Roger and I recommend that everyone shoot in Camera RAW mode all the time. It just gives you so much more flexibility in post processing. One of the few drawbacks I’ve heard is that when you download them into your computer, they don’t seem as vibrant as they appeared on the LCD on the camera. Actually that is true. In order to display the image on the screen, each camera has to process it first. Your camera allows you to set your own preferences, usually in one of the set up menus. When you export the pictures to your post processing software it sends the data exactly as you took it. Lightroom gives you complete control over processing all the images, but the data is reset to a neutral starting point which probably will not look like the image you thought you captured. Beginning in LR 2.5, Camera Calibration was a new feature in the Develop module. LR3 is even more sophisticated and is now the first thing I adjust before I start making other global corrections. The panel is located near the bottom of the right hand screens. I wish it was up at the top. The system is very smart, and when you download photos, it knows what kind of camera you are using and loads the profiles for that specific camera. It will naturally default to Adobe Standard, which is usually a pretty good starting point. Here is an example taken in the seafood market. In my own eye, the claws were much more vibrant, so I applied the Camera Vivid mode, and the colors just pop. Here is a side by side which makes it a bit easier to see.
When you are shooting people, you can select Camera Portrait. It helps make the skin tones much more neutral, i.e. a little less ruddy. When you have shot an entire batch you can make this part of your importing preset. I prefer to just apply it and then synchronize the images, as I tend to shoot a wide variety of subjects.
If you shoot a lot of landscapes, that mode really enhances the greens and adds additional contrast. As with everything else in LR, you can go in and make as many changes as you feel like, either globally or with the adjustment brushes for localized effects.
The edits for every photo have to start somewhere—the Lightroom Camera Calibration panel just helps make it easier to begin.