The next stage in the food revolution–a radical way to select fruits and vegetables and reclaim the flavor and nutrients we’ve lost.
Eating on the Wild Side is the first book to reveal the nutritional history of our fruits and vegetables. Starting with the wild plants that were central to our original diet, investigative journalist Jo Robinson describes how 400 generations of farmers have unwittingly squandered a host of essential fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. New research shows that these losses have made us more vulnerable to our most troubling conditions and diseases–obesity, diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic inflammation, and dementia.
In an engaging blend of science and story, Robinson describes how and when we transformed the food in the produce aisles. Wild apples, for example, have from three to 100 times more antioxidants than Galas and Honeycrisps, and are five times more effective in killing cancer cells. Compared with spinach, one of our present-day “superfoods,” wild dandelion leaves have eight times more antioxidant activity, two times more calcium, three more times vitamin A, and five times more vitamins K and E.
How do we begin to recoup the losses of essential nutrients? By “eating on the wild side”–choosing present-day fruits and vegetables that come closest to the nutritional bounty of their wild ancestors. Robinson explains that many of these jewels of nutrition are hiding in plain sight in our supermarkets, farmers markets, and U-pick orchards. Eating on the Wild Side provides the world’s most extensive list of these superlative varieties. Drawing on her five-year review of recently published studies, Robinson introduces simple, scientifically proven methods of storage and preparation that will preserve and even enhance their health benefits:
- Squeezing fresh garlic in a garlic press and then setting it aside for ten minutes before cooking it will increase your defenses against cancer and cardiovascular disease.
- Baking potatoes, refrigerating them overnight, and then reheating them before serving will keep them from spiking your blood sugar.
- Cooking most berries makes them more nutritious.
- Shredding lettuce the day before you eat it will double its antioxidant activity.
- Store watermelon on the kitchen counter for up to a week and it will develop more lycopene.
- Eat broccoli the day you buy it to preserve its natural sugars and cancer-fighting compounds.
The information in this surprising, important, and meticulously researched book will prove invaluable for omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans alike, and forever change the way we think about food.
Photos from Jo’s Personal Garden
Blue Jade Corn
Purple Sprouting Broccoli
View to the South
Potato Salad with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Kalamata Olives
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 20-45 minutes, depending on method
Chilling time: 24 hours
Yield: 5 cups
2 pounds unpeeled new potatoes or unpleeled baking potatoes, preferably with red, blue, or purple flesh
1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped or julienned
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onions or chopped scallions (including white and green parts)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, preferably unfiltered
3 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1–2 garlic cloves, pushed through a garlic press
1/2 teaspoon powdered mustard or 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/2 cup pitted and chopped kalamata olives
1/3 cup chopped prosciutto or diced cooked bacon (optional)
Steam or microwave the potatoes in their skins until they are tender. Cool and store in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Quarter the chilled potatoes, then cut into 1/4-inch slices and place in a large mixing bowl. Do not remove the skins. Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl and pour over the potatoes. Toss to coat evenly. Serve cold or at room temperature.