Wild and Ancient Fruit: Is it Really Small, Bitter, and Low in Sugar?

Given the recent blog-o-drama about carbs in the human diet (for instance, here and here), this seems like a fine time to blog about a sweet subject dear to my heart: fruit! More specifically, I want to take a closer look at some common beliefs about wild fruit, and how it differs from the store-bought stuff most of us have access to.

For those looking at evolution for clues about the optimal human diet, fruit is often regarded with suspicion. On one hand, few foods are “intended” for consumption in the way fruit is: In a lovely act of symbiosis, plants offer nourishment to the animal kingdom in trade for seed dispersal. But on the other hand—the one purpled with blackberry stains—we humans are famous for playing Food God, turning once-healthy things into gross abominations. For hundreds (and in some cases, thousands) of years, we’ve been selectively breeding certain fruits to become bigger, prettier, easier to eat, and easier to transport thousands of miles away from their mothering trees. As a result, the waxed apples and seedless watermelons lining store aisles are a far cry from their wild ancestors.

And for the health minded, this is a predicament. How can we reconcile this year-round supply of modern fruit with the wild stuff we encountered in the past?

Especially in the paleo/ancestral diet communities, statements like these tend to be widely accepted in a common sense, no-reference-needed sort of way:

  • “Fruits in the Paleolithic would have been tart and smaller, and you may want to limit modern fruit because of this.” (From here)
  • “The problem is that the fruits our paleo ancestors ate no longer exist. While they had mostly bitter fruit, we’ve bred ours over the past 200 years to be extremely sweet and sugary. It’s thus become something akin to candy plus a mediocre multivitamin.” (From here)
  • “Bear in mind that the fruits that paleolithic man ate, while still being, say, apples, bore almost no resemblance to today’s apples. Modern fruit is bred to be HUGE and sweet. Most fruits are packed with a particularly bad sugar, fructose…”(From here)
  • “Fruits have been selectively bread to contain massive amounts of sugar compared to how they used to be. Eating a bunch of tropical fruit is not in the spirit of Paleo.” (From here)

At first glance, that all seems logical enough. Virtually all the food we have available today—from plant and animal kingdoms alike—has been selectively bred for both flavor and ease of eating, and fruit is certainly no exception. It seems reasonable to conclude that, apart from the rare batch of honey or seasonal berry bushes popping up outside, humans didn’t get much exposure to sugar during our evolution, and modern fruits are completely unlike anything we encountered in the past.

But are these assumptions truly accurate? Let’s take a look at the facts.

(Note: This isn’t a post about how much fruit we should or shouldn’t be eating, or how much fruit we’ve eaten in the past, or how many apples it’ll take to turn your liver into a ready-to-explode fructose grenade. Those are some hot issues, and I’m not sure they can be reasonably addressed with current research (for instance, there are virtually no studies on the effects of fruit-derived fructose in healthy humans, and quantifying historical fruit consumption is extremely difficult). My intent here is to shed light on some of the myths surrounding wild and ancestral fruit, since some of the most common beliefs are also the most inaccurate.)

Wild fruit: small, bitter, and low in sugar?

Contrary to popular belief, wild fruit—including the stuff we would’ve had access to during our evolution—is not necessarily any of the above. In fact, it can be bigger, tastier, and sweeter than anything you’ll ever find in the aisles of your grocery store.

Fruit is decidedly sparser once you get out of the tropics, but considering we were stationed in Africa until about 50,000 years ago, the flora of a backyard in Michigan might not be a great reflection of the plant life we encountered for the majority of our evolution. As a result, comparisons of cold-climate fruits to their wild ancestors (for instance, a Red Delicious versus a crab apple) tend to be misleading, and tropical fruits may offer more insight. Although we’ll probably never get a clear picture of the exact fruits available to early humans, we can look at the wild fruits growing today to get an idea of what nature is capable of producing on its own.

There’s a great book called “Lost Crops of Africa” (readable online) that has a brilliant section on wild fruit. The authors start by describing the vastness of Africa’s wild fruit supply:

Most of Africa’s edible native fruits are wild. One compilation lists over 1000 different species from 85 botanical families and even that assessment is probably incomplete. Among all those fruit-bearing plants, many of the individual specimens growing within Africa are sheltered and protected, some are even carefully tended, but few have been selected to bring out their best qualities, let alone deliberately cultivated or maintained through generations. They remain untamed. … Africa’s wild-fruit wealth is essentially unknown to science.

So what kinds of “wild fruits” are we talking about here? Let’s take a look at some.

Monkey orange: a tasty fruit enjoyed by more than just primates. Photo by Douglas Boldt of boldt.us.

Nope, that’s not a cross between brains and canned peaches: It’s a monkey orange, a wild species native to Africa. Far from small, these fruits can weigh up to 2.5 pounds each—but untouched by the sweet-seeking hands of humans, is their flavor bitter and unpalatable? Quite the opposite:

In organoleptic taste tests, people were requested to compare the monkey orange fruit with familiar fruits; the most common answers were, orange, banana, and apricot, and all possible combinations among them. The fruits emit a delicate aroma reminiscent of the spice clove. … Over 90% of the panel claimed that it was very tasty.

Nom nom nom. Moving on:

Junglesop: a giant, ugly ball of deliciousness. Photo from SkyfieldTropical.com.

Junglesop. Photo from Lost Crops of Africa: Volume III: Fruits.

Next up, we have the truly wondrous junglesop—a wild member of the same “sop” family that gives us cherimoyas, soursops, sweetsops, sugar apples, and other uber-sweet delicacies common in the tropics. If any uncultivated fruit can blast the “wild fruit is tiny” myth, it’s this sucker: Junglesops average 15 inches in length and weigh around 12 pounds each, with some of the larger fruits clocking in at 30 pounds or more. (Yes, these fruits are even heavier than your obese cat.) And folks lucky enough to live in the junglesop’s native regions seem quite fond of it:

It is so well liked in the regions where it occurs, that for example, in the Central African Republic, some people pay up more than one day’s salary for a single large fruit. A fruit of this size is several meals worth of food. In addition to being an important and widely liked fruit in equatorial Africa, it is also a very important staple for wildlife, especially primates.

Indeed, part of the reason the junglesop hasn’t been messed with by humans is because it does so darn well growing on its own. These fruits pop up like weeds in their homeland (West and Central Africa), and reach their enormous size without any human intervention. Looks like we should give nature more credit for making megafruits without our help.

Other wild fruits in this family are equally scrumptious:

One, the African custard apple, has been called “the best indigenous fruit in most parts of tropical Africa.” Another, the junglesop, produces probably the biggest fruits in the whole family—as long as a person’s forearm and as thick as a person’s thigh. A third—perhaps the strangest of all—“hangs like a bunch of sausages,” each fruit a bright scarlet link. At least two more produce small tasty fruits that make people’s mouths water at just the remembrance from a long-ago childhood. And this group includes a tangy fruit borne on a plant so strange that it barely rises above ground level.

African custard apple, mentioned above: scent of a pineapple, taste of an apricot.

You get the picture. And here are some more:

Soursop. Image from KaieteurNewsOnline.com.

Inside of a soursop. Photo from MedicoNews.com.

The soursop is an often-gigantic fruit of the Annona family that grows wild, but is now being increasingly cultivated in the tropics due to its awesome flavor. I’ve had the pleasure of trying these monsters in Hawaii, and they taste vaguely like the sour-apple gummy snacks I devoured in my youth. (I’ve also heard them described as a mixture of strawberry and pineapple.) The inside is moist, creamy white, and full of seeds. One of the few wild fruits with a documented nutrition profile, they’re decidedly high in sugar (30 grams per 150-calorie serving).

Canistel, also known as egg fruit. Photo from MarketManila.com.

