Quick question before we get into some important myth-busting.
Which of the following occur with the most abundance in nature?
- Brussels sprouts
Again, which of these can be found with the most frequency in their natural setting? We’ll toss in bonus points if you can pinpoint their native homes.
We’ll give you the surprising answer in just a minute. But first, let us remind you about the power of Know-How.
More specifically… let us remind you of the power of its archenemy – Ignorance.
Ignorance, you see, is quickly becoming the world’s most abundant resource. We can’t walk the street without stepping in a big, hot pile of it.
The political sphere, the healthcare industry and Wall Street all depend on a just-in-time supply of the stuff. But they’re not alone. We’d argue the leaders of the modern economy – companies like Netflix, Apple and Facebook – would all wither and die without this fierce yet lazy enemy.
Fortunately, just a bit of Know-How can scratch out a plague of Ignorance.
And when it comes to our food system, few folks understand just how pervasive our enemy has become.
Take our question from above. Which of those popular vegetables are most abundant in nature? Where are we most likely to be driving and see a big, healthy patch of broccoli or cauliflower blooming beside the road?
We ask you… because we certainly don’t know.
That’s because none of them are natural.
Despite the fact that they’re some of the most popular foods within the organic trend… despite the all-natural label slapped on them at your grocery store… and despite the very best marketing practices that would have you convinced what you’re eating is God’s greatest work… none of those foods were here when Adam met Eve.
They’re all the result of human manipulation.
What’s even crazier is that, with the exception of corn, they all stem from a single plant species.
Some would even say that all-natural, organic broccoli on your plate last night was genetically modified.
Move over Ignorance… we’re coming in.
The Buried Truth
Here’s the deal.
Kale, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage are all variations of a single plant species – Brassica oleracea.
You may know it as, yes, wild mustard.
That’s its original form. It can still be found lining ditches and hillsides today. But starting about 2,500 years ago, humans started messing with it.
They determined that if they bred certain plants with large buds, they’d get bigger leaves. After doing it over and over – a process known as selective breeding – the plant was modified into what we know today as cabbage.
When it was bred for its thick stem… it became broccoli.
And when it was bred for its big, white flower… cauliflower.
It’s all the same plant. But it’s highly modified from what was here originally.
It’s the same with corn.
Drive, hike or climb anywhere on the planet and you won’t discover a single stalk of the stuff we know today growing in the wild.
That’s because those towering stalks in the field behind our house aren’t “natural.” They were selectively bred out of teosinte grass, starting some 9,000 years ago.
The “natural” form of corn is actually quite bitter and tastes like potato.
But the earliest folks to call Central America home started playing with the grass’s inch-long stalks. They took pollen from one plant and mixed it with pollen from another. As they did, the traits they were looking for were magnified.
Eventually… the DNA was changed.
As we write, American farmers are working to harvest some 89 million acres of a crop that’s as natural to this planet as Cheese Whiz.
It’s the same with peaches… watermelons… and apples.
None of them are “natural,” at least not under the oh-so-lazy modern definition.
“Practically every food you buy in a store for consumption by humans is genetically modified food,” says Neil deGrasse Tyson, the outspoken physicist and hardcore GMO proponent.
“We have systematically genetically modified all the foods, the vegetables and animals that we have eaten ever since we cultivated them,” he continues. “It’s called ‘artificial selection.’ That’s how we genetically modify them.”
He’s not wrong. But he’s not right.
That’s the problem with Ignorance.
It’s a creepy bastard.
You see, there’s quite a concerted effort these days to broaden the definition of GMOs – aka genetically modified organisms.
These folks, like Tyson, want the term to include everything humans have ever done to organic matter – whether we’re breeding apples to make them crispier or injecting bacteria into corn to make it naturally preserve itself (a real thing).
That way, they can conveniently say what we’re doing to our food today is the same thing that’s been done for eons.
Of course, it’s not true.
The real definition of GMO shouldn’t include selective breeding. It should include only manipulation of genes by directly altering DNA or introducing DNA from a different species.
But that’s technical… and it doesn’t matter.
That’s because, like all things, this realm is painted with shades of gray.
In other words, if we use a single brush to paint the GMO landscape, we do ourselves a great deal of harm. Few folks understand, for example, that much of the food grown in the so-called organic realm is actually from GMO seeds.
And that’s a good thing.
It’s a good thing that we now have corn that requires less poison applied to it. And it’s a good thing that we have varieties of wheat that can feed more folks per acre.
But it’s not good that many varieties of these factory-born seeds are helping to spawn diseases that are resistant to antibiotics. And it’s a bad thing that many of these man-made fruits and vegetables are bred to look pretty… at the huge cost of their nutritional content.
There’s as much good as is there is bad.
But sorting it all out is the real trouble spot.
That’s why our point with this isn’t to convince anybody that GMOs are good or bad.
Most minds are made up.
No, our point is to scratch away at Ignorance… poke holes in the mainstream talking points… and enrich the lives of our readers with Know-How.
That way, the next time you go to the grocery store or hear some biased voice on TV, you’ll know better. You’ll know that the truth is out there… it’s just covered by the shiny veneer of Ignorance.
Peel it off and toss it in the trash.
But who knows… someday we may be able to breed it out.