Eating On the Wild Side-Making the most nutritious choices in the grocery store, farmers' market and planting your garden

Apples and bananas are junk food. Jo Robinson, of Vashon Island give us yet one more thing to consider when making out food choices.  I know, we already go through so many variables-local, imported, GMO, organic, gluten free, etc. Ms Robinson brings forth the variation of phytonutrients in different varieties of produce.  Some of her finding run counter to popular paradigm-white peaches are more nutritious than yellow. Yellow peas are more nutritious that green peas. And some foods provide MORE phytonutrition when COOKED. Maybe time to reconsider that all raw food diet.

Before GMO, before DDT, before chemical fertilizers, and even before hybridization we were loosing nutrient density of foods by choosing for the bigger and the sweetest. So the modern apple and modern banana are junk food compared to their wild ancestral counterparts.

Ok so a little from the book-but first a few things about apples. The apples you find at the market of a certain variety, say Red Delicious, all come from grafts of the one original Red Delicious tree. Turns out if you grow an apple tree from seed, you have no idea how the fruit will turn out. It's very rare for a new apple to be something we would consider pleasant to eat. Most turn out to be "spitters."  Not great for pie making but suitable for hard cider. So if we revisit our American folklore or history, our wholesome Johnny Appleseed was more likely bringing alcohol the frontier-well, the raw ingredients for alcohol production-at least that's how I remember it from 'Botany of Desire' by Micheal Polland.

That being said, back to the phytonutrients of apples.  Wild varieties, though small and bitter can contain 10 to 65 to 100 times more phytonutrient than organic grocery store apples. Commercial apple species have pretty close to nil in antioxidant and cancer fighting qualities 5 raisin size Nepalese apples equal the phyto nutrients in one Honey Crisp.  Monty's Surprise, a variety found in New Zealand, has the highest concentration of proanthocyanidins and the highest number of flavinoids than any other known species.  When tested at the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research, Monty's Surprise reduced the growth of many different kinds of cancer cells and was the best apple at destroying colon cancer cells.  So perhaps the reason we have such and increase in cancer is that we eat 'healthy foods' that are just mere nutritional shadows of the varieties of wild ancestors.

Back to the book-Eating on the WIld Side ISBN 978-0-316-22794-0 is paradign shifting.  It's science, history, cooking and storing tips in addition to all the stuff about phytonutrients.  I hope to be telling you more about other produce in the future.  The good news is since apple trees are grafted, if you have a tree established, you may be able to graft on some branches or buds of a more phytonutrient rich variety onto your tree.  As a side note, if you have a fruit tree that you don't want to take care of or know of any in your area, you can refer those trees to the Fruit Tree Steward Program. It's a group of volunteers who train to tend to fruit trees with the intention of harvesting fruit from abandoned and neglected trees to share the bounty with foodbanks, the tree owners and the stewards.