Which foods can be eaten raw? Just about anything that's fresh, clean and doesn't have toxins that need to be neutralized with heat. Eating things raw can save time but it also preserves nutrients that would be lost in cooking.

Most vegetables and fruits can be eaten raw, and some are better that way: tomatoes, carrots, apples, peaches. Of the grains, i have only eaten sweet corn raw; i would beware because grains tend to expand after being eaten, you know. Plus, if you can eat bread, i don't know why you'd want to eat a handful of wheat berries instead. If you do, chew thoroughly. On a related note, dried beans are not raw, they're dried. Go ahead, eat green beans raw, but veer away from dried beans unless they're properly soaked and cooked. Nuts and seeds for the most part can be eaten raw but are tastier toasted or roasted.

A raw ingredient often has an entirely different character than that same ingredient, cooked. Maybe you want to use the raw ingredient as garnish or accent in a cooked dish: some mung bean sprouts, shredded red cabbage, spinach, thinly sliced onion, carrot matchsticks or scallion can add color and texture to a cooked dish. Another common use for raw ingredients is salads, since salads are often expected to be fresher and lighter than other foods. Chopped bell peppers can lighten and brighten a grain salad. Chunks of fresh coconut and oranges can make for a good improvised breakfast salad. And then there's the ever popular green salad, for which there are hundreds of kinds of edible raw leaves (not just lettuce!), some available in stores, and some in your backyard.

I'd say that some of the most rewarding raw foods are the foraged ones - thirst quenching berries picked while hiking, a sandwich with green onions discovered growing by an old rock.

I find being a vegetarian simplifies things. I never had to worry about trichinosis, mad cow disease, or any of those other nasty diseases that meat eaters do. So maybe i'm really a vegetarian 'cause i'm lazy.

For the record, chicken can be eaten raw if it is very fresh and clean and it is eaten raw sometimes here in Japan. Japanese people also eat raw horsemeat in some places (most notably in Kyushu, especially Kumamoto Prefecture and in Yamanashi Prefecture). The raw horsemeat is called basashi or bazashi and dipped in soy sauce, sometimes with ginger and onions added.

And, for the record, basashi is delicious.

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