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Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  3,411 ratings  ·  409 reviews
The next stage in the food revolution--a radical way to select fruits and vegetables and reclaim the flavor and nutrients we've lost.

Ever since farmers first planted seeds 10,000 years ago, humans have been destroying the nutritional value of their fruits and vegetables. Unwittingly, we've been selecting plants that are high in starch and sugar and low in vitamins, mineral
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published June 4th 2013 by Little, Brown and Company
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Eating on the Wild Side at first glance seems like a really cool Evolutionary History. Robinson traces the path from wild progenitors through various stages of domestication to modern fruits and vegetables. She describes how humans, through unintentional natural selection and intentional breeding programs involving hybridization, radiogenic mutation, and genetic modification, have shifted the edible parts of these crops from small, bitter, and phytonutrient dense to large, sweet, and nutritional ...more
Dec 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It was very well written and informative I will say that! This is one of the best books of it's kind that I have read.
From which varieties of fruits and vegetables are the healthiest to choose at the market (or grow yourself), to how to store them and prepare them to retain the most nutrients, this book covers it all.
I learned a lot,for instance

1) how cooked blueberries are even healthier than fresh.
2)how freezing broccoli kills its antioxidants.
3)how I've been buying the right kind of lettuce
Leslie Seaton
Sep 15, 2013 rated it liked it
Am a little conflicted. On the one hand, some great info on selecting and processing your produce to maximize nutrition. On the other hand, I have a full time job and outside interests and cannot always guarantee I can cook my asparagus immediately upon purchasing it. So after a while, I became somewhat overwhelmed by the running tally of sins I am committing against my produce and the phytonutrients I am cavalierly letting drain from fruits and vegetables with every minute that ticks past. (Ple ...more
Aug 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Informative, interesting and surprising!

If you are anything like me, you already know we're supposed to be eating organic, you know the closer your food came from the ground (its source) the better it is for you, and you know that you should "eat the rainbow" in order to get all the essential nutrients your body needs. You especially know all this if you are a parent and are trying to give your kids the best start they can get - keeping them away from processed, fried, chemical-laced, dyed, and
Aug 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My mouth waters for red bananas in Baracoa.

Who cares about Cuban bananas? Well, this book is chock full of food hacks, the science to back it up, and counter intuitive surprises.

The chapter on alliums is worth the book, and will forever change your understanding of garlic. Artichoke hearts? I've always loved artichoke hearts. Now I know that even canned, they may be the most nutritious food in the grocery store! What!?

For every food group (Apples?) she breaks down where, say, the Honeycrisp a
Nov 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food, women-authors
This book is mostly relevant to American consumers but useful to read to anyone who's interested in knowing a little bit about what we eat.
Before reading this book, I have never thought that there could be a less nutritional fruit or vegetable; all we hear in media is only GMO, organic and conventional produce. But this book could enlighten you about how to shop smarter.
Basically, throughout the industrialization of plants, we came out with ways of yielding more crop for less work: favoring plan
Jun 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: food-nutrition
I'm in favor of almost any book that encourages people to delight in eating fruits and vegetables. Eating on the Wild Side looks like a great resource for gardeners, and gives lots of buying and cooking info for a wide range of plant foods. But having said that, I have a few caveats for those who might look to this book as the last word on the issue (and I've seen it cited quite a few times). Despite touting antioxidants, no mention is made that how they function in the human body is unknown/con ...more
Audrey K
Nov 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Everyone should read this book. At least everyone who buys fruits & vegetables. Some of the smallest tweaks to the varieties of produce you buy, as well as how you store & prepare it, can make a huge different in how healthful it is. Highly recommend.
Jun 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
It was a very interesting read. She goes into great depth about the history of the fruits and vegetables we eat. I am looking forward to incorporating her tips into my eating.
Jan 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
Well... clearly this was someone's life work, or at least part of a life's work, and probably functions best as a reference book. It wasn't great reading, and what felt like efforts to make it better reading (casual style, occasional personal anecdotes) weren't really effective for me. Some of the science struck me as iffy--after another reviewer mentioned that the book advocates food-combining for "complete proteins" I no longer felt guilty about how I should read every word because I would be ...more
Jane Stewart
Dec 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, food
Excellent information. I learned things I wish I had known sooner.

