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 10 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.