February 2018

Here’s how this video is laid out:

What is A Vegetable?

The working definition of what constitutes a vegetable has actually been strangely controversial. However, for the purposes of this video I am going to define the plants that we’ll be discussing: fruits, vegetables, and tubers – in the following, most widely agreed-upon way:

A vegetable constitutes the stems and leaves, for example celery and broccoli (stems) and kale, spinach, lettuce (leaves)
A fruit contains seeds (or can act as a seed), and is the structure that develops from the ovaries of a flowering plant: for example, apples, peaches, grapes etc. (all the common ones). One common misconception is that fruits are only sweet. There are actually plenty of savory fruits, for example eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, avocados, olives, squash, and bell peppers.
Tubers are roots. They’re so dense in nutrients that they literally sprout and sustain their own plants if left unharvested. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, turnips, and beets all fall under this category.

As you can see, most of what the average person would consider a vegetable, is actually NOT a vegetable. And all of the ones that most people would actually agree tasted any good, are not vegetables… they are fruits and tubers. I’ll go more into why I think this is the case, here in a minute.

The Symbiotic Relationship Between Fruits and Humans

One thing that struck me as interesting is to just take a step back and simply examine the facts about the differences between how fruits, vegetables, and tubers grow. And what this might tell us about their specific value or purpose in their evolutionary role with humans.

It would appear after a basic examination of the facts, that fruits are meant to be eaten. Here’s what I mean by that. First off, they’re jam packed with nutrients, and if someone was to eat even a small range of different fruits regularly, they would fulfill most if not all of their dietary micronutrient needs. Another thing that is interesting is the fast ripening cycles of fruits. They go through fast growing and ripening cycles, and all contain seeds (most of the seeds/pits are hard and inedible) that regrow the trees/bushes/vines after consumption, even if the human/animal just drops it on the ground haphazardly. This is a really convincing and genius pollination technique that ensures their long term survival but also their relationship with animals/people that will eat them and spread their seed for them after.

Vegetables on the other hand are not this way, they require more careful cultivation and release small amounts of bitter toxins as a defense mechanism against being eaten by animals/insects… quite the opposite of fruits. Vegetables have developed these defense systems specifically to NOT be eaten by insects or other animals. While the leaves and stems of certain plants do contain nutrients, they’re not necessarily the best sources of those nutrients for humans to consume. They contain almost zero calories, which evolutionarily speaking is a downside, and the human stomach doesn’t have much of a capacity for massive leaf or stem consumption due to the high load of fiber, whereas other species of mammals have developed stomach systems, like that of grazing cows, that are meant to be able to handle massive all-day-long consumption of these grasses, stems, and leaves.

It simply does not make any evolutionary sense for a human to NEED to consume the leaves or stems of certain plants in order to be healthy. The low caloric density coupled with high fiber and non-exclusive nutrients all point to a reasonable conclusion that humans do not need to consume vegetables – they are likely, in fact, more of a luxury in today’s modern world, but most definitely not necessary.

Now let’s consider tubers. Tubers are literally roots that are so nutritious they will sprout their own plants, and feed those plants with their nutrients. They also gather nutrients from the soil around them. Hell, you don’t even have to plant a tuber in the ground for it to grow… if you leave a potato out on the kitchen counter, for example, it will sprout without water or outside nutrition. Tubers also have a generally very appealing taste to humans and other animals. The starchy carbohydrates are easily digested and also contain prebiotic fiber which is great for human intestinal flora.


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