Homesteading Basics: Is the Fruit You Eat Bad for Your Teeth?

A Great Example of Stacking Functions

Marjory planted this grapevine on the southwest side of her house a few years ago. Believe it or not, she didn’t actually intend for the vine to be a food source for her family. When she originally planted the vine, its purpose was to provide shade on a patio that got way too hot in the direct afternoon sun each summer. If you missed it, you can learn more about the vine here: Create Cool Shade with this Easy Plant.

The vine did start to produce some fruit eventually. It’s a tasty bonus on Marjory’s now-shady patio, and this grapevine provides a nice example of the permaculture principle of stacking functions. If you’re not familiar with permaculture, stacking functions basically means that when you design a landscape (or garden, or building… or anything else), each element in the design should perform multiple functions.

This grapevine performs several functions on Marjory’s property. It provides seasonal shade (and seasonal sunshine), it provides a small food source, and there’s a ‘sort-of’ compost pile at the base of the plant… see the previous video linked above for more info on that.

Read more: Getting to Know Your New Permaculture Site

Is Your Fruit Bad for Your Teeth?

Marjory was delighted when this vine started to yield fruit! As I mentioned above, she really wasn’t counting on it as a food source.

When the vine started to produce mature, fully-grown grapes, Marjory sampled a few of them and quickly realized that these were not at all like the uber-sweet grapes that we buy at the supermarket. The fruits are tart and somewhat bitter. The taste of sour grapes made Marjory wonder if the grapes might be very acidic. She knew that acidic foods are bad for her teeth, so she decided to do a quick test to find out for sure. Check it out:

Do a Simple pH Test – Your Teeth Will Thank You

The pH test that Marjory used here comes from OraWellness. We promoted their “HealThy Mouth” products a while ago on this post: 9 out of 10 Adults Have Gum Disease. You can also pick up a simple litmus test for pH at the pharmacy nearest you. If you don’t find one locally, there are plenty available online if you check Amazon or whichever site you prefer.

There’s not much to it – spit in a spoon, put the litmus paper in the spit, and size it up using the provided color chart. Generally speaking, alkaline foods are safe for your teeth and good for your body. Very acidic foods can harm your teeth, and they’re generally not good for your overall health either.

Alternatives To Dentists

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This post was written by Anthony Tamayo


  • Susan says:

    Oh Marjorie, you’re going to have fun with this one! Generally, fruits & vegetables, whether acid or alkaline in your mouth, digest to alkaline “ash” in your body. (Exceptions include cranberries & plums, I understand.) Acid foods do have an immediate effect on teeth while in your mouth, however. Also, animal products & grains tend to digest to acid “ash,” affecting body pH, and thus our health. That tells us acid ash foods should be only a small part to our diet. The typical American diet has reversed the proportions, & we pay the price with a high incidence of chronic disease.

  • NolaM says:

    All grapes are not created equal. Look up a picture of a vinyard.
    Note that the trunk goes up, the yearly laterals are pruned at a specific length.
    That is so when the grapes are picked for wine, They are all picked at once.
    The grapes closest to the truck are sweeter/riper, the ones at the ends sour.
    Now… For eating grapes, this is less critical. Especially home grapes.
    Because you start eating at the stem, work your way to the end of the vine clusters.
    This can be long after freezing and at the fermented raisin stage.
    The levels of sugars, acidity, tannins, and a couple of dozen other nutrients,
    Are all dependant on the strain, variety, sun, water, soil, timing.
    Fruit is the ultimate stem cell nutrient for plant replication.
    I read a wonderful article years ago about the nutrient change in plants
    That it changes in component variables as the season goes along.
    The red of a tomato skin protects against stronger sunlight and heat.
    We need the sugars to insulate against winter and hold fat soluble vitamins.

    We have a grape in our garden that came from a turn of the century mother trunk.
    So old that it has long lost it’s name and survived the homestead it grew on.
    It has the sweetest burst of magical buttery textured berry when ripe.
    Every year when we share clusters, people ask for cuttings from the daughter plant.
    Advice… Plant a better grape. Prune it for function, enjoy.

  • John says:

    Acidic foods don’t necessarily leave your body more acidic. That is a misunderstanding. Almost all vegetables and fruits leave your body more alkaline. It is meat, flour, sugar and oil that leave your body more acidic.

    Acidic foods are bad for your teeth if you eat them and then brush right away. Traditional Chinese Medicine uses balance between salt, sweet, sour, bitter, and oil, I think. Americans tend to be fat because we eat the sweet and oil, the ones that make you fat, and avoid sour and bitter flavors that make you thinner. It’s one factor anyway

  • NolaM says:

    Figure 2 is wonderful. Shows all the components in a grape.
    There is a body of work that proposes that local cyclical eating is critical for health.
    That we need the sun/heat protective components in that tomato in the late summer.
    Not so much hothouse varieties in February… Or grapes from chile in March.
    That the act of drying and preserving fruit naturally … aka raisins…
    Involves a metabolic conversion through fermentation of the sugars to feed healthy gut flora.
    As well as topical…note the old school un trellised grape production here.

  • Margaret G. says:

    Did Marjory plant dessert grapes or wine grapes?

  • Arkansas Pilgrim says:

    I f acidic foods are “bad”, what’s all the hullabaloo about apple cider vinegar (the real stuff)?

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