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Sun May 26, 2013, 10:50 AM

Breeding the Nutrition Out of Our Food

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"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."

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/26/opinion/sunday/breeding-the-nutrition-out-of-our-food.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

13 replies, 2193 views

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Arrow 13 replies Author Time Post
Reply Breeding the Nutrition Out of Our Food (Original post)
wtmusic May 2013 OP
snot May 2013 #1
wtmusic May 2013 #2
snot May 2013 #4
bvar22 May 2013 #6
snot May 2013 #8
wtmusic May 2013 #9
Tumbulu May 2013 #11
bvar22 May 2013 #12
Warpy May 2013 #3
snot May 2013 #5
Javaman May 2013 #13
NickB79 May 2013 #7
Tumbulu May 2013 #10

Response to wtmusic (Original post)

Sun May 26, 2013, 11:09 AM

1. Not to mention the flavor.

I haven't had a good tomato since I was a kid.

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Response to snot (Reply #1)

Sun May 26, 2013, 11:30 AM

2. Interestingly...

the article describes how nutrition has been bred out specifically because of our quest for sweeter, carbohydrate-rich foods.

Turns out some of those bitter flavors had big health benefits. Highly recommend reading the whole article - it was an eye-opener for me.

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Response to wtmusic (Reply #2)

Sun May 26, 2013, 12:33 PM

4. I did; you're right, with respect to corn.

But I believe other produce has been bred for looks and packageability rather than flavor.

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Response to snot (Reply #4)

Sun May 26, 2013, 12:54 PM

6. "produce has been bred for looks and packageability"....

....and LONG shelf life.

My Wife & I got so disgusted that we moved to The Woods and started growing our own.
We are harvesting Strawberries now,
and they are To-Die-For,
but only last a bout 24 hours after they are picked,
and bruise easily.

We either eat them on the spot,
or make preserves.
I've been eating breakfast standing up in the Strawberry Patch every morning for the last two weeks.

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Response to bvar22 (Reply #6)

Sun May 26, 2013, 10:38 PM

8. ohhhh . . . that sounds wonderful!

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Response to bvar22 (Reply #6)

Sun May 26, 2013, 11:24 PM

9. Gorgeous.

You can't buy that, anywhere.

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Response to bvar22 (Reply #6)

Mon May 27, 2013, 12:14 AM

11. How gorgeous!

are those those strawberries from Italy?

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Response to Tumbulu (Reply #11)

Mon May 27, 2013, 11:38 AM

12. We no longer know.

We started with 3 different varieties,
but after 7 years, who knows what is what anymore?
The original varieties were Sequoia (June Bearing), and Arkansas Beauties (Ever-Bearing), and another June Bearing variety that I can't remember anymore.

The Strawberries are the most High Maintenance of anything we grow here.
They require a lot of Bend Over/Sore Lower Back labor,
but are worth it.


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Response to snot (Reply #1)

Sun May 26, 2013, 12:15 PM

3. You have to grow them, I'm afraid

Otherwise, the best tomato flavor comes from canned tomatoes that were picked ripe, not green and hard.

Ripening California cardboard tomatoes with ethylene gas changes their color but doesn't fully develop the sugars and other flavors. But you knew that.

You might try cherry tomatoes. They are often a lot better than the big ones. I've started using them for fresh tomato sauces and salsas. They're pricey so they don't get used too often.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #3)

Sun May 26, 2013, 12:34 PM

5. Agreed, yes; I only buy canned, and occasionally the cherry tomatoes.

But I'm sad for younger people who've never had the chance to taste a real, fresh tomato.

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Response to snot (Reply #1)

Tue May 28, 2013, 09:47 AM

13. I wish I could find the article...

I read this article, maybe 4 years ago, that talked about how the flavor of the average apple has declined to such a degree that compared to one 200 years ago, the ones today would be essentially flavor-less.

I can't even imagine.

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Response to wtmusic (Original post)

Sun May 26, 2013, 02:56 PM

7. I forage for wild foods when I have time

I'm lucky enough to have a 250-acre wildlife management area a few miles from my house. Other than the two monthes in fall when it's flooded with hunters, it is virtually deserted. I can find wild foods there 9 monthes of the year, from wild asparagus in early spring, to wild plums and cherries in summer, to hazelnuts in fall. It helps supplement the 1000 sq ft vegetable garden I grow in the backyard.

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Response to wtmusic (Original post)

Mon May 27, 2013, 12:13 AM

10. I breed plants

and it seems the higher the yield per acre, the less flavor the product is.

For instance I grow an heirloom wheat that produces about 1/10 the yield of modern wheats. It has a spectacular flavor grown on my farm (organic/biodynamic). When grown using normal organic methods (added composts and organic nitrogen sources), the yield goes up to about 1/4 of modern wheats, but the flavor really goes away.

Talk to wine people, they all value the grapes by how flavorful they are. The lower the yield the higher the flavor, it is pretty well known.

So, I would say that the modern mantra, that we the farmers are somehow supposed to be feeding an ever expanding human population (huh- who asked me? This is a ridiculous impossible order!) so we MUST chose the higher and higher yielding varieties or we are somehow betraying the human race, But we are in fact just producing products with less nutrients, less color, less flavor. And mining our soils at the same time. It is a cheap trick, mining the soil for high yields of flavorless, food that is lacking in both flavor and nutrition.

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