This fruit is as delicious as it is beautiful. The canistel—also called an “egg fruit”—is rich and dense, tasting like a cross between pumpkin pie and sweet potato. The name comes from its texture, which is a bit crumbly and resembles cooked egg yolk. Although bigger, prettier strains are being grown commercially these days (after being introduced to other parts of the world in the mid 1920s), the canistel still grows wild in Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and El Salvador, where it retains its distinctive flavor. With 37 grams of sugar per 100-gram portion, this is another fruit that’s naturally sweet without human help.

Masuku fruit. Photo by Douglas Boldt of boldt.us.

Those are masukus, another wild fruit renowned for their sweet, delicious flavor. They might not be as visually pleasant as the store-bought fruit we’re used to seeing, but they’re highly sought after throughout Africa due to their taste.

Gingerbread plums. Image from “Lost Crops of Africa.”

Gingerbread plums are a wild African fruit with sweet, crunchy flesh reminiscent of strawberries. They’re considered one of the yummiest wild foods in Malawi. When they’re in season, many communities rely on gingerbread plums as a dietary staple, according to “Lost Crops of Africa.”

Pedalai. Photo from SkyfieldTropical.com.

A distant relative of jackfruit (a giant that tastes like Juicyfruit gum), pedalai is a softball-sized wild fruit from Southeast Asia with soft, sweet white pegs of flesh inside.

Jaboticaba, or Brazilian grape tree. Photo from OddityCentral.com.

An open jaboticaba. Photo by Jacob Katel of the Miami New Times.

Contrary to what it may seem, this wacky looking tree isn’t sprouting purple marbles: It’s a jaboticaba, AKA a Brazilian grape tree. This plant produces sweet, big, grape-flavored fruits that grow directly on the trunk—an evolutionary maneuver allowing non-climbing creatures to pick the fruits and disperse the seeds.

Bacupari.

And this is a bacupari—a wild-growing fruit native to South America, with a very sweet, slightly acidic flavor.

Abiu. Photo from CloudForest.com.

Abiu, the Amazon-native wild fruit pictured above, is said to be pretty tasty: Their “delicious flavour is reminiscent of crème caramel and it is sometimes used to flavour ice cream and make other desserts,” according to Daleys Fruit Nursery.

So there you have it: just a small sampling of the many wild fruits that can be sweet, flavorful, and (sometimes) doggone big without us humans breeding them for centuries. Interestingly, one reason wild fruits have a reputation for being more sour than cultivated kinds isn’t because they have less sugar, but because they have more vitamin C, which imparts an acidic flavor. According to a paper about wild fruits in South Africa that I’ll be discussing in the next section:

The composition of these [wild] fruits does not appear to differ much from the better-known domestic fruits except in so far as their vitamin C content is substantially higher than that of domestic fruits. The high vitamin-C content of the wild fruits must undoubtedly contribute to their characteristic acidity.

Nutrient profile of wild fruit

A common belief about wild fruit is that it’s generally lower in sugar and digestible carbohydrates than our modern varieties. Although most of the world’s wild fruits are relatively unstudied (making it difficult to analyze this claim), we do have information on some of ’em. For instance, a paper published decades ago in the South African Journal of Nutrition, called “The nutrient composition of some edible wild fruits found in the Tansvaal” (PDF), documents the nutrient breakdowns of some of southern Africa’s most popular wild fruits. Here’s a table from the paper:

Wondering why the protein, fat, and carbohydrate percentages look so funny and don’t add up to 100? These measurements are based on dry weight rather than caloric yield like we’re used to seeing—so those are just the relative weights of each macronutrient, with moisture and ash (basically a measurement of mineral content) making up the rest. You can still get a sense of which macronutrient dominates in each type of fruit by looking at that chart, but to make it easier, I went ahead and converted those numbers into “percent of total calories” for all the fruits and graphed ’em. This is using only non-fiber carbohydrate so we don’t inflate these figures with indigestible carbs (we’ll cover fiber a bit further down). The first monkey orange values are for the flesh surrounding the seeds; the second values are for the flesh on the inside of the shell.

These puppies range from 78 to 92% of calories from carbohydrates. How does that measure up with some of the fruits more likely to find their way onto our kitchen counters? Let’s compare:

Pretty consistent, right? The biggest difference is that some wild fruits are a bit higher in protein than cultivated varieties, but in general, the macronutrient breakdowns are pretty similar. With the exception of durian (and avocado, which I didn’t graph), cultivated fruits—including berries—tend to hover around 85 to 95% of calories from carbohydrate. (Unfortunately, the data set for wild fruit doesn’t tell us how much of the carbohydrate content was from sugar versus starch, so this comparison is still incomplete.)

It’s quite possible that the macronutrient breakdown of wild fruits is more diverse than indicated by the sample above, but studies from other geographical locations offer similar data. For instance, a paper on Australian Aboriginal plant foods found that indigenous fruits had a similar or higher carbohydrate content compared to domestic fruits.

Fiber

So what about the claim that wild fruits are much higher in fiber than cultivated varieties? Going back to the data set above, let’s look at the ratio between fiber and total carbohydrate in various fruits. These ratios can be read as “1 part fiber for every X parts total carbohydrate”—so the lower the second number, the greater the relative fiber content of that fruit.

Fiber:total carbohydrate ratio in wild fruits

  • Wild plum: 1:6
  • Marula fruit: 1:15
  • Wild apricot: 1:42
  • Monkey orange, flesh around seeds: 1:4
  • Monkey orange, flesh around shell: 1:4
  • Amatungulu: 1:11
  • Baobab: 1:10
  • Sour plum: 1:17
  • Red gherkin: 1:11

Fiber:total carbohydrate ratio in cultivated fruits

  • Papaya: 1:6
  • Guava: 1:3
  • Strawberries: 1:4
  • Cantaloupe: 1:10
  • Oranges, Valencia: 1:5
  • Apricots: 1:6
  • Grapefruit: 1:7
  • Pear: 1:5
  • Banana: 1:9
  • Grapes, American: 1:20
  • Nectarines: 1:6
  • Peaches: 1:7
  • Blueberries: 1:6
  • Honeydew melons: 1:12

Basically, we have quite a bit of fiber variation among both wild and cultivated species. Of the wild fruits listed in the paper above, the fiber-to-total-carb ratio ranges from 1:4 for monkey oranges to a whopping 1:42 for wild apricots (meaning the monkey orange has a decent amount of fiber, while the wild apricot has relatively little). Similarly, the sampling of cultivated fruits here range from 1:3 for guava to 1:20 for American grapes. At least from this data, it seems that wild fruit isn’t universally higher in fiber than cultivated varieties, at least not when we look at the edible portion of the fruit.

The fructose factor

If you’ve been keeping up with the latest health news, you’ve probably noticed fructose stealing the spotlight as a potential factor in obesity, non-alcoholic fatty liver, metabolic syndrome, and other health woes (for instance, see Robert Lustig’s “Sugar: The Bitter Truth“). Although most of the finger-pointing has been at high-fructose corn syrup and other refined sweeteners, fruit has also taken a whooping because of its natural fructose content. Modern fruit, in particular, has been accused of being higher in fructose than ancestral and wild strains and thus less healthy than it was in the days of yore. In my frequent internet lurks, I often see unreferenced advice to limit fruit consumption to berries, which are supposedly lower in fructose than other varieties of fruit.

But is there truly a significant difference in fructose between wild and cultivated fruits?

Once again, wild fruits are terribly understudied in terms of nutrients (especially sugar composition), but we do have a few resources out there to mine for clues. One is the paper “Phytochemicals, vitamin C and sugar content of Thai wild fruits” published in Food Chemistry in 2011. This article has a nice breakdown of the sugars in 19 wild fruits from Southeast Asia. I’ve graphed them out below.* If you’re not a botany buff, don’t worry about the gibberish-esque Latin names: Just look at the pie charts to get a visual feel for what sugars are abundant in some wild species.

