Holy Kale

While picking some Kale from the garden for dinner last night, thoughts came once again about the holes in the leaves and what they mean.  For one, it means we garden organically here at our house.  While there are organic means to control bugs, for this we didn't use any; we just let it be.  And here's the thing: Does having these holes in the leaves mean the leaves are more nutritious for you?  Many of the beneficial compounds in plants (phytochemicals) are there for the plant's defense.

Since a plant cannot get up and walk, or run, away, or talk, or scream, they have evolved other defenses: chemical defenses.  Many of these chemicals are beneficial to us, having antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and other actions in the human body.  For instance, when a deer begins eating one plant out of a whole patch, that plant changes and begins to emit a chemical messenger, either through the air or via their interlinked root systems, alerting the other plants in that patch.  This leads to the entire patch of plants changing their chemical makeup to, for instance, become more bitter so that the deer will stop eating them.  This allows the deer to get some food without destroying the entire patch.  I am thinking this bitterness is often a beneficial phytochemical for us.  The same type of thing would happen with bugs/pests eating the leaves.

Though one thing to point out is that an unhealthy plant will often signal to and draw in pests.  Keeping our plants healthy goes a long way to preventing pests.  Growing a plant non-organically actually increases the likelihood of pests since non-organic growing methods only seek to supply the plants with 3 main nutrientsPotassium, Nitrogen, and Phosphorus (the ones that affect how a plant looks, the size it gets, and other things good for selling), and hence the plant is not as healthy.  Organic gardening supplies a plant with much more, which is one reason why organic tastes so much better.  These principals would apply to herbs too.

"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." - Hippocrates

So!  I am thinking that Holy Kale is even better for you than perfect looking Kale.  This applies not just in the garden; but also when I am wild-harvesting food, I don't just go for the perfect looking parts, I also pick the bug-eaten parts thinking I am getting extra beneficial compounds.

Now if only this could translate to what is acceptable in the grocery stores so we didn't live under the falsehood that a perfect piece of fruit or vegetable is in fact perfect when it may very well be lacking.  Perfect is artificial.  If you go out into nature you will see that all living things have "blemishes."  It is these imperfections that do indeed make them perfect.  Same goes for people and photoshopping - but that's a whole 'nother blog...

Guess that means the freshest food is not even picked yet!

Many of these beneficial compounds are destroyed through processing or poor storage, so fresh is best.  Cooking is good as it breaks down or begins digesting many of these compounds making them more bioavailable.

How to perceive the natural world more directly. Click here. 

Yes, that is duct tape on my glasses.  I see no reason to put something in the landfill when it can be fixed.                               Duct tape is our friend.  :)

~ ~ ~

"If people let the government decide what foods they eat and
 what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as
 sorry a state as the souls who live under tyranny."
 - Thomas Jefferson

"He who does not know food, how can he understand the diseases of man?"
 - Hippocrates

"The Lord hath created medicines out of the earth;
 and he that is wise will not abhor them."
 - Ecclesiasticus 38:4

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