raised bed gardens

Fewer Nutrients in Our Vegetables

soilI recently learned of a study that shows we are getting fewer nutrients in our vegetables & fruits.  Compared to studies from the 1950’s, today’s vegetables and fruits contain less protein, iron, calcium, and vitamin C.  At the same time, carbohydrate levels have increased, and here’s why scientists think this is happening.

Rising Levels of CO2

Scientists believe that rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are causing the loss of nutrients.  More carbon dioxide equals lower levels of essential minerals in the soil.  The higher CO2 levels are causing the plants to produce more carbohydrates at the expense of other essential nutrients.  So plants are growing just fine with these higher CO2 levels, but they now have lower levels of minerals.  Nice looking plants, little nutritional value.

What Does This Mean

Lower levels of minerals mean less nutritional food, and in my experience, less tasty vegetables and fruits.  It also means future health issues caused by protein and iron deficiencies.  I myself have bought good looking apples and tomatoes from local organic farmers that tasted like cardboard (not that I eat cardboard often).  While these fruits grew well and looked great, they tasted bad. Most supermarket tomatoes I’ve purchased have no taste.  My best guess is a lack of essential minerals in their soil.

What Can We Do

In my mind, what we need to do to remedy this is to grow as much of our own crops as possible and enrich the growing soil with mineral supplements. Some supplements that come to mind are Azomite, Kelp, and Sea-90.   Every season, I apply a new layer of aged compost to my beds, which will also help the nutritional value of the soil, but may not be enough.  I also apply kelp most of the time, but I think I’ll start doing it more often now.

In conclusion, CO2 levels are not going to get any better at the current rate of increases and we will continue to get even fewer nutrients in our food unless we do something about it.  Scientists are predicting a rise in CO2 to 550 parts per million within the next 50 years.  While I won’t be around, my kids and grandkids will.  Maybe the best thing to do is to make sure they are growing some of their own food.  That’s my new mission.

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