Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Historically malnourished

This past week's heatwave made for some last minute impulse shopping at the local South Asian goods store:

Hmm...a sweet but puckery taste to be added when I don't want to use the oven or even the stove?

How about:
1 cup pistachios
1 cup cashews
2 cups medjool dates
tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
some splashes of this orange blossom water
Toss in processor until done
and voila!

Streamlined Sticky Date Balls!

Wow, it even matches most of the diet plans I sort of josh about: gluten free, raw, vegan, even paleo, provided you assume the cavemen managed to somehow find all these disparate ingredients in their non-cultivated lives.

But aside form being easy to make, cool and tasty (and evidently hip), they are also packed with protein, fiber, potassium, etc. Yes, they're not the lowest calorie treat around, but a few of these in a baggie make for a nice change of pace from my usual snack of an apple or pear and it's still better than running down the street for a scone or muffin.

But before I can do my little smug superior dance of food intake, I am told once again by the NY Times that I'm still sub-par. A recent article shows that we, though the centuries, have deliberately modified our food to taste better but be less nutritious.Yes corn as it originally was thousands of years ago was not the like the corn that the Pilgrims found when they arrived in the New World and then that in itself was different from the very sweet, sweet corn many of us favor today. 

Once again, our modern ways have destroyed...hey...wait a minute...it was already heavily modified by 1620?? 

You enablers! No wonder Europe sent you away!

Yup. The breeding of crops to produce enforced mutation has been going on since the beginning of agriculture. I'm not talking about GMOs, (although there are parts of that do not include adding non-plant DNA), but rather basic crop science. And part of that, like so many things, has been the creation of new "breeds" to gain a new market share and perhaps name a fruit after yourself. But also, a tastier food becomes more popular.

If we REALLY wanted to be back in the paleo days, the selection of fruits and vegetables people are assigned to eat would be much less available and, most likely, much less palatable.

But while I'm not saying the article here is false, I find it disheartening that it's almost presented as a "FAIL!"

OK, so fruits and vegetables of 2013 (and 1713) are not as healthy as they were back as they originally were. But why should we shy away from them? We still need to focus on healthier eating and that does include fruits & veg.

Should we be eating more towards dandelion greens and collards and blue potatoes as opposed to iceberg lettuce and yukons? Yeah, we should. But that does mean we should give up F&V? No.

And we also should not fall back into supplemental "faux food" because someone said this produce is "unhealthy." It may not be what it was, but let's not forget that it still is some of the best stuff out there for the stuff we need. And I say that as an unrepentant carnivore.

I also recommend you read Nathaniel Philbrick's fascinating history, Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community and War. The Pilgrims had no compunction against just emptying out huge stockpiles of corn that they found when they landed. As if it belonged to no one. 

Not exactly the best role models when it comes to food.


Robinson, J. (2013, May 25). Breeding the Nutrition Out of Our Food. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/26/opinion/sunday/breeding-the-nutrition-out-of-our-food.html


  1. I don't wish to sully the comments section on your blog, but forgive me if i say, "fucking pilgrims". It's not just the corn either. That crowd was bad news.

    1. Very true. They really were the role models for the Real Housewives franchise.