A report by The Globe and Mail and CTV News found that the fruits and vegetable today have a decline in nutritional value. As experts analyze some fresh produce sold in Canadian markets, they saw a sharp decrease in their vitamin and mineral content as compared to the fruits and vegetables from the 1950’s.
Twenty-five fruits and veggies were involved in the study and this includes the most popular ones in the Canadian diets, such as apples, potatoes, bananas, and tomatoes. As compared to their historical counterparts, each of these foods turned out to have lower nutritional value. Seven key nutrients were examined and a decrease in many of the nutrients was seen in the produce that was analyzed. For instance, the potato lost 100 percent of its vitamin A content, 57 percent of its vitamin C and iron, 28 percent of its calcium as well as 50 percent of their riboflavin content, and 18 percent of their thiamine content, with only niacin levels increasing.
It was found that 80% of the food that was examined have a decrease in iron and calcium, 75 percent showed a decrease in vitamin A, 50 percent showed a loss of vitamin C and riboflavin, 33 percent showed a decrease in thiamine, and 12 percent displayed a drop in niacin.
Reports claimed that modern farming methods, as well as transportation and cross-breeding practices, can be attributed to the decrease of the nutritional value. Moreover, Phil Warman, an Agronomist and Agricultural Sciences Professor at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College noted in the report that the “emphasis is on appearance, storability, and transportability,” therefore compromising the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables.
In another report, Still No Free Lunch, done by The Organic Center, the said findings were echoed and explored the decreasing nutrients levels in the food supplies in the United States – particularly grains, fruits, and vegetables. It was found that there was a decline in the nutrients like protein, calcium, iron, zinc, vitamin C, and other nutrients by up to 25 percent even as the yield of these food items doubled, or even tripled.
For example, the study demonstrated that as corn yield grew its oil and protein content decreases. Likewise, a lower concentration of vitamin C, beta-carotene, and lycopene was found for higher tomato yields in terms of harvest weight. Even in dairy products, the trend for quantity over quality was visible. Researchers reported that milk from high-production dairy cows had a lower concentration of protein, fat, and other nutrients. Moreover, the cows themselves were discovered to be at higher risk of infections as well as of reproductive and metabolic problems.
The report explained how modern farming methods designed to produce high volumes of crops affect the nutritional value of food.
The report said that:
“Together, the tactics farmers use to increase yields — including close plant spacing and the widespread use of chemical fertilizers, irrigation and pesticides — tend to create big plants that grow fast, but do not absorb a comparable quantity of many soil nutrients.”
As the report pointed out, high crop yields do not necessarily lead to the end of global malnutrition wherein a lot of people would suffer from nutritional deficiencies due to the sub-par food supply. Researchers recommend that people should return to organic farming systems which would result to healthier roots, higher water infiltration, micronutrient content, retention, and microbial activity which will all lead to a heightening in the nutrient density in crops.
Studies revealed that as compared to conventional food, organic foods have a nutritional advantage. Though organic produce has lower volume, it was found to have 20 to 30 percent more nutrients, have better taste, and more valuable than the deficient fruits and veggies in most markets today.