed very different and mysterious illnesses after going raw. Another friend had warned me about how raw foodists tend to have bad teeth and even to loose their teeth and I thought of a friend who follows an all raw diet and has a fake tooth. I also was a bit skeptical about the heavy promoting of cacoa in the raw food movement, and never quite bought into the view that it is a superfood, ad David Wolfe loves to go on and on about. So the book's topic caught my attention to say the least!

At first I thought it a strange read, because the format of the book is in large print with lots of spacing between paragraphs and the author has a very conversational and informal tone to his writing, bordering on over-sharing at times. However, I soon grew to like the personal nature of the book as I followed Patenaude on his journey through the burgeoning raw food world of early 2000. Funny enough, he started his raw food journey the same year that I tried first tried raw foods for 6 months, but had trouble feeling 'grounded' and then decided it wasn't for me (I also smoked marijuana, which explains this). So I was familiar with quite a few of the raw food 'gurus' that he mentions in his book...

He came to some pretty profound conclusions. And I highly recommend this book to anyone who is on the raw food path, especially those who are committed to eating only raw foods for the long term. As he says in the book, "it can save your life," and he will specifically tell you how. Since reading his book, I am even more drawn to the 80-10-10 style of raw foods, the David Klein approach, aka the Low Fat Vegan raw food approach. Although it is odd at first to limit fats in my diet, I am getting used to it. And in fact, I have lost a lot of unnecessary weight and feel so much better.

He has great suggestions for dental self-care, and excellent nutritional advice (which is similar to what I have discovered from my own research and college classes on nutrition). He is the voice of reason in the raw food movement, and if you don't want to get fatally sick and/or get horrible cavities, get his book.
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on July 7, 2011
Over the past number of years I have been reading all I can on the raw food diet and there has been much confusion to me as to what I need and what I'm missing. I found Raw Secrets to be very helpful to me as I read about Frederic's journey of breaking through various myths, etc.

The book helped give me confidence that I could try various ways to be raw and learn what worked for my body, rather than having to be a purist in order to make it really work. I found this very freeing.

I appreciated Frederic being open and willing to share his struggles so that I could see how to really navigate this path way.
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on November 18, 2012
One man's quest for the ideal diet, by trial and error. A readable book, well sourced. Discusses many issues I have been struggling with and puzzling over for a long time. Not the final word, but worth considering.

His starting point is Herbert M. Shelton's Natural Hygiene philosophy and diet. He faults Shelton on quantity, but usually not on quality. Where Shelton believed that disease comes from eating too much, this author suggests it can come from eating too little, from deficiencies, especially deficiencies in calories. The raw vegan diet is often a semi-starvation diet, he claims. "Vegans generally don't eat enough food to get the calories and nutrients they need." And from where are the requisite calories to come? From fruits, he advises, not from fats. He says that Shelton's diet is too high in fats, especially nuts. He presents a case against most fats, including the natural fats in avocados and nuts. But are there enough calories in fruits? One would have to eat a lot of fruit to equal the calories in nuts and avocados.

He debunks liver flushing and discusses fasting, detox, food cravings, supplements, Vitamin B12, dental issues, and many other topics crucial to raw eaters and health seekers. He concludes that the 100% raw vegan diet is an ideal that does not work in practice.

His contention that the natural sugars in fruits cause tooth decay is disturbing. Are we not a frugivorous species? Why should our natural food cause dental problems? Dr. Weston Price found North African date eaters who had beautiful teeth.

This book provides much food for thought. Its conclusions do not satisfy me, but four stars for asking the right questions.
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on June 29, 2011
This book does read more like an autobiography. However, the insider information it contains will clear up many questions you may have (as to why much of the advice given by many front runners in this lifestyle, simply doesn't work). It will also give you good reason to go cautiously as you make changes to your eating habits. Frederick has much less bias than many, as he has nothing to gain by what he encourages you to eat. He doesn't sell supplements, or "super foods" in a bottle, and I think he seeks a balanced approach to healthful living.
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on September 18, 2014
I see all the reviews are in the Kindle edition but, like most reviews here, I purchased the actual book. I've been studying raw food for a relatively short time and was lucky to read the 80/10/10 Diet by Dr. Douglas Graham first, which makes all others seem like a culmination of what he expressed in much fewer words. I also was fortunate to work personally with raw food master Dr. Aris Latham for an entire week who told me explicitly that the nuts, fats, spices, and starches are not everyday food; they are "party food" (I highly recommend checking out his youtube channel).

So as I read through books like Raw Food Controversies I feel very fortunate to have found out many of the pitfalls immediately. But book knowledge and first-hand knowledge are not the same, so I'm grateful to those who've gone before me and are willing to relate their experience.

Having said that, I find Frederic's book to be somewhat verbose and gossipy with a lot of inaccurate use of phrases and vernacular, and very poor use of punctuation. Mostly younger people prone toward peer-following would appreciate this personal journey.

While some of it is intriguing or entertaining, much of the text is diary-style meandering. When he does get to something related to his health pitfalls he often fails to apprise us of the outcome for several pages or not at all. He seems to have no shame in detailing the many times he took advantage of people and their hospitality, often making points to critique or discredit them. He makes the claim that he coined the term "raw vegan", causing me to wonder who coined the term "cold weather." He asks how pure the term "vegetarian" should be viewed, citing that someone who eats animal flesh every once in a while should still qualify. I disagree.

Ultimately, Frederic continues to toe the line of experimentation instead of dedicating himself to his craft but continues to write as an authority for fun and profit.
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on April 13, 2012
I have been eating raw food since 2000. Like Frederic I have had many ups & downs with the diet. It was so refreshing to hear a honest voice from the raw food "community" just lay it all out for consumption .I like how he came to his his final way of eating. Trial & error. More importantly he does not promote himself to be some perfect being with all the answers. It was refreshing & nice to know someone out there who has had ups & downs with the diet. This is not a anti-raw book. By the end of the book you will still want to eat raw but YOUR way!!!
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