Book Review – "Eating on the Wild Side"

“Our early ancestors, about 400 generations ago, were hunter-gatherers. Their food came from the plants and animals they hunted and foraged rather than from animals they raised or plants they farmed. When they began to domesticate animals and grow food in the first primitive gardens, they made choices about how to feed their livestock and what to plant. Those decisions produced tastier food, but as we now know, they also began, unwittingly, to strip vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, healthy fats, and antioxidants from their diets.”
Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health by Jo Robinson describes the changes humanity has made to wild foods through countless generations of selective breeding and genetic modification of the fruits, vegetables and legumes that make up our food supply. She also tells us how to reclaim some of the lost nutrients through selection storage and cooking methods. This is a fascinating read for foodies and a terrific reference guide for anyone who wants to get the most health benefits and taste from their produce. Isn’t that all of us?
Robinson features a food of family of foods (legumes, crucifers, root vegetables, etc) in each chapter and begins with a brief history of their changes since the beginning of the agricultural age. I was fascinated to learn that the first tomatoes were the size of small berries. It was through spontaneous mutations and human selection that beefsteak tomatoes were created. These are, however, much less nutritious than its wild predecessors. Smaller tomatoes, such as the cherry or grape varieties, are still the best choice for nutrient value. Specific recommendations at the grocery store, farmers market, and seed store can be found at the end of each chapter.

An invaluable tool in this book is the information on how to properly store and prepare the produce and legumes for maximum nutrient value. We have all see recipes that call for eating raw garlic to aid in cold and flu recovery but how many of us actually want to eat raw garlic? Robinson tells us that we can have the same nutritional benefit in cooked garlic if we let it rest for 10 minutes between mincing and cooking. For more amazing tips Eating on the Wild Side is a must read.

We also have an opportunity to meet Jo Robinson on Wednesday, October 22 at 6:30 at the Olympia Library. I hope you will join me in welcoming her.

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