80/20 rule for veggies
July 13, 2019 1:33 PM   Subscribe

I'm studying the 80/20 rule. I've often thought that the rule would apply to nutrition levels of fruits and veggies.

I was excited when the author (Richard Koch) said the same thing but he dropped it there. So... which are the most nutritious fruits and vegetables?
posted by notned to Health & Fitness (2 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s ANDI score rates foods by nutrient density, i.e., micronutrient density per calorie. His scoring method is given at the bottom of the page.
posted by FencingGal at 1:59 PM on July 13 [7 favorites]

Where do you live? The length of time the vegetables have been out of the ground or off the plant counts for quite a lot. Respiration is a factor.

There is a serious problem in our food chain because we need to mass grow and mass transport food in order to keep costs low, which means we need to reduce spoilage. But the varieties that spoil faster are also typically the more nutritious strains. So when Driscoll Foods California decides to playing 33,000 acres with raspberries they plant the strain that looks perky and bright and doesn't mould for three weeks to ensure that they actually have produce that will get to the stores and the consumers. They also may pick the crop un-ripe - and without many of the nutrients yet developed in it - and then chemically ripen it. But since the crop is not on the vine, chemical ripeness may not be able to produce the complex range of nutrients that the produce potentially might have. Something to look for are heirloom varieties, as they are often higher nutrition than the more recent strains - yes, they may be able to prove that there is an equal amount of vitamin C in the modern strain as in the heirloom variety, but then again they may not, and they definitely will fall short when it comes to micronutrients and phytochemicals. As an example, wild blueberries are about 40% better than cultivars, for nutrition content.

So in many cases if you can get produce that was picked in the last twenty-four hours you will be doing better than if you get a supposedly more nutrition dense vegetable that has been held in refrigerated stasis for two weeks. I am highly doubtfully of farmer's markets - where I live they are a nice affectation, and just sell produce from Chile and California, except blueberries, apples and corn and pumpkins and a few days of zucchini because that is what we can grow locally. Our strawberry season generally lasts a few days, started last week and will probably be over before the end of July. I'm pretty sure the bananas and oranges are not grown locally.

Winter keepers are produce that retains a lot of nutrition over a longer period of time. So if you have a choice of month old cabbage or month old Swiss chard you will not have an obvious choice even though chard is one of the super nutrition vegetables.

And then another factor is that most produce is chemically fertilized rather than compost and manure fertilized, so the soil is pretty much vermiculite. Unless someone is dumping iron into the soil, your spinach is not iron rich after all. So if you can you want to track down a farmer who spreads manure.

First, if you can find a couple of local producers who fertilize that way and stick to what they produce as your staples, the same way you might find a local source of grass fed beef and stick to that, you will fill the niche for fresh and for good soil resources. If you can find a farmer who practices crop rotation and fallowing, the food they sell is going to be nutritionally ten times as valuable, and you have found the holy grail of nutrition. These are the guys to sell you your salad veggies and fresh fruit. If there is snow on the ground and you are eating salad there is a good chance there is no nutrition left in the food to speak of. A rule of thumb for salad veggies and soft fruit is to ask if they are harvesting this item in your area right now. If not... it's anyone's guess how old it is and if it has been sprayed with mould retardant. Local, in season - that's going to hit your highest twenty percent.

Secondly I would look for a source of winter keepers that use good soil management, but can be miles and miles away from you. Hard cabbage, potatoes, carrots, onions, apples - those can be put into a sleeper and will retain lots of nutrition months after they were picked. Refrigerated storage is the same as a sleeper, so you are good there. If you can't get local in season, these will be right up there for having lots of nutrients.

Thirdly I would go with frozen fruit and vegetables. Frozen corn that was shaved off the cob on site and was frozen the same day it was harvested is going to have more vitamins than an ear of corn that was two weeks in refrigerated storage and then another two weeks in an air conditioned store. Once you boil the "fresh" corn and the frozen corn the nutrients are likely to fall strongly in favour of the frozen.

Oddly, I would not place that much reliance on the condition of the produce - A bunch of wilting Swiss chard that is a week old will probably be as or more nutritious than a perky and crisp bunch of chard that was picked a month ago, sprayed with mould retardant, insecticide and pore sealant, and since then has been regularly misted to prevent the wilting. In the first case it's past it's prime and a good thing you are going to be cooking it; in the second case the poor vegetable has been embalmed.
posted by Jane the Brown at 4:05 AM on July 14 [8 favorites]

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