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Raw Faith

Lynda Carter brings the raw foods movement and message to Richmond.

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Standing there in the anteroom of the Nubian Village Day Care center, just off Brook Road, with a pile of bright yellowish powder in my palm that I knew was simply not cheese — well, I had some questions. “It’s ground pumpkin seed,” she told me. “Try it.” Eyes at the ceiling, I took the pile up to my mouth and vacuumed it up. Shockingly, the stuff was pretty good. Carter smiled. “Not bad, eh?”

Carter, who is 53, is a character, perhaps the best spokeswoman the raw-foods community could hope to have. She’s both knowledgeable — a correspondence degree from the American Association of Nutritional Consultants adds legitimacy to her nutritional insight — and hilarious. She bear hugs folks upon first meeting and stuffs sun-dried tomatoes into my jacket pockets to drive her point home.

The point, from a raw foodist’s perspective, is that eating foods cooked at more than 110 degrees simply does nothing for the human body. “It kills the enzymes,” Carter says. “Everyone needs enzymes to replenish their cells. People are resistant sometimes to change. But if they just taste the food. …”

Carter may have a very personable way about her, but she prefers to let her recipes and the results of her new diet do the talking. She became interested in raw foods after 20 years as a schoolteacher and claims it has fully cured her of many ailments, including diabetes, glaucoma and arthritis. “See this hand?” she says, pushing her left outward. “I had to sleep with a glove made out of magnets. I had one for sleeping, one for driving. Since I started this, it’s all healed.”

A simple cruise around the Web and you’ll find many such accounts of the miraculous healing power of raw foods, including those of the Boutenkos, a well-known Russian family now based in Oregon, which Carter herself was hosting at tonight’s event. The Boutenkos travel the country praising the raw foods diet, which cured them of heart disease, hyperthyroid and asthma, all of which led to their dumping their health insurance.

Carter isn’t suggesting you call your agent just yet, but she stands by her own physique as a testament to the benefits of her new lifestyle. “Check this out,” she says, slapping at the skin around her throat. “I weighed over 300 pounds. I was eating everything,” she says. “I’ve lost 110. Of course, I’ve got a little more to go.”

In her short career as a raw foodist, Carter, who is based in Petersburg, has already written a book of recipes and testimonials — she calls it “Raw Faith” — and is looking for a publisher. She hosted a raw foods vacation in Costa Rica Nov. 3-9 and has plans for additional seminars and speeches. She also hopes to expand her line of home-cooked foods. Which is where the pumpkin-seed cheese comes in.

Standing at her display table, I couldn’t help but notice a set of Baggies, each containing a small round disk that had the look and consistency of a Fig Newton that had been robbed of its housecoat. “Have a gingerbread cookie,” she said, stuffing one in my direction. “I love this diet. I love it so much I’m eating it like crazy.”

Eating like crazy and still shedding the pounds? Well, if eating raw foods is really the miracle cure, lifesaver and weight-loss dream Carter says it is, we’ll all be pigging out on pumpkin-seed cheese before long. S

Carter’s next class takes place Nov. 15 in Petersburg. It has a Thanksgiving theme and for $70 includes meals, demonstrations and a book of recipes. For details go to her Web site: aliveandraw.com

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