Tag Archives: Environment

Fruit, Vegetables Not as Nutritious as 50 Years Ago

In today’s world, food and health related media is everywhere, but according to a commentary published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, this has not brought clarity to or improved understanding of a topic of such obvious impact. Therefore, as communicators of food-related science we must be diligent in our communication to ensure that it is effective in serving both public understanding and the objectives of the communicators.

Dr. Weil, a well-established practitioner in the field of integrative medicine, does a great job of this. In his post How Nutritious is Your Produce?, he discusses research indicating that the nutrient value of fruits and vegetables in the U.S. and Great Britain has declined significantly over the last 50 years.

After reading Dr. Weil’s post, I decided to read the report myself. Declining Fruit and Vegetable Nutrient Composition: What Is the Evidence? highlights three types of evidence that point toward declines of nutrients in fruits and vegetables: (1) early studies of fertilization found inverse relationships between crop yield and mineral concentrations—the widely cited “dilution effect”; (2) three recent studies of historical food composition data found apparent median declines of 5% to 40% or more in some minerals in groups of vegetables and perhaps fruits; one study also evaluated vitamins and protein with similar results; (3) recent side-by-side plantings of low-and high-yield cultivars of broccoli and grains found consistently negative correlations between yield and concentrations of minerals and protein, a newly recognized genetic dilution effect.

Dr. Weil’s post appears to be credible for he represented the findings of the report accurately and in a way that is both informative and beneficial to the public and their understanding of food and health. Below I’ve highlighted why this post is an effective form of communication on food-science to the public:

  • Post includes the study’s limitations
  • Focuses on the most vital information (i.e. health implications), allowing the public to form the most useful net impression of the study’s findings
  • Includes hyperlink to the report published in the February, 2009 Journal of HortScience so that viewers can easily read the original research article.

Additional information from the report that I consider important to include are:

  • The fact that evidence for nutrient declines began to accumulate in the 1940s with observations of (environmental) dilution effects on minerals in many foods and diverse plants.
  • USDA’s data suggests that yields have increased more in vegetables than in fruits, which may help explain the findings of larger nutrient declines in vegetables.

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10 Reasons to Eat Local Food

I recently read an informative blog post titled 5 Reasons Why You Should Eat Local Produce.  Here are highlights from the authors five reasons, all of which I agree with!

1. Freshness– top quality, nutrients not lost over long transit times, reduced carbon footprint

2. Variety– exposure to both familiar and unfamiliar vegetables, herbs and wild greens. Allows you to explore cooking with new foods!

3. Educate yourself and your Family– helps us reconnect to where our food comes from, it’s an opportunity to learn about where and how our food is grown and what it looks like in the field

4. Organic and great for you– organic and pesticide free food is great for you

5. Sense of Community– gives you the opportunity to slow down and meet people, talk to farmers and others in commmunity

Delicious local veggies from the UVM garden!

I really like the fact that the author points out sense of community, for I feel this is a huge benefit of eating locally that is often overlooked. The more we understand our food, the more we value it, which means less mindless eating! I was so inspired by this author’s blog post that I decided to add to her list! 

5 More Reasons to Eat Local Food:

 6.  Support the local economy– eating locally means your supporting the businesses, people (families) in your community. It keeps money circulating in our own country.A study done by the New Economics Foundation in London found that a dollar spent locally generates twice as much income for the local economy.

7. Reduce the amount of fossil fuels needed to transport food– Eating locally is a sustainable choice because less fossil fuels are required to transport the food. A study in 2005 by the journal Food Policy found that organic food burns more fossil fuels than local food, thus contributing to air quality and other environmental problems. By eating locally, you are reducing our consumption of fossil fuels!

8. Keeps us in touch with the seasons– Eating locally means we’re choosing foods that are abundant and at their peak taste. Doing so also tends to save us money on produce that would likely be marked higher at times in the year when it’s harder to find. It allows us to learn about the food system, for example: what fruits and vegetables are in season where I live in VT? What fruits and veggies are season where my friend in FL lives where there is a completely different climate and growing season?

9. Know the story of your meal–  this is best summed up by one of my favorite quotes “A significant part of the pleasure of eating is in one’s accurate consciousness of the lives and the world from which food comes.”     – Wendell Berry, from “The Pleasures of Eating”

10. Responsible land development– by eating local food you’re supporting local farmers and the owners of the farms and pastures. This in turn, supports responsible land development for it gives these smaller farms a reason to stay in business and remain undeveloped/untouched by larger farm operations and agribusiness.

As you can see, eating local foods has a plethora of benefits. By doing so, you’re making a healthy, sustainable decision to support body, community and local economy, all while eating amazing and delicious food! If you’re unsure of where to start with local food, be sure to check out the Eat Well Local & Sustainable Food Guide– just enter you’re zip code and you’ll have all the resources you need right at your fingertips!

WP 2/23