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Vegetables and diminishing returns


We have a problem: our vegetables are losing their nutrients. I’m not a huge fan of broccoli, but I eat it, dutifully, and now I may have to eat even more as the nutrients diminish year after year. It seems that what we give up for the bigger, brighter, insect free veggie is the very reason we eat it in the first place: healthful benefits.

Several studies have been done over the years which show that when comparing vegetables today to vegetables grown three, four or fifty years ago, the ones grown way back are much richer in nutrients, vitamins and minerals.

Soil depletion gets most of the blame. Family farms are handed down for generations. Agricultural methods strip the soil. Each new crop generation is less healthy than the one before. But it’s more beautiful, bigger and more bug resistant.

University of Texas study

A study from the University of Texas at Austin published in 2004 compared nutritional data from 1950 and to data from 1999 using 43 different fruits and vegetables. They uncovered declines in protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, vitamin B2, and vitamin C.

“Efforts to breed new varieties of crops that provide greater yield, pest resistance and climate adaptability have allowed crops to grow bigger and more rapidly,” reported Donald Davis, from UT-Austin’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, “but their ability to manufacture or uptake nutrients has not kept pace with their rapid growth.”

Soil use needs to be rotated, and people should increase their use of organic produce. The richest nutrients can be found in locally grown, organic foods. “Vegetables are extraordinarily rich in nutrients and beneficial phytochemicals,” Davis continued. “They are still there, and vegetables and fruits are our best sources for these.”

Source: Journal of American College of Nutrition, Pottstown Mercury

photo by Nyboer Creative


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