Here’s a photo of my veggie garden from today. I know what you’re thinking: anti-oxidants, phytonutrients, anti-cancer, fountain of youth!
Not so fast. A recent NYT essay by Jo Robinson, “Breeding the Nutrition Out of Our Food,” disabuses us of our illusions about the healthfulness of much modern produce. It is practically gospel today that if we “eat the rainbow” and load up on leafy greens in particular, we will have an edge against the four big ones: cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and dementia. But according to Robinson, “unwittingly, we have been stripping phytonutrients from our diet since we stopped foraging for wild plants some 10,000 years ago and became farmers.”
For example: “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.” [Read more…]