Snacks should be fun to eat, tasty, nonspoiling, nourishing, and inexpensive. Consider America's favorite snack food, the potato chip. Over 600 million pounds of potato chips are eaten every year. The first few are, indeed, fun to eat, crunchy, and tasty . . . but for many people three or four handfulls is about the limit, as the grease begins to get to you. But, you know that unless you finish that bag, even with all the preservatives heaped on, any left over chips will probably be stale, soggy and crunchless by morning. So you force yourself to finish, and by the end of your snack, instead of feeling revivified, you might feel wasted. Potato chips have hardly any nutritional value, and deep fat fried foods are especially hard on the digestion. How about price? A 10-ounce bag of Lay's Potato Chips costs $.79 or $1.26 per pound.
Now consider the fresh roasted peanut. At the People's Food Coop, this humble but versatile nut costs a mere $.55 per pound, or less than half the price of potato chips. They're fun to crack - can you crack a peanut perfectly along the seams with one hand? Behind your back? Can you crack two perfectly at once, one in each hand? Peanuts are a tasty treat with a snappy, crunchy, roasted flavor. They spoil very slowly. In the shell and roasted a bowl of peanuts can stand out on the kitchen table for over a week - if they're not gobbled up sooner. And are they nourishing! Two tablespoons of peanuts contain more protein than an egg. They are rich in B-vitamins, the essential class of vitamins which is milled out of "refined" white flour, and which is further depleted from the body by white sugar, tobacco, and alcohol. Many Americans suffer vitamin B deficiencies without knowing it, a condition which can result in easy fatigue, depression, skin problems, decreased ability to digest cholesterol, and mental dysfunction, in severe cases, retardation. Both peanut meat and the papery red skin around the nut is rich in B-vitamins. Peanuts also contain several important minerals which are among the nutrient victims of today's food processing techniques.
Nuts and seeds make great snacks: pop 'em in yer mouth and munch! They are cheap, tasty, and extremely nutritious. In fact, pound for pound, seeds and nuts are Nature's most nourishing foods. If there is any purpose to the life of a plant, it is to reproduce its kind successfully. Plants invest a tremendous amount of their life energy in their seeds. Plants save the best food elements for their seeds. Experiments have revealed that variations in the nutrient content of soils have less effect on seeds than on any other part of the plant. Nuts and seeds were staple foods for a majority of Native American tribes and they still are for many cultures in widely diverse parts of the planet.
There is even some evidence that seeds may contain a cancer-preventive agent. A doctor practicing on an island off New Zealand reported that in 13 years he did not see a single instance of cancerous malignancy among the entire native population of over 4,000. However, during the same period of time, he operated on several dozen of the white settlers for malignant tumors. While there are many environmental stress and genetic considerations in the area of malignancies, some observers believe there is a link between diet and cancer prevention. These islanders and many other non-Western, non-technological peoples eat a diet chock-full of seeds and nuts, in which is found a group of B-vitamins known as the nitrilosides. There is some belief that nitrilosides might be to cancer what vitamin C is to scurvy, or what vitamin D is to rickets.
Sunflower seeds rank as a terrific snack. Grow them yourself in summertime, or buy them at the People's Food Coop for $.76 per pound, a mere 3/5 the price of potato chips. They keep quite well in the shell, are fun to crack and munch, and aid in the formation of healthy bones, teeth and skin. Sunflower seeds are great in granola, breads, cakes and with fruit, too.
Sesame was among the earliest seed crops cultivated by humankind. It was thought to contain magic properties, hence the mighty password "Open Sesame!" in Ali Babba and the Forty Thieves. Sesame seeds are very rich in lecithin. Lecithin helps metabolize cholesterol out of the blood. If not broken down with the aid of lecithin, cholesterol forms scalelike plaque deposits on artery walls which thicken over time and constrict blood vessels so your heart has to work much harder to pump blood. This condition leads to hardening of the arteries and heart disease, our number one killer. Cholesterol problems are not only confined to the middle-aged and well-fed. Autopsies on American soldiers killed in Vietnam revealed significant plaque deposits on arteries of mostly poor and lower-middle class men in their early and mid-twenties. Sesame seeds contain a whopping 35% protein, more than the overwhelming majority of nuts, fruit, dairy products and meat. All this goodness and delectability for only $.46 per pound at the People's Food Coop. Use sesame seeds on salads, with grain, potato, and bean dishes, with fruit or cheese, and as a spice on almost anything.
This fall, why not try some roasted pumpkin seeds? Besides being delicious, pumpkin seeds are rich in the minerals magnesium and zinc. These two minerals are used, among other things, to treat prostrate gland problems in men. A large proportion of men develop prostrate gland problems by the time they reach middle age. Prostrate cancer is common. Too few men realize the importance of a yearly prostrate check-up. Get into the habit of having your prostrate checked once a year, and munch pumpkin seeds.
Chestnuts are another tasty autumn nut treat. With a sharp paring knife, put an X into each shell and roast until the shell curls up. Eat them plain, lightly salted, or dipped in butter while they're warm.
Nuts and seeds are ready-to-eat flavorful snacks. They are among the most nutritious of Nature's food sources, at a fraction of the cost of manufactured snack products. The next time you face off against a supermarket aisle full of Ruffles, Whistles, Bugles, Munchos, Fritos, and Screaming Yellow Zonkers, say, "Nuts to skonk snacks!" Hot-foot it down to the People's Food Coop on Packard St. and load up on nuts and seeds.
-- Free People's Clinic