The nutritional value of foods is at risk, with the amount of nutrients found in fruits and vegetables having diminished greatly over the years. One apple today may carry half the amount of nutrients as an apple produced 50 years ago. Although it is still very true that everybody should be consuming many fruits and vegetables on a daily basis (preferably organic), the sad truth is that we would need to consume many times more of them in order to get the nutrients we need.
One University of Texas in Austin study has gained particular attention in the media. According to Donald R. Davis’s findings published in HortScience, crops grown in limited space almost always contain lower levels of minerals, vitamins, and protein—by up to 40%. High yield crops may be receiving less sunlight or moisture in addition to nutrition from soil, which is often depleted with aggressive farming techniques that may disregard natural rotation methods.
“Our poor farming practices are leading to sick plants, depleted soil, and a need to use higher and higher doses of pesticides and herbicides to ward off what healthy plants would naturally ward off,” says author of The Juice Lady’s Living Foods Revolution, Cherie Calbom, MS. “We are heading toward a dust bowl in many parts of the country if nothing changes.”
Here are simple ways to get the most nutrition from produce.
Buy Locally Grown Produce
Small, family-run farms are more likely to rotate crops to maintain nutritious soil, and food grown nearby has less distance to travel (and nutrition to lose) before reaching your dinner plate. What better way to advocate nutritious food than to support its closest source?
Buy Organic as Often as You Can
Dr. Oz may call you a snob, but there are countless holes and disregarded aspects (like pesticide residue) in the anti-organic campaign and so-called study by Stanford. The fact is that organic produce at the very least contains less pesticide residue than does conventionally grown types, and the less of that stuff the better, since it’s been linked to a multitude of unpleasant and often deadly conditions ranging from infertility to risk of brain cancer.
It’s Okay to Choose Frozen
Although it may be ideal to buy local and seasonal produce from small, organic farms, it’s not possible for everyone all the time. “Sometimes the veggies frozen right after harvest have retained more nutrients than those ‘fresh’ veggies that have taken forever to get to your plate,” says nutritionist Janet Brill, PhD, RD.
Don’t be Afraid of Ugly Produce
Organic produce can sometimes look small or misshapen, but that can indicate that they’re not genetically modified or coated with pesticides.
You can also try growing your own food. Some varieties, like green onions and herbs can be grown even in apartments.