Our Body’s Thrive on Raw Vegetables

Fast-growing curly kale and marogo (African spinach) growing in a veggie patch (see photo below for the same patch three weeks later!)

There’s a lot that’s been written recently about the value of raw food that includes nutritional information about many of the vegetables that we can grow in our own backyards.

But if you’re serious about the value of raw, which veggies should you concentrate on producing? Australian author and digestive health and RAW food teacher, Scott Mathias says it in half a sentence: “All greens, reds, yellows and white vegetables”.

What a pleasure!

Why Raw Food is Good for You

Mathias, who has just published his first book Understanding The Divine Gut: How to Eat Your Way to Ultimate Digestive Health, explains that live plant-based food is much easier to digest than cooked food, and it provides more nutrients, at the same time minimizing the impurities that enter our bodies.

Furthermore, raw foods (vegetables, fruits, nuts and protein plants like hemp) provide digestive enzymes of their own, which means that the stomach doesn’t have to do this job.

Enzymes, he explains, are essential, not least for getting rid of ingredients (including chemicals) we don’t need. They break down the food that we eat and release the valuable nutrients that we need to live. Enzymes give us energy, enable cells to grow and repaid, and basically act as our personal body building blocks.

Old people, and sick people, have fewer enzymes, while people with bad dietary habits need more enzymes to digest the food that they eat. And if we don’t eat the right food, it becomes a vicious circle. He learnt the hard way, having been brought up on a diet of meat, dairy and wheat that his digestive system couldn’t cope with.

From personal experience, he has concluded, “proper nutrition might just play a major part in the healing of illness”.

And while you can’t produce everything you need to be completely health, a well-kept veggie garden certainly is a good start.

So What to Grow in Your Own Backyard?

Really anything that will grow in the conditions in your garden at any particular time of the year. Tomatoes (a powerful antioxidant), spinach, eggplants and peppers are always rewarding, as are the many herbs, like parsley and rocket that you can add to salads and other raw meals.

Mathias chooses to balance his metabolism by eating caloric-balanced foods – “fruit, red and green natural foods” – that are in season. Top of his list are:

  • tomatoes,
  • strawberries,
  • beetroot (another antioxidant),
  • carrots,
  • kale, that he points out has “five times more protein by volume than cow meat”.

In addition he advocates any “indigenous foods” that might be available in your part of the world.

One interesting African example is marogo (Amaranthus), a type of indigenous spinach that has been attracting quite a lot of attention recently. Easy to grow, it is said to have even more nutrients than kale, and tastier than kale, which can be quite bitter.

With the world of the Internet at your fingertips, you can get seeds from anywhere on the planet and cook what is indigenous in other parts of the world – from African marogo to American heirloom tomatoes. What’s stopping you? And while you’re at it, don’t forget about companion planting. Your harvest will definitely improve!

The morogo is now more than 1,5 m tall, and the kale has more than doubled in size.


Annette (58 Posts)

Annette Welsford has a partial degree in Horticulture and a Post Graduate Certificate in marketing. Having lived in the cold, temperate and hot parts of Australia and the UK, she has gained experience over the years with gardening in a variety of climates. Annette also worked for a fertilizer company where she was responsible for developing, editing and publishing a range of technical manuals on nutrition and fungal diseases for a wide range of horticultural crops including tomatoes. Annette is Managing Director of Commonsense Marketing Pty Ltd, a publishing and marketing company, responsible for the editing, design and worldwide marketing of the How to Grow books, and other products. Commonsense Marketing also provides expert offline and online marketing consulting and design services to a variety of small to medium sized businesses.

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4 Responses to “Our Body’s Thrive on Raw Vegetables”

  1. Clare says:

    What is the full name of the Amaranthus? I did some online searching and found that there are different varieties.

  2. Annette says:

    There are indeed many species of Amaranth. The type shown in the photograph is described by the seed company as “Botanical Name: Amaranthus spp”, see HERE (I am not sure why they list it as Marog on the web site because the name on the seed packet is Marogo). The picture on their packet shows red coloring on the leaves, which is not evident on the growing plants. The stems, though, are red as described below.
    I have sourced some additional information from Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in Cape Town. They say it is also called pigweed and is found throughout Africa and the rest of the world. There are many different types, many with edible leaves and roots. According to this source, A. hybridus was originally from central America, but is found throughout Africa, from Cape Town to Cairo. A. blitum (which has a red-leafed and green-leafed variety) is the most widely cultivated species in Kenya and Uganda, and is believed to have originated in the Mediterranean region. It has been cultivated in Asia and southern Europe for the past four centuries.
    They describe A. hybridus as “a multi-branched erect herb growing up to 1 m high with grooved, smooth green (intruded by red) stems.”
    “All pigweed species are rich in protein as well as trace elements and minerals and provide a valuable source of nutrition whether harvested from the wild or cultivated as a leaf vegetable. They continue to be widely used for ‘spinach’ in rural Africa, Asia and central America.”
    Botanical name: Amaranthus hybridus (L.) subsp. hybridus. Amaranthus hybridus was first described by Linnaeus in volume 2 of the Species Plantarum in 1753. (Amaranthus from the Greek amarantos meaning never- fading [referring to the flower] and hybridus from the Latin hybrida, literally meaning mongrel, referring to the variability of the species and the possibility that it had resulted from cross-breeding).
    Family name: Amaranthaceae (amaranthus family). With the recent inclusion of the former Chenopodiaceae, the Amaranthaceae now contains about 160 genera and 2400 species of mostly herbs or shrubs of the tropical and subtropical regions of the world.

  3. Clare says:

    oh – thanks so much for the information – its probably not available in Western Australia – but I will make some enquiries.

  4. Penny says:

    Clare, It looks as if Kirchhoffs do mail order seeds.
    If the Aus customs system permits.

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