A raw lifestyle is oftentimes depicted to be for those living on tropical islands, breathing pristine air, and picking mangos from the trees outside their kitchen windows.  For the rest of us, however, we are very much connected and in the loop of mainstream America.  Living in an urban setting would seem as the antithesis of raw foodist’s dream, but it truly does have its perks if, of course, you recognize them.

With the amount of fresh produce that a raw lifestyle demands, it is important to know where to get your fresh fruits and vegetables from as local and organic sources as possible.  Farmers markets are ideal locations to grocery shop, because they usually feature small, local farms and organic selections at relatively cheap prices.  Find out which days certain markets are taking place and plan your grocery shopping around them.  If you can’t find a consistent or reliable farmers market in your city, don’t be alarmed. Urban areas are ideal in that you can whatever you want whenever you want—a nearby Whole Foods or some other organic or natural market is sure to sell organic fruits and vegetables from local farms. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and find out the source of your food.

If you want to support a good cause and get local, seasonal produce delivered to your door, learn more about and get involved in Community Supported Agriculture: www.localharvest.org/csa.

Getting Your Juice/Smoothie Fix
It’s hit or miss with urban areas—either they have a juice stand on every corner or they have none at all.  I experienced this while living between Boston and New York.  New York boasts hundreds of juice cafes, so it has never been a problem walking down the street and finding somewhere to quick grab a juice.  In Boston, however, there were no more than two cafes (both of which lacked choices and were of poor quality) that made fresh juices and smoothies.

Do your research first.  Check out the places your city has to offer by foot and see first-hand if they are organic, affordable, and clean.  If it’s too expensive to buy a juice or smoothie regularly, scour Amazon.com for your own juicer and blender–you can spend as low as $30 and as high as a small fortune on each depending on its quality, but it’s an investment that will pay off in the long run.

Health Food Stores
The greatest part about living in the city is access to health food stores that carry even the most obscure of supplements, raw candy, or homeopathic remedies.  If you’re looking for something, chances are someone has probably already found it, and you don’t have to wait for the mailman anymore to get your goods. Instant gratification at its finest!

The only downside to these health-oriented establishments is their prices.  To avoid overspending on groceries, keep your list simple and don’t veer off course!  Also, try not to do all of your shopping in one place.  Buy produce from the farmers market, spices, dried fruits, and nuts from an ethnic foods store, and the rest from your go-to health food store. Cutting costs is a matter of making a plan and sticking to it!

Dining out can be a breeze if you plan ahead. Try to suggest to your fellow diners a place that has raw options or a good selection of salads.  If your city has a thriving raw scene, there should be a few places that offer an exclusively raw menu.  If not, research the restaurant you plan to go ahead of time, deciding what you will order and how you could ask the chef to tweak certain dishes for your raw palette. Bring along a raw dressing in your purse or coat pocket to use in place of the restaurant’s offerings.  If you want to be less obvious, ask the waiter or waitress if they could put together a simple olive oil and lemon vinaigrette.  If the restaurant has a narrow menu and you know you won’t be able to have a substantial meal, fill up on a salad or vegetables before you go out to prevent feeling unsatisfied by the restaurant’s menu or the inclination to give in to what others are eating around you.

Being raw can be socially challenging.  It’s hard to stand your ground when friends and family disagree with what you do. Living in the city, however, makes this load a lot easier to lift, because no matter what you are not alone in pursuing the lifestyle.  Search through Meetup.com for raw food related events. Keep an eye out for discussions, tutorials, and lectures advertised at the health stores you frequent. Always keep busy with accessing the raw food scene and you’ll inevitably bump into like-minded people who are willing to explore the city with you.

Raw in the City
Being raw in the city is sustainable.  Once you ingrain a consistent schedule into your lifestyle, being raw will prove to be easier in the city than you’ve ever imagined.  With an urban backyard, you are at arms-length from a diversity of restaurants, food stores, community groups, and other events.  Keep up-to-speed with the health-world and continue to explore!

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