How We Eradicated Nutrition From Food

TeosinteJo Robinson, author of Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health, reveals how humans have purposefully bred out the best parts of many staples of our diet. Corn of course is the prime example, but how many of you knew it all started when George Washington’s troops were wiping out the Iroquois Indians? From the New York Times:

We like the idea that food can be the answer to our ills, that if we eat nutritious foods we won’t need medicine or supplements. We have valued this notion for a long, long time. The Greek physician Hippocrates proclaimed nearly 2,500 years ago: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Today, medical experts concur. If we heap our plates with fresh fruits and vegetables, they tell us, we will come closer to optimum health.

This health directive needs to be revised. If we want to get maximum health benefits from fruits and vegetables, we must choose the right varieties. Studies published within the past 15 years show that much of our produce is relatively low in phytonutrients, which are the compounds with the potential to reduce the risk of four of our modern scourges: cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and dementia. The loss of these beneficial nutrients did not begin 50 or 100 years ago, as many assume. Unwittingly, we have been stripping phytonutrients from our diet since we stopped foraging for wild plants some 10,000 years ago and became farmers.

These insights have been made possible by new technology that has allowed researchers to compare the phytonutrient content of wild plants with the produce in our supermarkets. The results are startling.

Wild dandelions, once a springtime treat for Native Americans, have seven times more phytonutrients than spinach, which we consider a “superfood.” A purple potato native to Peru has 28 times more cancer-fighting anthocyanins than common russet potatoes. One species of apple has a staggering 100 times more phytonutrients than the Golden Delicious displayed in our supermarkets.

Were the people who foraged for these wild foods healthier than we are today? They did not live nearly as long as we do, but growing evidence suggests that they were much less likely to die from degenerative diseases, even the minority who lived 70 years and more. The primary cause of death for most adults, according to anthropologists, was injury and infections.

Each fruit and vegetable in our stores has a unique history of nutrient loss, I’ve discovered, but there are two common themes…

[continues in the New York Times]


Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

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2 Comments on "How We Eradicated Nutrition From Food"

  1. Ted Heistman | May 26, 2013 at 1:19 pm |

    very true…never felt healthier than when i ate weed salads last summer

  2. BuzzCoastin | May 26, 2013 at 8:08 pm |

    >our produce is relatively low in phytonutrients
    modern industrial petrochemical based farming
    has already killed the nutrition exchange cycle between soil life & plants
    we eat far less minerals than before Industrial Farming 13.0
    it looks like food, but it’s fake chemy filled shit

    most of this info is contained in 65 year old published literature
    hint: this isn’t even new news
    and if you are just now getting it
    it shows how info is controlled and manipulated for BIG AG Corp benefit

    BUTT hearz the payoff:
    if your not growing some of your own food
    don’t bother commenting
    you already have

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