Scab, Fiend or Friend ?

Salvestrol is one of the new words around town. It is apparently another helpful substance in the fight against cancer. Fitting in nicely with the other health benefits of eating fresh fruits, it also is helpful in giving us pause to reconsider the way we go about things in modern agriculture. The thing is, salvestrol production is pumped up when a fruit reacts to an affront, like say a fungal infection. That is, the chemical is produced by the plant cells to help combat the pathogen. Without the attack, the presence of the salvestrol is low or nonexistant.

The levels of salvestrols can be up to 30 times higher in organic produce, but almost absent in some commercially grown varieties. Some varieties of fruit have 40 or 50 times higher levels than others.

So, in an effort to do away with a problem we have perhaps designed less healthy fruit. So maybe those folks who don’t think eating scabby fruits is beneath them may just be staying a bit more healthy than those with, well, refined cuisine. This has a similarity to the phenomenon in medieval Europe when peasants were eating whole grain breads while the nobility were enjoying refined white. The poorer classes ironically provided with the highest nutrition. (Sadly today the opposite is true).

In research published in the British Naturopathic Journal, Gerry Potter, Professor of Medicinal Chemistry, and Dan Burke, Emeritus Professor of Pharmaceutical Metabolism, explain how salvestrols work. A good deal more on the subject can be found online.

There have been reports from growers that higher sugar levels occur in scab infected apples. We have not been able to find any scientific studies which reflect these numbers as the subject is new. As with any new discovery it is prudent to be skeptical and seek out the best resources. This is however a reminder that much of what we view as higher quality may in fact be the opposite and vice versa. When we turn our collective noses up at the ugly we may in fact be doing ourselves a disservice.