As a health and human kinetics major, I found that I could relate to this book more than any other books this semester. Our nutrition has a big influence on our body. I was surprised to learn that by making out fruits and vegetables more palatable, that we are decreasing their nutritional value. The plants that man has bred has lower levels of vitamins, minerals, and other fatty acids that are beneficial to the human body.
Another point in the book I found interesting was when they talked about how humans have gone from hunter-gatherers to farmers. Humans use to only get food by hunting animals or collecting fruits and vegetables that just so happened to be ripened at that time. Now we farm our food, even the animals, by mass amounts. I liked the book’s term of “food maker”. We are the only species that has walked away from our natural diet. In my opinion, this is one of America’s biggest issues in health today. We eat so many artificial and pasteurized food, that people rarely get any solid nutrition from whole foods. This is one of the many issues that has help make obesity a disease in the Untied States.
Jo Robinson’s Eating on the Wild Side
How we have typically but not always bred nutrition out of our foods
Relationship of humans to their food: important part of the “natural” world and environment
Humans change the natural world – including plants and animals – to suit their needs
Important to understand how the natural world (plants and animals) also shapes cultural differences
The problem of human history and change and the fact that our food preferences have not changed: Far human past: we needed many calories to survive; much more physical activity, intermittent food shortages, lack of dwellings to protect us from the environment, etc. Now: we no longer need those calories, but have shaped our food supply system to deliver them in huge amounts.
What does it say about the human relationship to nature when so much human effort has been put into fruits and vegetables that look and taste good (rather than being nutritious)?
- Can the same be said for animals?
Can the same be said for other aspects of our environment? Is it about aesthetics?
- Wikipedia: Aesthetics
- Aesthetics as visual (eg., art) and auditory (eg., music) but also other senses? Taste? Smell? Touch?
- Mădălina Diaconu: “Reflections on an Aesthetics of Touch, Smell and Taste”
- Question: have humans shaped and effected the environment driven by aesthetic principles, rather than, say, ecological principles? When does this analogy not hold up in our relationship to the environment?
More broadly, domestication of plants and animals is a clear example of how humans create nature (or modify it in significant ways to meet our needs). Can we understand domestication in a broader sense, that even “wild” nature is domesticated in many ways: is this our “domesticated” nature?:
Is the loss of “vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, and healthful fats” in food, as we have domesticated plants, similar to the loss of diversity, ecological health, and environmental quality in nature in general?
Robinson also focuses on how we can make better choices among the options we have: the human modification of plants (fruits, vegetables) has resulted in some that are better (nutrition-wise) than others.
- example) Robinson: “Berries have 4 times more antioxidant activity than the majority of other fruits, 10 times more than most vegetables, and 40 times more than some cereals.” (source)
- example) Robinson: “Some wild tomatoes, for example, have 30 times more of a heart-protective compound called lycopene than our supermarket tomatoes. The wild dandelions in our lawns have eight times more antioxidants than spinach, which we regard as a superfood. Unwittingly, we have bred a wealth of nutrients out of the human diet. We didn’t start 50 or 100 years ago, as many people assume, but 10,000 years ago when we first became farmers.” (source)
- example) Variations in the same food: Fresh vs canned berries (fewer antioxidants in latter)
A Few Take-Aways:
- Benefits of buying local and growing your own
- Organic foods (certified) don’t necessarily have more nutrients
- Cooking vs raw: Countering the raw-foods enthusiasts, cooked foods can be better
- The minimum you can do: Robinson “I believe that people should eat more berries—a half a cup a day is a reasonable goal—more leafy greens and reds [beet greens, red kale, red cabbage, red lettuces, and radicchio, particularly radicchio di Treviso], and eat the skins of fruits and vegetables, provided they’re organic.” (source)
How easy is this to do as a student living on campus at OWU? Living off campus?
Do you think you could incorporate any of the ideas from Robinson in your life?
