Have you ever gone out to eat with friends and found that there were zero raw choices on the menu? Or maybe the only raw option at every restaurant you went to was “Tossed Salad”–a wimpy little iceberg lettuce salad with a couple of slices of tomato and a few chunks of cucumber. Or you stopped at the closest salad bar and nearly all of the choices were cooked? You only had one kind of lettuce to choose from, surrounded by bowls of bacon bits, cooked ham cubes, hard-boiled eggs, and even fried Chinese noodles. Not to mention that none of the fresh or cooked options were organic, so you were sucking down unknown levels of carcinogenic, DNA-modifying pesticides, herbicides, colorings, flavorings, GMOs, and heaven knows what else. Wouldn’t it be nice to go out to eat and have the opportunity of choosing the kinds of raw food options you actually want?
Do yourself a favor; ask for what you want. Some restaurants can prepare things for you in the kitchen that are not on the menu. If the only salad they list is a tossed salad, but they feature a dish where the entree is served on “a bed of fresh spinach,” ask if you can have some fresh spinach in your salad. Why not? As the old wisdom goes, all they can say is “no.” If this is a restaurant or salad bar that you frequent daily or several times a week, you can sidle up to the manager and strike up a little conversation. Mention how often you stop by and explain that you’re really big on raw, organic food. Then ask if there would be any way that they could make you a fresh organic salad with your favorite ingredients in it when you come in and request it. Be sure to detail what those ingredients are. Or maybe what you really want is just a bowl of fresh, ripe fruit–no, not the usual orange and grapefruit segments but some luscious strawberries, a slice of cantaloupe, and a nice, ripe pear. Yes, it’s an unusual request, but ask for whatever it is you’re craving. Be exceedingly charming, and if you have friends that like to eat raw also, mention that you’ll bring them in sometime too. For a regular customer, some restaurants are willing to go a little farther.
Let’s say you have lunch every day at the grocery store salad bar near your work. Every day it’s the same thing–wilted, brown lettuce and dried out carrot sticks. You’re not inspired. Could you use the same charm on the grocery store manager or the person in charge of the salad bar? Sure. Start by making a little small talk; get to know the person you’re about to negotiate with. Then make an appeal that will strike home. If the manager suggests that it’s too expensive to offer organic options on the salad bar because it does not get much traffic, offer to publicize the new organic options where you work. If the salad bar attendant hints that your request will entail a lot of extra thankless effort, point out that if he or she can make this happen for you, you would be happy to write a letter of commendation to the boss on his/her behalf. Then make a point of staying in the loop with your new connection by saying hello every day when you come in and exchanging a few pleasantries. Cultivate your connection; it will brighten up the person’s day, and you will have someone to relay your wishes to when you would like to see a change.
Not good at chatting people up like this? Just drop a note in the suggestion box or write a letter to the manager instead. If your requests are met, then lavish praise followed by regular thanks is in order. If not, periodic reminders might help. Either way, you’re making a difference in the little things that make eating right easier and more fun, and you’re speaking up for others who never think to ask but just gaze wistfully at the menu or the salad bar every day, hoping for a miracle. I predict you’ll feel empowered, and you may just get what you ask for. Imagine that.