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More on ABC's Wife Swap

About 2 weeks ago we mentioned how ABC's Wife Swap was looking for raw families to be featured on their program.

A lot of readers had issues with the show's intentions and possible ramifications. Overall, the two primary concerns were:

  1. Raw food being portrayed in a satirical or detrimental manner
  2. Raw families accused of "nutritional negligence" by Social Services (see Andressohn's Case)

My personal opinion on the the matter is as follows: While Wife Swap may not be the best show in the world for raw foodist to be highlighted on, it still is an opportunity for millions to hear about the potential of the lifestyle. Especially if the family chosen is well educated, healthy and warm.

Would I want my family on the show? Yes! Unfortunately we're all little too old, but man, my family would kill. I can just imagine my mom setting the other house straight and educating them about the power of raw food. The other family's dad would have his mouth wide open as my mom would be throwing their frozen meat in the trash.

And you know yours truly, Mr. WLIR Editor, would have the visiting mom saying good-bye to her SAD diet. I'd teach her how to make a raw chocolate smoothie and have her meditating within the first 15 minutes!

At the same time I can imagine the editors cutting here and there to make us look like idiots, that's the nature of Reality TV. But, from my experience with marketing, I'm a firm believer that we live in an age where all press is good press.

As to the second aspect, the negligence issue, I do agree there is a real chance of it happening, especially to families with younger kids. However, I feel that it would be a non-issue to a family who's kids were vibrant and beautiful examples of young rawies. Kids that were educated and doing it not because their parents forced them, but rather because they loved how they felt eating raw. How great would it be to see a young son and daughter telling the visiting mom that they can't eat pizza because they don't like how they feel afterwards? Man, that would be some good TV!

Well enough from me. I wanted to make sure I gave Heather Teta, casting director from ABC, a chance to speak her mind too. Here is an email she sent me last week:

Dhru,

Thank you so much for posting my reply on your blog.  I have been in contact with Victoria Boutenko and have read her concerns about the show.  I’m aware that her e-mail has circulated throughout the raw foods community and I just wanted to take a moment to explain to you – as I explained to her – our approach to this topic.

I only found out about the legal battles involved with raw food philosophy after families started applying and telling me about them. My heart goes out to these families who are struggling to get their lives back to normal and I assure you – and anyone who has concerns – that our goal isn’t to depict the raw foods movement in a dark or demeaning light.  If I thought the raw food diet was even slightly harmful to kids I wouldn’t even pursue the topic – that’s not of any interest to us or ABC.  So please rest assured that our show isn’t out to make any non-cooked mom look like her kids are malnourished or neglected.  In fact, we have strong background checks in place that make sure families that would allow such a thing don’t make it on the show!

I know from my research that the raw foods diet has helped a lot of families live happier and healthier lifestyles.  With the unbelievable number of kids suffering from childhood obesity it’s refreshing to meet so many families who have their children on track for a healthy lifestyle at such young ages.  As to Victoria’s concerns about viewers who won’t understand the raw foods movement here’s what I can say…there are always going to be people that disagree with any philosophy we feature on the show – but there’s also a lot of people who will have their eyes opened to a new and life changing lifestyle.  Over the past 3 seasons we’ve featured a variety of families including ministers, ballroom dancers, side show performers, models, homesteaders, rockers, fitness instructors and Manhattan socialites.   Each group had their own unique outlook on life and introduced something new and interesting into the lives of another family.  But, I’m sure that along the way there were people that disagreed with each of their beliefs as well. That’s the beauty of free speech – we’re all entitled to our own opinions.   I can also tell you that our episode wouldn’t only be about eating raw – it would be about the whole family dynamic and how the family lives on a day-to-day basis.  Obviously eating raw would be a big part of the featured family’s life but we’d also focus on their parenting style, interests and hobbies outside the family, daily routine, etc.

Our program is about featuring different parenting styles and lifestyles across the country that work for the individuals involved. I feel that after this particular episode airs a lot of our viewers will be interested in learning more about the raw foods philosophy and trying it with their own kids!   We realize that not every family in the raw foods movement will be open to sharing their lives with us for 10 days and we do respect Victoria’s concerns about the program.  My request is that any family who is interested in learning more will contact me with questions and consider all of the information before making a snap judgment about the show.

