For a Healthier Diet, Go Wild


Not everyone is entirely on board with Robinson's theories. Michael Mazourek, an assistant professor of plant breeding and genetics at Cornell University, said he applauded any effort to get Americans to eat their greens but finds Robinson's explanation of phytonutrients a bit simplistic.

"Many phytochemicals are toxic or unpalatable, so it's a good thing they've been engineered out of our food," he said. "By breeding out the unsafe aspects, we've created healthy fruits and vegetables that are appealing enough to be consumed in large quantities," he explained.

Peppers with the fiery hot phytochemical capsaicin bred out of them allow people to enjoy the benefit of the vitamins, minerals and fiber packed into the peppers without burning their mouths, Mazourek said. And whereas only the seeds of wild squash can be eaten safely, domestic breeds such as acorn squash, zucchini and pumpkin don't possess any deadly phytochemicals, so the fleshy parts can be enjoyed as well.

But Mazourek said that despite what he considers some misinterpretations, he believed Robinson was on the right track.

"If aiming for more phytonutrients in the diet gets people eating more and a greater variety of fruits and vegetables, then have at it," he said.

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