will the real super food please stand up?

July 4, 2009

In my recent video tour of my kitchen, I mentioned that whole, fresh fruit and greens are the true super foods; and that I was taking a closer look at the maca, lucuma and cacao lurking in my fridge.

There’s no money in fruit and veggies.  You can’t brand them like you can processed goods.  That’s why there’s no advertising, no spiel.  The closest I can think of are the vegetable box schemes or CSAs that have become so popular.  But here again, no one can stake claim to produce as proprietary.

Yet producers are aware of the public’s desire for natural, plant-based nutrition; and someone was bound to cash in on it.

Enter “super foods”.  At £20 (around $36) for a pack of lucuma – a dried Peruvian fruit boasting high levels of beta carotene in its WHOLE form – the only super thing we can be sure about is the price.

I can’t say I agree with everything in the latest issue of the Glycemic Index newsletter (I can think of better after-sports options than pasteurized chocolate cow’s milk, for example), but Nicole Senior’s assessment of the super food craze is right on,  She also makes a very good point about the environmental impact involved in the production and distribution of so-called super foods.

I use lucuma in my Dulce de Leche recipe, but to do so with the belief that it alone will super-charge my health is ridiculous.  In short, the Earth gives us a wealth of vitamins and minerals distributed amongst an incredibly varied plant kingdom for a reason; and each is packaged with pure water for a purpose.  To think that a single food – let alone a dehydrated supplement – can nourish us is completely contrary to our nature.  T. Colin Campbell calls it “scientific reductionism”; Dr. Douglas Graham refers to it as the “fragmented approach.”  To be healthy, we gotta be whole.

It’s also important to remember that plants produce toxins in order to ward off predators, yet another reason to rotate the produce we eat and keep concentrated foods to a minimum.  As I was telling a client yesterday who works in finance: it’s smart to shop for food as if you were investing in a portfolio; spread your investments in order to minimize risk and maximize reward.

Have a super 4th of July!

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  1. Jess July 6, 2009 at 09:21

    Thanks for the excellent feedback, Debbie! Interesting about lucuma; I grew up eating mameys in Florida. It’s like candy. Love your carrot idea… :)

  2. Debbie Took July 4, 2009 at 11:37

    Great article, Jess!

    When we can get the most delicious fresh, whole fruits from South America at a fraction of the price charged for these dehydrated powders, one has to wonder at the mark-up!

    I’ve heard lucuma is actually very close (if not the same as?) the fresh South American fruit ‘mamey sapote’, which I’ve heard is delicious. The mamey sapote doesn’t store/transport well, which is why it’s rarely seen outside of the climes i tgrows in. But if we could get it, lucuma would instantly seem less ‘exotic’ and I have a feeling sales would plummet.

    I’m thinking of dehydrating some carrot, grinding it up, selling it for £30 a kilo to a raw food community thousands of miles away who’ve never heard of carrot, toss in a few marketing claims such as ‘the Shamans used it’, ‘restores eyesight!’ etc, and…way-hay!

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