Hopefully this e-mail has cleared up at least my approach to this topic.  I realize there are some opponents to the philosophy – as there are in every philosophy – but hopefully we will shed some positive light on the subject.

Best,
Heather Teta

Comments

ramonia  pettijohn

when will the raw food show be on tv? i am interested in that kind of diet.

Dhrumil

Not Sure Ramonia, I think there are still looking for people.

Agent Smith

Dhrumil,
Beware! ABC puts out a lot of these casting calls to all kinds of groups. They will promise you anything to get you on the show. They will tell you that they want to portray you in a positive light.

What they really want is to get 2 polar opposite families together for a big Jerry Springer-like feud so they can film it. The good guys and bad guys are decided before the show films. You won't know which one you are until it airs (too late). By the way, did I mention that the show is scripted and very heavily edited so that ABC can show whatever bias they please?

Before considering participation in this show, do some research. Do extensive searches on the Internet. If you can, contact other families who have participated on the show. There are a lot of people out there who have had bad experiences as a result of participation on Wife Slap..er...Swap.

I know people who participated after hearing all of RDF/ABC's lies. They were told that everyone would be portrayed in a positive way. After participating, they wished that they had never heard of the show. Believe me, there are much better ways to spread the word about your diet than to let ABC do a hatchet job on you.

Adrian

Great post! Had me laughing a few times. I'm not a "raw-etarian", but I have friends who are, and have tasted many different recipes.

I agree with Agent Smith. And I disagree that "all press is good press". Being in Wife Swap, you may get a few people to look into what a raw diet is all about, but the majority will throw health out the window - before they ever had a chance to learn. Such is the effect of biased media.

Also, many raw diet-ers are totally fanatic about it. What are the chances that ABC would pick a balanced, knowledgable, and mature family? Doubtful.

Agent Smith

Did anyone catch tonight's (Jan. 19) episode? I didn't watch, but was told that it featured a raw diet family.

Remember my warning? I was also told that RDF/ABC made the raw diet family look like total fools. I'm hoping that at least it was no one who frequents this site. If so, I tried to warn you!

I am not a raw dieter, I just go where I've seen Wife Swap trolling for new victims and try to warn them. It's the least I can do for people after what I saw RDF/ABC do to my friends on that show. No one deserves being portrayed the way they made that family look tonight or the way they tried to portray my friends!

Zoe

Yeah, any news on that?
They are still looking for a UK raw food family, they called us up again a little while ago.
Love to know if they did a hatchet job on the US raw foodies, or not?
Meanwhile, Jinjee, Storm and family of www.thegardendiet.com are creating a raw 'TV' channel. They're doing some terrific work :)

Renee

I just saw the show last night. I thought they could have done a better job of explaining what exactly eating raw means. I was wondering where to look for research/resources on raw food diets? Thanks!

Scoob

I'm not usually one to judge, but man did ABC ever portray rawies in a terrifically bad light! It was like a dream come true for ABC - perfectly appalling family from very rural Iowa that they portrayed (quite convincingly) as doomsday "self-sufficient" cult-like figures who ate raw food exclusively. No refrigeration, so sanitation, and a perfectly crazy attitude about anyone "civilized." It was a train wreck that you couldn't turn off. And as Dhru might have guessed, they were not well-educated and came off as possibly the antithesis of what raw foodies could have imagined. Worst fears realized.

amoris

Wow, as if I didn't get asked enough questions about endangering my health (by eating what God gave me)... now, after this show... It will be non-stop. My friends who thought I was a little extreme before maybe will see that raw meat is even more extreme... but I'm so dissapointed out of all the raw families out there that ABC picked one that couldn't even explain the philosophy OR the lifestyle properly. They just wanted ratings.. and now we get to deal with the aftermath =) At least the kid in the show stood up for his family and their life.. but now people are trying to get social services to that family thinking the children are being abused.... SO SAD for the parents. Regardless of their extreme life... they seemed like loving parents who only wanted the best for their kids (the whole reason they started raw food was to cure their daughters ADHD.. and GUESS what, it WORKED... but ABC failed to mention that one........

