Joined Jul 24, 2001
While preparing this week's column that I will dedicate it to spinach I came upon some facts I think that you might find interesting. :)

As most of you already know, spinach is a Persia ( Iran) that came known to the rest of the world during the 7th ce A.D. Rather late... but this is not really surprizing since around this time the Byzantines start their relations( when I say relation I mean even getting involved in wars) with the Persians.

As the article in Food Timeline points out, ot's surprizing to see in how many countries the word Spinach sounds alike... In Greek is spanaki from example.

What I found really interesting though is a reference I found about the popularity of spinach in Modern USA. When Popeye the Sailorman was introduced in January 17 1929 spinach became the third most popular food after turkey and ice-cream. :)

Some years ago, I have read in a newspaper that Popeye's cartoonists depicted him eating spinach by mistake since it's not spinach the ingredient with the highest amount of Iron but lentils. have you heard anything about that? :)
Joined Jul 24, 2001
Thanks Boz and welcome to the forums!! :)

Well, according to the story of the cartoon spinach had almost miraculous effects to Popeye something that it's true for the spinach anyway. Not that it's a "miracle food" of course but it is rich in Beta carroten which helps the iron to be absorbed!
Joined Jul 31, 2000

Doesn't the oxalic acid in spinach actually make it harder for the body to absord the iron?

Funny how orach and sorrels where surpassed by spinach in medievel Europe, but today we pay a premium for them.
Joined Jul 24, 2001
To tell you the truth cape chef I do not have a specific knowledge about that. :) I am parriting what our books say.

Indeed!!! I was thinking about the same thing reading a description by Andrew Dalby of the evolution of the Byzantine cooking. It seems that spinach put all the greens aside.

The only explanation I have about it is that it is easy to grow it.
Joined Oct 13, 2001
Quite true cape chef . The oxalic acid does retard the bodies ability to use most of the iron in spinach . Still the other potential health benefits are great for consuming spinach . heck , it worked for Popeye ! Doug...................
Joined Jul 24, 2001
I read that spinach has huge quantities of chlorophile and during WWI in the French Army they were giving the wounded soldiers a mixture of red wine and spinach puree to help them recover faster.
Joined Jul 23, 2002
My understanding of the legend of spinach was a botched test that fisrst read that spinach was high in iron. When the test was found to be off it was too late for the country was under the spell of ole popeye.
Joined Apr 29, 2004
Here's a link to the botched notion

Here's the last couple paragraphs of that link

As for spinach, Popeye was wrong.

The initial "discovery" that spinach had as much iron as meat was made way back in the 1890's. During the Second World War, American Popeye propaganda cartoons encouraged the populace to eat lots of spinach - a good thing when there was not much meat around. In fact, in WW II, Americans ate 35% more spinach, and the people of Crystal City in Texas put up a statue to Popeye to commemorate that famous 35%.

But it's all wrong. The original German scientists way back in the 1890's did their experiment right, but they wrote the result down wrong. They put the decimal point in the wrong place. They over-estimated the amount of iron in spinach by 10 times. This error was corrected by German scientists in the 1930's, but the information did not cross the Atlantic until a long time after WW II. To get his iron, Popeye would have been better off chewing on the can.

Doesn't mean spinach isn't fantastic for you, just don't over estimate it's iron value.
Joined Apr 28, 2004
I have an interesting old cookbook written by Gayelord Hauser in 1939. In this book he also gives the mineral contents of different foods. FYI: This is a hand-typed book with his autogaph.

Dictionary of Foods, by Bengamin Gayelord Hauser, copyright 1939:

Spinach - Iron .0036
Lentils - Iron .0086
Beef - Iron .003

Following is a web site telling about Gayelord Hauser: http://www.modernfearn.com/Gayelord_Hauser.htm
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