I am going to change what I buy and some things about storing and preparing.

Each chapter is a different group of food like an apples chapter and a grapes chapter. The author describes the phytonutrients in each item, how they affect the body, health benefits, anticancer properties, and more. For example garlic helps thin the blood, montmorency cherries lessen pain. She tells how to store and cook foods to get the most phytonutrie
I was delighted to receive a copy of this book through Goodreads. The histories of each type of vegetable or fruit are interesting reading. Finding out exactly how to maximize the nutrients for each is practical knowledge that can immediately be put to use. A summary of these helpful tips is at the end of each chapter. Also at the end of each chapter is a list of varieties with comments on their corresponding nutritional value. Unfortunately, no data is included with these notes and the number o ...more
Feb 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
In Eating on the Wild Side, nutrition researcher Jo Robinson turns the produce aisle into a medicine cabinet. She has sorted through massive quantities of food studies to reveal the fruit and vegetable superstars and how to select, store and prepare them to maximize absorption of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants.

Each fruit and vegetable is introduced with a description of its wild ancestor and a brief history of its domestication and resulting nutritional changes. Some cultivars have r
May 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nutrition, recipes
What an excellent book! Readable and yet well-researched, this is the book to consult if you want to get more 'bang for your buck' in terms of nutrition from your vegetables and fruits.

There were some surprising exceptions to the general rule of thumb "fresh is best". Generally though, most vegetables and fruits are more nutritious the sooner you can eat them after they're harvested. It's prompted me to shop at least twice a week for my fruit & veg rather than once a week. Although I've long rel
Jan 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
We all know that eating fruits and vegetables are good for our health but we might not know that some of the modern fruits and vegetables have much less nutritional value than others.

Our ancestors have been eating wild fruits and vegetables for generations. And these wild fruits and vegetables provide us with plenty of nutrients for us to fight all kinds of diseases for survival. However, recent advancement in agriculture has made growing these fruits and vegetables more efficient, look prettie
David Schwan
This book gives good histories of many fruits and vegetables that we eat. While I knew of the contribution of the new world to the world's diet there were many things that I did not realize came from the new world. In America the Apple was greatly modified and it is not so great a stretch to say that Apple Pie is American.

I ignored most of the "phyto-nutrient" information. Choosing ones diet strictly on levels of phyto-nutrients and not also on taste is to me a mistake.

Overall an interesting bo
Feb 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Easy read, surprisingly engaging, very practical information.
Mar 09, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

Finally finished this today my just skimming through the chapters and reading the summary for each topic. This isn’t really a book that you want to sit down and read straight through. Although it is well researched and has a lot of useful information, it’s more of a reference book than anything. Excellent tips on how to maximize nutrients in you produce by A) picking out specific variations at the grocery store B) proper storage instructions and C) best cooking methods to avoid denatura
Feb 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
This is a really remarkable book, a history book, nutrition guide, shopping guide and recipe book. It is fascinating to read about the origins of modern fruits and vegetables and how they evolved over time, sometimes thousands of years. It is also useful as a guide to picking the most healthful varieties of fruits and veggies along with how to store and keep them. For home gardeners, it has tips on what varieties to plant. The extensive amount of research required to write the book is also evide ...more
Jul 17, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food

I love books about food, but this one was information overload. It felt like a bit too much to remember. Go for the dark colored fruits, except for when you need to go for the light colored ones. Store this one in the fridge, and that one on the counter. Cook this one, but eat that one raw.


