Can we get the nutrients we need from food?
Can we get the nutrients we need from food?
The answer is: maybe.
Here’s what I can tell you for sure: Our food has MUCH less nutrition today compared to 1975, just 44 years ago.
Don’t worry, we’re not completely lost. I do have some suggestions for how to get your vitamins and minerals at the end of the article.
Now, I’m just comparing to 1975, but you know that farming practices started changing for the worse long before that. We can assume that produce of, say, the 1930’s was superior in nutrients than that of 1975.
Here we go with some examples:
Compared to 1975:
Apples have 41% less Vitamin A
Bell peppers have 31% less Vitamin C
Watercress has 88% less Iron
Broccoli has 50% less Vitamin C and 50% less Cancium
Collard greens have 60% less Potassium and 85% less Magnesium
Why do we have this nutrient drain?
Our topsoil is eroding, so there is far less mineral density in the soil. When there is less mineral density in the soil, there are less minerals available to the plants that grow from the soil.
Modern Farming Practices
Modern farming practices include a habit of using the fields to grow produce each and every year. This does not allow for an opportunity to put minerals back into the soil.
One organic farm near my home is trying to work against this in a way that I suppose is normal for them, but to me is very interesting.
Every 3 or so years, each field is allowed to lay “fallow.” This normally means that they just wouldn’t plant anything in that field, to allow it time to rest and remineralize.
But that alone isn’t enough for them.
They actually purposely plant certain grasses and “weeds” known to grow very deep roots. That way, these plants go deep into the soil, where a bounty of minerals are hiding, and bring them up to the top. And the following year, the plants from those fields have abundant minerals and vitamins.
So cool, right?
Fertilizer dilution is the idea that fertilizer produces a bigger piece of fruit in a shorter period of time. This means more profits for the grower, right?
But it also means less nutrients for the consumer.
A bigger piece of fruit means that the same amount of nutrients (which is already less than it was 40 years ago) have to be spread over more servings.
Are you old enough to remember when apples were rather tiny compared to the monstrosities you can find the grocery store today? If so, do you remember how DELICIOUS those small apples tasted?
More nutrients spread out over a smaller space so they’re more concentrated = tastier apple! And, of course, a more nutritious apple!
Hybridization does not prioritize maximizing nutrition. Instead fruits and vegetables are bred to:
Look good, with beautiful, vibrant colors
Stay fresh (not decay as quickly) in transport from one coast to another
Be able to ripen in transit (which means that they harvest them long before they soak up all the nutrients available in the soil, which is already depleted)
For example, the popular hybrid of broccoli, Marathon, has 35% fewer minerals than other hybrids currently on the market. Remember, that’s already measured with a baseline that’s 50% less than what we had in 1975!!!
But the Marathon hybrid is beautiful and travels well without decay.
So, who cares that the people eating it think they’re getting a nutritious meal? It provides a huge profit, and that’s what’s important, right?
What we can do to get the nutrition we need
To get the nutrition we need, it’s a good idea to keep informed about the food we’re eating and feeding our families.
One of the biggest things you can do is buy from local, organic farms.
I’d say the best way to do that is to join a community supported agriculture farm, or co-op. Do your research first, and maybe even visit the farm before you join. Ask questions about how they replenish the topsoil and what they do to discourage pests.
We live near Chicago, and a few summers ago, we joined Angelic Organics. I LOVED our experience with them, and the produce we got every week was fresh and delicious.
There’s something about getting produce fresh from the farm, covered in dirt. You just know there are no pesticides and the veggies are filled with minerals and vitamins.
If you’re interested in learning more about them, here’s the link to their website:
If there is not co-op available in your area, try looking for local farmer’s markets. That’s another great opportunity to buy local produce that’s usually freshly harvested and beautiful.
Besides that, it’s always a good idea to supplement with certain vitamins and minerals, such as magnesium, Vitamin C, B Vitamins, Vitamin A (abundant in pasture raised eggs), Iron, and Zinc.