Signs of Nutrient Decline

Many fruits and vegetables appear to be showing signs of nutrient decline of essential vitamins and minerals.


| June/July 2004



Nutrient Decline

Fruits and vegetables grown using synthetic chemical nitrogen may contain an average of 20 percent less dry matter and more water compared to organic crops fertilized with slower-release natural sources of nitrogen.


Photo courtesy Fotolia/fovito

Signs of Nutrient Decline

Here's summary of the evidence that nutrients in non-organic factory-farm foods are declining:

Many vegetables appear to contain lower levels of vitamins and minerals today than they did in 1975, according to official USDA nutrient data reviewed by health writer Alex Jack. Jack has reported that a random sample of USDA data on a dozen vegetables showed that calcium has fallen an average of 26.5 percent, vitamins A and C have dropped 21.4 percent and 29.9 percent, and iron has plummeted by an average of 36.5 percent.

The concentrations of eight essential minerals in 20 fruits and 20 vegetables in Great Britain has declined, and water content has increased in fruits over the last 50 years, according to a paper by Anne-Marie Mayer in the British Food Journal (1997, Vol. 99, No. 6). She found that average calcium content had dropped 19 percent, iron was down 22 percent and potassium declined 14 percent for the 20 vegetables studied.

Fruits and vegetables grown using synthetic chemical nitrogen may contain an average of 20 percent less dry matter and more water compared to organic crops fertilized with slower-release natural sources of nitrogen. Higher water content means lower nutrient concentrations per pound of produce (and weaker flavors). 

Meat and dairy products from animals raised in feedlots or cages on high-grain diets contain lower levels of nutrients than meat from animals that are raised on their natural diet of grass, or, in the case of poultry, grass and grain.





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