*For the fruits that had a listing for both “ripe” and “raw” (not ripe), I only graphed the “ripe” data.

(Note: Maltose and galactose made up a minor portion of the sugars in some of these fruits, but for the sake of keeping things simple, I’m only graphing the three major sugars—sucrose, glucose, and fructose. And since sucrose cleaves into equal parts fructose and glucose in your body, all the blue pie slices below could be viewed as contributing half fructose and half glucose.)

If there’s any pattern here, it’s that most of these fruits are comprised of at least half glucose and a hefty dose of fructose—but three are actually sucrose-dominated, so there aren’t any set-in-stone rules regarding sugar distribution in wild fruits. Likewise, human-bred fruits are all across the board in terms of sugar. Berries (both wild and cultivated) tend to be about half fructose with only minimal amounts of sucrose, while other commercial fruits contain more sucrose and proportionately less fructose and glucose. Take a look at some common varieties as an example:

Whether you’re looking at straight-up fructose or fructose derived metabolically from sucrose, there’s really no basis for the claim that wild fruit is lower in fructose than cultivated varieties—at least in terms of sugar breakdown. After digestion, both wild and cultivated fruits seem to yield about 50% fructose.

Seasonality

Although many wild fruits do have a limited harvesting period, this doesn’t mean early humans would only have access to fruit for only a few weeks or months per year (as is sometimes stated). Particularly in tropical climates, different plant species tend to bear fruit at different times annually—and even plants of the same genus or species can have staggered fruiting periods within the same region. Although a single fruit might not have been available year-round, different species would certainly provide access to fruit beyond a single season.

On top of that, some species remain edible for months after they ripen, and others naturally sun-dry on the plant, making them easy to store for later consumption. For example:

  • The monkey orange, mentioned earlier: “These three special monkey orange trees are widely enjoyed and have the amazing capacity to stay edible in tropical heat for months after maturity.”
  • Sand apples can be easily dried and formed into a long-lasting “cake.”
  • Australian aborigines dry a number of desert fruits to eat throughout the year, including the raisins Solanurn centrale and S. ellipticurn and the bush tomato.

On the flip side

Despite all of the above, there are some notable differences between wild fruits and cultivated ones:

  • The ratio of pulp vs. inedible stuff. Wild fruits tend to have thicker peels and bigger seeds, strings, rinds, cores, and other gnarly bits relative to the amount of edible flesh they yield. Even when sugar composition doesn’t differ dramatically between the edible parts of wild versus cultivated species, a single wild fruit will generally provide a lot less edible material than a cultivated fruit of the same size. This is one area where humans have definitely left our signature in fruit breeding: We like our cultivated fruits to be seedless (or at least low in ’em), easy to bite into, easy to peel, and abundant in edible flesh. Due to their extra roughage (and sometimes-scary exteriors), wild fruits can be more of a challenge to eat. (This doesn’t just apply to sweet fruits, either: See my earlier post on wild avocados.)
  • Water content. Interestingly, wild fruits are often calorically denser than cultivated fruits due to their lower water content. Whereas humans seem fond of fruits with a juice-dribbling-down-your-chin effect, wild fruits are sometimes (but not always) dry, crumbly, crunchy, mushy, and otherwise non-juicy. The higher water content of cultivated fruits makes them appear relatively lower in protein and fat than wild varieties (as primate-diet-expert Katharine Milton points out in many of her publications), even though this isn’t usually the case when viewed from a calorie perspective.
  • Fruiting cycles. On an individual-species basis, the fruiting cycles of wild versus cultivated fruit tend to be very different. In the wild, plants can have variable fruiting periods depending on climate, season, rainfall, and even the specific year (some plants are biennial, bearing most of their fruit once every two years), leading to inconsistent fruit yields. Farmers, on the other hand, may deliberately control or extend fruiting periods so that a particular fruit stays in season longer or hits the grocery store shelves earlier than nature dictates.
  • Dangerous natural substances. Although most cultivated fruit is pretty safe from a toxicity perspective, wild fruits—especially under-ripe ones—can contain an array of natural toxins causing everything from an upset stomach to death. Alkaloids, tannins, cyanogenic glycoside (which turns into cyanide), and a variety of other compounds can exist in some types of wild fruit, making it imperative to know which parts are safe to eat. These substances can also make some types of wild fruit difficult to eat in large quantities without feeling queasy.
  • Flavor variability. Because flavor is influenced by soil quality (among other things), wild fruits of a single species can sometimes vary tremendously in taste. The junglesop, for instance, can span a wide range of flavors—not all of them pleasant. According to Lost Crops of Africa: “In some varieties [the junglesop flesh] is deliciously sweet and very good to the taste; in others, it can be not only sour but downright awful. Just how mature the fruit was when picked can affect the sweetness, but genetics also plays a part, and locals know individual trees that are always sweet and others that are always sour.”
  • Micronutrients. Some wild fruits are far more nutritious than the conventionally-grown ones we throw into our shopping carts, although the vitamin and mineral content of wild fruit fluctuates almost as much as flavor. I initially planned to write a separate section on this subject, but the papers I found were so inconsistent (some showing high levels of certain micronutrients in wild fruits, others showing low levels compared to cultivated fruit) that it seems impossible to say anything definitive.

In addition, if you rounded up every single wild fruit species in the world (not just ones preferred by primates with somewhat-similar digestive anatomy to ours), the majority likely would be small and unpalatable. Wild sweet fruits are a favored minority. This isn’t necessarily a blow against fruit, though. You could also argue that if you rounded up every animal, every vegetable, or every seed in the world, the majority would be small and unpalatable. Across the board, humans have distinct preferences within each food category, such a for sweeter fruit, fattier meat, and less-bitter vegetables.

Take-home points

If you’re in brain-burnout mode and didn’t absorb all that (I can empathize!), here’s the Reader’s Digest version of this post.

  • Although not all wild fruits are as big and sweet as our modern cultivars, at least some are, and certain varieties even surpass our deliberately-bred fruits in size and flavor. Nature—especially with selection pressure from other fruit-eating creatures—is perfectly capable of producing sweet (and sometimes massive) fruits without human intervention. It seems unlikely that early humans only ever encountered berries or other “small, bitter” fruits, and avoiding sweeter fruits on the basis of evolutionary history may be misguided.
  • Based on the limited research we have, wild fruits aren’t considerably different from cultivated fruit in terms of carbohydrate content, fructose content, or fiber content. Both wild and cultivated fruit seem to average around 90% of calories from carbohydrates, and have a sugar composition that yields roughly equal parts glucose and fructose. And both wild and cultivated fruit can be relatively high or low in fiber.
  • Although berries are often lauded as being lower in fructose compared to other fruits, from a calorie/energy standpoint, this just ain’t true!
  • Early humans may very well have had access to fruit for most or even all of the year. The fruiting seasons we witness in cooler climates—with most fruit appearing in the summer—doesn’t necessarily apply to our evolutionary homeland closer to the equator.

I blame the “wild fruit is bitter and small” belief on our woeful state of food education. Most people can name more types of candy than they can of fruit, even though there are literally thousands of edible varieties across the globe—a great many of them wild. With the exception of raw foodists, well-traveled gourmands, and anyone who hangs out at Asian markets, most people’s concept of “fruit” is limited to the standard grocery store staples, with little idea of what else is out there.

Again, this post is only intended to be descriptive, not prescriptive. Fruit is a regular part of my own diet, but I also believe dietary context and individual health history plays a big role in how people react to nature’s proverbial candy. If you avoid modern fruit on the basis that only “small, bitter, fibrous” fruit was available in the past though, it might be time for a paradigm shift.

Nutrition information in this post was taken from the USDA Nutrient Database and Fruits of Warm Climates by Julia Morton.

