Eating on the Wild Side, The Missing Link to Optimum Health by Jo Robinson
I just finished reading Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson. I have always been a Jo Robinson enthusiast, but this book has pushed me into full-fledged fandom. In Eating on the Wild Side Ms. Robinson explores just how our original, wild foodstuffs became the shiny, large fruits and vegetables of today. Fruits and vegetables that retain very little of their ancestors’ nutrients.
The Trail to Less Nutrition
If you are interested in nutrition and nutritive value, you may already be familiar with some of her findings:
- Today’s grocery store tomatoes for example were developed for longevity and the ability to travel, not nutrition or flavor.
- Many foods we grew up believing were too fatty or guilty pleasures, like artichokes and avocados, should actually be on our weekly grocery list.
- Most of our corn and and apples varieties are actually sugar bombs that bear little resemblance to the originals.
But be prepared for surprises too. For example, I found the fact that most of today’s sweet corn is the result of breeding corn kernels that were bombarded with radiation. And that some varieties of beets have little affect on blood sugar, even though beets are on nearly every diabetes “don’t eat” list.
And there is much more. This isn’t just a book for nutrition junkies, it is also a practical shopping and gardening guide. The main premise is that not all our foods fall into the “healthy” or “unhealthy” categories. That within each category there are certain varieties that are healthier and more nutritious than other varieties. For example, did you know that Fuji apples are more nutritious than Golden Delicious? This surprised me as I personally dislike Fujis because they are so sweet, but love Golden Delicious. Guess I will have to re-think that.
Each chapter provides background information for a particular fruit or vegetable and suggests the best varieties to purchase at the grocery store, at your local farmers’ markets, and to plant in your own garden. A few recipes are included to get you started and there is even a basic review at the end of each chapter. Ms. Robinson grows a demonstration garden at her home in Vashon Island Washington, where she grows many of the recommended varieties noted in the book. Her website, Eat Wild, has tons information about nutritious eating.
We Want More, We Want More
I am reminded of that AT &T television commercial where the man is interviewing kids around the table, and they “want more.” Indeed, so do I! I borrowed a copy of Eating on the Wild Side from my local library. I often do this before deciding whether or not to add a particular book to my library, otherwise I would have to build an addition onto the house for all the necessary bookshelves. The verdict? I am going to get my own copy and recommend that you do too. Eating on the Wild Side will be a great reference addition to my library. As an avid gardener I expect to use the book while planning new plants and trees to grow on my little quarter-acre.
There were some items missing from Eating on the Wild Side that I hope Ms. Robinson includes in her next book. For example, she often recommends purchasing or growing organic produce, but doesn’t mention how difficult it can be to grow organically. I personally have tried to grow organic corn and had no luck at all, leading me to give up on corn altogether. Growing organic cherries is a lesson in frustration (although I keep trying). Those of us who live in a commercial agricultural region may be required to spray our fruit trees, so that the commercial crops don’t become infected. Thankfully there are some good organic options for spraying. And I would love to learn more about the whole corn story, from the “bombed” kernels to today’s GMO corn products. Maybe in her next book. Ms. Robinson, are you listening?