Is your carrot today less nutritious than the one you ate in the 1970s?
That does not mean that it is unhealthy and it’s certainly better for you than any processed foods, but because of the way we do modern agriculture, we are producing less nutritionally dense food.
Why is this? Well, when you don’t rotate plants, never let the soil rest and use chemical fertilizers, the amount of minerals in the soil slowly gets depleted and so the plants have fewer to draw into itself.
The landmark study on just how big of an effect this is having was done in 2004 by the University of Texas.
Dr. Donald Davis looked at 43 common fruits and vegetables and showed that we needed to lower our nutritional tables on nearly every single one of these vegetables and fruits. (Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15637215)
For instance, when the USDA created their list of micronutrients in vegetables, they did this back in the 1950s. When these were updated 50 years later the results were very different.
Six of the 13 nutrients the government tracks changed substantially.
Dr. Davis also said that his concern was that big ag was working to increase yields of different plants and not concerned about the nutritional content of the food.
As a result, we are getting less magnesium and iron than we thought we were getting.
Protein, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin C have all dropped over the last fifty years.
While our crops get bigger, they are less and less nutritionally dense.
The Kushi Institute tracked some vegetables for 25 years and saw a stark drop in vitamins and minerals in our food.
According to their study, calcium dropped by 25%, iron 37% and vitamin C dropped 30% from 1975-1997. One would expect that this trend is only getting worse.
It all boils down to soil quality and the plant varieties selected by the farmers.
And please note, just because vegetables produced by be agriculture are not as healthy as they used to be, doesn’t mean that they are not healthy. You still get a great deal out of eating your vegetables.
But it is a good reason to look for locally sourced vegetables from organic farmers.
You might find them at a farmer’s market or look for a co-op.
You take the time to find a mechanic you like and trust to take care of your car, isn’t your body worthy of the same type of research?
When you investigate and find farmers who invest in their soil and produce highly nutritious food products, you are giving your health the greatest gift you can give it.
The same also goes for meats and eggs.
Free-range eggs produced by a small local farm near me use chickens who eat bugs and other critters that greatly improve the nutritional content of the eggs.
Surprisingly because the farmer doesn’t pay for government regulation, shipping, marketing or other costs, the overall cost of the eggs is not much higher than a premium egg at the supermarket.
You will immediately notice better richer colors in the food and often better taste.
Some raw milk supporters have found they can get it by purchasing a part of a cow with others. And farmers who are willing to raise grass-fed and finished beef and pork produce fantastic meat products.
So, there is no doubt that we are getting fewer nutrients from our produce than we used to, but that does not make them bad. And there are some possible strategies to find better sources of food.