How has food farmed today evolved over the last few centuries? This is an important question especially in light of increasing chronic illnesses currently facing so many people in our nation. Through spontaneous mutation and laboratory genetic changes, food grown today is very different than how it was grown fifty to one hundred and more years ago.
In my own eating habits, I notice my preference to sweeter and often “softer” foods that are easier to chew and swallow. Food that is not cultivated, in other words, that is grown wild, is more fibrous and contains less readily available sugars. But the tendency is to eat what is grown for us by our local farmer. Farmers sell what people want to eat. We want to eat sweeter and softer foods, not higher fiber, less sweet food. Gradually Americans have been lured into the sweet low fiber food trap.
A New York Times article reports that corn has been bred to increase its sweetness but at the cost of lost nutrients. As an example, deep yellow corn has beta-carotene along with anthocyanin – two very important nutrients for health, not found in sweeter white corn so popular now. The article encourages us to eat blue cornmeal in our pancakes for greater nutrient density. A very good idea!
Here are a few starter food tips:
- Eat more scallions but use the green part of the plant as well as the white bulb.
- Eat arugula which is a richer salad green and close to its ancestor plant.
- Dandelion greens are definitely very good for your health.
- Bitter greens like mustard greens and Swiss chard can be added to regular salads or stir fried with mushrooms.
- Add fresh herbs to salads and soups; make vegi/herb-burgers or add herbs to smoothies for added nutrition.
- Parsley either flat leaf or curly leaf plant, along with cilantro are excellent due to rich plant nutrients like chlorophyll, minerals and iron. Use regularly.
We can no longer depend on food manufacturers, farmers or the government for best practices for our food consumption. Be your own advocate and do your own research. Know what is best for your health. Here is an excellent book as a food resource that gives you the qualities of nutrients in foods, how to select them, identifying foods that enhance health: The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods, by Michael Murray, ND. Every kitchen should have this book right along with the cookbooks we love!
As a naturopathic physician there is no doubt in my mind about the relationship between food and health. Eat more wild grown foods for excellent health. Make a promise to yourself and family to add a new wild food to your diet at least once a week. Experiment and have fun!