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544 comments

  1. I know this is only anecdotal, but when I went up north to my family’s place in Newfoundland, (my mother’s family lived on a fjord-like river reachable only by boat-ride…3 boat rides, to be exact), I was able to sample the most amazing strawberries and blueberries of my life. They were so tiny, (some berries the size of my baby-fingernail) and so deeply hued, and their taste was truly remarkable…One bite of a tiny wild strawberry carried with it more sweetness and more, “strawberry-ness” than even the most expensive “organic” berry from Whole Foods. Imagine that! The same for the blueberries, though the wild ones varied greatly in size, (but not taste). In this case, at least from a taste standpoint, wilder was sweeter, (and better!).

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  9. Great post! In temperate climates we have the Paw paw tree – a large fruit and a relative to the cherimoya and sweet sop in tropical areas. It’s native to the northeast U.S., I think, and is making a comeback as a cultivated fruit.
    Once again, what a thoughtful, well-written piece. Thanks.

    Ryan

  10. This is a good body of work and congratulations. Very useful info.

    One problem I see with your view is that humans did not really evolve in a tropical paradise full of fruit in great quantities, throughout the year. For 1000s of generations humans lived in climates that were far from that. In cold, over soil that does not produce much fruit, in places where the only food available came from animal sources that could find and process food better than humans. There are places where the only thing that grows is grass and other inedible low caloric content, high water content food. Many animals will live on it. Some animals, including humans evolved to live on the flesh of these animals. We can’t deny this fact, it’s all over our biology. Fish was the only source for many primitive communities and is the only source for many modern communities. Humans possibly starved for days at a time and lived a very different life from what the tropical paradise paradigm might make you think.

    You obvioysly love fruit, it’s quite easy to tell from the descriptions of fruit. That doesn’t mean that a diet based on fruit is natural and heatly or that human evolved under this diet. The availability of these fruits was probably the exception. I might like grain but that doesn’t mean humans have always had crops stacked in their premises, I know agriculture hasn’t been with us for very long. It’s easy to tell by the starving mechanism of humans that we actually starved again and again. The fat storage mechanism and the use of it as fuel point to this direction.

    Also, the choice of modern fruit is a little strange. Lots of good fruit in there, but many people in my country only eat apples, oranges and grapes. In most supermarkets you can only get a few tropical fruits. An apple a day we say. But apples are not high fat and high protein content like your modern fruit examples. They are 96% carbs, nothing like the uncommon tropical fruit you present here.

    Most people consider fruit juices to be healthy and they are not. That’s biology and that’s a fact. You can easily drink too much juice, you can practically drink it instead of water, and there virtually no fiber in it. They are marketed on the same wagon with fruits, and that’s something we should change.

    1. Thanks Pavlos. Glad to have your comments. Your rationality is attested to by the crap spewing forth from the sugar distorted mind of Padraig. He is like a spider ready to pounce on anyone arriving here. Complete strangers are treated like mortal enemies to be insulted rather than talked to. Never mind this example of the worst instinct in humanity. Probably one of those angry-all-the time vegans you see at the health food stores with their angry faces. Et tu Brutus? He has appointed himself guardian of the monkey ancestor diet hypothesis. I am surer poor Denise cringes when he writes in her name.

      1. *sigh* You know I tried to think of something to say to this, but I just cannot break down how ridiculous it is to be 1) guessing about Denise’s state of mind and much worse 2) to state as an assumed fact that I’m attempting to “write in her name”, simply because I agree with the main point of this article.

        1. “How can anyone talk as much **** as you do pavlos is beyond me. You are so utterly, completely wrong with every way. People like you are a pox on the planet. “We can’t deny this fact, it’s all over our biology”====> YOU’RE AN IDIOT.”
          Hey Padraig, this is how you treat people. You are being called on being a nasty person. You are on record over an over again at being an intolerable bore and just plain mean to complete strangers. Now really, would it be a big step to think that Denise would cringe at reading of the vile nastiness she sees coming from you? I don’t think so. Now you have the last word. You are not worth another reply. I am cancelling my email notices

          1. Again this fantasizing about Denise and what she’s thinking and how she must be on your side during all of this. I’m actually starting to find it borderline creepy myself, god only knows how Denise must feel as the object of your obsessions.

            It wouldn’t be a big step to think that, no. I’m sure I could be banned at any time. But this doesn’t mean you can just talk about “what Denise must think” when she didn’t say anything about it herself. Now I can’t say it hasn’t crossed my own mind whether or not Denise would read my comments and what she would think of them, just like for other blogs I’ve posted on also. But I don’t have this intense focus on her hypothetical thoughts… which you just invented yourself… as you do.

            I’m not critical of people or posts to feel better about myself, I am because I hate the misinformation that is spread around so much. Misinformation and lies destroy lives, kill people, and will probably destroy us all in the future when they are changing genes in food and many organisms including humans. And while I might say people here are full of crap, I say the same thing about a lot of scientists who are vastly worse in every way, the vilest of the vilest of people. But on principle nobody should talk about things they don’t know about, and nobody should encourage them or say their opinions are just as valid as anyone else’s. Humans have way too much power for that nowadays.

  11. How can anyone talk as much **** as you do pavlos is beyond me. You are so utterly, completely wrong with every way. People like you are a pox on the planet. “We can’t deny this fact, it’s all over our biology”====> YOU’RE AN IDIOT.

  12. And even though you are completely lost to the world of rational thought, how exactly do you figure oranges and grapes are “strange” modern choices for us, given that they have been eaten by our ancestors since day 1? Grapes and especially oranges are eaten by primates all the time.

    You just don’t know anything, so stop acting like you do. A bizarre tangent into talking about a lot of grass everywhere. You know absolutely nothing.

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  14. The first thing I thought of when I read this very informative article was:

    “Where there is something to explain, the human mind has never been at a loss to invent ad hoc some imaginary theories, lacking any logical justification.” – Ludwig von Mises from Human Action

    This is obviously true within the paleo community as well. With that said, I will still be generally avoiding the high sugar fruits as a rule.

    Great stuff.

  15. Amazing article! I’ve definitely seen Fruits take alot of crap and it has affected my viewpoint for sure. Thanks for the refreshing perspective!

  16. Hey. I noticed your website title, “Wild and Ancient Fruit: Is it Really Small, Bitter, and Low in Sugar? Raw Food SOS” does not
    really reflect the content of your internet site. When composing your
    website title, do you believe it’s best to write it for SEO or for your viewers? This is something I’ve been struggling with
    mainly because I want good rankings but at the same time I want the
    best quality for my website visitors.

  17. Domesticated apples are not descended from crab apples. Domestic apples (Malus domestica) have been bred from wild specimens that are native to central Asia. These wild apples grow in vast forests containing millions of apple trees. Wild apples can be as big as a large grapefruit and quite sweet.

  18. I posed the question over at 30bananas a day, that, why would our skin have evolved away from a tropical climate(if you’re white) yet our digestion still favored a diet that would ONLY be supported in a climate that our skin would be unable to handle. It make’s little sense. Now if you’re very dark skinned or even african I don’t see why you couldn’t try the diet out.

    Another flaw with fruitiarians idealism is when they talk about getting enough calories, often times they will have to consume excess of their hunger to maintain body mass. This is talked about extensively by Douglas Graham… You’re no longer eating instinctively if you’re having to forcefully consume extra fruit to maintain mass.

