What is the difference between the carrots I ate as a child and the ones I eat today? Is it true that they are barely nutritious at all now?
While carrots have changed very little in appearance over the course of their recent history, it is what you cannot see that matters. Today’s carrots, like most fruits and vegetables are grown for mass distribution, and have been bred to be heartier, more resistant to pests, and to grow more quickly. Despite that all of these traits sounds very beneficial, and have allowed for such an abundance and low market price, they do not help the carrot retain, or take in, the proper amount of nutrients to match their quickly attained size. This in turn, results in produce that looks rather healthy, but that in fact, does not have as much nutritional value as carrots had in the generations before it. Now carrots and most other produce are still an extremely healthy alternative to junk and over processed foods, they are just not as healthy as they used to be in terms of raw nutritional content. In short, eating a carrot today does not give you the same nutritional boost that a carrot from 10 or more years would.
Carrots Are Not The Only Ones
It is unfortunate, but carrots are not the only common produce affected by this loss of nutrients. While many organizations make yearly recommendations regarding the correct proportion of servings for each food group, most do not always take into account the general loss of nutrition found in today’s produce. Among common fruits and vegetables, there are over 43 different species that have suffered losses in nutritional content.
Alarmingly, the nutrients that have been depleted within these vital foods includes vitamins, minerals, and even basic protein. In particular, vitamins B2, C, and calcium have been in serious and steady decline. B vitamins are particularly important when it comes to supporting and maintaining many functions within the human body, especially those involved with metabolism. Vitamin C is well known for its role in supporting the immune system, and calcium plays a vital role in almost all the cellular functions, including the production and maintenance of bones. Phosphorous and iron levels have also been decreasing, which are possibly linked to the rising trends in degenerative bone diseases and blood disorders in some demographics.
What Is The Cause of Nutrition Loss?
Many people wonder how it is that the produce we love, and that has not changed much in appearance, can be so drastically different in nutritional value than it used to be. The answer can be found in the dirt. Modern farming practices, which are aimed as mass production, utilize poor soil management in their fields. Many farmers rely on the use of pesticides and fertilizer to ensure they get the highest and quickest yield before planting the next crop.
While this may sound like a logical way to farm, it can have seriously negative consequences in the long run. Fertilizers used in commercial farming is not designed to supplement the soil itself. This means that the plants grow more quickly, but as a side effect, they are not given proper time and opportunity to exchange, and absorb, nutrients with the ground. Another side effect is that the soil grows poorer in quality because the plants were only able to take away, not exchange, some nutrients, and when you plant the same crop in the same plot of land over and over, you have land that is not balanced in terms of nutrients, and thus plants that continue to obtain less and less of certain nutrients.
What Can Be Done To Counteract The Loss of Nutrition?
There are many things that both you and farmers can do to help make up for the loss of nutrients found in modern produce. For farmers, using smarter and more ecologically friendly farming practices would go a long way. These practices would include rotating crops within a plot to help replace nutrients through natural exchange, as well as allowing plots to go fallow for seasons. This means, not using the same area of land for a growing season so that it has time to rebuild nutrients that have been stripped through growing too many crops in it. Using organic methods of fertilizing and controlling pest would also help reduce the harsh impact that mass production practices have on the soil.
For consumers, there are two basic options; increase the amount of produce consumed, or use condensed nutrient supplements to help gain all the benefits that normal proportions should contain. It is important to keep in mind that fruits and vegetables are still very nutritious, especially compared to anything processed, it is just that they have been loosing about a third of the vitamin and mineral content over the last 50 years due to trends in mass agricultural production. Condensed supplements are sourced from produce and can be thought of like fruit and vegetable concentrates. They can come in the form of easy to swallow capsules, or tasty liquids that are consumed in small doses each day. Many people find that a combination of eating fresh, organically grown produce, and taking condensed nutrient supplements is the easiest way to ensure they are maintaining a naturally healthy diet.