Modern farming depleting nutrients from vegetables

Modern farming methods make supplementing with essential nutrients even more critical

ModernFarmingRecent corporate financed studies may suggest that there is no difference in the nutritional content of organic and conventionally grown fruits and vegetables.

Don’t believe them.

A comprehensive study conducted by researchers from the University of Texas at Austin’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry compared USDA data from 1950 and 1999 for 43 different vegetables and fruits and found “reliable declines” in the amount of  critical nutrients over the past 50 years.

These nutrients included: protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C.

The findings were published in the December, 2004 Journal of the American College of Nutrition (JACN).

Almost certainly there have been declines in other nutrients, such as magnesium, zinc and vitamins B6 and E. However, they were not studied in 1950.

Other studies include one on British nutrient data from 1930 to 1980 that found in 20 vegetables, the average calcium content had declined 19 percent, iron 22 percent and potassium 14 percent.

A more recent study of 12 common vegetables by the Kushi Institute compared 1975 and 1997 nutritional content and found calcium loss of 27 percent, iron 37 percent, vitamin A 21 percent and vitamin C 30 percent.

Today we live in a time of vast swaths of ever more depleted soil being propped up by ever more additives in order to grow the same crops in the same fields season after season.

One study claimed that we would have to eat eight oranges to obtain the same nutritional content as an orange eaten by our grandparents!

Healthy organic and natural soil that allows millions of tiny soil organisms to do their work produces healthier vegetables.

Healthier food results in healthier bodies more able to protect against today’s lifestyle diseases. (Keep in mind that in 1930 and 1950, most crops were grown in ‘organic’ soil.)

The Texas study points out that constant tinkering—including insertion of foreign organisms (GMOs)—with varieties of crops to produce greater yield, pest resistance and climate adaptability have allowed crops to grow bigger and more rapidly. However, their ability to manufacture and uptake nutrients cannot keep pace—especially in soil where natural soil organisms have been vanquished.

Each generation of these crops nibbles away at their nutritional content.

Fruits and vegetables as a substantial part of our daily diet are still, of course, a much better choice than many other junk options ingested by today’s consumers.

Pesticide contamination as a factor was not included in the nutritional data of the studies cited, but today and increasingly so, it is a VERY large factor.

Those who are not able to choose total organic (which by definition cannot use pesticides) may find it helpful to be aware of the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) annual publishing of most and least contaminated fruits and vegetables.

According to EWG, people who eat five servings a day from the Dirty Dozen consume an average of 10 pesticides a day.

Sooner or later our bodies will begin rebelling at this affront.

The ‘Dirty Dozen’ (most contaminated conventional crops) are in order of contamination: celery, peaches, strawberries, apples, blueberries, nectarines, bell peppers, spinach, cherries, kale/collard greens, potatoes and grapes.

The ‘Clean 15’ are onion, avocado, sweet corn, pineapple, mango, sweet peas, asparagus, kiwi, cabbage, eggplant, cantaloupe, watermelon, grapefruit, sweet potato and honeydew melon.

Sources: Scientificamerican.com, JACN.org, Kushiinstitute.org, Organicconsumers.org

 

 

 

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