The Nutrient Levels In Our Food Are Declining


The following blog post is a contribution to the 2011 Blog Action Day focused on food issues. 

I am proud to be taking part in Blog Action Day OCT 16 2011

As our food system has shifted from decentralized, local small-farm “agri-culture” to highly centralized industrial “agri-business,” this has caused the nutrient content of many foods to decline. Numerous factors are causing this decline, including breeding for ever-higher yields, food processing, cheap sugar and oils, and industrial meat and dairy production.

In some cases, the declines have been very gradual. Over the last 100 years, important minerals in WHEAT varieties grown on the Great Plains—iron, zinc, phosphorous and sulfur—have declined from 20 to 33 percent.
Sulfur is essential for plants to produce protein, so a drop in sulfur indicates a decline in protein content. One study found that contemporary wheat varieties contain ONLY HALF AS MUCH PROTEIN as older varieties! During this same period, YIELDS of wheat have at least doubled as a result of “green revolution” varieties that are shorter, but require heavier levels of fertilizer and irrigation than older varieties. In CORN, studies show similar trends—a doubling of yield, but accompanied by declines in important nutrients.

 Corn Nutrition 

Food Processing Is An Additional Factor 

Not only have the nutrient levels in corn and wheat declined as farmers have switched to higher-yielding, more profitable varieties, but food processors then remove the germ from these grains when they produce flours, because this gives flours and breads longer shelf-life. Longer shelf life could be useful at home, too, but it comes at a stunning cost:

Whole Wheat Nutrition 

Regan Milne
10/28/2011 6:06:51 PM

You are just posting away confusing the sh*t out of everyone. Nobody listen to this guy.

10/21/2011 9:01:18 PM

The tone of the article is that modern ag production is bad for us. it isn't. Maybe mouthful per mouthful there aren't quite as many nutrients in modern food compared to old, but it's still plenty good for us. We have painted ourselves into a corner: our technology allows increased yields which supports a larger population which requires increased yields. Now we have no way to get off the merry-go-round without causing some major suffering in the population. This is why I'm an advocate of self-sufficiency. Noah didn't try to save everybody. "All for one and one for all and every man for himself!"--Curly Howard ;-)

10/21/2011 8:52:55 PM

You can get 60 gm of protein from wheat, but it's incomplete, so you have to take in even more calories from other veggies to get the extra amino acids you need-- that's why obesity is a problem in those who don't eat enough meat. Keep in mind that insulin prevents you from burning fat. Diabetes is a genetic disease. It shows itself when someone with those genes eats too many carbs; the carbs don't "cause" DM; they only allow DM to show itself. Polyusaturated fats only occur in plants, not animals. There is stronger evidence that polysaturated fats are good for you than poly-unsaturated are bad for you. Just eat fresh meat, fruits & veggies and then you don't have to worry about it. BTW- there is no evidence that vegetarians are healthier. In fact, the healthiest diet over-all has been shown to be the "caveman diet"-- even better than the "Mediterranean."

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