Accepted Paper:

Raw food as medicine: a sociological perspective  

Author:

Solenn Thircuir (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales)

Paper short abstract:

Raw foodism is an ideological movement which has had a very recent surge in popularity. This diet promotes the consumption of unprocessed and uncooked food as more adapted to the human body. Can we describe the development of this diet in the light of Lévi-Strauss culinary triangle?

Paper long abstract:

During the 20th Century, the doctor Ann Wigmore, an actor of the phenomenon of the medicalization of nutrition, suggested raw foodism as a diet supposed to overcome breast cancer and further to bring an optimal health.

Hundred thousand of people have been seduced by this lifestyle in France in the last few years. While in the United States the movement has been institutionalized.

What diet is supported by Ann Wigmore's followers? How do they legitimate their eating habits?

Diet and health views differ widely around the world and are not determined alone by food availability, health care, technology and science. Cultural and philosophical views of nature and the human body are also important. The Raw Food movement challenges the history of cuisine head-on by tackling a sensitive subject, and by radicalizing Hippocratic and hygienist precepts. The diet is mostly based on raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. It claims to have a legitimate and standard expertise of nutrition and health, as well as having credibility in relation to the scientific order.

What does its popularity mean in our technological society?

In the culinary triangle of Lévi-Strauss, raw refers to nature but is not given negative connotation: raw food is seen as purity and has not been interfered by any cultural transformation. In that perspective, the original purity has to be found through the purification of the body, the rejection of cooked food that has built a denatured and artificial body.

Panel P103
From nature to culture? Lévi-Strauss' legacy and the study of contemporary foodways