Sunday, February 17, 2013

Forensic Nutritionist?

I always thought Forensics were just used to solve crimes, but several years ago I met a man who called himself a "Forensic accountant" (the study and interpretation of accounting evidence). 

Now on television, I see Forensic anthropologists (the application of physical anthropology in a legal setting, usually for the recovery and identification of skeletonized human remains), and on the History 2 channel I see Forensic botany (the study of plant life in order to gain information), Forensic geology (deals with trace evidence in the form of soils, minerals and petroleum). There's also Forensic archaeology and Forensic seismology. They all seem to be searching for the Truth about something.

So, I looked up the word.  It comes from the Latin forÄ“nsis, meaning "of or before the forum." The two given meanings are:

1. Relating to, used in, or appropriate for courts of law or for public discussion or argumentation.
2. Of, relating to, or used in debate or argument.

Based on those descriptions, I think I could easily give myself the title of Forensic Nutritionist©, since I'm always seeking the truth about our foods vs. the fake foods manufactured and advertised as food... and this blog is certainly my Forum.

Since I'm now napping a lot during my slow recovery, I'm reading Taste, Memory... Forgotten Foods, Lost Flavors, and Why They Matter by David Buchanan. His descriptions of some of the lost foods he has hunted down and now has growing in his gardens make my mouth water, and I want to search of the similar foods that were widely grown 200 years ago in my region. His are not merely heirlooms, but 90% or more are lost heirloom foods that have taken a lot of time to track down. All are open-pollinated and many have regional growing requirements.

In the book, David Buchanan asked John Barker (the Maine apple guy, founder of Fedco Trees) why he thinks we have abandoned so many old foods. John answered that in his opinion, "we have forgotten how to think and act independently. We follow the rules, find jobs, settle down, and turn agricultural production over to others.

"Food today is a tradable commodity, and as such it must adapt to the market, which demands consistency and discourages variety. It's no accident we find limited selections in our grocery stores."  

That, however, does not mean we cannot track down and grow a few tasty old-timers in a small corner of our home garden or patio. We can be sure they aren't GMO, and they might have taste far surpassing our current homegrown heirlooms. The Ark of Taste is a good starting place, as are organizations like Seed Savers Exchange who put out a yearbook of over 20,000 listings of available but endangered seed, offered by members worldwide (seeds not commercially available nor ever listed online).

Meanwhile, Monsanto is searching out lost and almost forgotten foods in foreign places like South America, Russia and the Middle East, and getting patents on them.

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