In Defense of Hybrid Fruits
Bizarrely enough, a dread of hybrid fruits is rampant among the health concious.
Ask around the raw food world and you'll find a lot of fear mongers trying to scare you away from healthy food and toward the dead ends of their supplements, super foods, and high fat raw diets.
Amongst the charges leveled against fruit is that it's "too hybridized," -which is a baffling statement, as I hope to demonstrate- "too sugary" - another head scratcher - or "unnaturally seedless."
Fruit gets beat up on a lot, so I thought I'd try to give another perspective and address these odd claims.
What is Hybridization? Are Hybrid Fruits Safe?
Hybridization is simply the mating of two breeds or cultivars within a single species, or between different species within the same genus. This goes for animals and plants.
This joining of genetic material to produce something new and different has been going on since the dawn of life on earth, and you are the direct beneficiary of it.
Unless your father is married to his sister, you're a hybrid yourself, and even if you're the result of incest, your genetic line had some hybrids in it somewhere.
The fruit-haters will tell you that food has become too hybridized. But too hybridized compared to what, and why is their scorn reserved for fruit?
It's true enough that all fruit, including heirloom varieties, are hybrids. But all vegetables are hybrids too, as is every animal that walks the earth.
Everything you have ever eaten is a hybrid. Even the first plant that appeared on solid ground- likely the product of some joining between organisms from the sea -was a hybrid.
If hybridized life is dangerous or bad, then so are you and everything in this world.
Can We Escape Hybrid Fruits?
The fear mongers like to harken back to the days of yesteryear, when, they seem to insinuate, fruit was not hybridized, or existed in some state of hybridization the precluded the precursor "too".
Their scorn is especially reserved for any fruit variety sold in a retail environment, saying that such fruit was bred by man to be too "something", though what exactly they're hard pressed to say.
So let's throw out all of the cultivars that man helped to breed and head into the wild.
There are still large segments of Asia, Africa, and South America where man rarely goes, and fruit trees can be found growing wild. In these untouched Gardens of Eden we can find many of the fruits man later adopted, and interbred, for farming.
Many taste quite good, but what's special about the fruit? Is it different then any other fruit variety? Not really, but one of the ways people will try to distinguish it is by saying it has more sugar.
Do Hybrid Fruits Have More Sugar?
This is one of my favorite misconceptions to tear apart.
I was recently told that today's bananas have "50 times more sugar" than they did at some unstated point in history before man started tampering with them. I've also heard this about other fruit, though exactly how many times more sugar they're said to contain varies.
Now one reason to object to this is simply because what your taste buds tell you. Bite into a store-bought apple and then some wild cultivar that strikes your fancy. Yep, the wild one probably tastes sweeter. Store-bought fruit is bred for durability and looks, not taste.
I've seen no evidence that fruit is sweeter now than it used to be, and I'm fairly certain I'll never see any proof of the sort.
But lets humor this argument for a minute and take on the "50 times more sugar" banana idea.
Let's go back in time and find these amazing, low-sugar bananas.
There's our primeval banana tree in early Africa. All around it are a pack of bonobos, but oddly enough they're not chowing down on the bananas, and are going instead for a nearby mango tree.
Why? Because they'd starve to death on those bananas.
A 7-inch banana of today with 118 grams has about 100 calories to it. The primary calorie source is carbohydrate, so that 50 percent less sugary banana of the past supplies 2 calories from carbohydrates. Combine that with 4 calories from protein and less than one calorie from fat and we're talking about 6 calories per banana. That's less than a large stalk of celery, which has 9 calories.
With my level of activity I need roughly 3,000 calories a day for me to maintain my weight. Consuming enough of these prehistoric bananas to meet my needs is likely an impossibility. Today I can easily down the 30 bananas I require, but 500? Not my stomach.
But when the raw gurus special knowledge of early banana cultivars comes to light in the scientific community, researches will be blown away. You'd have thought they would have heard about these by now, eh?
What About Seedless Hybrid Fruits?
Seedless fruit is all over nature, and while you can breed fruit to not have as many seeds, it doesn't make them unnatural.
You can grow seedless papaya from seeds. Can you wrap your head around that one?
Numerous fruit trees produce seedless fruit for dozens of years, but once they mature they begin producing seeded fruit. Some plants reproduce without using seeds at all.
Sometimes seedlessness is the result of parthenocarpy, or fruits setting without fertilization. Parthenocarpic fruit set may or may not require pollination.
