Monday, 29 May 2017

100 Apples

It's always nice when you have a pet theory about something and science proves it to be true.

It's even more interesting when you have a pet theory about something and science proves that it extends beyond what you had even considered.

When people talk about French paradoxes, one that comes up often is the fact that a country with such an abundance of delicious food (and such an obsession with talking about it) manages to have some of the lowest levels of overweight and obesity in Europe. My pet theory about why this works is that when food tastes good, you don't have to eat as much of it to feel satisfied. (Had I been Mireille Giuliano, I could have made a fortune telling everyone that the key to being slim is to replace Dairy Milk with champagne and oysters, but unfortunately I'm too much of a realist. She also got there first.)

Recently, a few items in the media have caught my eye because research suggests that it goes much further than this: studies have found that the varieties of fruit and vegetables we eat today are much lower in nutrients than those grown in a few decades ago, and it may be that we are eating too many calories because our bodies are craving the vitamins and minerals that they need. This article claims, for example, that a 1950s apple had 100 times more vitamin C than the apples we eat today.

The Obs article cites mainly British, Canadian and American research but there was a programme on France 5 recently (which sadly I can't find on replay anymore) about the work that the French Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique is doing in this area giving much more detail. Both suggest that organic produce is generally better, but the problems of selective breeding, poor soils and increasingly intensive production, even on organic farms, remain.

While the fact that French studies have similar findings to the others shows that France is not immune to this problem, I wonder if the fact that it is still possible here to find many different varieties of fruit and vegetables, often locally produced, means that it might not be quite so bad as elsewhere. And perhaps the national obsession with high-quality food means that France can lead the way in looking for solutions. I'm interested to see what will happen next.


  1. Interesting! That said, I'm one of these people who don't buy organic food because 1) it's VERY expensive in Canada 2) there are no clear criteria for the "organic" label and unfortunately, some companies just use it as a marketing tool.

    1. We don't buy it either, although I'm starting to wonder if we should. Like you, I'm a bit cynical about what "organic" really means, and I also hate the fact that all the organic stuff in our local supermarket is wrapped in layers of (mainly plastic) packaging