To this day, the nutritional content of our man-made varieties has been an afterthought. A plant researcher for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) can spend years perfecting a new varie
Erica T
Oct 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I can’t decide how I feel about this book. On the one hand it contains a lot of important and helpful information (which makes me dislike it a little because of the guilt I feel knowing I’m not eating a perfect diet), and on the other hand it got a little boring just reading it straight through. I think It would be best to own a hard copy of it to refer back to on a regular basis, rather than the audio version like I listened to. Overall, I would recommend it but as more of a reference book.
Jan 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was skeptical at first because this seemed like a it was going to tell me how we need to consume copious amounts of granola in order to live to be 200 years old. And it does to a certain extent. But I really enjoyed this from a food historian and a gardener perspective.

Each plant is broken down into sections, with a brief history of what the anchestoral plant looked like, how it has changed over time, what you should look for when picking produce in your run-of-the-mill supermarket and farmer
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Skip the introduction (very hippie and kinda off putting) but the rest of the book is readable, fascinating, and useful. Wish it had a chapter on peppers, though.
Jul 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Life-changing. This book is making me think about vegetables and fruit completely differently, and will surely affect how I choose them, store them, and consume them.

Who knew, for example, that the heat used in canning tomatoes made canned tomatoes more nutritious than even fresh ones (if you can get BPA-free packaging), or that most American sweet corn descends from a variety that was mutated in the atomic fallout near Japan? It's good to know white peaches are more nutritious than their yellow
Jun 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Like many readers, I discovered this book through an article in the New York Times. I am a collector of books on food and nutrition for personal and professional reasons and this one offered some unique features. Ms. Robinson provides information that was little known by me before reading her book. I like the charts of plants to grow for higher nutritional value since I'm planning to do more gardening in the future. She gave me ideas for fruit trees that I might not have considered.

Her tips on
Debra Daniels-Zeller
This unique book has a lot of things going for it. Well-written and easy to follow, Jo Robinson covers history, nutrition, selection, cooking and gardening for a number of foods. She packs them all into 372 pages. It's easy to see lots of research went into finding these stories and learning the details of how our common fruits and vegetables evolved. Breeding fruits and vegetables for flavor has reduced antioxidants which can be the keys to fighting many modern diseases. Our best choices for ge ...more
Jun 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction

Anyone who is on the internet or listened to the news has read or heard about the issues surrounding our food. The author takes the fruits and vegetables that we eat everyday and explains how to help us reclaim the lost nutrients and flavor we've been missing. At over 400 pages, the book is pretty intense. But I was surprised at how easy it was to read and process. Each chapter takes a different type of fruit or vegetable and begins by explaining its origins and how the current food we eat rese
Jul 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I expected this book to advocate eating dandelions and "wild" foods picked in the woods. Not so! It's actually about the nutrition in the vegetables and fruits we typically purchase and eat, and more about what you can find in the produce section of your local grocery store. Ms. Robinson discusses the nutrition in lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, apples, potatoes, oranges, broccoli, beans, etc. and tells how to pick the most nutritious varieties, how to store them, and how to cook them for the most n ...more
Apr 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
After reading this book, I realized I had not been handling many vegetables and fruits properly. Tomatoes don't belong in the refrigerator. Avocados can ripen faster if put next to bananas. Lettuce should be soaked in cold water for a few minutes to better retain the moisture inside the leaves. So even though I have mostly been eating healthy including lots of fruits and vegetables in my diet, I still fell way short on my knowledge of proper storage and length of storage to obtain the maximum be ...more
Eating on the Wild Side is a useful, fun-to-read manual on making smart food choices. It is arranged by fruit or vegetable, and describes the plant's history and how years of cultivation (and industry tinkering) have changed the flavor and nutritional qualities of the food. It then describes and compares currently available varieties and recommends those with the best flavor and nutritional profile. How to store and prepare the fruit or vegetable is covered, and many sections feature recipes. Th ...more
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Jo Robinson, an investigative journalist and New York Times best-selling writer, is the author of the book, Pasture Perfect, and the principal researcher and writer for the web site. Jo has spent the last nine years researching the many benefits of raising animals on pasture. Her interest grew out of a previous book, The Omega Diet, co-authored with Dr. Artemis Simopoulos, that explore ...more

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