Fruits, Veggies Have Fewer Nutrients Today than 50 Years Ago


Fruits and vegetables contain less flavor and fewer nutrients than they did 50 years ago, according to a new report in the Journal of HortScience.

As Time reports:

“Apparently produce in the U.S. not only tastes worse than it did in your grandparents' days, it also contains fewer nutrients — at least according to Donald R. Davis, a former research associate with the Biochemical Institute at the University of Texas, Austin. Davis claims the average vegetable found in today's supermarket is anywhere from 5% to 40% lower in minerals (including magnesium, iron, calcium and zinc) than those harvested just 50 years ago.”

The Time article goes on to say that today’s larger vegetables don’t necessarily amount to more nutrients. On the contrary, larger vegetables tend to have a greater amount of “dry matter,” which dilutes mineral concentrations. Scientists have been reporting about this effect since 1981, and the phenomenon is considered common knowledge in nutrition circles. 

In addition, the report cites the industrialization of agriculture as a major factor in reducing the amount of nutrients in produce. With the help of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, crops are being harvested more quickly than ever, but as Time reports, “quick and early harvests mean the produce has less time to absorb nutrients either from synthesis or the soil, and minerals like potassium (the ‘K’ in N-P-K fertilizers) often interfere with a plant's ability to take up nutrients.”

The full report appears in the February issue of the Journal of HortScience. 



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