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Fruits and Vegetables Are Getting Less Nutritious

Fruits and Vegetables Are Getting Less Nutritious

Recent research on fruits, vegetables and staple crops such as wheat and corn shows that, over time, our food has gotten less and less nutritious. The vitamin and mineral content in our foods has been steadily declining over several decades. Reach for an apple, a head of broccoli or a handful of raspberries today and you are likely getting far fewer nutrients than if you’d eaten those same foods 50 years ago.

Why is this happening? There are a few key reasons. One is that industrial farmers, in the pursuit of higher and higher yields, have bred crops for that main reason: yield. In doing so, the vegetables and fruits themselves might be larger, but they are also likely to be more watery and less nutrient dense.

Also, in industrial agriculture, plant roots tend to be much shallower and weaker. This is true because crops are given constant inputs of water and chemical fertilizers at the soil surface. The plant roots don’t need to grow deep in the soil to access water, so they don’t. These smaller (and often diseased) roots then don’t ultimately take up as many nutrients, and the foods they produce are nutritionally inferior.

There are many reasons for growing your own food and seeking out foods grown organically on a small scale and in healthy soil. The nutrient content of the foods is just one more reason to do so, as the fruits and vegetables you’ll find in the typical supermarket produce section were grown in an industrial setting that doesn’t make the nutrition of the foods a priority.

For more information on this issue, see:

Related articles to help you grow and find nutritious foods:

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Shelley Stonebrook

Shelley Stonebrook is an Associate Editor at Mother Earth News—North America’s most popular magazine about sustainable, self-reliant living—where she works on exciting projects such as Organic Gardening content and the Vegetable Garden Planner. Shelley is particularly interested in organic gardening, small-scale, local food production, waste reduction, food preservation and cooking. In her spare time, she posts in her personal blog, The Rowdy Radish.


+ add your own
2:47AM PST on Jan 6, 2013

Sad as you grow the fruit and vegies to be healthier.

3:22AM PST on Dec 30, 2012


4:13PM PST on Dec 29, 2012

Thank you :)

6:41PM PST on Dec 28, 2012

I there is a fantastic book I have been reading about using a simple 4X4 ft square to grow enough crops to feed one adult throughout the entire growing season(Spring, Summer,and Fall). It is an amazing technique used around the world to teach poor locals to grow their own produce to feed their families. It does away with the long single row gardening technique and no weeding either. I found it on Frugal something like that), I then looked for the book on a ebook shareware site and found it. It is a new publication(2011-fairly new) and is full of great info for the beginning gardner especially for the one who has tried and failed before. Its called "The All New Square Foot Gardening" by Mel Bartholomew. On the share ware site, you will be directed to a paid membership site, just select the free, slow version download over the fast paid service. And its yours free as well.

10:58AM PST on Dec 28, 2012

Very sad.....glad we grow most of our own.

10:53AM PST on Dec 28, 2012

Yes! We will grow all our own food - and if we have sensible neigbours, they will too .... and we can swap! Is there anything more important than food? Not to me. I LOVE food - and I want the best for myself, for my family, for everybody.

4:42PM PST on Dec 11, 2012

I have my own crabapple & apple tree & never use pesticides.They taste amazing.

4:40PM PST on Dec 11, 2012

Sorry to hear this.

8:21AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Too much in the way of genetic engineering going on for increased profit.
Good to know at least some researchers have stockpiled traditional seeds for survival in case something happens in the future.

Certainly a lot of these engineered items have little scent and are far less flavourful than the lovely old style apples growing in my backyard as a youngster. Tasting apple pie from many commercial bakeries these days is certainly not a flavourful experience.

Some forty years ago there were not a ton of allergies to foods either such as peanuts and when we mess with modifying fruits and veggies too much from what Nature intended we end up with unintended results.

9:43PM PDT on Jul 11, 2012


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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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