Just finishing Jo Robinson’s book: Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimal Health. It explains how we’ve hybridized healthy plant chemicals out of our produce. The result of (popular punching bag) modern industrial farming? Not quite, Robinson says. Nutritional quality declined about 10,000 years ago when farming first began.
Our taste buds love sweet; so, the first farmers “selected out” the more bitter, sour or astringent crop varieties. Oops, those tastes often indicate helpful plant chemicals.
Her book is organized into a user friendly format and includes helpful nuggets one can use while selecting fruits and vegetables. A few recipes are sprinkled in.
Robinson points out well known facts; we eat potatoes more than any other vegetables and sadly they’re often in the form of fries and chips. Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, kale and their relatives) rarely make it to our table.
Color is one clue to a healthy food and blue/purple rules. Most of us realize the deeper the green color green of our lettuce the more nutrients it contains. Hence, the nutritional shunning of iceberg!
Robinson explains wild carrots were originally purple in color which, if you can find them today, contain more than 8 times as many phytonutrients (plant chemicals we believe to be healthy) than the orange carrot. So, color is a clue, up to a point – onions, garlic, shallots and leeks come to mind – pale but mighty.
We probably also know that produce does not hold well and the sooner we eat it from the time it’s harvested, the more nutrients it contains.
This is great information to a point. If you can’t find THE PERFECT variety of apple containing the most phytochemicals, should you shun apples and head to the chip aisle? Chuckle, but I think that’s what actually happens, or at least, that’s what I hear from my college students. They say they can’t afford extra healthy blueberries so they skip the always cheap bananas, the frozen berries or the canned peaches – and pick up some blueberry Kool Aid.
So, my best advice, eat produce that’s available and affordable to be well,
PS Robinson’s book is well referenced, in case you want to read some original research. She also offers a downloadable shopping guide: http://www.eatwild.com/PDF%20files/EatingonWildside_ShopList.pdf
PPS Will include some specific Robinson recommendations in further posts.