Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Modern Fruits and Vegetables are Growing Less Nutritious

From: Nutrient content in veggies declines amid bigger yields
Scripps Howard News Service

"[D]ata collected by the federal government shows that the nutritional content of America's vegetables and fruits has declined over the last 50 years - in some cases dramatically. ..."


Donald Davis, a biochemist at the University of Texas in Austin found significant declines in six major nutrients in fruits and vegetables tracked by the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 1950 to 1999 and said that the nutrient decline "has not been widely noticed" since an agriculture scientist first revealed the decline in a 1981 research paper comparing garden crops grown in the US with those in England.

Davis suspects the trend in agriculture toward crops that grow the fastest and largest is a reason for the decline. The faster-growing plants have less time to acquire nutrients by photosynthesis or from the soil. Davis said his study shows that people need to eat even more vegetables and fruits to make up for the nutrient decline. Trying to find older varieties of fruits and vegetables, perhaps from small organic farms, would also seem to make sense.

Davis' findings confirm earlier British and American research which found that vegetables are becoming less nutritious and fruits more sweet. The level of nutrients in foods is critical because people are eating less fresh fruits and vegetables and nutrient deficiencies appear to be a major problem. The British National Diet and Nutrition Survey revealed that "the blood plasma of a quarter of British men and a third of women was iron-deficient and that many people may also be deficient in nutrients such as selenium and vitamins C and B12." (It’s not the fruit it used to be..., Jonathan Leake, Environment Editor, The Sunday Times, 8 February 2004, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/newspaper/0,,176-993250,00.html as of 2/28/06)

When it comes to fruit and vegetable varieties and even breeds of animals, older tends to be better. The closer a food is to its ancient wild origins, the healthier it tends to be. As a general rule, new is not improved when it comes to food.

No comments: