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domestication of plants and health effects

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created September 30, 2010 at 1:14 PM

A lot of vegetables and fruits we eat are the result of human selection. Selection criteria probably were taste, ease of growing, etc.

Maybe plants were selected for their smaller amount of toxic chemicals? Or maybe selection by tastiness made the plants less healthy?

Does anybody know if this domestication changed the plants favourable of human health or not? I guess this is not a question with a black/white answer?

Related: is it usefull to look for 'ancient' plants to eat? And what would these be?

Thanks.

89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on October 01, 2010
at 06:47 AM

I will check your reference. Seems interesting at first glance. Thanks

89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on October 01, 2010
at 06:46 AM

although I wasn't really asking about grains, thanks for the link!

89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on October 01, 2010
at 06:46 AM

TigerJ, things that we call nutrients could also be beneficial for us throgugh hormesis (a small dose makes a good adaptive response). So more nutrients are not always better. Now I don't know if this is true for wild vs domesticated plants. That's why I asked...

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3 Answers

1
Cb2415c2aef964ab499a09dc92ae7e01

(783)

on September 30, 2010
at 07:55 PM

It isn't just plants. I would say most people even doing paleo are eating a lot of beef, pork and chicken. Grass-fed or pastured best of course, but still I think there is a big difference between these relatively docile and sedentary animals compared to bison, venison, elk, wild boar, wild duck and other birds, etc. In macronutrient terms, the domestic animals have more fat. Personally I notice a big difference between eating the wild animals and their domesticated cousins, even when those animals are raised in the best possible way.

More specific to your question, I love things like dandelion and nettles. These are like spinach times three in terms of nutrients. Wild mushrooms are pricey, but they are in a different class than the common white/brown buttons at the supermarket.

89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on October 01, 2010
at 06:46 AM

TigerJ, things that we call nutrients could also be beneficial for us throgugh hormesis (a small dose makes a good adaptive response). So more nutrients are not always better. Now I don't know if this is true for wild vs domesticated plants. That's why I asked...

1
62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on September 30, 2010
at 03:58 PM

There were a few posts over at Heartscan that talked about ancient wheat vs current strains: http://heartscanblog.blogspot.com/2010/05/emmer-einkorn-and-agribusiness.html They are quite different. Somewhere in there, he obtained some of the ancient wheat, had it cooked into some bread, and did a n=1 experiment to see how his blood sugar reacted to the old wheat and it was quite a bit less than how it reacts to more modern strains. It may be that ancient strains of wheat are less damaging to humans and/or we may be better adapted to those strains than we are to the newer strains.

One very important thing to consider is that the pace of change for current food items is huge. Each thing we eat changes drastically within a single lifetime what with poorer soil, different fertilizers and pesticides, newer strains of the plant, either hybridized or GMO, etc. There has been no time for genetic adaptation at all and we don't know the effects of these myriads of changes that has occured on just about ever food source we have.

89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on October 01, 2010
at 06:46 AM

although I wasn't really asking about grains, thanks for the link!

0
2b8c327d1296a96ad64cdadc7dffa72d

on September 30, 2010
at 05:24 PM

The best resource to answer your question is the book An Edible History of Humanity by Tom Standage, 2009. I just started reading it last week, and it discusses thoroughly how agriculture changed the original food our ancestors foraged for in the wild. Your local library and bookstore will have it. Here is a link to a review:

http://www.bookbrowse.com/bb_briefs/detail/index.cfm?ezine_preview_number=3508

Worth the time to "consume" ~250 pages of history of food and societal development.

89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on October 01, 2010
at 06:47 AM

I will check your reference. Seems interesting at first glance. Thanks

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