You've been warned

You are all a bunch of sick child abusers. DHS needs to take away the children from that family and from all of your equally mentally ill families.

Zoe

Can anyone put the episode on Youtube? I'd love to see it.
And if Wife Swap call us up again, rest assured, we'll tell them where to stick it!!

Zoe

Can anyone put the episode on Youtube? I'd love to see it.
And if Wife Swap call us up again, rest assured, we'll tell them where to stick it!!

Zoe

Can anyone put the episode on Youtube? I'd love to see it.
And if Wife Swap call us up again, rest assured, we'll tell them where to stick it!!

Keith

I watched "wife swap" and I thought the "raw meat" lady was crazy initially. But the more I thought about it I began to realize that its true that all animals eat their food raw. So why don't we? This morning I did an internet search on the subject and came across your site. Now I don't think I could go so far as eating raw meat but the raw recipes advocated on your site are intriguing. The family on the show raised their own poulty and beef; therefore they were assured of the quality of the meat. Even with that assurance I don't think I could take the "raw" thing that far. But, in reviewing the testimonials to the "raw" lifestyle I'm know as least curious and I don't think the people on the show were as crazy as they were portrayed.

zoe

Hi Keith,
I reckon 99% of raw foodists are vegan. Eating raw meat is very very rare in the raw community. They just picked her because it would cause the most contravesy.
I do not believe eating raw meat is healthy or good for the environment.

mark

That son of the raw family, has some very severe emotional problems. His inability to articulate his frustrations is frightening. He needs help, and it seems like the father is not that balanced either.

Echo

I just saw a re-run of the show today (though it was the first time for me). I have to admit that I thought the Raw family was a bit extreme, and that I agree, the children have some serious emotional problems...although that, I think, has more to do with the fact that they seem isolated. But, I don't know them, so I'll shut up about that.

Really, the raw meat thing, I think is bad news, but I have stomach problems, and ate strictly raw for a month. Fruit, veggies, seeds, nuts, all without abandon. It was the greatest thing that I could have done for myself. I still do it for 1-4 weeks, periodically when I feel my stomach flaring up and it works wonders.

I was also very concerned with how the "urban" mom just threw them into eating not just cooked, but fried, greasy food. If they hadn't eaten cooked food in over a year OF COURSE they were going to be sick...I don't think they would die, but maybe a chicken salad would've been a smarter way to get them to eat cooked food, though I still think they would experience at least some discomfort.

Very disturbing, and I agree, a ratings ploy.

Me2

I saw the Wife Swap episode, and I don't understand why the state shrugs this off as just an untidy family with eccentric eating habits. If a social worker entered an urban home where kids were unwashed and eating bad meat and drinking spoiled milk exclusively wouldn't it be neglect? It's one thing to advocate an organic lifestyle, another thing to deliberately let food and drink go bad. I don't understand how those kids aren't riddled with disease, tapeworm, stomach problems... Not washing your hands after using the restroom, for instance, invites all kinds of nasty diseases. Brushing your teeth with butter (isn't that what they said at one point?) is an invitation for tooth decay and gum disease. I have a hunch that the actual raw food diet doesn't mesh with the lifestyle portrayed in the show, but I don't understand why the state considers it a lifestyle choice, when the diet alone is inherently and immediately dangerous to the kids' well being. They should have had someone come in and take samples from the food and home to tell the parents what those supposedly helpful bacteria really do to the human body.

Guy

Yup, saw it too. They brushed their teeth with a mixture of clay and butter, which gave mom a beautiful smile (sarcasm). The father supposedly uses rotten butter for his toothpaste. A big fail to the dietitians and doctors who couldn't provide more than a vague reason to them for why their lifestyle was dangerous. Have those fools never heard of Pasteur? Lister? Germ Theory? There aren't just "indications" that what they are doing is unsafe; it has been proven a thousand times over! I'm assuming the raw food advocates on this blog still take steps to ensure their food is safe for consumption. It's sad that you will now be conflated with these idiots.