  19. This subject requires some subtlety. This idea that truly “wild” fruits or wild counterparts to domesticated fruits are smaller, less sweet, more seedy – this is a generality – it’s not meant to be taken as anything other than what ‘tends’ to be so, more often than not, especially in reference to grocery-store/fruit market species. The more you know about the subject, the more caveats there are. If we’re talking about wild counterparts to common grocery store fruits, then yes, generally their wild counterparts tend to be small, less sweet, and less prolific — i.e. fruits like watermelon, apples, bananas, dates, mangoes, jackfruit – all have indeed been bred selectively by humans for enhanced qualities. If we’re talking about regionally available fruits, that can be a different story – many are still closer to their wild form (though you are more likely to find cultivars near human habitation), and some may be considered undomesticated and essentially wild. There are indeed several fruits which initially got big and sweet without much human assistance — and most have certainly gotten bigger in recent centuries: canistel, guanabana/soursop, mamey sapote, mamey apple, lucuma, cupuassu, jackfruit, cinnamon apple, papaya, avocado, chempedak, pedalai, marang, 13+ species of durian… fruits can vary immensely in size especially in tropical regions where biodiversity is almost 10x that of temperate latitudes (for every temperate crop – apples, pears, peaches – there is probably 7-10 tropical fruits). This is in part because humans aren’t the only animals on the planet doing the selecting – and in the case of fruits endemic to the tropical Americas (sapotes, annonas, papayas, etc) it may have been the now extinct megafauna – glyptodonts, pachyderms – that did much of the selecting. Humans have taken up these fruits since their main distributors died off.

    I find several of the depictions near the top don’t actually show “wild” representatives of the fruits used to make the point, though this is forgivable because it not something one would know unless they had studied tropical pomology(fruit science)/ethnobotany by trade or in school. For instance, the massive soursop / guanabana depicted is certainly a large cultivated type. Luckily for cultivators all soursops tend to come true from seed – and the modern types with only a handful of seeds / prolific fruiting are commonly grown so that’s what you find at fruit markets. Soursop’s tendency to come true from seed means that modern trees planted near human habitation bear these superior fruits consistently, and pass these genes on. Thousands of years ago, this fruit was far more “wild” (meaning seedy and smaller) – a good analog would be the Mountain Soursop (annona montana), which shares a recent common ancestor with the modern soursop – a. montana has a fruit about the size of a large apple, and that’s about what a true ‘wild’ soursop a few millennia ago would have looked like. The Abiu pictured in that article is the large, single-seeded “Gray” or “Z” variety, and is not really representative of the wild fruit. The wild abiu is about the size of an egg, with several seeds. The “Gray” and “Z” varieties are navel-orange sized with only one or two seeds, which is huge compared to the wild ones. The canistel/egg fruit pictured there is probably “Saludo” which is about twice the size of the species as it occurs in the wild. Wild canistels have bigger seeds, too – all true sapotes (pouteria, manilkara, chrysophyllum) are sugar rich whether big or small – it’s just the nature of the mesocarp (flesh) of that family of fruit, very sugary – or “starchy” in the case of the lucuma (pouteria lucuma). Jabuticabas have been bred into about 12 different types, many of which are idiosyncratic and only found in human cultivation. The wild ones are generally smaller, and the one pictured is definitely of mankind’s influence — bred for productivity and multiple cropping – most jaboticabas people grow as trees (I have a huge potted one in the house) come descended from human selection, much like grapes. Wild ones fruit less frequently and have more seeds, and a more swampy flavor.

    I do completely understand the author’s point, though – were I to write this, I would have chosen some different examples. The choices do not ultimately make the author’s point unsound – finding actual ‘wild’ specimens of domesticated species is hard to do, since cultivars are nearly always favored. In many cases though, such specimens do still exist. You just have to know where to go looking for them.

    1. I realized I didn’t identify myself when I posted a few weeks ago. You used a few of my photographs (SkyfieldTropical.com). It’s OK to use them, as this appears to be not-for-profit. Thank you for crediting them appropriately.

      When people say “wild fruit is seedy, bitter, or small” they are usually referring to wild strains of a familiar cultivated fruit– so it’s relative, and each fruit should be taken in a context.

      Jackfruits, although large naturally, have ‘wild’ strains which have low flesh-to-seed ratio – i.e. they are mostly rind and rags. Modern jackfruits are 40% edible flesh. Compared to wild cultivars this is a vast improvement – I would call wild jackfruits “seedy” by comparison. It is much the same for many larger fruits. Soursop is an example of a fruit, fairly large initially, but which humans have selected to have fewer seeds and more flesh. More wild soursops have lots of seeds. Same for cherimoyas and custard apples of all sorts. “Seedy” is a fair assessment when compared to modern human-selected strains.

      It really depends on the fruit. Not all 3 (“small” “bitter” or “seedy”) apply to the same fruit necessarily. It’s just a loose generality.

      If you have questions about specific fruits, I can elaborate and/or provide resources for further research.

      1. I keep checking back in case there is a response – I just looked at your initial reference links for the “wild” fruit claims – and I see now that all are “paleo” people — and I realize now this is a fad and a dichotomy of sorts in raw food circles. I wasn’t aware until now. I have no interest in these fad “paleo” diets, nor have I read any paleo books. I’m responding as a Pomologist (fruit science) and a Botanist, not due to anything “paleo” , so just an FYI… I find these subjects fascinating. In doing a bit more reading of your blog, and I think we are both concerned with pure data rather than with fads, false dichotomies, or what we’d like to believe. That’s good.

          1. My posts are referring to modern versus “wild” examples / phenotypes of fruit — which I intend to address on a specific basis. I am sorry that a 3-letter word “fad” has somehow prompted a response — it is odd that this one word elicited action, as I made a big, experience-based previous post which was far more open and content-based. I am not overall familiar with this particular “paleo” discussion – but nutritional anthropology is a vast and interesting subject in and of itself. I have no idea what you intention is academically, but I will try to respond as best I can, based on my education.

        1. Well done Timothy, but I wouldn’t really call the “paleo diet” a “fad”. It’s highly established and has been around for many years. I disagree with the high animal protein found in most such diets (the true diet that our paleo ancestors has been found to be almost all fruit when it was available), however it’s not so accurate to call them a fad in any case.

          1. My posts are referring to modern versus “wild” examples / phenotypes of fruit — which I intend to address on a specific basis. I am sorry that a 3-letter word “fad” has somehow prompted a response — it is odd that this one word elicited action, as I made a big, experience-based previous post which was far more open and content-based. I am not overall familiar with this particular “paleo” discussion – but nutritional anthropology is a vast and interesting subject in and of itself. I have no idea what you intention is academically, but I will try to respond as best I can, based on my education.

            1. Hi Timothy, by accident I came across your post on ’30bananasadaysucks’. I had read Denise’s debunking of the ‘wild fruits are small & bitter’ meme, and was very impressed with it. When I read your post I was disappointed and realized that Denise was making a biased and unscientific case. Thanks for setting the record straight. What is truly sad is that her post has made its way through the internet, to diabetes forums and so on. This is alarming.

              Denise, you really should set the record straight. You were less than scrupulous in your methods.

              1. You know Diana, as terrible as this may sound, sometimes I actually like seeing posts like yours around. It gives me self-esteem, to know that out there somewhere, some hapless individuals out there are still following the low-cab diet and actually think that it’s a good one. Sometimes I get the impression that “oh everyone knows that now” about fruits after the “theories” by Lustig et al fell apart, the existence of sites like that and people like you means I still have people to laugh at.

                Denise has no affiliation with any fruit corporation as far as I can tell, she has no reason to lie about any of these things. Only an absolute fool who had no idea what evolution is would think that fruit in quantities that we like to eat could possibly do harm to a human or any primate.

                Diabetes and really fat people however may form a special case – I do not know. Those people are irreversibly damaged, because they didn’t eat enough fruit and drink enough fruit juice when growing up. I feel very sorry for them, I have no idea what kind of chaotic mess their systems are in now.

                1. Not true that diabetics are irreversibly damaged. Google “newcastle.”

                  I don’t follow a “low-cab” diet.

                  I was not making any statements about macronutrient %s.

