Soil depletion, and how it affects your food quality
Some studies have shown that fruits and vegetables grown decades ago were much richer in vitamins and minerals than those we eat today. For many decades, the agriculture industry focused on things like size, growth, and resistance to pests rather than on retaining the nutrition of foods.
According to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), “When the soil is exploited for crop production without restoring the organic matter and nutrient contents, the nutrient cycles are broken, soil fertility declines and the balance in the agro-ecosystem is destroyed.”
Micronutrients: What's been found missing
Studies have proven that we’re getting less:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
Experts also suspect we’re missing:
- Vitamins B-6
- Vitamin E
You may have noticed that contemporary, conventionally-grown tomatoes no longer have the depth of flavors of certain heirloom tomatoes. That's because of the way they are grown. Modern farming techniques and use of chemicals like nitrogen to speed growth have harmed the connection between plants and soil.
One sad example of how much nutrients have been depleted from food is the story of oranges. One report said that you would need eight of today’s oranges to equal the nutritional content of only one orange of your grandparent's generation.
There is some hope on the (somewhat distant) horizon for soil
You may be heartened to hear that it is possible to renew fragile or depleted soil over time. So this trend is reversible if we take action as consumers to seek out produce from farms with better agricultural practices.
However, some scientists say that humankind is depleting soil faster than we can currently replenish it. Over the next century, they say, soil health will become critical to global food security. And climate change will also affect our soil and food systems.
In order to replenish our soil, The Soil Health Institute suggests that agriculture should focus on plant and biological diversity, grow plants throughout the year, and give soil time to rest and recover. Over time, the soil can regenerate and ecosystems have the ability to thrive if they are managed well.
“A cloak of loose, soft material, held to the Earth’s hard surface by gravity, is all that lies between life and lifelessness.”
-- Wallace H. Fuller, in Soils of the Desert Southwest, 1975.
What can we do in the meantime? Supplement!
Seriously. Supplementation is so important to help fill the gaps. Lots of people, even professional athletes with very healthy diets, when tested, find themselves to be surprisingly nutrient deficient.
However, not all supplements are created equal. Taking stand-alone ingredients, such as Vitamin C or Vitamin D is not the best solution to absorb these nutrients, as they’re simply not taking into account your body’s natural biochemical processes.
A better supplement solution is to “ingest” concentrated whole foods, from fruits and vegetables that actually provide the macronutrients and micronutrients you are seeking. That’s how biochemistry works.
Your supplement needs to be made with the exact same principles as in whole foods. That’s why Encarna uses whole fruits and vegetables concentrated in liquid form, versus individual ingredients. We seek out nutrient dense support to punch up your immune system.
“While the farmer holds the title to the land, actually it belongs to all the people because civilization itself rests upon the soil.” - Thomas Jefferson
How to find higher quality produce.
Please, keep eating your fresh fruits and veggies! Just because food today is not as rich in vitamins and minerals as 50 years ago, doesn’t mean our fruits and veg are unhealthy or to be avoided. Fresh, whole foods are still your best bet for healthy eating.
Yet you will want to look for certain things to get the most out of your produce. Following are a few steps you can take to get the highest nutrient density possible from today’s produce markets.
Choose organic whenever possible.
Organic growing methods are good for the soil, the produce and us! Organic also helps you reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Support all-organic grocers.
A level up from simply looking for organic options is to pre-choose organic by shopping at grocery stores and markets that only offer organic foods. Ask your current grocery manager about how foods are sourced, and why they choose what they do.
Frequent your local farmer’s market.
The sights, the smells, the conversations! Sure, farmers markets can be social events, but you can also do quick, strategic shopping at these markets to get fresh, seasonal produce, directly from local farmers. As a nice departure from packaged foods, farmers markets provide environments where you can feel your mood and energy lift as you immerse yourself in colorful displays and aromas of seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables in stalls staffed by the people who grew them.
Sign up for a CSA -- Benefit from the Community Supported Agriculture model.
An increasingly popular model over the last 20 years, CSAs help consumers buy local and ensure that farmers can take good care of their land while growing flavorful, nutrient-dense food. You buy a Farm Share before the growing season starts. Then, you'll receive fresh, seasonal produce at competitive prices.
"We know more about the movement of celestial bodies than about the soil underfoot."
-- Leonardo Da Vinci
The health of our soil is inextricably linked to our own human health. Even as our soil has suffered under agricultural industrialization, there are steps you can take to ensure you’re still getting the nutrients you need. That includes seeking out and supporting agricultural food sources that tend to the soil’s health, eating whole foods from consciously selected local sources as often as possible, and supplementing your diet with vitamins and minerals that are aligned with your biochemical processes and ability to absorb key nutrients.
If you want to look and feel like your best, most vital and energetic self, ensure that you are getting the nutrients your body needs from fresh, whole foods and biochemically available supplements.