Ten Plants That Shook the World
The magazine, Garden Design, had an article in early or mid 1998, entitled, "Ten
Plants That Shook the World." We're not going to reprint it here, because we don't
have the copyright. But it's a fascinating magazine with a fascinating article from which
we post the excerpts you see below.
All Factfile Articles
||Used as food, furniture, shipbuilding
materials, and medicine|
||Use as clothing and fiber; a real cash crop|
||The main export of ancient Greece, and the
reason for the travel that expanded Western Civilization. Also the primary lubricant of
the Industrial Revolution|
||Early paper--and the records we now have of
||Once the global currency|
||Once the only known remedy for malaria|
||A vegetable gum used for rubbing out pencil
marks, until discovery by the auto industry|
||Brought to the west by
traders; the first African slaves came to America to work this crop , not cotton|
||Ah, the Boston Tea Party!|
||Along with rice, the primary source of human
Diet tips based on the above
Let's leave cotton, papyrus, quinine, and rubber out of the
discussion of food. As for the others, you can make them part of a
- Bamboo. Shoots of the bamboo plant are commonly added to
Americanized Chinese food such as Chow Mein. Shoots in general
provide valuable micronutrients. Bamboo shoots provide fiber, as
well. They also add a distinct and pleasant flavor to dishes,
and if not overcooked they add good texture.
- Olives are fatty. Many diet proponents advise not to eat
them, for that reason. But this is misguided. Olives eaten in
moderation add healthful fats to your diet and real zest to your
meals. Olive oil in the diet is ideal for people seeking to
maintain low body fat.
Olive oil is a wonderful cooking oil, and not just because of
its flavor. You should experiment with various brands and
pressings (pressings are rated virgin, extra virgin, etc.) to
get the richness or subtleness that's most appealing to you.
Good cooks often have several varieties of olive oil on hand.
- Pepper is a broad category. The sheer variety of peppers is
staggering. The hotness ranges from almost neutral to absolutely
burning. A variety of peppers in the diet helps maintain low
body fat, in addition to providing many nutrients. Adding
jalapenos to omelets and other dishes puts fat-burning on the
fast track. Raw peppers are good sources of vitamin C; add
peppers to salads and other dishes. Or pick up a sweet red bell
and eat it by itself.
- Sugar, while not generally considered a "health food" is
better than many of the alternative sweeteners used in its
place. For example high fructose corn syrup is far more glycemic
than plain table sugar is. The main problem with sugar usage in
the USA is the sheer volume. In Europe, dishes are not made into
sickeningly sweet concoctions as the are in the USA. A German
pastry chef, for example, uses a little sugar while an American
pastry chef uses a huge amount.
You can avoid sugar entirely, by substituting stevia in many
cases and foregoing sweeteners altogether in others. Fresh
fruits and vegetables are rich in nutrients, but also in flavor;
they do not need sweeteners. For example, add apple chunks
instead of sugar to get a great flavor in an otherwise dull
- Tea has gotten a bad rap from the anti-caffeine crowd. The
dangers of caffeine are grossly exaggerated, and the amount of
it in tea is far less than the amount in many soft drinks. Even
many people with caffeine sensitivity can drink a cup of tea
before bed and get a good night's rest. In the USA, tea used to
mean black tea. Now it is a much wider term encompassing many
types of brewed beverages. Various teas have various benefits;
it's worth looking at what's available.
A caution on teabags. If you buy traditional Chinese tea in
bags, you will notice the bags are all sewn rather than stapled.
If you buy common American brands of tea, you will notice the
bags are stapled rather than sewn. Stapling is not good. The
staples are made of a metal that is toxic to you. When you steep
the tea, you get some of this metal in your tea.
- Wheat is widely seen as a health food. It's not, at least in
the current way it's grown and used. Generally, you should avoid
wheat products (e.g., most bread, pasta, and pastries). The
grain-based diet is fattening and disease-inducing. The famous
Food Pyramid is a prescription for dietary disaster. Replace
"grain" with "green" and you fix most of what's wrong.
Here's a great
clean air video.