Most seedless citrus fruits need to be pollinated, but bananas and pineapples do not. Seedless grapes are caused by the abortion of embryonic plant produced by fertilization.
Bananas hybridized themselves to the seedless form you now eat. Man had nothing to do with it. They're generally spread by us by transplanting part of the underground stem (called a corm), but the seeded variates still exist and spread themselves that way as well. The unseeded varieties can spread on their own, however.
A single unseeded banana pseudostem will live only 2 to 3 years, or until its fruit is harvested and it's cut down. But the corm from which it grew can survive for years, and every one of the dozens of pseudostems it produces has the potential to develop a stalk of bananas.
The corm will continue to enlarge and store energy to nurture an endless supply of young shoots. One plant will form a small grove in 2 or 3 years. There's nothing unnatural about it.
Man's Role In Hybrid Fruits And Their Production
Don't get me wrong, man is pretty dumb when it comes to growing food.
Our practice of cultivating huge swaths of the earth with annual monocultures is eroding our soil, and it's made us dangerously dependant on fossil-fuel-based pesticides, fungicides, and fertilizers to keep the unnatural system going. As I've explained
our practices are destroying the environment.
We've developed a few dozen hybrid fruits, and we stock our supermarkets with them exclusively at the expense of the thousands of other cultivars that could give us a diversity of exciting tastes and insulate us from the shock of droughts and upswings in pests and crop diseases.
Yet these problems cannot be blamed on hybrid fruits, but only on our own bad practices of rearing them.
It's true that man bred the commercially-popular cultivars to be resistant to bruising, large, well proportioned, and in effect Apollonian but bland.
But, I assure you, the fruit thanks us for it none the less, even if mother nature is wounded by our queer obsessions.
An Animal Kingdom Example of Weird Hybrid Fruits
With a few exceptions in seedless fruit, such as some types of parthenocarpy, fruit's main function is as a vehicle to spread the genetic material of a tree in the form of seeds.
Fruit trees want to spread, and man has helped them to do this on a scale previously unheard of. Our few selected cultivars have been spread beyond their wildest dreams.
For millennia trees tried to create the sweetest, most alluring fruit to get mankind and other fruit-eating animals to chow down and spread their seeds.
Today's fruit have a different focus, and have achieved sub-standard taste in exchange for their hardiness and good looks, but that does not make them unnatural.
Take the birds of paradise, which, bereft of predators, have developed ridiculously extravagant mating rituals and the accompanying appendages to carry them out.
If they were ever put out in the wilds of Africa they'd be torn apart by predators, yet in their own realm of Papua New Guinea and other pacific islands, they have to worry only about looks to attract a mate and pass on their genetic line.
Our hybrid fruits are the same. To attract us they need merely look pretty and resist bruising. We don't care about taste any more than female birds of paradise care about their males hunting prowess. If we left the choice up to animals, they'd likely quickly fail.
Our supermarket world is their Papua New Guinea.
It might be wise- for reasons of taste and to object to our farming practices- to plant your own trees or hunt down farmers that grow many varieties. But don't fool yourself - you're eating a hybrid either way, and either way it won't harm your health.
And even the most tasteless monoculture hybrid fruits secure the ground with roots and prevent many of the problems associated with annual crops.
The sole caveat is genetic engineering, which is an unnatural form of fruit manipulation if there ever was one. Those should be avoided as a matter of course.
So Let's Say Hybrid Fruits Are Bad
For the sake of argument, let's disregard everything I just told you. Forget the fact that vegetables are hybrids too and say they're better than hybrid fruits, which is the usual contention.
So we'll completely avoid sugary fruit and go with vegetables, ok?
As I've shown before,
it won't work.
If I try to get my calories from greens like a mountain gorilla, I still need to hit 3000 calories. My insides would be ripped apart by bamboo, so I'll stick with leafy greens. One head of red leaf lettuce (309 grams) is 49 calories.
I would need to eat 98 heads of lettuce to meet my needs. Sorry, but my stomach can't accommodate that much volume, and if I could I'd be eating all day long. Most people end up binging on fat.
Suddenly hybrid fruits start to sound pretty good, eh?
So how about fat to replace fruit?
This is where most raw foodists turn, but fat will harm you long term. As your fat intake creeps above 10 percent, you put yourself at risk for candida, diabetes, many other diseases, as well as cravings and low energy.
Read more about why fat doesn't work
So even if hybrid fruits are unnatural, which I just showed thy are not, they're still our best choice.
hybrid fruits in a healthy raw food diet
Is the way to go.
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