Many more informed consumers today are beginning to adopt a variety of sustainable living concepts. People are thinking about or actually making lifestyle changes on everything from considering hybrid or electric cars to alternative energy sources for our homes to how our food sources are grown. The news is full of how green living and sustainable living practices are necessary as our resources are depleted and our environment and ecosystems are put at risk. Part of this whole sustainability movement involves the way we grow, harvest, process and deliver our foods. More and more people are becoming aware that fast food and pre-packaged processed foods lead to a lack of nutrition and the chronic health problems that are so prevalent in our society. These people are turning instead to buying from local organic sources or growing their own food and that is definitely a start in the right direction. A smaller group of these people are also starting to realize that adding wild foods to their diets is a good way to increase their nutrient intake and another part of the sustainable living model.
Sustainability and Nutritional Concerns
Most of us are aware there is still a world hunger problem and a need to create sustainable food sources for those who don’t have access to enough food, but even in countries that have enough food there is a problem of not getting enough nutritional value from the foods being eaten. Jo Robinson, author ofEating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimal Health, points out that when we became a society of farmers we started breeding fruits and vegetables for taste and lost a lot of the nutritional value that wild foods provided. We need fruits and vegetables for the antioxidants, vitamins, fiber, micronutrients and phytonutrients that keep our bodies healthy. Many of our produce today has either been bred without this in mind or these nutrients are lost through processing and the time it takes to get them to the consumer. In her book, she cites the varieties of different foods that have the highest nutritional value. For example, Bing cherries are four times higher in antioxidants than Rainiers and you can get 20% more lycopene from the smaller varieties of tomatoes such as cherry or grape than from the larger varieties. We know broccoli is packed with all sorts of good for you nutrients and vitamins, but by the time it gets to you at the grocery store it can have lost 80% of the compounds known for warding off cancer.
A lack of micronutrients from food is another big concern. Even people who eat a lot of healthy type foods and have enough food to get the calories they need may not be getting enough of micronutrients vital to good health. Wild foods on the other hand like fruit, root crops, tubers, herbs and mushrooms are loaded with micronutrients. Bronwen Powell, a research fellow at the Centre for International Forestry Research, reminds us that as part of the sustainable food movement we need to look not only at the quantity of food, but the quality of it. Increasing fruits, vegetables and legumes in the diet and cutting out the bad fats and refined sugars can go a long way towards getting the micronutrients we need, as well as adding wild foods into our diets.
A Little Wild Food Goes a Long Way
One study showing that participants including just 3% of wild foods from the forest in their diet increased their micronutrients such as iron, vitamin A and vitamin C as much as between 19 to 31%. Sustainable food takes into account maintaining the nutritional integrity of the food source by how quickly it goes from harvest to being consumed, so getting your wild food locally or foraging for it yourself is a definite plus. Pascal Baudar, a “wild foodie” and outdoor skills/self-reliance instructor in Los Angeles, created the term “transitional gastronomy” in teaching people to use locally produced food combined with wild foraged foods such as Chickweed, Curly Dock, Wild Mustard, Nettles, Lambsquarter, Wild Radish and Black Nightshade berries. When foraging for wild foods Arthur Haines, a research botanist and plant taxonomist with the Delta Institute of Natural History in Maine, provides tips for people to be sure to maintain the sustainability of these food sources. This includes only taking leaves of a plant rather than the bulb part of it, collecting the underground part of the plant only during a time when it has produced seeds that we can plant in the hole, replanting the “root crown” of the plant and focusing on harvesting from perennial plants more than annuals. Knowing which varieties can remain sustainable with large amounts being harvested from it and limiting your harvest of those that can’t will also help insure a sustainable population of wild foods.
Don’t Want to Go Foraging?
I know all this foraging for wild foods sounds great nutritionally, but do you really have the time? There are ways to get more nutrition from your foods if you are crunched for time just by selecting the right varieties of foods and from wild food supplements. For example Jo Robinson recommends Granny Smith, Braeburn, Cortland, Gala, Honeycrisp, and McIntosh apples as being among the most in nutritional value. She says in general the apples that have the most red have the most phytonutrients. In the case of artichokes, the nutritional key is to eat them quickly as they lose antioxidants and sugar faster than other vegetables. Her book is full of other information on the most nutritious varieties to look for.
If you are looking for a really convenient way to add wild foods to your diet with a sustainable product, then look no further than our wild food supplements. AFA bluegreen algae from Klamath Lake uses the energy from the sun to digest water and carbon dioxide and release it as free oxygen into the air. This is known as photosynthesis and algae was the first organism known to produce oxygen in this way. In fact, algae are responsible for up to 90% of all the photosynthesis on Earth. While it’s true algae can be found around the world, the most commercially viable AFA comes from Upper Klamath Lake in Oregon which is one of the few ecosystems on the planet that can support mass quantities of recurrent growth. Specialized equipment is used to harvest, transport, dry, process and package this AFA bluegreen algae as whole food supplements in a way that maintains the environmental sustainability of it. These wild edibles are grown in a unique environment that gives it a full spectrum of antioxidants, amino acids, organic minerals, trace elements, essential fatty acids, and enzymes that are preferable over synthetic vitamin and mineral supplements because they are 98% absorbable. With over 50 minerals and including some of the more scarce trace elements such as fluorine and vanadium, AFA bluegreen algae also provides the perfect balanced ratio of Omega-3 fatty acids to Omega-6 which is often reversed in diets full of processed and fast foods.
As part of our sustainably grown wild food supplements, you’ll find whole food products made with forest grown mushrooms organically grown from wild spores, a seaweed and algae product that combines dulse, kelp, fucoidan, Ecklonia cava, bladderwrack, Dunaliella salina, spirulina, chlorella and AFA bluegreen algae, and a whole food sprouts product with kale sprouts, red clover sprouts, wheat sprouts, and Dunaliella salina algae. Or get them all in these convenient daily packets.
Whatever way you choose to get wild foods into your diet, it’s time to really start considering the sustainability of your food and the nutritional value of it. You owe it to yourself and your health to get the freshest, most nutritious food you can get. It will pay off in the long run in health benefits for your body.