Although the modern Paleo Diet emphasizes a high protein palate, archaeological evidence suggests that fruits, vegetables, nuts and mushrooms comprised the majority of our paleolithic ancestors’ diet in most parts of the world. Nonetheless, fruits and vegetables are an important part of the contemporary diet for Paleo enthusiasts and others. Yet, the modern cultivated plant varieties widely available in both corporate and local markets are largely devoid of the phyto (plant) nutrients and fatty acids that were present in their wild ancestors. In some cases, such as apples, contemporary cultivars have excessive sugars and no nutrient value. Although Wild Man Foods does not offer fruits, veggies, nuts, or mushrooms on a routine basis, this page provides a brief overview on strategies and buying choices that will increase the nutrient content of the side dish that accompanies your wild or grassfed meat.
In her book,’ Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health,’ (2013) Jo Robinson describes how the domestication of wild foods, approximately 10,000 years ago, has led to a marked decline in the nutrient values of the fruits and vegetables we eat today. She points out that early cultivators selected varieties and traits that were more productive, easy to grown, and more pleasurable to eat; tender, low in bitterness and astringency, and high in sugar, starch and oil. Consequently, modern cultivated varieties are now markedly lower in vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. There is no need to fret, however. Robinson ( in addition to other scholars, food scientists and food activists) has provided a simple and easy outline for hunting and gathering modern plants, nuts and mushrooms that most resemble the nutrient value of our ancestral diet. The following is a brief overview of Robinson’s tips and techniques to select and prepare foods to reclaim lost nutrients:
- Purslane has six times more vitamin E than spinach and four times more omega-3 fatty acids. It has seven times more beta-carotene than carrots.
- Pungent-tasting onions have eight times more phytonutrients than sweet ones. (p.14)
- Granny Smith apples provide three times more bionutrients than Golden Delicious and thirteen times more than Ginger Gold (p.14).
- White-fleshed peaches and nectarines have twice as many phytonutrients than yellow fleshed varieties.(p.14)
- Most berries increase their anti-oxidant levels when cooked – if you drink the liquid.
- Simmering tomato sauce for hours triples lycopine content.(p.15)
- Broccoli begins losing its cancer-fighting compounds within 24 hours of harvest. (p.15)
- Dandelion leaves have eight times more antioxidants, two times more calcium, three times more vitamin A, and five times more vitamin K and vitamin E than does spinach. Iceberg lettuce has one-fortieth as many phytonutrients as dandelions (p.23)
- Quinoa is the high protein seed of lamb’s-quarters (Chenopodium album) which is extremely high in vitamin C. (p.22)
- Arugula, a member of the cabbage family, is higher in antioxidants, calcium, magnesium, vitamin E, and folate than most salad greens (p.33)
- Fat and/or oil aids in the absorption of phytonutrients. (p.37)
- Unfiltered olive oil contains squalene, an anticancer compound, and it retains its nutrient value and shelf life three months longer than filtered olive oil. (p.37)
To learn more, you can order a new or used copy of Robinson’s book through our resources page.
Many food-oriented health organizations emphasize the importance of fermentation as a way to maximize the nutrient uptake of plant foods and improve the community of beneficial bacteria (probiotics) in our digestive system. Research has shown that our bodies need bacteria for healthy digestion and immunity. Beneficial bacteria involved in fermentation help break down the cels walls of plants and this enables the body to absorb phytonutrients more readily. Beneficial bacteria in fermented foods can colonize the digestive system. This not only aids digestive processes, it increases immunity because the healthy community of beneficial bacteria makes it difficult for bacterial pathogens such as e.coli, salmonella, and other dangerous bacteria to colonize the body. A wide range of popular fermented foods, such as saurkraut and kimche, are already available in grocery stores yet they are usually pasteurized and seldom include live fermented cultures. Fortunately, people have been fermenting their own food since paleolithic times. The book ‘Wild Fermentation’ by Sandor Katz provides simple and easy instructions to create fermented foods such as saurkraut, kimche, kefir, yogurt, and much more. To find a new or used copy of Wild Fermentation, visit our Resources page.
Food As Medicine
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”
Although ancient and modern scientists have identified the medicinal value of commonly available foods for many centuries, the nutritional and medicinal value of the modern industrial diet has continued to decline. Processed and packaged foods that are devoid of nutritional benefits have come to epitomize the vast majority of the foods consumed in the United States and throughout the world. The obvious result is the marked increase in chronic diet-related illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, hyper-tension, life-limiting obesity, and more. The goal of the Paleo Movement is to reclaim our ancestral diets and the health benefits of the foods our bodies were designed to eat. For some, Paleo is a means to enhance an existing health regiment. For others, it is a matter of life and death.
Dr. Jerry Brunetti was diagnosed with terminal cancer and received a prognosis of only a few months to live. In his widely popular video lecture, entitled ‘Food as Medicine,’ he offers a detailed account of the ways that he challenged that prognosis by using his diet as medicine. His lecture pays special attention to role of cancer-fighting foods in his ability to extend his prognosis significantly and live a healthy life today.
The book, The Four Fold Path to Healing by Dr. Thomas Cowan, provides a more in depth description of foods and their medicinal properties for specific ailments. You can obtain a new or used copy via our Resources page.