Ask Rocco 11/10/15

If we really got back to nature

By Rocco Castellano

One of my favorite things to do is “blow” shit up. I don’t mean throw a grenade under a car, put an M-80 in a trash can “blow shit up.” I mean blow up lies, urban legends or misconceptions that have plagued us for years. Last week I wrote a column about how many of the so-called natural foods we eat are not really all that natural, meaning found in nature. Actually, not much of what we see in the produce or meat section is anything we would see in nature if we were foraging for food.

So I wanted to discuss the aspects of “wild” nutrition and “domesticated” nutrition just to give us something to talk about at the water cooler tomorrow.  We have become so far removed from anything that can be construed as natural or as seen in the wild, and our nutrition and well being is definitely showing the signs of it. There are four specific characteristics or differences between the wild food we can eat and the domesticated or agri-cultivated (I just made that word up) food we do eat. The more research I do the more I shake my head… I’ve been shaking my head for so long I think I gave myself a permanent headache.

Here are the four basic principles that I will try my damnedest to impart on you.

1. Wild plants are way more nutrient dense than their domesticated counterparts. Forget counterparts —there are wild plants that are 30, 40 sometimes 50 times more nutritious than what we have been lead to believe in nutritious.

2. Photochemical content has been cultivated out of almost all of the fruits and vegetables we bring home from the grocery store. Photochemicals are micronutrients that have an antioxidant or antimicrobial effect on certain pathogens or basically, diseases. Photochemicals or nutrients tend to build our immunity to illness and keep us healthy.

3. Most plants found in the wild have a better ratio of omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6 fatty acids. So, WTF does this have to do with you and why am I writing this? OK wise-ass, omega-6 fatty acids create havoc in the body causing inflammation and suppressing the immune system… this is something we don’t want. Most of the grains and oils we ingest have very high concentrations of omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids, conversely, reduce inflammation and boost the immune system. Wild plants have a much higher omega-3 content… which is a good thing.

4. I love this—wild plants have way less calories per unit mass. What that means is you don’t have to eat as much to get the nutrients you need. When I was a younger, more less-informed fitness professional, I hated putting people on a calorie restrictive diet because it was actually bad for their health. But being fat was the greater evil. Now with the understanding of more nutrition in less space, a low calorie diet is a no-brainer.

Everyone has heard about the benefits of spinach—most of them are untrue. I actually believe spinach is a stupid food, but I digress. (I will be doing a future column on spinach). Besides the bullshit about the iron content of spinach, it is also raved about for its vitamin A content which is about 8100 IU’s (International Units) per 100 grams or nearly 4 oz. The same amount of a wild green called the wooly violet (which is quite tasty in a salad) has 20,000 IU’s of vitamin A. You can literally grow wooly violet in your backyard or in a pot.

Oranges are supposed to be “high” in vitamin C or ascorbic acid. You’d have to be “high” to actually believe that. Most estimates put the ascorbic acid levels at about 50 mgs per 100 grams of fruit. An indigenous wild plant on the Eastern seaboard called beach rose has 54 times the amount of vitamin C for the same amount.

Radishes have long be touted for their potassium content. Most of you reading this just think it’s a
f–king garnish, but it is known for its high potassium content at 370 mgs, not bananas… hmmm? Potassium stimulates nerve and muscle function which at the very basic level boosts cardiovascular health, meaning your f–king heart and lungs. So it’s a good thing. That 370 mgs pales in comparison to a plant that grows in Turkey called eryngo. This very edible salad addition contains 3,453 mgs of potassium. That’s nine times, yes, nine times the amount of the best potassium food in the produce stand.

Rice is always a touchy subject in my household. I love rice… it’s a great starch without all those crazy calories and it can be added to just about everything. Problem is, wild rice, real wild rice is so packed with nutrients that I wind up hating myself for eating regular rice. Wild rice has significantly higher values of the B-complex vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin and niacin and more than that it has a higher value of minerals such as iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc which are off the charts compared to regular rice. It also has way more protein and omega-3 fatty acids than its domesticated relative.

Now realize I’m not asking you to go out and become a nomad forager, what I am asking you to do is think about nutrition in a different way.

The views and opinions expressed in Ask Rocco are the views and/or opinions of the author and do not reflect the views and/or opinions of the Dayton City Paper or Dayton City Media and are published strictly for entertainment purposes.

Rocco Castellano is the author of “askROCCO Uncensored v1,” a speaker and a controversial fitness personality who has won an Emmy for his fitness training role in MTV’s Made. For more information, please visit

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Rocco Castellano is the author of “askROCCO Uncensored v1,” a speaker and a controversial fitness personality who has won an Emmy for his fitness training role in MTV’s Made. For more information, please visit

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