Here in the Mojave desert, temperatures can get up to 115 degrees Fahrenheit and higher in the summer. This is the especially true in the city, where concrete and asphalt traps and holds the heat.
Preparation for summer in the desert often reminds me of preparation for winter in the midwest. Instead of winterizing the house and stocking up for storms and blizzards, I start to think of how we will hunker down and weather out the summer heat.
Each spring we begin to look ahead to the hot months, and begin to plan ahead. We summer-ize our home. My husband climbs up on the roof and uncovers the evaporative cooling system, taking care of necessary repair and maintenance. We dust off the oscillating fans and begin to arrange them strategically for optimal air flow. Out come the cooler clothing that wicks moisture away from the skin. We start to use the windshield sun shade again, and cover the hot car upholstery with beach towels.
I begin to think about summer meal preparation. How can I cook for a family of four without heating up the kitchen? In the past we've used small appliances on the counter top to avoid using the oven, and we've seriously considered trying a solar cooker.
But this summer will be entirely different. We are going on an adventure in raw vegan food.
The reasons for this are many. My husband and I both want to get healthier and feel better. The combined weight of our family of four - two adults and two children - are six hundred and forty pounds - at least twenty percent too heavy. These days, being a vegan is easier than ever. My beloved husband and I have both been vegetarians in the past, and found it difficult for reasons that no are longer applicable.
My husband and I made a pact. We will prepare at least one raw vegan meal per day between now and the first day of school at the end of summer. We won't let it get stressful. There will be no pain, no cravings, no hunger or deprivation. There will be no crazy pantry purging - if it's there and it's still fresh we'll eat it, even if it isn't vegan. We'll strive to not waste any food. We won't bring any new non-vegan groceries into the house, but if a family member can't stand it anymore and must go get some non-vegan food, they can as long as they keep it out of the house. We won't bore friends and family with lectures about our new found food wisdom. We won't try to convert anyone. We won't turn down offers of hospitality, instruct any host or hostess on our dietary preferences or refuse free food samples at Costco just because it's not vegan.
What we WILL do is try new food preparation techniques, new kitchen equipment, and new recipes. We'll read new cookbooks, blogs and articles, and learn some new ideas. We'll make it fun. I will write about it. He will take pictures. And we'll do all this on a food budget of $145.00 dollars per week.
Comment from several months later: The $145.00 per week goal turned out to be impossible for us. If we are being extremely frugal, we can manage to be high raw for about $70.00 to $80.00 per person per week. It's extremely difficult to do it for less, especially in winter when fresh produce is not as readily available. Some good resources for saving money on a raw food diet are, Raw On $10 A Day (Or Less!), and "Raw Foods on a Budget" by Brandi Y Rollins.