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Modern Produce May Be Nutritionally Deficient

Today's Produce May Be Nutritionally Deficient

As it turns out, modern-day fruits and vegetables may not be so good for you after all. In this month's issue of HortScience, Donald R. Davis, a former research associate at the Biochemical Institute at the University of Texas, argues that the average vegetable found in today's US and UK supermarket could be anywhere from 5 to 40 percent lower in minerals, such as magnesium, iron, calcium, and zinc, than produce that was harvested 50 years ago.

Although vegetables may be larger, this doesn't mean they contain more (or even as many) nutrients. This is caused by what's called the genetic dilution effect, in which farmers' efforts to increase crop yields have actually led to lower levels of protein, amino acids, and minerals. Although the "dry matter," or the bulk of the commercial vegetable's size, is increasing, there is "no assurance that dozens of other nutrients and thousands of phytochemicals will all increase in proportion to yield."

Davis argues that efforts to increase the production of food has actually led to food that is less nourishing. Crops are now being harvested quicker than ever before, and therefore produce has less time to absorb nutrients. These farming practices have also led to soil mineral depletion, which adversely affects the nutrition level of crops.

What do you think of this news? Is there some validity to Davis's argument? Does it make you more inclined to buy organic vegetables?

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