Book Review: Eating on the Wild Side

Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health by Jo Robinson is my kinda book – science and history, gardening, cooking and nutrition all wrapped in one awesome package. I love how Jo Robinson describes not just what varieties to eat, but how to prepare them and why. This book is a game-changer and well worth a space on your bookshelf for reference or even just a good read. Being the food nerd that I am, I’ve read it twice already—it’s that good.

The Loss of Wild Nutrients and Flavour

Robinson begins by describing the fate of our modern plant foods’ wild ancestors, many of which look and taste nothing like their modern-day descendants. When humans started cultivating varieties that were easier to grow and tasted sweeter, we unwittingly cultivated out a vast amount of the nutrition present in these wild foods. More recently we have sacrificed flavour for longer shelf life, perceived beauty and the ability to travel long distances without spoiling.

How to Eat on the Wild Side

Robinson goes on to describe how to choose the best varieties today and how to select, store and prepare them for optimal nutrition. The book is divided into two sections: Fruits and Vegetables, with each chapter dedicated to a group of edibles. Included in each chapter are handy charts listing common grocery, farmers’ market and seed varieties that are the most nutritious, plus a few delectable-looking recipes as well.

Great Garlic

I especially liked the tips on preparing foods to get the most nutrition. In particular, cooking garlic greatly reduces its nutritional quality. Allicin, the most active component, is not actually present in garlic, only created after it is chopped, crushed or chewed. Alliin and a heat sensitive enzyme called alliinase are the isolated components in a whole clove of garlic that create allicin when combined. If garlic is cooked immediately after chopping or crushing, the alliinase is destroyed before the allicin can be created. But, if you chop garlic and let it set for 10 minutes the reaction to create allicin has time to take place and is preserved in your cooked meal–who new right!?

Better Broccoli

Broccoli, which I always liked for its seemingly long storage life, begins rapidly losing its cancer fighting qualities immediately after harvest. Within 10 days of ideal storage conditions, broccoli has lost 80 percent of its glucosinolates, 75 percent of its flavonoids and 50 percent of its vitamin C. It’s hard to tell how old the broccoli is at the supermarket because it can still look great after 10 days. If you can, purchase your broccoli directly from a farmer or better yet – grow your own!

Discover the Missing Link to Optimum Health

What I’ve shared here is just a taste of what this book has to offer. There is a wealth of knowledge shared that we should all take advantage of: Whether you cook, garden or just enjoy good healthy food, there is something for everyone. This book will truly change the way you shop for, cook, grow and store your food.

I’ve already started to put this knowledge into practice and can’t wait to get my hands on some of the more nutritious varieties for my garden this spring! What will you do to eat on the wild side? Share in the comments below.

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