                  I did not say that Denise has an affiliation with fruit companies.

                  I wrote to support Tim, who states that Denise used photos he took without permission, and knows nothing about pomology.

                  Now get lost, Padraig. If you really believed that humans should die of a virus, why don’t you just go and kill yourself? Addition by subtraction.

                2. It can be difficult to determine some people’s motivations in the public arena — humans are more complicated than their financial vested interests. Most of us have personal motivations too — i.e. beliefs, philosophies. Food politics is full of such beliefs, in fact many of them can seem rather shrill. This means that “controversy” is always a good attention-grabber in this arena. I’m not really sure why so much of her post was incorrect, other than she did not immerse directly in the subject of interest for it’s own sake. Information is not correct simply because a source is revered or trusted. It is to be trusted because it’s cited and sourced, based in curiosity, literacy and direct experience in a subject, through which higher and more detailed degrees of understanding and confidence are established. Trusting a person “just because” is argumentum ad verecundiam.

                  http://30bananasadaysucks.com/2013/02/raw-food-sos-copyright-infringement/

                  I posted my criticism because this entire blog entry literally walked right into my area of specialty and used a few of my pictures to boot. I was reluctant to post it at first, but I thought the subject deserved a fair rebuttal because my pictures were used.

                  I implore everyone I meet in this arena (food) to pursue firsthand literacy in the subject of their interest. Get a textbook on nutritional anthropology, biochemistry, dietetics, biology, zoology, whatever it is you want to know about. The ability to learn and to discern credible information about the human body, nature, and about world is a valuable skill to cultivate.

                  My motivation in this case is accurate information.– and as a person who works with tropical fruit, it is now hopefully obvious why a post like hers would receive my attention.

                  1. “I implore everyone I meet in this arena (food) to pursue firsthand literacy in the subject of their interest.”

                    Timothy, I am glad that I ran across your post nearly by accident, because I trusted that what Denise had written was true. It *sounded* true.

                    I take no side in the diet wars but here is my explanation of the situation. Denise has a reputation as a clever debunker. She isn’t pro- or anti-vegan/paleo/LC anything, she is a sort of freelance kamikaze who enjoys overturning the tables of the moneychangers in the temple. (That is semi-humorous ANALOGY….)

                    Her post on wild fruits was meant to be a debunking of a Paleo/Low Carb tenet. It struck me as true. I now realize it was merely truthy.

                    I learned a big lesson from this: something that *sounds* true, isn’t, necessarily. Thanks!

                    BTW, this article in the NY Times is interesting:

                    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/26/opinion/sunday/breeding-the-nutrition-out-of-our-food.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&&gwh=514215D691A4645D20154295286A4729

                  2. If your motivation is accurate information, perhaps you should provide references and numbers, as Minger did, instead of just making unsupported assertions.

                    1. A large part of what I wrote re: cultivars was based on personal experiences growing them — this represents many years working professionally in, and reading about this subject of tropical pomology (fruit science). In my rebuttal, I have already provided names of the species and cultivars, and several technical terms which if you are so inclined will provide you leads for further and more specific research. Anyone who wishes to know more can pursue the subject through this avenue rather easily, taking each fruit as a subject individually.

                      I can provide some key books from my own library too — I do not know if they are available freely on Google or otherwise:

                      “Brazilian Fruits and Cultivated Exotics” (Harry Lorenzi)
                      “Malayan Fruits” (Betty Molesworth Allen)
                      “Five Decades with Tropical Fruit” (William F Whtiman)
                      “Amazon River Fruits” (Smith, Vasquez, Wust)

                      The majority of what I have said should be transparent in these few books on the subject. What I’m saying may indeed by assertions (but to me, they are merely objections), and they are hardly unsupported. If you do not have the curiosity to follow up further I cannot help you. I do not author a blog with a food-politics opinion. Do not expect someone else to do all the legwork for you.

                    2. I was thinking the same psychohist but sadly if you read the comments section you’ll notice wild submission from Ms. Minger herself. She even starts talking about an interview on it at the end…

                      Timothy Lane::you claim that some of these species selected by Denise Minger were under “human influence” and are therefore not “wild”. However, as a pomologist, you know that fruit has been under influence from selection by humans and other primates for millions of years. Furthermore, human tastebuds etc. have evolved to select the food that is most perfect for their system. This process is only thrown off by completely and ridiculously unnatural processes such as cooking them. It is not thrown off much/any way by more of the fruit being available than would be in the wild.

                      The extremely good tasting fruit does exist in the wild, but people just had to search and seek it out or use their brains and memory to find the right fruit, similar to how orangutans are learning from their mother for the first ten or so years of their lives. As you know, there is no “wild orange” and “cultivated orange” really…. there’s thousands and thousands of different variety of either with hugely different properties. Obviously our paleo ancestors would have eaten the best tasting of them. I wonder why you didn’t point this out…?

                      A tangential point I’d like to make is that everyone has to trust people in lots of ways. I think it’s quite appropriate to trust some bloggers and random people on things they say are true, if you take lots of things into context. Can you really say it’s better to trust government food panels? I think the answer to that is very obvious. Sometimes academic rankings and appeals to authority work, but other times it’s completely hopeless so it’s not foolish in itself to trust a blogger more than a scientist. Ms. Minger and some others of us have a professional standard of interest in this also, it’s not just some hobby.

                      I do get books sometimes that just seem just a list of almost random names of places, people and things, which of the books you recommend is least like that? Note that I will have to trust you also if I buy one of these books. I feel like learning the names of random things is unhelpful and doesn’t help me understand or improve my knowledge on things I might need to know, do you understand this complaint? However on the other hand there could be the argument that humans should have stored many thousands of properties of different plant species in their heads since growing up as our paleo ancestors would have.

                    3. There are usually wild ancestors, progenitors to cultivated fruit. With many of the modern citruses, one of those ancestors appears strongly to be citrus indica — http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111110125834.htm — with the diverse genus of citrus there has been a history of parentage, and sorting out the lineage genetically has become much easier in the last 15-20 years. There can be an assortment of possible candidates in the wild going only by physiology. It’s difficult to tell by appearances because cultivated fruits may change rapidly compared to nature — as do many artificially selected forms of life. Modern genetics has added a lot of clarity. if you want to see citrus interrelationships, query “rutaceae” or “citrus” + “phylogenetic” in Google Images.

                      I’ll start with Julia Morton’s “Fruits of Warm Climates” — http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/index.html — this book is a standard, and it’s available freely online. It is however, a list of species, origins, uses and characteristics, and is now outdated in some respects. It goes into some detail, without getting too technical. William Whitman’s book “Five Decades with Tropical Fruit” is particularly insightful in some ways also, but it is expensive. Lorenzi’s book is basically a list of Brazilian fruits and their many types/cultivars. “Amazon River Fruits” contains some of the information on soursop’s origins. You may find Gollner’s “The Fruit Hunters” book rather cheaply, which touches on the subjects, but is less dry of a read.

                      Our ancestors had a wealth of cultural information about plants — the extent of this knowledge cannot be overemphasized. Their diets were also homogeneous to a limited region and time of year, but at any time during the active growing season (using my own region as an example) they could potentially have been eating more than 75 different species of plants. Our ancestors would have eaten whatever was available to them, not just the obvious palatable items. We’re not precisely like monkeys in trees, hominids have used tools for millions of years. We’ve had a similar keenness towards exploiting foods not always available to other creatures, and not because it was ‘perfect’ in it’s natural state. In the northern hemisphere, we’ve been consuming wild acorns (oak/quercus) longer than recorded time — this starch being so prolific and abundant in some areas it never entered human cultivation, a single mature tree can produce 1-2000 of them in a season. We figured out early on how to leach the tannins from the flesh, and how to store them for long periods (submerged deep in cool water; a dual purpose for leeching the tannins), and how to process/cook with them. Talking fruit specifically, of the wild fruits collected in this region a few required cooking or straining of seeds — elderberry, prunus, pokeweed, to rid them of toxins. Some had to be picked at peak ripeness or were very toxic (mayapple). I myself do not consider cooking “unnatural” because it was employed for such a long time in human history, and was integral to our exploitation of many food sources — ingestion of most fungi depended on it (these could be a significant food source towards the end of a season). Needless to say I find this topic interesting — and being an active wild forager myself I find the concept of trying to understand what native people ate very interesting.

