Saturday, June 5, 2010

Another reason to buy heirloom vegetables

I tend to do random Google searches while waiting for things to finish up.  One day a friend of the BF had stated she looks for nutrient dense foods.    So, what the heck, I looked up nutrient density and foods... and this Times article from 2/2009 popped up.  With a header of: "Eating Your Veggies: Not As Good For You?"  --- you know I was definitely going to read it.

Apparently vegetables from supermarkets are have less nutrients than they had even 50 years ago. The article covered what Davis wrote in his 2009, Journal of HortScience, article - but having read Taubes - I needed more information/documentation to make sure it wasn't just this one off scientist saying the sky is falling. (see below - while there is quite a lot of references to Davis' work, there are quite a few other studies done that appear to validate his theory).

You can read the information for yourself... but here are the highlights:
  • due to mass production of farming, we are producing more food with less nutrients in them
  • chemical fertilizers - which organic farmers don't use - grow plants faster and so they are less nutritious than organic foods
  • heirloom foods tend to have higher nutrients because they have not been mucked around with as much as "normal" vegetables / fruits 
  • the earlier a fruit / vegetable is picked and the longer it is stored, the more vitamins and minerals it looses 
  • chicken has "twice as much fat as in 1940, a third more calories and a third less protein" (easy reads #3) - this is entirely based on what it eats and the fact that it is cooped up without access to the outdoors.  Another reason to buy free range, organic.
It bothers me that we are not told how much of a change in quality we are getting - just because we have quantity.   It is like going to a all you can eat buffet - you get a lot of crap food for a relatively cheap price.  But, at the end of the day, you have eaten crap food.
I realize that organic, heirloom, free range, grass fed / grass finished is more expensive and hard to find - but don't you think it is so much more worth while to eat something that nourishes your body?  I'd rather eat a small good meal than a large crappy one.  But, buffets wig me out on a lot of different levels - germaphobe that I am.  :)

------------------------  More info  ----------------

Easy reads:
  1. Declining Fruit and Vegetable Nutrient Composition: What Is the Evidence?
  2. CHARTS: Nutrient Changes in Vegetables and Fruits, 1951 to 1999 
  3. It's supposed to be lean cuisine. So why is this chicken fatter than it looks? (This was a odd ball find - but I couldn't resist putting it in the blog.  I figure I wouldn't be able to do so for another posting...and it was just too good not to pop it in)
  4. Fruits and vegetables aren't what they used to be 
  5. Declining Nutritional Value of Produce Due to High Yield Selective Seed Breeding. 
  6. Critical Issue Report: Still No Free Lunch 
Technical reads: 
  1. Declining Fruit and Vegetable Nutrient Composition: What Is the Evidence?  - this has the full article by Davis with the graphs and additional documentation. 
  2. Effect of agricultural methods on nutritional quality: a comparison of organic with conventional crops.
  3. Comparison of the Total Phenolic and Ascorbic Acid Content of Freeze-Dried and Air-Dried Marionberry, Strawberry, and Corn Grown Using Conventional, Organic, and Sustainable Agricultural Practices
  5. Characterization of soil quality: Physical and chemical criteria
  6. Soil fertility management and insect pests: harmonizing soil and plant health in agroecosystems
  7. istorical variation in the mineral composition of edible horticultural products.
  8. Agriculture and Climate Change: Real problems, false solutions
  9. Trade-offs in Agriculture and Nutrition
  10. Influence of Organic versus Conventional Agricultural Practice on the Antioxidant Microconstituent Content of Tomatoes and Derived Purees; Consequences on Antioxidant Plasma Status in Humans

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