For most of us, a genetically modified organism is a generally new 'scare term', but the truth is we've been altering plant genetics for thousands of years. As we've transitioned from hunter/gatherers to farmers, the transformation and manipulation of our plants has created barely recognizable versions of their ancestral self. Evolution of wildlings paralleled our palatable preference, rather than driven by their nutrient composition. Four hundred generations of farmers and tens of thousands of plant breeders have played a role in redesigning our native plants. More often than not, the modern version of the plant bares little resemblance to it's ancestor.
For instance, the popular banana we know today with sweet, soft flesh, tiny seeds and tender skin is a mutant of it's origin. Thousands of years ago, our modern day Cavendish banana grew in Malaysia and parts of Southeast Asia, and contained large, hard seeds with firm skin that needed to be cut and had a dry, astringent-like taste. Cultivating plants that were unpleasant to eat became a common trend. Some of our heirloom plants had up to ten times the amount of minerals and nutrients compared to their revamped selves, but had an unappealing taste so they got the boot. (tear)
We ignored nature's magic of sour, astringent and bitter tasting indicators that signify the most beneficial bionutrients. Specifically, a bitter taste indicates a liver detoxifier. Unknowingly, our ancestors raised plants that reduced our protection against diseases and harmful particles. Generation after generation, we reshaped these plants causing significant nutrient loss, jeopardizing our optimum health. Our ancestral plants had higher amounts of protein, fiber, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals and a much lower concentration of sugar. Today, some of the most popular fruits & veggies contain just as much sugar as a candy bar...don't let its veggie or fruit classification fool you.
The newer versions of sweetcorn contain up to 40% sugar!
Plant cultivation lead by taste factors of sweet, starchy and fatty has immensely contributed to the redesigning of our food at the cost of vital phytonutrients. Each plant produces several hundred phytonutrients, of which many function as bioavailable antioxidants that provide us with protection from free radicals. If you only eat organic and Non-GMO, you are NOT in the clear, noxious particles are hidden everywhere...in our water, air, furniture, clothing, etc. The list below is just scraping the surface of all the damage they can reap on your body:
Turn normal cells into cancerous ones
Intensify the appearance of aging
Hinder molecular structure of minerals & vitamins
Strip body of crucial nutrients
To be honest, most supplements would be obsolete if we still incorporated these ancestral plants into our diet.
We already have so many considerations when choosing food to buy.
Where was it grown?
Is it organic?
Which certification did it receive (bc we know the USDA is shit, oops)?
Is it a GMO?
Is it in a season?
It's no longer an easy task to acquire food that is whole and won't give us cancer. Not to turn morbid, but approximately, 40% of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetime. (https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/understanding/statistics)
Now, we can't necessarily go to the source, pick these wild plants and call it a day. Though, we do have options of their closest relatives and there are key characteristics of shape and color to look for. Anything dark in color or purple like red cabbage, purple kale, beet greens are sinkholes of phytonutrients. These greens specifically have high concentrations due to a
photo-sensitive response protecting them from the sun, their color is an indicator of this mechanism. This is one trait to look for but throughout the next week, this series will provide you with much more tid-bits on how to find, store and consume the most nutritious plants.