We are passionate about real food that tastes great and is good for your health and the environment. I’m convinced mineral depletion is part of our current health crisis and increase in lifestyle diseases. It would be a great wish of mine to change the criteria for success in farming from high yield to higher nutrient content. To be happier and healthier, we understand we are part of the environment and not separate from it.
What’s the nutritional difference between the carrot I ate in 1970 and one I eat today?
Fruits and vegetables grown decades ago were much richer in vitamins and minerals than the varieties most of us get today. The main culprit in this disturbing nutritional trend is soil depletion. Modern intensive agricultural methods have stripped increasing amounts of nutrients from the soil in which the food we eat grows. For example, each successive generation of fast-growing, pest-resistant carrot is truly less good for you than the one before.
A landmark study by Donald Davis published in December 2004 studied nutritional data from both 1950 and 1999 for 43 different vegetables and fruits finding declines in the amount of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C over the past half century.
Efforts to breed new GM varieties of fruits & vegtables that provide greater yield, pest resistance and climate adaptability have allowed crops to grow bigger and more rapidly,” reported Davis, “but their ability to manufacture or uptake nutrients has not kept pace with their rapid growth.” There have likely been declines in other nutrients such as magnesium, zinc and vitamins B-6 and E, but they were not studied in 1950 and more research is needed to find out how much less we are getting of these key vitamins and minerals.
A different study, as reported by the Toronto Globe and Mail in 2002, showed potatoes had lost 100 percent of their Vitamin A and 57 percent of their Vitamin C, and even concluded that current consumers would have to eat eight oranges to get the same amount of Vitamin A as their grandparents obtained from one orange!
What Can You Do About It?
Nutrient content in fruit and vegetables have many variables, but your best chance is to buy local, in-season and from farmers who use organic practices.
By eating local food grown with the seasons, you eat foods when they are meant to be picked and eaten, and when their nutrient content is naturally the most plentiful. Foods picked at the proper time grown naturally, during the time of year when they have historically been grown, mean higher concentrations of vitamins and minerals. Not to mention in-season produce tends to taste better.
Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover
Larger, prettier fruits and vegetables aren’t necessarily better. In fact, produce that grows quickly (and is therefore larger) often has less nutrient density. Plants can only convey so many nutrients from the soil to their fruit; oftentimes smaller produce is more nutritious. Similarly, conventionally-grown produce was often bred for appearances, while traditional varieties of plants grown organically may produce fruit that is less symmetrical or homogeneous in color or texture but higher in vitamins and minerals.