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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?

Join The Conversation
aimeeb aimeeb 8 years
So buying organic yet again proves to be a waste...
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
huh - this is frustrating to think about. i guess it makes a lot of sense that even though you're getting larger product, you're not necessarily getting more value for it because there's a limited amount of nutrients in the soil. i guess it means that we'll still have to rely on vitamin supplements to be healthy.
marie-lee marie-lee 8 years
I'd heard this before and it is a bit scary...growing my own isn't option for me though. I don't have green thumbs at all - if I did my diet would be even more nutritionally deficient.
NAOmni NAOmni 8 years
Always distressing....
Spectra Spectra 8 years
Yeah, I definitely worry about this. Soil only has so many nutrients and once they go into the plants, they're not there for the next crop that goes in. If you're a responsible farmer, you know what to plant that won't deplete the soil too much, but a lot of farmers grow for pure yield or they plant crops based on what subsidies they can get rather than what's actually best for the soil there. Yet another reason to buy your produce locally from small farms that don't overtax the land. Or better yet, grow your own.
emalove emalove 8 years
Oh wow...I didn't know this!
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