Each fruit and vegetable in our stores has a unique history of nutrient loss, I’ve discovered, but there are two common themes. Throughout the ages, our farming ancestors have chosen the least bitter plants to grow in their gardens. It is now known that many of the most beneficial phytonutrients have a bitter, sour or astringent taste. Second, early farmers favored plants that were relatively low in fiber and high in sugar, starch and oil. These energy-dense plants were pleasurable to eat and provided the calories needed to fuel a strenuous lifestyle. The more palatable our fruits and vegetables became, however, the less advantageous they were for our health.
Dale Hodgins wrote:Much selection also served to reduce tannins and other toxic compounds. Larger fruits and grains, greater quantity available and greater digestability probably more than made up for those drops.
In recent history, we have witnessed production of crops where shelf life, uniformity of size and shipability have trumped nutrition. Commercially grown potatoes contain far less protein and beta carotene than older varieties. Protein is the natural enemy of shelf life.
Dale Hodgins wrote:I think the most pleasurable and marketable means of improving food in the short term, is through using nutritionally dense spices. I like my mashed potatoes laced with Italian spices and stews containing Indian and Italian spices. I've found that by using these things, I'm less likely to go crazy with salt. Many bitter things can be added to soups and stews in moderation. Single food meals such as a big meal of sweet corn, are bound to leave us lacking in many nutrients.