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should you cut skin off fruits and vegetables?

My sons Kincade and Tennyson hate peaches because of their fuzzy skin. I tell them they’re crazy, because inside the fuzzy skin is one of the most fabulous foods on this planet, when they’re in season. (My mom soaked sliced fresh peaches in orange juice overnight–it’s wonderful, and even my peach-skin-haters love it.)

I refused to indulge the “cutting the skin off” thing, even when my kids were little, and I highly recommend you young moms avoid starting that habit. Do it just ONCE and your little ones have been trained to refuse to eat the skins of fruit.

I thought about this because I was with my friend Jean this week, and 9-year old Tennyson came to me and asked me what he could eat. I recommended a peach out of the big box I had on the counter. He whined about the skin and Jean offered to peel it for him. I wasn’t about to deny her this sweet gesture, but I thought, “Ohhh, here we go.”

Why does this matter? The skin of fruit has higher concentrations of antioxidants and fiber (with lower sugar) than the rest of the fruit. (I know, pesticides, too, but wash your produce well, and cut out the top and bottom divots in apples, because that’s where pesticides collect.) Remember that all the studies showing massive health benefits from eating fruits and vegetables are done with conventional produce. And remember that animal protein has a much higher concentration of pesticides than even sprayed vegs and fruits do.

The minute you cut the skin off the apple or peach for a child, you have consigned yourself to a lifetime of making the world’s fast foods a great big hassle. You won’t always be there to cut the skins off. Wouldn’t it be better to train them to eat the whole thing, so they can, in future years, come home, wash the apple in the bowl on your counter, and eat the whole, nutritious thing? Remove the peel and the food isn’t quite as “whole”–less fiber is slowing down bloodstream sugar absorption.

I’m hoping to get you thinking, young moms, so you don’t get this started. Don’t cut whole-wheat bread crusts off bread, either. We’re teaching our children to not use their jaws, causing devolution (the opposite of evolution) of their palates and jaws, and they need those strong muscles and wide palates to break down fibrous whole foods.

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