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Raw Food Potluck Etiquette!

The raw food diet, or raw/living food lifestyle, is believed to be the fastest growing diet/lifestyle.
Here are some suggested guidelines for hosting and participating in raw vegan potlucks.


Raw Potluck Etiquette!

I have received some comments in the past about etiquette for potlucks, such as people not washing hands prior to handling food and other aspects of food preparation, etc. Here are some general guidelines for potlucks as compiled from a variety of potluck hosts, so we may honor each other while attending the potlucks.

We all may have different views of "proper" etiquette. For some, like those who do not believe in the germ theory or, at least, do not worry about possible consequences of preparing/eating/serving foods, it may be that not much time is devoted to "precautions" that others would take. I am sure there are others who, like me, will follow a higher level of cleanliness when preparing foods for others, including classes, dinners, and potlucks. To me, it is a courtesy to others so they will be comfortable in that situation and can take joy in partaking in the foods. Similarly, those witnessing practices that bother them, may be turned off by those people and may even choose not return to potlucks and other food-related events.

As one of my friends mentioned, there is also the "gross-out factor" (aka "yuck factor".) Even though I realize I may not be harmed by eating food with a "surprise", finding a hair, fingernail, or Bandaid, etc. can be gross. Simple precautions can greatly reduce such surprises.

Here are some suggestions:

Wash hands thoroughly before any food preparations and after any interruptions of preparing food, such as using the restroom or sponging up a spillage; petting the cat/dog or taking the garbage out, etc. Even with these precautions, consider using gloves. In addition to protecting the foods from germs, etc., they also protect the hands from becoming dried and chapped.

If you DO have a Bandaid on, or have a cut or rash on your hand, wear gloves. Wearing gloves is standard practice for food service. Gloves also help keep your hands from drying out from frequent washing. (Of course you still need to keep the GLOVES clean, as they still contact the food.) One general rule in food service is this: Any food being served directly to a person (without being cooked) should not be touched by bare hands.

When attending a potluck, the ideal may be for everyone to wash their hands before serving themselves, but as long as serving utensils are used, hands should not be contacting the food, so the food should remain "clean". If utensils are used, then those concerned with others having dirty hands and sharing serving utensils can always wash up after serving themselves and before eating their food. Always provide serving utensils with your food. If you are the host, please provide extra serving utensils for those who do not bring them.

Always use the serving utensils, when available. For finger foods, such as crackers, cookies, fruit, and carrot/celery sticks, etc. if no tongs are available, just touch the ones you will eat (or parts, such as when breaking a cracker.) Keep your fingers off other foods you are not taking. If you are NOT planning to eat it, please do NOT touch it! No-one should ever pick up foods with their fingers and replace them or move foods around with their fingers. Just "touch" what you take! This should be “common” sense, but apparently is not. I realize it is a temptation for the person who prepared the food to organize and move the foods around to give the presentation eye appeal. USE TONGS! You can accomplish the same goal without turning others off. People are watching and may never try your food when they see how you handle it! And they also may not come back to a potluck.

No "double dipping". Double dipping is the practice of repeatedly dipping something like celery, cracker, or carrot stick into a dip after it has been bitten off, likely sending saliva into the dip ("yuck!") The only times I double dip is when I dip the two (clean) ends of a carrot or celery stick (usually to then place on my plate for eating later.) The ideal is to use the serving spoon for the dip or paté and put some on your plate. You can then dip all you want and no one else should be concerned!

Some other potluck thoughts:

In general, each person should bring AT LEAST enough food to fill him/her up if that was the only thing they would eat. Preferably, bring enough food to fill two or more people. That way there should always be plenty for everyone. When enough people bring less than adequate amounts, some people may leave the potluck still hungry.

Similarly, take only what is for you (at the event). Do not take food out (for you or others) unless you are not eating while at the event or there are leftovers that the host has offered you. If you have brought food prepared by others, who could not make it to the event, in addition to the food you prepared, certainly they are entitled to some food in return, but let those who are attending the potluck to go through the food line first. They have taken the time and effort to make it to the event, so they deserve that much. Similarly, if we arrive late to an event, lets not go to the front of the food line when it's time to eat. Others have been waiting patiently.

Make sure others are able to sample all the dishes. Especially when there is not much of one item, please take only your portion. If there are 24 cookies, 24 people, and you take 2 or more, then someone is not getting one. Start with a small amount. You can always go back through the line after everyone else, to check for seconds.

Please bring only raw, organic, vegan (plant-based) foods.

Label all the ingredients of your dish. Also label whether organic or not. If you are not sure if specific ingredients are raw, please ask someone before including it.

Honor the wishes of the hosts, both from their posting of the event and at the event itself.

Potluck hosts open up their home for potlucks, but not necessarily for food preparation. Please have your food prepared prior to arriving at the potluck. If special circumstances require you do some food prep after arriving at the potluck, please contact the host to see if you can use their kitchen/knives, etc.

Bring your own dishes, serving utensils, and eating utensils, unless otherwise noted.

Please clean up after yourself. The hosts have generously offered their space for potlucks, but they shouldn’t have to spend hours cleaning up after others. Let’s show our gratitude and make their lives easier: let’s clean up after ourselves!

Many raw foodists love durian! Many do not! Some homes are durian-free. Please contact hosts before bringing durian.

For people who choose to not eat specific ingredients, such as salt or vinegar, etc. consider leaving them out of your recipe and keep them "on the side" for those who want it. Add to your ingredient list "Optional: Salt" etc.

Please try to keep your potluck foods as fresh as possible, which means keeping prepared dishes refrigerated, when necessary. When traveling a longer distance or when you will be doing errands, etc. for several hours before an event, consider using a cooler.

Some homes are "shoe-free". If you are not sure if you should keep your shoes on or take them off, just ask.

Please honor your host(s). They have opened up their homes to us. If you are not sure of "proper" etiquette at a specific event, talk to the host.

Consider car-pooling to the event to reduce gas consumption and pollution. Feel free to post to this list if you are looking to get or offer a ride. Also consider riding a bike or using mass transit.

To honor first-timers, consider offering them to be the first through the food line!


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