There is little doubt that eating certain fiddlehead greens can significantly increase ones chances of cancer. In fact, science says they cause cancer. On the surface that would be a sobering thought but is it?
This may sound a bit picky, but what is “eating?” And for this discussion, what is “toxic?” In broad terms there isn’t much issue: Eating is consuming food and toxic can make you sick or kill you. Eat water hemlock and you will die in a couple of hours. That’s fairly straight forward. What about eating a pound of onions a day? It may take a few weeks or months but they can kill you, too. So are they toxic? Are they deadly?
But, back to fiddleheads. Phrases like “fiddlehead greens can significantly increase ones chances of cancer” are surprisingly unqualified. That is because science, that wonderful tool, is reductionist. It does not and cannot have a Gestalt view.
What if I ate just a few fiddleheads in a few meals just in spring, when they are in season? Can I expect cancer from them 20 or 30 years down the road? What if I can them, and eat a whole lot of them throughout the year for 20 or 30 years? Might that be the cause of cancer in the time to come? Research has shown that you can get cancer by drinking the local water where fiddleheads grow. But the again, we drink water everyday, not just a few times every spring.
A Pack A Day
Perhaps some plants cause disease when they are eaten extra-seasonally, or to excess, or over a long period of time. A few fiddlehead every spring might actually be good for you, like a little wine, some greenery after a long winter. Preserving them and eating them all year might be akin to smoking, damage by excess or prolonged consumption. One cigarette a month is probably not going to kill you, but a pack a day can.
It might be that man lives best when he eats seasonally, which brings me to carbohydrates. Simple carbs used to be a seasonal part of man’s diet, a fruit tree in the fall is a good example. He would eat until stuffed and the excess went to fat for winter use when the days were lean. Now most of us eat simple carbs every day, if not every meal. The
government even recommends it! But what if simple carbs are like fiddlehead greens or even cigarettes. Now and then, in season, no harm but daily deadly? Might that be what’s behind our obesity epidemic and our diabetes epidemic, the proliferation of simple carbs to the exclusion of other food?
Most of us no longer eat seasonally, and maybe that is catching up with us.