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Are fruits and veggies bad for you?

In the category of believe it or not: “Zoo Weans Animals Off Fruit Because Its Increased Sugar Makes Them Fat and Rots Their Teeth” . BTW the zoo is in Melbourne, Australia. Are these Aussies crazy politically correct, or just plain crazy?  Full disclosure: I’m a card (viz. passport) -carrying Australian. As in Fosters, Australian for beer.

G’ day mate.

This motivated me to do some (uncharacteristic) research into whether the Aussies have a point. Gotta support the Old Country, right?

So, it turns out that over the last few hundred years, in general our fruit and veggies have added much more sugar at the same time as their nutritional value has sharply declined. As in what the eggheads called phytonutrients, the good stuff in them that makes you healthier and fights cancer cells.

Why all that extra sugar? That’s because we all are addicted to it, so the breeders and vendors breed even more in. And we hate the bitter tastes associated with many phytonutrients so it’s all being bred out of the formerly super-healthy fruits and vegs so that they can have the same nutritional value as cardboard (maybe I’m being unfair to cardboard).

Who would have thunk it?

Broadly speaking the FDA, which oversees things like food safety, has taken its mission seriously. That means it has put a huge amount of effort into food toxicity – think pesticides and so on – and almost nothing into the nutritional value of the food. So, the cardboard fruits and veggies you are eating are comparatively safe, albeit increasingly of ever- lower nutritional value. Oh, and by the way, with ever less flavor, hence my moniker for modern veggies and fruits, tasting like cardboard.

Don’t believe me; just read this book by Jo Robinson “Eating on the wild side”. It’s a good read. Maybe the FDA people should read it.

It’s not all bad news; there are chefs out there who know about this who have partnered up with breeders to develop new and better tasting veggies (although not necessarily more nutritious); the worm is turning apparently.

And new biotechnologies like CRISPR are opening up new ways to breed plants with better flavor and national value, for example with tomatoes, one of the worst products of modern plant-breeding. But this is still the exception, not the rule.

Net net, our vegetables and fruits are way too high in sugar, and way too low in disease-preventing nutrients. Adding insult to injury, sugar content is still increasing, and nutritional value is still decreasing. So much for ridding diets of too much sugar, a major contributor to obesity and diabetes. These trends are pouring gasoline on the flames of modern diets.

Think about that when you heed the advice of people who should know better who tell you to eat oodles and oodles of fruit and vegetables. You’re just being suckered yet again by agricultural and food interests who are out to maximize their buckaroos and only incidentally, if at all, to provide you with better nutrition.

You might have read recently about a Cornell food researcher’s ritual execution and firing because of his supposedly bad scientific techniques. I can’t comment on those, but I do know that he was one of the few scientists on the side of the consumer, trying to help us all eat more healthily. Well so much for that one quixotic attempt at dietary democracy and public-spiritedness.

Next time you eat a tomato, think about what things could have been had our scientists and companies been interested in serving us nutritional and healthy fruits and vegetables.

Then go scarf down the cardboard.







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