Amoris: "the whole reason they started raw food was to cure their daughters ADHD.. and GUESS what, it WORKED... but ABC failed to mention that one........"

Oh, give me a god-damn break! Rotten meat cures ADHD. That's a new one. Any evidence for that besides a single anecdote? If this was a black family in an inner-city ghetto, social services would have snatched those kids in five seconds and chucked their parents in jail. Stop defending those fools, lest you be grouped with them.

Anna

I saw that episode no long ago and I'm kind of sickened by them. I mean not only is their raw meat diet awful, but unsafe. And that doctor wasn't really saying much about how it's unhealthy and/OR healthy. And that raw-meat eating family is extremely one sided and poor with their arguments saying cooked food has a lot of "chemicals" Yeah then what kind of chemicals? They have not named a single chemical but only said CHEMICALS CHEMICALS CHEMICALS. If they are trying to persuade people raw meat is the way to go, I am not going to be persuaded by people saying only "cooked food has chemicals." Yeah cooked foods have chemicals.. what about raw food? They have disease.

And plus if that mother was pregnant, would a doctor recommend eating raw food? She'd put herself and her child in danger. What if her daughter grew up and was to be pregnant? Is she going to tell her to continue with raw meat? This family is ridiculous.

Also, no chemicals doesn't mean you should be dirty. There are some cleaners that do not contain harmful chemicals, so instead of being dirty get some damn water or something and clean your house! And cut your nails and brush your teeth with something more effective. This family is corrupting their kids.

If raw meat is so good, then why does the majority of the world eat cooked food? I am not convinced, and I feel it's extremely unsafe and dirty. Plus the way they prepare their food, doesn't look sanitary anyway. Just killing a chicken and cutting the meat up and eat it, how dirty.. and they do it with their bare hands too that might've touched thousands of places before without washing.

Alex

I guess I heard a rumor floating around about a lady named Lisa Toulou from Puyallup washington, the rumor was you area bitch and that you are so disconnected from your kids. I just wanted to pass this information on and thought that you should know. Sorry to break the news to you, I got this information from one of your husbands highschool buddies. I think it is not right and it is very cold. You deserve things said about in a better way. So sorry to do this to you.

Doug

My name is Doug, I worked with the FDA and the IFT in the past 7 years. I can tell you that a raw food diet has several benifits atleast a page long. Half of all raw food diests I have encountered while working with the IFT have only been about 80% raw. Meats were never included in these diets.

To see people on your site defend this family is sickening. I really wish that the other family wouldnt have aloud his kid to try the raw meat. Of all the benifits of eating a raw food diet, Eating raw meet has 10x as many negative effects. Several bacterias found in raw meat are harmful to the body and on a farm like the one in this episode, those bacterias are doubled. This family should be prosecuted by law for child abuse.

Doug

My name is Doug, I worked with the FDA and the IFT in the past 7 years. I can tell you that a raw food diet has several benifits atleast a page long. Half of all raw food diests I have encountered while working with the IFT have only been about 80% raw. Meats were never included in these diets.

To see people on your site defend this family is sickening. I really wish that the other family wouldnt have aloud his kid to try the raw meat. Of all the benifits of eating a raw food diet, Eating raw meet has 10x as many negative effects. Several bacterias found in raw meat are harmful to the body and on a farm like the one in this episode, those bacterias are doubled. This family should be prosecuted by law for child abuse.

ArielGibson

Well they don't drink water. You have to clean your body out. Plus you can look at their skin and they need to drink some water!

If my eggs are expired I dispose of them.
Too many eggs isn't good.
They do make non chemical cleaners also. I thought they were just nasty people.
That really need to brush their teeth
more better than that. You could see the
inflammation of their gums also.

ArielGibson

No soap? You have to wash! I would die without anything to be clean with.

No soap I'd left immediately. Guess they
don't bother to wipe after bathroom or anything. Why bother.
Just nasty, and that's it. No matter the diet, it's just being nasty.

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