I remember as a kid eating apples straight off the tree in the backyard and green beans straight off the vine. I was a picky eater; my diet consisted mainly of bread, pancakes and candy. I hated vegetables. But for some reason, if they were straight out of the garden, I would eat anything like I would an apple: hold it in my hand, bite into it and keep eating until it was gone. But if my mom made cooked peas for dinner from a can or frozen bag, I wouldn’t touch them!
Fresh foods taste better!¬† And not only that, they are substantially better for your health. Most of what you buy in a supermarket is old. Any type of fresh produce is picked before it’s ripe, put in cold storage and then shipped across country. You could be eating food that is anywhere from¬† months to even years old! Supermarket eggs are anywhere from six weeks to six months old and can still be labeled as ‘fresh.’
Food can last for awhile and still look fresh and taste decent. The nutrients, on the other hand, are fragile and are destroyed easily by heat, light, oxygen, and time. Unfortunately, most of what you buy in the supermarket has lost most of its nutritional value by the time you buy it.
The Kellogg Report, by Dr. Joseph Beasley offered examples of nutritional loss that occurs after harvesting:
- Spinach and asparagus lose 50 to 70 percent of their folate when kept at room temperature for three days.
- Vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli and green beans typically lose 50 percent of their vitamin C before they reach the produce counter.
- Potatoes lose as much as 78 percent of their vitamin C during long-term storage at 36 degrees.
- Blanching vegetables prior to freezing can destroy up to half of their vitamins.
- Freezing meat can destroy up to 70 percent of its vitamins.
Commercial foods not only lack nutrients because of losses after harvest but also because the food is usually harvested before it is ripe. Vitamin and mineral content rise near the peak of ripeness. Naturally ripened tomatoes have 1/3 more vitamin C than those harvested green and immature. And some foods harvested before they are ripe never develop certain nutrients at all.
Having all types of food available to us year-round sure is convenient. However, we pay the price with our health.
To take into consideration our ancestors, they ate a lot of their food fresh and raw and lived an active lifestyle. For example, the long-lived Hunzas who live in north-eastern Pakistan traditionally live to 120 years old. Their culture is not plagued with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, allergies, liver disease, arthritis, colds, tooth decay or other diseases so common in our society. Many researchers went to the Hunzas in the early twentieth century. They found that they are an active people eating a mainly vegetarian diet surrounded by a toxin-free environment. Growing old and into disease is not ‘expected’ as it is here in the developed world. They irrigate their fields with mineral-rich water and composted matter. Obviously minerals in the soil will lead to minerals in the plants that they ate. Also, eighty percent of their foods were eaten raw. They ate plenty of raw and fresh fruits and vegetables in addition to whole grains (as opposed to refined white flours). While their foods already started with more minerals that ours have, they also didn’t diminish the content by cooking all of their food.
The modern American diet comes from processed foods that have been deliberately altered from the way nature provided. They're
picked, trimmed, peeled, chopped, blended, mashed, refined, cooked in high heat, and put in a jar, can or box. The most significant causes of malnutrition (other than commercial farming and distribution techniques) are cooking and processing. In general, the longer you cook something and the higher the heat, the more nutrients your food loses. A cucumber loses a quarter of its vitamin C just by slicing it to make a salad. If the salad stands for an hour, the loss goes up to a third. And if it sits for three hours, almost half the vitamin C will be gone. Makes you think again about leftovers. And really makes you think about all that produce that is just sitting in the grocery market.
Cooking foods also destroys essential enzymes that are present in raw foods. While your body produces its own enzymes, it has to produce MORE when you eat cooked foods than when you eat raw foods. By eating cooked food, you actually lose more nutrients than you gain.
The best thing you can do for your health, as far as I can think of, is to grow your own food or buy local from a farmer. This is the best way to ensure that you are getting the most nutrition possible from your food. And to take it a step further, move to a warm climate where you can get fresh food grown year-round. You can also consider supplementing your diet with whole-food supplements in addition to adding freshly prepared fruit and vegetable juices to your diet. We truly are a nation that is ‘over-fed and under-nourished.’ But by knowing this you can make the appropriate decisions to be as healthy and strong as you can be!
Emyrald Sinclaire is a Certified Natural Health and Holistic Nutrition Practitioner (CNHP; CHNP) She specializes in detoxification programs, internal cleanses, and helping clients build strong immune systems. She also travels internationally to do raw food workshops, yoga retreats, and personal coaching. In addition, Ermyrald is a Certified Power Yoga Instructor and a Certified Raw Food Chef from the SunKitchen. For more information, visit PureRadiantSelf.com.