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Fruits and (sprouted) grains - a comparison

Some raw fooders choose to not eat sprouted grains; instead they suggest fruit instead. Some of the arguments made include the following:

  • fruit is closer to the sun than grain = more solar energy
  • one can eat fruit in its natural state, while grains in their natural state are not appealing
  • fruit supposedly involves less violence in its production

However, the issue is not as simple as it may appear at first glance. The first complication is that grains (and all other seeds) are fruits according to the botanical definition. So in comparing grains to fruit one is comparing grains to the common definition of fruit, i.e. the product of tree, vine, or shrub.

The second major complication is that as purchased in many countries, both fruits and grains have been processed to varying degrees. This requires one to do comparisons in theory and in practice. As the real world practice is more familiar to readers, it is best to start with that case. Comparison of grains and fruits on a number of issues is given below. Note that references are made to the energy or food energy of fruit and grain. This refers to the item's life force energy, not its calorie value. Life force energy is degraded by refrigeration, age, heat, and other factors.

Preparation

Most fruit can be eaten raw and is easily prepared; most fruit is in the wash and serve category. A few fruits are generally eaten cooked - olives (very bitter when raw, need curing), breadfruit, breadnut, etc. Raw grains are effectively inedible unless soaked or, better, sprouted. Once sprouted they are in the wash and serve category also.

Production - Method

Pesticides and other chemicals are commonly used on fruits and grains. If grown organically there is usually less exposure to chemicals. However the definition of organic is no *synthetic* chemicals used - many toxic, so-called "natural" chemicals can legally be used on organic produce.

Production - Land

Tropical fruits are often grown on land that used to be rainforest. That is an issue to some; others consider land clearing for food production to be 100% legitimate and ethical. The same issue applies to land cleared for grain, though most grain is grown in temperate countries, and the people who are upset about tropical rainforests rarely complain about loss of temperate zone land.

Harvest

Most grain is harvested when fully mature and "ripe"; harvest too early can increase the risk of storage problems (spoilage due to mold). Many types of fruits are harvested when mature but not ripe to allow time for shipping and sale. The result is often that one purchases immature fruit that is acid-forming instead of alkaline-forming in digestion (a real problem with nectarines). Some types of fruit are picked mature and must ripen off the tree, e.g., many types of avocadoes don't ripen properly on the tree.

Storage

Grains are seeds, a natural storage form. Commercial grains may be fumigated with poisons to prevent insect infestation; organic grains are generally not fumigated. Grains can be stored for long periods with little or no nutrient/ food energy loss.

Some fruits are held for weeks or even months in cold-storage, with significant losses in nutrients, food energy, and flavor. The typical example of this is Washington state apples, which this writer considers inedible and a non-food. Other fruits that may be cold-stored include peaches and nectarines (late in their seasons), avocadoes, kiwis.

Processing for Market

Grains may be hulled and then packaged for market. Fruits may be colored, waxed for sale. Additionally some fruits may be gassed with ethylene to control ripening. This is not so common with organic fruit. Additionally, most fruit is refrigerated at some point in the path to the consumer. Refrigeration can sharply reduce the food energy of the fruit.

Shipping - Fumigation

Fumigation of fruits is common, especially if from tropical countries (to prevent import of fruit flies and other insect pests). Some fruit is subjected to heat treatment (papayas, mangoes) while other fruits are treated with cold (refrigerated at near freezing for several days) instead. Both heat treatment and cold treatment will reduce the nutrient and energy level of the fruit; heat treatment (150+ degrees F) may destroy some enzymes. Imported grain may be fumigated; however the U.S. and Canada are major grain producers and imports to North America are limited.

Shipping - Distance/Efficiency

Because grain, when sprouted, increases in volume and weight by a factor of 2 or more, and there are no peels or wasted parts, grain is very efficient in regards to shipping.

Those who live in temperate zones and demand fresh fruit in the winter end up eating fruit shipped from (distant) warm areas; also due to spoilage and peels, inedible seeds, etc., shipping fruit is not as efficient as grain. Drying fruit is an option, but drying also reduces food energy, and dried fruit when eaten in excess can cause flatulence and acid indigestion. Freezing is another option, but eating too much frozen food can depress your digestive fire, and frozen food is much lower in life force energy than fresh.

Practical Case: Summary

In the real world, the comparison of fruit versus sprouted grains boils down to fruit, which tastes better but which was probably picked at a non-optimal time and shipped long distances (during which it loses food energy, the life force of the fruit) against grains which don't taste as good, but which a) have not lost food energy or life force in shipping and storage, and b) because one sprouts them, the sprouts are actually *increasing* in nutrient value and food/life force energy. Most fruit begins to decrease in nutrient and energy value from the moment it is picked, while grains if sprouted actually *increase*!

Theoretical Case: A Very Different Situation Indeed

In a theoretically ideal situation, you produce your own fruits and grains. Then one can pick and eat the fruits at the optimal time, and there is no shipping, refrigeration, or other processing to reduce the food energy. Similarly, if one grows grain one can avoid toxic chemicals and so on. Here the two seem to be quite comparable, almost even. Of course sprouts are still a food that is increasing in value and fruits decreasing; however this is mostly an academic difference when you can get high quality fruit picked at the optimal time (as energy losses are minimal then). In this case one would eat fruit when in season, and sprouted grain at other times.

Answering the Original Arguments

  • fruit is closer to the sun than grain = more solar energy

    True, but when one eats fruit one is usually eating what is effectively a seed package, and it has limited life force. In eating sprouted grains one is eating, in juvenile form, *multiple* life forces, which suggests one may be eating more energy when eating sprouts.

  • one can eat fruit in its natural state, while grains in their natural state are not appealing

    True, but grains are easily sprouted which makes their flavor more appealing. It also makes them easy to digest. Those who eat nuts and seeds in their "natural state" = unsoaked, would greatly benefit from soaking and/or sprouting them when possible!

  • fruit supposedly involves less violence in its production
  • Very questionable. In practice fruit is generally shipped long distances and refrigerated, a process that requires much fossil fuel energy which causes pollution. Grain is very probably more energy efficient, with the result of less pollution. Picking fruit does not kill the tree; however grains are generally harvested when the plants are at the very end of their life cycle - the plants are usually already dead or dying. Of course eating sprouted grain can be seen as violence against the sprouts, however it is impossible to live without killing (simply breathing will kill bacteria). Accordingly, which is more violent - 1 kilogram of wheat organically grown and sprouted, or a case of pineapples, weighing 12 kg. and shipped halfway around the world, also fumigated, sprayed, and refrigerated? (1 kg. of dry wheat = 3 kg sprouted = say, 10 meals or so; 12 kg pineapple = 8 kg after topping, peeling, coring = 10 large meals (as pineaple is juicy and very tasty, one will eat more of it).

Closing Remarks

The above is a quick summary of topics for discussion in comparing sprouted grains and fruits. Each item could be a separate discussion by itself; only a brief summary has been given. The lists above are also incomplete; I've probably left off some important topics. Additions to the lists and comments are welcome. Consider the above as a first draft or a work-in-progress...

P.S. I suggest eating both sprouts and fruits - they are complementary.

Tom Billings
teb@living-foods.com

 

 

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