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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

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