Alum advocates for raw food movement
Published: Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, May 8, 2012 01:05
A sweet smell enveloped the room Thursday night in Willard Hall as university alumna Christa Smedile prepared one of her “green smoothies,” made with organic kale, mango, pineapple, banana and water.
Smedile spoke to a room of 18 students and community members about the benefits of the raw food movement. She says her interest in holistic health and disease prevention attracted her to the diet.
“The raw food diet really caught my attention because it was something I had never heard about before,” Smedile says. “It really made sense to me because we are eating a lot of packaged and processed foods in the standard American diet.”
Smedile graduated with a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics in 2006, after which she completed a year-long internship in dietetics and became a registered dietician. She currently works at Alere, a health enhancement company in Philadelphia, and owns a business called Living Lotus, which focuses on nutrition, exercise and stress management.
Smedile says the raw food diet is made up of 75 to 100 percent unprocessed, whole-plant based, and preferably organic, food. In order to retain its enzymes, the food cannot be cooked above 118 degrees Farenheit.
Although her diet is not completely raw, she begins each morning with a green smoothie, which includes at least one dark, leafy green vegetable like kale or spinach, and tries to eat seven to 13 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Smedile says she is 95 percent vegetarian and eats locally and organically as much as she can.
“I think it just bumps up your quality of life so much that you are really living a vital life,” she says. “There’s a difference between being healthy and vital and being without disease. Lots of people are without disease, but they’re not really living their life to the max.”
Smedile’s workshop was hosted by the Food and Garden Policy Committee, a graduate student organization started two years ago. The organization currently operates a garden behind the English Language Institute on Main Street that includes community beds where students can grow anything they want and a section where members teach students how to garden.
Junior Elizabeth Hetterly, a member of the committee, heard Smedile speak on campus last fall and attempted to follow her diet suggestions.
“I had heard about the raw food movement before, but I didn’t really know that much about it,” Hetterly says. “After hearing her [Smedile] speak at the last workshop, I tried out a couple of recipes and I tried being at least half raw but it was really challenging.”
She says if she found more recipes she liked, she would consider trying the raw food diet again. However, she still enjoys a green smoothie every morning, her favorite of which includes banana, orange, strawberry and either kale or chard. She says by replacing her daily cup of coffee with the smoothie, she has considerably increased her energy level.
“It’s definitely more long-lasting and more stable,” she says. “It’s not a sharp peak and a drop. You get energy and it’s consistent throughout the day.”
Senior Kayley Hassler, a human services major with a focus in nutritional counseling, says she was inspired by the workshop. Although she does not follow a raw food diet, she says she has prepared a lot of smoothies and juices and would consider trying it.
“You look better, you feel better, you are better,” Hassler says.