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Power Foods? Really?

Robyn Openshaw - Feb 16, 2010 - This Post May Contain Affiliate Links

I saw a People Magazine article last week about 10 “power foods.” They listed agave, along with the aggressively marketed, uber-expensive acai and goji berries. Now I’m not going to diss  acai and goji, which are certainly high in antioxidants.

But if you’re trying to adhere to a budget, do you really want to pay $10 to $60 a pound for these “power foods” from thousands of miles away from your home, when you can buy oranges and apples for $0.69/lb.? Their antioxidant levels may not be as high, but they’re wonderful foods grown close to home that won’t break the bank, and IF YOU EAT THEM REGULARLY they can be an important part of an aggressive anti-disease and pro-energy healthy diet.

Not too exotic, I know. And if you have lots of discretionary income, great. Eat interesting little berries from mountain ranges all the way across the world. (I do really like goji, though I justify the cost only now and then.)

But meantime, common sense suggests that if you stick to greens, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains grown near you, you’ll be JUST FINE.

As for agave being a power food, no way.

WHAT?! You offer agave in the group buy and it’s in your recipes, GreenSmoothieGirl! WHAT. ARE. YOU. SAYING!

My friends, it is much preferable than sugar. If you get a reputable brand that certifies it to be raw and organic, you should use it for treats that are alternatives to junk food.

But no concentrated sweetener is a power food–except maybe honey, because of its pollen content and anti-bacterial properties. (Still really high in calories. Use it sparingly.)

Anyway, I rolled my eyes at the People article, so mainstream and dumbed down. But I guess nobody wants to hear that boring old broccoli, or almonds, or raw sweet potatoes, are power foods. Yawn. We want something NEW!

People are always writing me, “What do you think of Dr. X’s heart-disease preventing supplement?” “What do you think of emu oil?”

I haven’t studied every new, well-marketed product out there. But keep in mind that for every drop of something-or-other you can squeeze out of the poor emu, or every new pill full of “natural” stuff, there’s a bunch of people sitting around a boardroom strategizing on how a study they pay for can “prove” that you simply must have it to heal 30 different maladies.

I don’t mean to sound cynical. Try it if it’s in your budget. But now and then I like to pull everybody who might be listening, back to the straight and narrow road. That is, simple, whole, unadulterated plant foods. Those we KNOW will heal us and prevent all the awful things we’d rather not die of. If you’re reading the Emu Oil ad online while eating your second Hostess Ding Dong of the day, an examination of priorities might be in order.

Just my $0.02.

Posted in: Whole Food

13 thoughts on “Power Foods? Really?”

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I had to laugh…. I LOVE your common sense. You could drop a small fortune on all the good-for-you stuff in the health food stores. Not to mention the fact that these power food fads change from year to year. How can we keep up with it all?

    I am guilty of chasing this promise or that in the name of health, but I also have been eating my humble broccoli and butternut squash through the years. As I enter middle age, I realize that the more uncomplicated something is, the better!!

  2. Thanks for such a great post. I am sick of reading another “superfoods” article that lists different items from the last. Amen to common sense and whole plant foods.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Whew I needed that. I get sucked into those articles. I think it is because I want that magic pill that cures cancer!

    Hey, for Barbara Kingsolver fans, she wrote a book I am just starting that looks promising, “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle”. It is about the year her family ate locally, from their garden or neighbors. Here’s a couple of interesting facts you might enjoy:

    “The average food item on a US grocery shelf has traveled farther than most families go on their annual vacation.”

    “If every US citizen ate just one meal a week (any meal) composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, we could reduce our country’s oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week.”!!


    Thanks, Robyn for reminding us to keep our lives simple.

  4. Anonymous says:


    Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is one of my all time favorite books! Although it isn’t a health book or specifically a fad diet book, I’ve always thought the picture on the front cover was a great advertisement for their chosen way of life, they just glow with healthiness.

  5. Yes, Yes, YES!!!! I love this post! I really do think it’s just that Simple! 😉

  6. You are -so- spot on! If maca powder was the key to salvation, we’d all be chattering on in Incan.

    That’s what I really like about raw food–it’s all so simple and so healthy. The poor kale leaf can’t help that it’s not as sexy as the pert little acai berry.

    I’m not raw/vegan myself, but I eat a ton of raw food, and I feel great. Bring on the collard wraps!

    If I may ask, what is your opinion on David Wolfe? I’ve heard him speak. Sometimes he says stuff I like, like his acknowledgment that people have vastly different metabolisms (and thus some favor fats/nuts over lots of carbs/fruit), but when he goes on about the messianic properties of cacao nibs, he kind of loses me.

  7. Love your writing style and ideas. You may have noticed in newer articles on agave nectar – it’s primarily high fructose, not raw and overly processed. We got samples at work of a sweetener that looks, feels and tastes like sugar but isn’t. Low-glycemic – avail from the same outfit that makes an organic, fat-burning coffee (from Dr. Ann DeWees Allen). Both at:

  8. Anonymous says:


    I love your posts more all the time. You really have it together young lady. I agree with you 100%. I have been on a health quest for several years and you make a lot of sense. Keep up the good work.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Hi Robyn,

    Love your website and blog. Something interesting, I know the people doing this. Let me know what you think, they can use the same process on other grains such quinoa, millet, flaxseed, etc.


  10. Anonymous says:

    What is the difference between making raw smoothies versus using the Sun Warrior protein powder. I don’t yet have a BlendTec, so am using my blender with the protein powder, and adding a little raw spinach and some frozen fruit.

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      Make the raw smoothies with greens and fruit every day. But ADD SunWarrior protein powder (rather than other protein products) if you feel you need more protein.

  11. Anonymous says:

    My favorite recipe that I make once a week with out fail is a recipe I got from Dr Douglas N.Graham’s 80/10/10 Diet Book that I have customized to my own taste.

    Avocado Lettuce Salad

    1 Medium Ripe Avocado

    8 oz Tomato

    8 oz Cucumber

    8 oz Lettuce

    Sea Salt to taste

    Lemon Dill Dip – Epicure Spices – to taste

    Three Onion Dip – Epicure Spices – to taste

    Mash avocado

    Dice tomato and add to avocado

    Add all spices to taste to avocado and tomato and mix.

    Shred lettuce, dice cucumber and toss together

    Add avocado and tomato mixture to lettuce and cucumber and mix well.nn

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