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.