These ain’t your momma’s vegetables, at least not anymore…
Sadly, the food of today is less nutritious than it once was.
When our parents were growing up, the soil was richer in essential nutrients like calcium, magnesium, folate, and phosphorus.
Not only that, but the atmosphere, temperature, and other environmental factors were more ideal.
This made for a healthier Earth and healthier humans.
In this article, we look at how our beloved produce has fallen from grace and what you can do to help revive it.
How Bad Is the Nutritional Loss in Today’s Food?
Studies show that the average vegetable is between 5 to 40 percent less nutritious than it was a few decades ago.
In a 2017 study published in the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, researchers analyzed the nutrient data of 12 vegetables from 1975 to 1997. (1)
They found that several key nutrients dropped significantly, including:
- Calcium: 27 percent
- Iron: 37 percent
- Vitamin A: 21 percent
- Vitamin C: 30 percent
A similar British study of 20 vegetables spanning from 1930 to 1980 got similar results.
Even worse, a third study found that today you’d have to eat eight oranges to get the same amount of vitamin A that our grandparents got from just one. (2)
5 Causes of Nutritional Loss in Our Food Today
The environment is changing…fast, and it’s affecting all levels of the food chain.
Researchers believe that rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere may be partly to blame, but that’s just a small piece of the puzzle.
Intensive farming is also a major culprit.
Over the last several decades, these factors have led to a great nutrient collapse.
Here’s a closer look at what’s causing the nutritional loss in today’s food:
1. Rising CO2 Levels
Plants love carbon dioxide (CO2) just as much as humans love oxygen, and thanks to the greenhouse effect, they’re getting plenty of it.
At first glance, this might look like a good thing for farming.
Unfortunately, the opposite is true…
A recent study found that rising CO2 levels directly decrease the nutritional value of crops. (3)
In the paper, researchers looked at rice grown in the US, Australia, China, and Japan.
They found that areas with high levels of CO2 had lower levels of important nutrients, including:
Essentially, the extra CO2 causes the rice to grow too fast so that it doesn’t have a chance to absorb nutrients.
2. Increasing Temperatures
It’s no secret that the planet is warming up, and plant growth is highly sensitive to changes in temperature.
What does this mean for the nutritional value of food today?
Unfortunately, it wreaks havoc on the plant’s life cycle.
Every plant has an ideal temperature range, and temperatures outside of this range can lead to nutritional loss and small harvests.
For example, a recent article published in Science magazine warns that rice and maize harvests are predicted to shrink by 20 to 40 percent over the next 100 years. (4)
3. Unsustainable Farming Practices
Modern agricultural methods have stripped the soil of nutrients.
Farmers aren’t rotating their crops, and each season the soil becomes less nutritious.
Researchers from the University of Queensland in Australia stress that eco-friendly practices like crop rotation are essential to producing sustainable crops. (5)
4. Genetic Modification
Most conventional produce is genetically modified so that it grows faster and is more resistant to pests.
However, this causes what’s called the “dilution effect.”
The dilution effect means that high-yield crops consistently have lower concentrations of nutrients.
Today’s vegetables are larger and hardier, but unfortunately, they’re all fluff.
When you test them in the lab, they contain a lot of “dry matter” and very few nutrients.
5. Harsh Chemicals and Pesticides
Chemical fertilizers and pesticides allow farmers to harvest crops faster than ever before.
However, this means that the plants have less time to absorb nutrients from already depleted soil.
Not only that, but these harsh chemicals destroy crucial microflora in the soil.
In the end, this negatively affects pH, enzymes, and carbon.
Even worse, the produce is tainted with chemical residues.
These chemicals have been linked to a wide variety of health problems, including:
- Male infertility (6)
- Weakened immunity
You have to ask, is the boost in food production worth the health risks?
Nutritionless Soil and Salmonella
Salmonella outbreaks were once a rare occurrence, but not anymore…
In fact, now they’re an annual event.
Although most salmonella outbreaks only affect 100 people at most, the symptoms can be life-threatening for the elderly or very young.
As it turns out, there’s a strong link between the nutritional loss of food today and the rise in outbreaks.
Researchers think that the lack of bacterial diversity in the soil allows salmonella to run amuck.
For example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that tomatoes grown on the East Coast are more likely to cause outbreaks.
According to Eric Brown of the FDA, “West Coast tomatoes grow in the company of soil bacteria that inhibit and even kill Salmonella.” (7)
Adding bacteria to crops like tomatoes, spinach, sprouts, and lettuce could be part of a plan to prevent serious disease outbreaks.
What Can You Do to Make a Difference?
It’s important to do your part by supporting healthy farming practices.
After all, the key to healthier food is healthier soil.
Alternating fields and rotating crops is essential, so is saying “no” to fertilizers, pesticides, and GMO food.
Here’s a closer look at what you can do to have a positive impact on the world’s food supply:
1. Support Local Farmers
More and more people are becoming aware of today’s food problems, and it’s leading to some exciting changes in their shopping habits.
In fact, a recent study published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics found that shoppers are willing to pay more for locally grown food. (8)
That’s great news because many local farmers have sustainable practices.
What are some of the top reasons why people buy local?
- Better taste
Because local produce doesn’t have to be shipped thousands of miles, it’s picked when it’s ripe.
When you buy local, your carrots are crispier and your berries are more berry-licious.
Not only that, but the short shipping distances greatly reduce your carbon footprint.
In the end, supporting local farmers is good for your family and the environment.
Plus, many local farmers grow organic, and truly organic produce is getting a lot harder to come by…
2. Go Organic!
Organic produce is grown how nature intended, without the use of genetic modification or harsh chemicals.
Unfortunately, much of the organic food sold at major grocery stores is a rip-off.
The truth is that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) doesn’t have the funding to actually enforce its labels.
Once again, the solution is to buy local!
It’s simply the easiest way to know where your food is coming from and how it’s grown.
Getting certified organic is an expensive process, and a lot of the time you’ll find that local farmers follow organic practices even if they don’t carry the label.
3. Avoid Unhealthy, Inflammatory Foods
In addition to being environmentally-friendly, the end goal of growing healthier produce is to create healthier humans.
Don’t ruin it by eating garbage!
You can eat organic, local produce until the cows come home, but if you follow it up with inflammatory, disease-causing foods, it’s a darn shame.
Believe it or not, many of the foods that you grew up being told were healthy actually aren’t.
Dairy is a prime example.
But it’s loaded with calcium, right?
Well, not exactly.
Compared to food like broccoli, milk falls way short.
Besides, dairy promotes inflammation, and it’s now well-known that inflammation is the root of most diseases.
Here’s a full list of inflammatory foods to avoid:
- Simple carbs (bread, pasta, cereal, crackers)
- Gluten (wheat, barley, rye)
- Vegetable and seed oils (safflower, canola, cottonseed, sunflower, peanut)
- Processed meats (especially bacon and lunch meats containing nitrates)
Just because the world’s food supply is in a sad state, doesn’t mean you have to be malnourished.
By making conscious choices, you can help return food to its former glory.
If you have any more questions about the nutritional loss of food today, feel free to contact us at Complete Care Health Centers.
We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.