Our Symbiotic Relationship With Fruit
by Mindy Goorchenko
Like most people, I have always raised an eyebrow at the prospect of fruitarianism. It sounds so extreme. Even as I write that, I’m laughing. I know that fruit and vegetables supply every vitamin and mineral that currently comes to mind. As a vegan, I myself have been labeled an “extreme eater,” and I guess it’s true that I have met only a handful of vegans in my life. I have never met a fruitarian. Therefore, they have all withered away. They simply don’t exist. (More laughing. At myself, by the way.)
While perusing the articles on the website of the raw food journal, “Living Naturally,” I learned a philosophy about plants that resonated with me, one I had never read before. Dr. T.C. Fry writes in Humans & Fruit: Symbiotic Partners in Life that humans and plants are symbiotic with each other, meaning, both rely on each other to mutual benefit. This statement assumes that plants are aware on some level, and studies have shown recently that plants do possess a primitive nervous system. (Radio talk show host Roger Hedgecock recently used this point to question a vegetarian on his show whether she’d stop eating plants now so as not to hurt the plants.)
Fry proposes that humans and fruits are symbionts in nature, meaning, they are two dissimilar organisms cooperating for mutual benefit. Fry uses the example of plant pollination to illustrate symbiosis, that of flowers oozing sticky nectar to attract flying insects, which then inadvertently pollinate other flowers with which they come into contact. But how to solve the problem of seed dispersal? Fry contends that many plants formed delectable, savory, attractive fruits around their seeds to attract consumption by other animals with an unpalatable seed in the middle which gets disposed of in some fashion–hence, serving the needs of both organisms. These fruits are predigested, perfectly nutritional for human consumption, alkaline in nature (as opposed to meat and other acid-forming foods which cause problems such as arthritis and rheumatism in humans), and supply ample water. In fact, Fry contends that we have not developed faculties for drinking water due to our development on fruit in our early biological history.
I have always taken delight in eating fruit because it does not destroy life but actually promotes it. This is a big motivation behind my veganism, in spite of the primitive nervous system in plants. It seems apparent that fruit is designed to be picked and eaten. It tastes amazing, looks beautiful, smells delectable, and is digested within minutes in the human body, supplying ample nutrition of every kind. Fry uses the word “carnivore” without clarifying that humans are not carnivores by nature. Our digestive tract is not short and smooth like that of true carnivores, but rather several meters long, with countless folds and crevices. Rotting meat takes hours to travel through it. Most people would not eat meat which had been sitting for hours in a damp, warm container. The proliferation of cancer and illness in our culture attests to the negative ramifications of these practices.
In spite of this, Fry states that this perfect symbiotic relationship “does not mean we should eat fruits totally and exclusively in our present circumstances.” What does he mean? I feel, on one hand, he is addressing the fact that we live in a culture which, quite simply, has a lot of different food options. He acknowledges that eating green matter and the occasional steamed vegetables or even grains will not negatively impact health on as large a scale as the rest of the food in our culture. Fry may also be acknowledging that fruit in our modern age, at least in America, is mass produced, genetically altered, poisoned with pesticides, devoid of nutrients, and in so many ways not resembling fruit in its original state that we must be careful about the fruit we do consume, so as not to inadvertently poison ourselves.
When I imagine myself living in nature before civilization as we currently know it, my tendencies would lean toward fruit. This would be a relatively easy and satisfying way to nourish myself. Fruit is specifically designed to attract me and other fruit-eating species. Even the act of defecation would serve the plants’ and seeds’ needs (manure, as we know, is even still used to fertilize plants), as well as my own. With this added perspective, I enjoy fruit even more.