                      The last recommendation I will make is an excellent Nutritional Anthropology textbook: http://www.amazon.com/Nutritional-Anthropology-Biocultural-Perspectives-Nutrition/dp/0199738149/ref=pd_cp_b_0 — This may be most helpful.

                      Yes, we do trust people in a lot of ways, and my approach is to encourage people to follow curiosity, to check their sources, to pursue an interest firsthand – academically if possible. I try to find “free” resources wherever possible, but a lot of good information sadly isn’t available for free (even if I think it ought to be). Textbooks are always a good bet, as is developing a list of keywords/terms which will expedite specific research.

                    4. Timothy,

                      Again, thanks so much for your erudite contributions here.

                      Do you have a website? I tried looking for one on the web but couldn’t find it.

                      We have lots of acorns in Central Park near where I live. I looked up how the Native Americans leached out the tannins but it seemed so complicated, I gave up…..

                      “Furthermore, human tastebuds etc. have evolved to select the food that is most perfect for their system. ”

                      Sure. And that’s the reason why so many of us live on packaged junk.

                      Nor does it explain how people learned how to process bitter, poisonous foods.

                    5. “Sure. And that’s the reason why so many of us live on packaged junk.”

                      god do I have to add the clause SO LONG AS THEY ARE EATING NATURAL, UNPROCESSED FOODS every single time I say this? How many times have I stated that our tastebuds are unreliable for unnatural foods? This is the same with everything else in life: our instincts can be trusted 100% except for unnatural entities in the world. I don’t understand how people can be so stupid and still operate a computer and presumably function in society.

                      “Nor does it explain how people learned how to process bitter, poisonous foods.”

                      They never did. I have no clue… AND NEITHER DO I WANT TO KNOW…. why you would claim that they ate bitter, poisonous foods, but you are the ONLY person who would say that. Please don’t refer to me again, I am going to reflect on what Timothy has posted.

                    6. Thank you very much for your outstanding post Timothy, posts like this are why I find it worth it to go online sometimes!! I am thinking of going through other material before I this so I will save your post. The only comment I can think of making is that by posting something on 30badsucks it initially seemed to me like you were taking a side in the high carb vs low carb debate, that site is meant to be the anti-thesis of the 30bad site. To me it’s hugely regrettable and concerning that some individuals and corporations are tampering with the natural ecosystems of the planet often in an irreversible way.

  20. Hmm is anyone else encountering problems with the images on this blog
    loading? I’m trying to figure out if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog.
    Any feed-back would be greatly appreciated.

  21. I Believe that posting, “Wild and Ancient Fruit: Is it Really Small, Bitter,
    and Low in Sugar? Raw Food SOS” was in fact really good!
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  22. Love your well written and researched articles, Denise. I found this from a link at Dr. Michael Eades who seemed to have missed a lot of what you’re saying and presumes that once out of Africa humans were unable to find local fruits, and also presumes that birds and other critters would beat the sloth-like humans to the harvest. Here in southern Missouri I’m thinking of readily available native fruits like pawpaws and persimmons (as sweet and tasty as figs when they turn ripe). You don’t have to live in the tropics to find early, middle and late ripening fruits and sweet berries which our ancestors know doubt knew how to find before wild animals got all of them.

  23. denise
    this post is still up on durianrider’s site under a false name. did your official complaint fail?
    trina

    1. How bizarre. Probably he’s doing it for attention to be drawn to his blog and to create “drama”. I think many of these food bloggers are incredibly ridiculous, self-absorbed and immature.

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  25. Perhaps I’m missing something. I live in Africa – South Africa to be precise – and I can tell you that our climate is NOT tropical. The Cradle of Mankind is just up the road from where I live and that isn’t tropical either. In case those in the “West” haven’t noticed, we live about as far South as Europe is far North and there are not that many naturally growing wild fruits in this area – even less on the Cape coast (which is another area that has been posited as the starting place for “humanity”). So, while this is a good article, the whole premise of the article is off because tropical fruit are completely beside the point!

    1. This is one of those things — people here in the States often use the word “Africa” as though they were talking about a single national entity, people, or land. In fact they are talking about a giant continent 11+ billion square miles, with over 1 billion people, a diverse place with myriad different cultures, several different climates and ecosystems. It’s usually an unintended generalization, and you are wise to point it out, because it’s definitely a form of obliviousness. It divulges a lack of subtlety and detailed understanding to one’s statements. We do it with “Asia” too. — Khmer, Laotian and Japanese could not be more different. Perhaps most telling is that we do it with “Native American” too — when Narragansett, Ojibwe, Seminole and Cherokee might each be separated by 1000 miles. Food for thought.

      1. Actually, that is disputed. And East Africa is savannah, not tropical at all. This refers to a very old idea that humans originated in the tropics, but if you look up the latest findings, it isn’t so definite. Also, what exactly do you mean by “humans” – homo erectus, homo sapiens, neanderthal? The oldest human genome belongs to the San who were in the southern portion of South Africa, which is far from tropical.

        1. Like most scientific consensuses, it is not definite. You may put the origination further south. Others put it further north, in the Caucasus.

          By humans, I mean genus homo, which means human. I guess a case could be made for homo erectus as well, but homo erectus had a very broad range, so chronologically, it has to be placed after the origin of humanity.

            1. Just sit back and observe instead of using your mind to try to break down every little thing and our history. Our bodies prove we are a tropical species so us evolving or whatever in a tropical setting is given. We are born naked with no hair, and our digestive organs show we are fruitarians and possibly breatharians. Just because an area isn’t tropical now doesnt mean it wasn’t at one point. Some people claim we evolved in the middle east not Africa at all.

          1. Warren Dew, Keen is the muck of the world. The pseudointellectual who comes in with a few buzzwords and pretending to act surprised at things it later turns out he couldn’t have been surprised at, and trying to manipulate other people in ways that have nothing to do with the truth. An angry individual, looking for a fight and to be “right” and not looking for the truth. It’s best to ignore him, I just feel sorry about the damage he will cause. To be honest you are WASTING YOUR TIME responding to him and correcting him, and the way you’re speaking to him it’s like as though you’re almost legitimizing what he said as being in some remotest sense reasonable when it is cloud cuckoo land nonsense.

            Trust me, a few simple, correct words at most is the best for these types, and that only so as not to confuse naive people who might read his posts and think there might actually be some sense in them.

            1. Excuse me???? Firstly, smarty-pants, I’m a woman, not a man. Secondly, my comments are perfectly valid and this pointless and aggressive attack shows your lack of intelligence and ability to think, never mind knowledge of history and the world. Go away and read something. Preferably in words of one syllable.

            2. I agree, some people are just so into their ego and mind that they do not even realize that it is not who they are. Their intellect and mind control them as they try to break down and apart every little detail, when this is not needed. Less is more.. Simplicity is key. Plus eat more fruit and be vegan as the dead animal tissue tends to control people.

