Getting Rid of the Good Stuff…Intentionally

Sugar sells.  

We all know this.  

If it weren’t the case, we wouldn’t see so much of it in so many ‘food’ products ranging from those in which it’s screamingly obvious, like candy and cakes, to those where it may be a bit subtler – canned spaghetti sauces or soups.

While none of the four examples just mentioned are remotely natural, even foods that we’d like to think of as being ‘naturally sweet’ are not necessarily all that so.

Take corn.   Not a vegetable, but a grain, so not Paleo, but we’ll use it as a good example, as it was one of the focus foods in a recent article from the Sunday Times.  

SUPERSWEET corn, which now outsells all other kinds of corn, was born in a cloud of radiation. Beginning in the 1920s, geneticists exposed corn seeds to radiation to learn more about the normal arrangement of plant genes. They mutated the seeds by exposing them to X-rays, toxic compounds, cobalt radiation and then, in the 1940s, to blasts of atomic radiation. All the kernels were stored in a seed bank and made available for research. In 1959, a geneticist named John Laughnan was studying a handful of mutant kernels and popped a few into his mouth. (The corn was no longer radioactive.) He was startled by their intense sweetness. Lab tests showed that they were up to 10 times sweeter than ordinary sweet corn. A blast of radiation had turned the corn into a sugar factory! Mr. Laughnan was not a plant breeder, but he realized at once that this mutant corn would revolutionize the sweet corn industry. He became an entrepreneur overnight and spent years developing commercial varieties of supersweet corn. His first hybrids began to be sold in 1961. This appears to be the first genetically modified food to enter the United States food supply, an event that has received scant attention.”

You’ve got to love the little disclaimer about how Mr. Laughnan ate the corn only because it was no longer radioactive…phew.

It goes on to outline some commonly found foods and how lacking in nutrients they are compared to their healthier alternatives:  iceberg lettuce compared to arugula, wild chokeberries compared to conventionally grown berries and purple Peruvian potatoes compared to white Russets.

Not surprising to note the references to the more bitter foods, like wild dandelion, which are significantly higher in nutrients than spinach, are not seen as often for the simple fact that most people’s palate has (unfortunately) become adapted to wanting sweet, sweet and sweeter.

The more bitter, the better!

Adding more veggies to one’s diet is definitely a step in the right direction, but it is just that- a step.  We still need to be diligent about researching where our food came from and making sure it’s not modified!   

Today’s NY Times referred to a staggering 90% of the four major staple crops of the US (none Paleo- corn, soy, sugar and canola) being modified.

Another reason to steer clear and stay Paleo!

Click here to read the whole article