Books in the Park

suggestions from the Barbara S. Ponce Public Library at Pinellas Park

Eating on the Wild Side, by Jo Robinson

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In summer of 2016, we asked our patrons for book reviews as part of our adult summer reading raffle. We have chosen the cream of the crop to feature here on our blog.

This review is by Wendy Risk.

eating wild side robinsonOne minute the experts say chocolate is bad for you. The next, it is good. The same goes for eggs, saturated fat, and meat. What’s a person to do?

Investigative journalist and New York Times best-selling writer Jo Robinson spent ten years researching the nutrient value of supermarket produce. She helps us understand which produce varieties are the most nutritious and how to extract the most nutrition from the product we eat.

Without exception, wild has more nutritional value than cultivated. Robinson advises eating plants that are close to wild as possible. Man has been breeding nutrition out of food since farming began 10,000 years ago.

Eating the Wide Side won the 2014 IACP Cookbook award in the Food Matters category. Huff Post says the author “busts conventional wisdom on vegetables.”

For example, did you know that baby carrots are just shaved down whole carrots?  Save your money. Buy them whole. Carrots must be juiced or cooked to unlock their nutrition. We should cook them whole and unpeeled. Add fat to access their fat-soluble vitamins. Today, health food stores offer heritage colors. The author advises that purple carrots have more nutrition than the orange ones we all grew up with.

Most everyone understands that iceberg lettuce has about as much nutrition as a cardboard box. The author explains that with leafy greens, dark and bitter is better. Dandelion greens, full of calcium, are powerhouses compared to spinach. Loose leaves, such as arugula, beat heads such as iceberg and romaine.

To release the fat soluble vitamins in any vegetable, fat is required. The author recommends olive oil, a staple of the Mediterranean diet. She prefers unfiltered olive oil, which lasts longer and is healthier.

During World War II, the cash-strapped Soviet army resorted to garlic to treat infected wounds. Many of us eat cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts for their cancer fighting qualities. However, the author maintains that garlic trumps the cruciferous family as an anti-cancer wonder drug. Garlic is anti-oxidant, anti-bacteria, anti-viral, anti-clogging, and anti-cancer.  To use, mince and rest 10 minutes before cooking. Hardneck garlic is wilder and hence contains more nutrition.

The smallest onions contain the most nutrients. Scallions have 140 times more phytonutrients than common white onions. They are the closest to wild onions in appearance and nutrition. Onionskins, which offer the most nutrients, should be saved for broth. Cooking onions releases the quercetin. Shallots are nutritional superstars.

The author lists her super veggies and says that blueberries show promise in fighting the modern diseases of civilization.  They prevent tumors, lower blood pressure, reduce plaque, reverse brain aging, and soothe inflammation. Cooked berries are best. Dried berries are worst. Organic citrus is worth the cost; the peel is edible. The pith contains the most nutrients.

If you are a foodie, or simply interested in food as a medicine, this book is a must read. I give it five stars.

Check the PPLC Catalog for Eating on the Wild Side.

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