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flashl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-27-08 06:06 AM
Original message
More food, fewer nutrients
"A person would have had to eat three apples in 1991 to supply the same iron content as one in 1940."

--Brian Halweil, senior researcher at The Worldwatch Institute and author of "Still No Free Lunch: Nutrient levels in U.S. food supply eroded by pursuit of high yields."

Halweil's line, which I included in "Beyond the slaughterhouse," generated dozens of e-mails asking for more information about the nutrient value of our food.

...


Here are more findings Halweil cited from Thomas' study that used data between 1940 to 1991:

_ "Spinach's potassium content dropped by 53 percent, its phosphorus by 70 percent, its iron by 60 percent and its copper by 96 percent."

_"The iron content of meat products declined by an average of 54 percent. (The double-digit declines in the nutrient quality of meat and dairy products are some of the first indications that consumption of less nutrient-dense animal feed grains and forages has a measurable impact on the animals eating them, and perhaps secondarily, on people consuming the meat and milk from such animals.)" In other words, maybe it wasn't such a great idea to put grass-eating animals on a diet of grain.

Chicago Tribune


Perhaps this is related to obesity? We are eating more empty calories.
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grasswire Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-27-08 10:26 AM
Response to Original message
1. so is it possible to remedy that through gardening?
If you have a garden today, can you make up for depleted soil?
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flashl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-27-08 11:29 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. Seems reasonable ...
Other nuggets from Halweil's report:

  • "Substantial data show that in corn, wheat and soybeans, the higher the yield, the lower the protein and oil content."
  • "The higher tomato yields (in terms of harvest weight), the lower the concentration of vitamin C, levels of lycopene (the key antioxidant that make tomatoes red) and beta-carotene (a vitamin A precursor.)"
  • "High production dairy cows produce milk that is less concentrated with fat, protein and other nutrition-enhancing components and are also more vulnerable to a range of metabolic diseases, infections and reproductive problems."
  • "Tactics farms use to increase yields--including close plant spacing and the widespread use of chemical fertilizers, irrigation and pesticides--tend to create big plants that grow fast, but do not absorb a comparable quantity of many soil nutrients."
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grasswire Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-27-08 01:02 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. so I guess I shouldn't use fish emulsion on my garden.
I'll have to call my county extension service for home gardeners to see what they advise.
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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-27-08 01:54 PM
Response to Reply #3
6. I used to use fish emulsion years ago
My poor cats would go absolutely bonkers for the next few days.
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K8-EEE Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-27-08 01:18 PM
Response to Reply #1
4. Excellent question! This is very inspiring.....
I've ripped out my remaining backyard grass (such as it was) and am planning a veg & herb garden....will print this out for added inspiration!
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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-27-08 01:53 PM
Response to Reply #1
5. Organic farming methods that use natural fertilizers
such as nitrogen fixing crops like alfalfa tilled into the soil and manure between treatments have seen an improvement of soil condition. Commercial farming, using nitrate fertilizers, is seen as "mining the soil" with predictable consequences.

Organic farmers also notice increased yields over commercial methods after the organic farm is completely established.

The smaller the scale, the easier it is to build the soil up rapidly. The best thing you have at your disposal is composted leaves. Just keep piling them up after you rake them, turn the pile several times a year, and you know it's ready when you see worms living in it. Dig it into your garden, worms and all. Dead leaves are pure gold. Fireplace ashes are also a great source of soil minerals. Just make sure they don't make the soil too alkaline.
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Mabus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-27-08 02:08 PM
Response to Reply #5
8. I was adding coffee grounds and tea bags to the compost too
Edited on Wed Feb-27-08 02:08 PM by Mabus
the worms love it and coffee is a good source of nitrogen.

Coffee grounds have a carbon-to-nitrogen ratio of 20:1, roughly equivalent to that of grass clippings. After brewing, coffee grounds contain up to 2% nitrogen. For composting purposes, consider coffee grounds "green" material similar to grass clippings. For "brown" material, we used leaves and sawdust. In these trials, we used a formula of one part green material (coffee grounds alone or mixed with grass clippings) to two parts leaves, or four parts green material to one part sawdust.

From Washington State University's Backyard Composting: Composting coffee grounds at http://gardening.wsu.edu/stewardship/compost/coffee.htm


edited to correct formatting.
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mzmolly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-27-08 01:58 PM
Response to Original message
7. What about organic foods?
I agree with you that this may have an impact on obesity.
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flashl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-27-08 04:29 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. Review of Organics
While initial organic food production primarily involved small farms and local distribution of fresh produce, todays organic food system is a complex combination of small and large food producers, local and global distribution networks, and a wide variety of products, including fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy, and processed foods.

Neither System Superior

While many studies demonstrate qualitative differences between organic and conventional foods with respect to pesticide residues and nutrients, it is premature to conclude that either food system is superior to the other. Pesticide residues, naturally occurring toxins, nitrites, and polyphenolic compounds exert their health risks or benefits on a dose-related basis, and data currently do not exist to ascertain whether the differences in the levels of such chemicals between organic foods and conventional foods are of health significance.

Review of Organic (PDF)
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