You may have more reason than ever to go local and organic with your produce purchases. Of course, there is the green factor. Local products have a reduced carbon footprint because of lower transportation costs. The produce is likely to be fresher because it can be shipped later than food coming across the country.
Changing Nutritional Value
You may be surprised to learn that today’s produce is not like what it used to be. A study by the University of Texas found that since 1950, the nutritional value of several nutrients has declined. These nutrients include iron, protein, calcium, riboflavin and ascorbic acid.
These findings are especially disturbing because less than 50 percent of Americans consume the recommended amount of servings each day. Vegetable intake fared better at 59 percent getting the proper amount. The declines in the nutritional value of some of the fruits and vegetables people are eating make this deficiency more serious.
Explaining the Changes
The next question you may have is why things have changed. Several factors have driven this course. With an increase in population has come a rise in demand. These circumstances, in turn, have set in motion the agricultural industry’s response to increase yield.
There are more cultivated varieties today that attempt to overcome the limitations of climate and yield. While these changes have helped meet the demand, they have also put stress on crops with the result that nutrient uptake is reduced.
The Good News
Even though nutritional value has taken a hit, there is still positive news. Perhaps in part because of organic farming, the trend is beginning to change. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there are nearly five million acres of farmland devoted to organic production. In addition, the face of farming is changing. There are more new farms that are smaller in acreage and are planting more diversified crops.
There has also been a return to heirloom varieties, frequently seen in produce such as tomatoes. Grocery stores are carrying produce from local farmers to meet the demand for more nutritious and tastier foods. Programs such as the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) connect consumers with farmers. With programs like these, everyone benefits, including the environment.