  26. I have been interested in and researching nutrition for about 3 years now. During that time, my thoughts on “good food/bad food” have gone back and forth on several occasions and i’m sure that it will continue to be the case. What I really like about articles like these is that they look at things on an individual basis rather than from a “Paleo/Low carb/Vegetarian….” standpoint alone.
    For instance, whilst I can agree with the supposition that most grains and definately refined sugars can be harmful or even detrimental to health, I have often struggled with the argument that fruit is bad for us, especially from the low carb standpoint. Sometimes we have to listen to our bodies too and I find that I flourish much more easily when I incorperate fruit into my diet (although I don’t eat a great deal, usually about 2 pieces per day) At the same time, I don’t subscribe to the “5 pieces a day” advice from our governments. Fruit in nature has always been seasonal and sometimes hard to find. I’m totally sure that we wouldn’t perish if we go a for while without any at all.
    I would love to see an article like this about dairy foods. I can imagine that milk (pasteurised) isn’t all that healthy but what about aged cheeses and natural yogurts? Are they essential? Are they harmful?

    Great article, thanks 🙂

  27. Thank you so much for an excellent article. I have been looking for a lot more science based writings to hone specific information around fruits. Well done!

  28. Interesting info, I would like to see more information clarifying how these sweet fruits are really wild and haven’t actually been bred for sweetness.

    I remember going to the Peruvian Amazon in the city of Iquitos for the sole purpose of having access to an abundance, diverse amount of wild fruit and I clearly remember foraging for fruit with a guide in the remote jungle and not once did I taste one fruit (of the many that I tasted) that was actually truly wild that was sweet. It appears as if a high a content in sugar attracts plenty of insects that could actually hinder the survival and successive generations of the species.

    1. Nonsense. The other great apes have to spend hours every day for many years learning where the sweet fruits are. They can go in all directions, ie. upwards as well .Your meandering around in the bushes for a few hours at best in Peru (ie. not Africa at all) would be highly unlikely to lead you to such fruit. Also, sweetness has EXTREMELY little to do with how much sugar is in a fruit. In fact the more bitter the fruit is, the more sugar is likely in it. You’re confusing your experience with the idea of white sugar making something sweet, that’s not how it works with fruit.

      Furthermore, your idea of “sugar attracts plenty of insects which could hinder its survival and successive generations” is speculative nonsense. Now I’m not being mean by saying that, in fact many well-respected scientists and writers used to think up such evolutionary explanations on the fly in recent history. However it was then realized that these “just so” evolutionary “explanations” for things are very easy to make up on the fly and often have absolutely nothing to do with the reasons for it at all. So it’s a trap you’ve fallen into but not an undignified one. There is plenty of sweet fruit available to great apes in Africa where humans came from.

  29. Chris, this is a fantastic fact-synthesizing article, thanks!

    I am equally interested in the fact basis for the claim that agribusiness-farmed fruit is less nutritious than the same fruit (or a related variety) slow-grown. (Equivalently, the claim that fruit grown on rich soil, especially using sustainable soil practices, is more nutritious than fruit grown on soil leached of its nutrients, or replenished only via harsh chemical means.) A separate but related question is whether wild-gathered fruit in urban areas is on the whole any more nutritious than agribusiness-farmed fruit.

    Are there good data on these questions as well?

  30. People act surprised when fruits naturally have sugar. Well duh, the purpose of a fruit is to provide nutrients to its seeds as it decomposes, allowing it to sprout. Honestly, so many people could do with eating more fresh fruit so the selective breeding of them is really a moot point for now since I have yet to see ANYONE become fat from eating nothing but apples.

    1. No, the purpose of the fruit is to attract animals such as you to pick it up and eat it and spread the seeds. It’s been said that in some ways rather than humans domesticating fruit, it could be argued that fruit has domesticated and is using us.

  31. Part of the issue with fruit (or the main issue) is were told to eat 9 servings of it per day. I don’t care how you slice it, our ancestors did NOT eat 9 servings of fruit per day.

    Fruit is beneficial, just not in the quantities we eat and are told to eat it. We don’t “need” the nutrients inside fruit, we can get all those nutrients from vegetables which are considerably lower in fructose.

  32. If you look at this from the perspective of the plants, it becomes obvious that wild fruits would not necessarily be bitter. Plants use a variety of chemical compounds to get ambulatory life forms to do their bidding, whether it’s to repel or to attract. Bitterness is designed to repel animals, sweetness to attract. The whole point of fruit, is to present a delicious, attractive gift to get the ambulatory to transport and possibly even scarify and fertilize the seeds so the plant will successfully propagate. Depending on what animal evolved to eat the fruit would determine the characteristics the fruit would have. (e.g. birds who may not taste but are attracted to color, primates who are attracted to color and taste). The plants and the animals evolved together.

  33. i appreciate the time everyone has taken to research this. but this study done by a primate expert is one i would rather look to for knowledge on this subject: http://www.2ndchance.info/wildprimatediets.pdf
    wild fruits are highest in glucose and lowest in sucrose while modern, sweet-bred fruits are highest in sucrose and lowest in glucose. in addition wild fruits are much higher in basically every vitamin and mineral.
    i think as a species we should all take note of this study, this is very important stuff. there’s not much we can do as most of us don’t have access to wild fruit or veggies but we need to remember that simply because a fruit is a fruit doesn’t mean its safe to consume 100 of in a day. this study gives us very powerful knowledge. there’s something about those wild fruits and veggies and the amounts our primate ancestors + relatives are consuming that means something.

  34. Heard of Dr.Sebi? He says food from nature is electric, and we are electrical beings.
    Man-made food(gmo, hybrids) are bad because they are not electric. They lack the CHO, carbon, hydrogen, oxygen. Not sure they do though but maybe they lack “natural CHO” then?

    I just find his theory interesting. It is said, they sued him into court. The government or pharmacutical industry, he won which is rare. He had 70 witnesses that he treated from cancer, diabetics etc.

    So it seems it works. Just to be clear, nature food is different from organic food.

    He died btw, 80 holistics doctors dead from 2015 in USA. He became 80+ which is pretty young imo, after understanding how strong we humans are and that we are meant to live healthy all our lives.
    Either way, maybe it could be of interesting to anyone, his view.

    He says, food from nature also is alkaline and that “disease” only comes in acidic environments.

  35. Also, i forgot. Food from foodindustry, even organic fruit makes you deficient btw.
    You need some supplements. If your body is healthy and working properly it can create b12 automatically but in general these supplements are to be had:
    B12
    Mineral D(if you live in a cold place)
    Iodine

    Reason is: Because the fruit is not ripe. They pick it to soon, and transport makes the fruit not as fresh either.
    Then those fruits are man-made. It must be something more negative to them than fruit from nature, it just have to be. Why would human know what they are doing when they dont know much? Especielly about the body itself, they truly dont. We now know, or those that are aware, that disease doesnt exist, its your body that express itself(atleast 97% of disease).

    Sources are: Don Bennet. Fruit guy over 20years. He has lots of good information btw imo, he sounds genuine and intelligent when it comes to knowledge. He learned the hard way, before internet existed, and he knew that the government was not to be trusted. Just some fun fact.
    He talks about these supplements necessary if you eat fruit from man-made.

    Also Dr John Bergman is is talking about many things, he is not a fruit guy, he is a plant-based-diet guy but overall his view of health is tremendous and he even mentions the nervous system which can be corrected to make your body into standard position.
    97% of disease is deficient. This is the guy to listen to if you wanna know about the body.
    I have never met anyone that can explain the way he do aswell, and he goes through the fraud science aswell.

    I have read alot and understand the MSM science is a fraud, at best actually. Its dangerous for us.

  36. Oh yeah, Great article. Have been looking to see some actual data on wildfruit(fruit from nature) but its so hard to come by, yet so much negative talk about fruit in general.
    They do have a point though, its not from nature we eat our fruit(most people), but its not as bad as they say.
    Shouldnt they be negative about the vegetables aswell then though? Most are man-made there aswell.

    And some animals are also man-made are they not? Pigs and cows are man-made of what i have heard.

  37. I simply don’t believe you. You made a ton of assertions, and backed them up with nothing at all. Show your work.

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