Robinson: Also research on animal products: EatWild.com
Food does not need to come from just one area such as organic farmers markets. The author claims that is it okay to get certain foods from general supermarkets and in fact she supports them. I found it interesting how the food we eat today is not what people ate hundreds of years ago. The evolution of food is amazing, and Robinson knowledgeably shows how much fruits and vegetables have changed over time.
Her book covers most of the common fruits and vegetables, discussing the plant’s history, nutritional profile, preparation tips (believe it or not, you can get more antioxidants out of blueberries if you cook them), and a list of the best varieties to look for in the grocery store, farmer’s market, or seed catalog. Robinson also argues that our prehistoric ancestors picked and gathered wild plants that were in many ways far more healthful than the stuff we buy today at farmers’ markets. But this change has been thousands of years in the making — ever since humans first took up farming and agriculture, then decided to “cultivate the wild plants that were the most pleasurable to eat,” she writes. More pleasurable generally meant less bitter and higher in sugar, starch or oil. Then, over the centuries and centuries, those choices in human agriculture led to a dramatic loss in the nutrient value of the plants we eat today.
“Compared to spinach, which we consider a superfood, [a dandelion] has twice as much calcium, and three times as much vitamin A, five times more vitamins K and E, and eight times more antioxidants.”
This, I found very interesting because for my whole like my mother has made me pullout all of the dandelions out of the soil because they were a weed. But, after reading this book I now know how valuable this plant could be if I have to survive in the wild. So here is a recipe to make dandelion tea at home.
Drawing on hundreds of scientific studies, she uses her book to layout which commonly available foods offer the best nutritional value per bite. She also includes many helpful tips and recipes for the reader to put to use.
The book is divided into two sections. Part one: vegetables and part two: fruits. Here are some tips from the book:
- When choosing salad greens select red, red-brown, purple or dark green loose-leaf varieties. And forget about iceberg lettuce, which has almost no nutritional value at all. Also tearing Romaine and Iceberg lettuce the day before you eat it quadruples its antioxidant level.
- Strongly flavored onions contain many more photo-nutrients than big sweet onions. The more pungent the better for you.
- The healing properties of garlic can be maximized by slicing, chopping, mashing, or pressing it and then letting it rest for a full 10 minutes before cooking.
- Green onions are among the most nutritious of the allium family (garlic, onions, shallots, scallions, chives and leeks). Make sure to use as much of the green part as you can, that’s where most of the nutrition resides.
- Modern hybrid sweet corn is tasty, but offers fewer nutrients than older strains of corn.
- Small, colorful fingerling potatoes contain more antioxidants than russets, red or white potatoes. Buy organic and eat the skins.
- Sweet potatoes are better for you than ordinary potatoes.
- Processed tomato products can be more flavorful and nutritious than so called “fresh” supermarket tomatoes. (This is one of the only times a processed food may be better than fresh).
- Conventionally grown apples have more pesticide residues than any other crop. Buy organic and eat the skins
- The skins of most fruits contain much of the nutritious phytonutrients, so again, buy organic and eat the skins
Many other fruits and vegetables are discussed at length in the book. Each chapter ends with a summary of “Points to Remember” which makes the book a handy reference tool.
This is another article that highlights new maps that show how rapidly and in what fashion, climates have changed. Thought this map was very interesting to look at in terms of color and I was interested to see what this article was about because of it. The article also discusses a new method of studying maps and how the changes in climate have an effect on biodiversity.
This is an article discusses the topic that fish living near the equator will not be able to survive in the rapid changing climate. The Chromis Fish in the Indo-Pacific are highlighted in the article. They are important food resources to larger coral fish and without them, other fish won’t survive.
Our world’s fisheries are currently in a state of crisis and have been for a long time now. Years of constant pollution, overfishing, and habitat destruction has taken away the activeness and productivity of the ecosystem. If we do not take immediate action, the ecosystem will start to deteriorate even more than it already has been, causing the jobs, sustenance, and recreational activities that these systems provide. Some of the fish that are being effected are cod, tuna, and snapper.