Every plant growing in the field is absolutely filthy with bacteria. A study of coleslaw spoilage in the 70s came up with this…
Cabbage, it’s principal ingredient, had a total bacterial count of about 10,000/gram. Microbial growth in cabbage was prevented by storage at 1 C but not at 10 C or above. In coleslaw, the cabbage flora died and was replaced by the flora of the cultured sour cream contained in the dressing.
You are absolutely filthy with bacteria. No amount of anti-bacterial soaps or deodorants will clean you, because every exposed surface, both external and internal is the terrain of the microscopic life that covers the Earth. This is not a problem, of course. You evolved, all the way back to the point that your ancestor was also a single cell, in this environment. All of your processes are tuned to cooperate with our microbe partners, we feed them and they feed us. It behooves us to care for our allies, because they defend us from our enemies.
Cabbage happens to host a bacteria that, when assisted by immersing it in briny water, will create sauerkraut. The bacteria begins to digest the indigestible starches that cabbage contains, and the salt water impedes all of the bacteria that are in competition for those starches. The good bacteria changes cabbage starches from carbohydrate to Vitamin C–for free. All Vitamin C is created by fermentation, including the multi-vitamin kind.
Eating your cabbage raw puts the indigestible starches inside you, where the good and bad bacteria can fight over it, in addition to the resident bacteria in your mouth, stomach, and intestines. If you belch or fart after eating a raw cabbage salad then you are experiencing the gentle side effect of your bacteria converting those starches. Eating vegetables raw not only feeds you but it brings your bacterial allies into you to reinforce those you already host. Think of eating raw fruit or vegetables as taking a probiotic where you know for certain there is probiotic present. Without knowing with scientific certainty, I can safely say that each edible vegetable in your pantry carries beneficial bacteria for you. That is why they spoil.
Cooking your food for later canning kills every living thing. The food goes into you in a neutral state, carrying only the nutrients themselves. This is not a bad thing, but is truly neutral. Cooking food is a way to combine ingredients that are not worth eating by themselves. I dare say that bacon and spinach are made for one another, and not worth eating uncooked. You can quote me on that.
The second best way to eat your vegetables is fermented. Fermented foods have been processed, but not cooked. We give them a week, at least, for the good bacteria to completely ‘pre-digest’ them for us, converting fully the food nutrients for the bacteria into vitamins. If we eat the ferments raw then we get the products of fermentation, and a full dose of the bacteria of fermentation. Win Win. Fermented vegetables won’t contain carbohydrates either. Win Win Win.
If you cannot ferment your own vegetables, then you should purchase them. Fermented sauerkraut will not have vinegar listed on its ingredient Lable. Other fermented vegetables include cucumber pickles and peppers. It is possible to ferment any vegetable but you would be hard pressed to find many of them on your store shelves. It is just too easy to add vinegar and call it a pickle. Actual fermented foods in the store will be found in the refrigerator cases, so that the foods don’t finally decay. Refrigeration retards the process and extends the edibility of the product for a time. It is a feature of fermented foods that they don’t last forever in your refrigerator.
If you feel like you just have to eat vegetables for your diet to be healthy, then eat them raw. If you can’t stomach eating raw vegetables all the time or you want to keep them longer than they will last on the shelf, then ferment them and eat them fermented. As a last option eat canned and cooked vegetables.
With the exception of the vitamins that you get eating fermented foods, you can get everything that is obtained from eating vegetables from eating properly raised and prepared meats. At the top of the food chain we get whatever was eaten by all of the plants and animals that are lower on the food chain than we are. Given a choice, your beef cattle will eat only things that provide the most nutrition to themselves. Once processed, these same animals provide all of that nutrition and health to you, as though you could eat grasses grown on good soils. The chain of life is strongest when it is the one designed by nature. It is only corrupted when we confine the animals and make their choices for them, based on what is cheapest or easiest. Nature doesn’t go cheap.