The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Can you taste good nutrition?

Wet raspberriesI've often wondered whether I could taste good nutrition, and I'm tempted to say the answer is yes.  The winter squash highest in nutrients is the butternut --- my favorite.  The most nutritious fruits are those grown under a bit of nitrogen stress in the bright sun --- again, my favorites.  I vastly prefer the flavor of frozen beans to canned beans and love to saute, steam, and stir fry.  Fresh fruit is in an entirely different (and better) taste category for me from any cooked or otherwise processed fruit.

Although our bodies get quickly confused when exposed to fake flavors, colors, and added salts and sugars, we've clearly evolved some basic cues for determining which foods are nutritious.  In some cases, natural sugars seem to be the key to the rich taste of fresh, nutritious food --- higher than usual sugar content in a vegetable can be a cue that the vegetable is also higher in vitamin C.  In other cases, bright colors hint at higher than ordinary vitamin A --- deep orange peaches have much higher vitamin A content than white peaches.

Some days, I wish I had a chemical laboratory in my backyard where I could test the micronutrient levels of every piece of produce grown in our garden.  Is it really twice as high in nutrition compared to the grocery store version, just as it is twice as high in flavor?  Without more data to back up my gut feeling, I'll have to assume that anything that tastes good when I eat it raw is also good for me.

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This post is part of our Gardening for Maximum Nutrition lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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