Veggies, Now with Fewer Nutrients?

Wow, a new study in the Journal of HortScience claims nutrient composition of fruits and vegetables in the United States has been dropping over the last 50 to 100 years, in some cases median declines of 5% to 40% for minerals, with similar results in protein and vitamins. The studied crops, broccoli and wheat, may be victim of the newly recognized genetic dilution effect, referring to the use of genetic methods to increase crop yield, but consequently dilute nutrient concentrations in crops; from U.S. Food Policy.

More reason to buy organic! Organic fruits and veggies usually have more nutrients than conventional produce. According to Dr. Fuhrman, the theory is when plants are forced to deal with the stress, like insects, they produce more compounds beneficial to humans, like flavonoids. Plus organic tastes better and is better for the environment.

In related news, crops grown in dirt fertilized with livestock manure may actually absorb the antibiotics injected into cattle, helping spawn antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Eek!

Via kottke.

Image credit: Elizabeth Thomsen

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Comments (4) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
ferry - February 19, 2009 8:09 AM

but putting animal manure in soil is actually organic as well. it's been done for a long time by it really possible that antibiotics will be absorbed in the soil and be transferred to the plants? i think this is a serious question? we have to find the truth about his supposition. if not true, then we have to correct this information. it may cause more harm than good.

Foodaroo - February 19, 2009 10:31 AM

I'm afraid organic no longer guarantees more nutrition. Last year, California broccoli growers, including the organic growers, suffered a condition called hollow stem due to a lack of boron in the soil. A lack of boron in the soil means a lack of nutrition in the broccoli. The majority of consumers did not suspect anything because most of the growers cut the stems right to the crown.

And with less people buying organic these days, we may all be eating genetically modified crops. Lots of GMO fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds (including flax seeds) are already in the works. And in case you are unaware, most tomatoes sold today are already genetically modified.

McBloggenstein - February 21, 2009 10:20 AM

Foodaroo, organic may not guarantee more nutrients, but it's a heck of a lot more likely, don't you think? And you're forgetting one of the main reasons for buying organic: No pesticides!

This decline of veggie nutrients is sad, but not so surprising for me. Isn't it true that B12 used to be available through plants, but because most farming soil has been practically sterilized, it is now only available in animal products and fortified foods?

diane lassen - February 21, 2009 6:33 PM

We are facing a huge dilemma regarding the safety of our food supply. Our soil is over-worked and depleted of nutrients, and we desperately need these nutrients to counter the toxic world in which we live! Organic, of course, is always the best choice, but even better is to start to think about growing some fruits and vegetables yourself. Start by composting your kitchen scraps and tea bags--excellent worm food! Then, find some large buckets or pots, or a small corner of the yard which gets plenty of sun. Plant some leaf lettuces or radishes, or buy some pots of herbs. Tomatoes and peppers also do wonderfully in tubs, and these veggies are often sprayed to death with pesticides! By purchasing basic organic potting soil, and amending it with your own compost or well-rotted manures, you can grow excellent vegetables that are nutrient-rich as well. I know, I've been doing it for years and have plenty of friends who grow their own as well. And because you can pick and eat literally in the same HOUR, you lose no nutrients through storage and transit! Another win!!

I don't know about B12 being originally in plants, but I do know that it is synthesized in the gut by our lovely intestinal bacteria. You can find it in nutritional yeast if you do not eat animal products.
Diane Lassen, RN, HHC

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