Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health

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Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health

  • Little Brown and Company
Winner of the 2014 IACP Cookbook Award in the category of "Food Matters."

The next stage in the food revolution--a radical way to select fruits and vegetables and reclaim the flavor and nutrients we've lost.

Ever since farmers first planted seeds 10,000 years ago, humans have been destroying the nutritional value of their fruits and vegetables. Unwittingly, we've been selecting plants that are high in starch and sugar and low in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants for more

List Price: $ 16.00 Price: $ 6.39


3 thoughts on “Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health

  1. G. Wilson "just a guy"
    152 of 157 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Best vegetable and fruit guide, June 19, 2013
    By 
    G. Wilson “just a guy” (New York) –
    (REAL NAME)
      

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    I almost didn’t buy this book, not being sure if it was a history book or a cookbook or a diet book or what. But since I’ve appreciated author Jo Robinson’s “Eat Wild” website I decided to go ahead. I’m so glad I did.

    If you too are wondering what this book is, then I’ll tell you what I’ve found. This is a book about the vegetables and fruits that are available in supermarkets and farmer’s markets in the U.S. For each group of vegetables or fruits, there is a history going back to the earliest cultivation and information on the wild origins. Included with this history is also the healthful properties of the wild plant and the changes that have taken place as a result of cultivation. Wild plants are the original nutritional powerhouses and the author tells you how you can get closest to that with the cultivated plants found in the stores, markets or backyard gardens.

    There is one review on Amazon that complains about the use of ORAC values throughout this book. The reviewer notes that the USDA has removed its ORAC database, but doesn’t explain why ORAC was pulled. The USDA in announcing the removal says that “ORAC values are routinely misused by food and dietary supplement manufacturing companies to promote their products and by consumers to guide their food and dietary supplement choices.” Marketers were abusing the system and had found ways to juggle the results to get high ORAC values, such as comparing the score of a gallon ‘juice mix’ with a half cup of berries. The marketers deliberately obscured the misleading result. But ORAC values can be important. As ORAC researcher Ronald L. Prior, Ph.D., said in a letter in response to the removal of the USDA database pointed out that is was a useful tool for research as there is “a considerable amount of scientific literature on the positive health benefits of the polyphenolic flavonoid-type compounds in foods.” So there is good reason to list the ORAC values in this book. Google “ORAC Ronald Prior” to read the full response.

    Eating on the Wild Side is a great book that I keep going to as a food-buying guide.

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  2. Joanna Daneman
    149 of 156 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    VERY COOL BOOK!, June 5, 2013
    By 
    Joanna Daneman (USA) –
    (VINE VOICE)
      
    (COMMUNITY FORUM 04)
      
    (#1 Hall OF FAME REVIEWER)
      
    (TOP 10 REVIEWER)
      

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    This books is, in my opinion, LOOOOONG overdue. From sweet corn that no longer tastes “corny” to cottony white strawberries and golf-ball tomatoes, what has happened to our produce and what can we do to obtain the best, most nutritious fruits and vegetables. This is a practical book as well as a very interesting read. It’s not only a natural history of our most commonly-eaten fruits and veg, it’s also a guide to buying and using produce, sources for seeds, and much more.

    There is a new lack of diversity in varietals. The author gives the example of apples. We used to live for the apple SEASONS…not season. First early Macs, then Courtlands, Jonathans, Winesaps, etc. Now, go to the store and it’s Gala, Fuji, Braeburn and the inevitable Granny Smiths for the most part. And those Grannys to me don’t taste right. They are bitter. Many fruits just don’t taste the same to me anymore (grapes, strawberries in particular. Corn is weird–sugary sweet, no character. Personally, I miss the yellow corn of my childhood, grown right down the street and picked and rushed to the table.)

    The history of the blueberry was particularly interesting; the darkest berries (full of antioxidants) were selected AGAINST when they were cultivated from wild ones, because the horticulturalist thought lighter berries would sell better.

    The saddest thing is the loss of nutrients. These foods are vital to your health.

    The author goes over how we got various fruits, such as the apricots of Asia, the apples loved by the Salish tribe of America but also gives us suggestion on where and what to buy. Some of the info is a bit conflicting; for example, there is a recipe for apple crisp, using the nutritious skins ground up in the sugar topping portion to get the benefit of their vitamin content–but the author also tells us that commercial apples are very high, among the highest, in pesticides. This is absolutely true in my experience. We like to go to the “U-Pick” at a local orchard, but I can’t go into the apple tree rows as the pesticide is so concentrated on freshly sprayed trees that it irritates my skin and lungs. So…organic is the way to go, if you can do so.

    I kind of sort of came to the same conclusions as this book a while ago because I love fresh produce and it was getting more and more unsatisfactory; I found our local farms for asparagus and tomatoes, found the organic co-ops and learned what vegetables and fruits were best around here in the Mid-Atlantic. I try to stick to those good choices. The author gives recipes, advice, history and this all makes for good reading. Recommended.

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  3. Dan A.
    307 of 353 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    Great idea but a couple big questions unanswered, June 12, 2013
    By 
    Dan A. (Evanston, IL United States) –

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    I liked this book and thought the assembly of facts and stories about the common fruits and vegetables we eat to be both informative and at times entertaining. I think the book also does a good job of cataloging some of the effects of industrial food production. Overall, the book was novel enough, interesting enough and surprising enough for me to give it 4 stars, but a few critical flaws make it impossible to use the book for its stated mission as a guide on which fruit / vegetables to eat, and a flaw in methodology (use of the discredited ORAC score) throughout forces me to downgrade to 3 stars. Below are a few questions that I thought the book could have better addressed.

    1) Is sheer quantity of phytonutrients really the only thing that determines whether a particular fruit / vegetable is good for you? Wouldn’t some phytonutrients or combinations of phytonutrients be better than others? There is limited discussion of this throughout the book. I am not sure this is the author’s fault as I am not sure whether the scientific research is there yet, but a frank discussion of the state of understanding here to set the stage would have been helpful.

    The ORAC score the author used to compare varities throughout the book has been discredited according to the Wikipedia page. The USDA has stopped publishing ORAC data it seems after the connection between quantity of antioxidants and human health was seriously questioned. Some mention of the controversy around ORAC would have been intellectually honest given its extensive use throughout the book.

    2) How do the various fruits / vegetables compare among themselves. Given a 2000 calorie / day budget, how should a person allocate this? Etc. The book has a couple comparisons (eat more berries, etc.) but lacks even a simple table comparing the ORAC scores (antioxidant quantity of each fruit per gram) vegetable discussed.

    3) The information on the various fruits / veggies is clearly uneven, likely having to do with the availability of scientific research on the various kinds. This leads to some awkward issues where for example the author discusses how you should look at the total phytonutrients, and not just vitamin c for one fruit, but for a later fruit only talks about lycopene quantity. Would have been nice to see apples to apples comparison of each type of produce discussed.

    4) Bit of a nitpick but what about nuts and mushrooms? Nuts are mentioned briefly at the end as something you should include in fruit salad, but otherwise are not discussed. Mushrooms are not mentioned.

    As I said, I see the challenge in healthy eating to be how one should allocate their daily food budget in an optimal way. This book helps answer a part of that question by discussing how to find the ripest of a particular kind of produce, how to optimally store produce and by discussing which varieties of a particular produce have highest antioxidant content (which may or may not be the critical consideration), but unfortunately it doesn’t do a complete job in telling you which fruits/veggies to prefer vs. one another and I believe it overstates many of its claims as a result.

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