(image: flikr, PrestonM)

(image: flikr, PrestonM)

I am usually not one to dwell on how great things were in the “good old days – though I am nostalgic for what things used to cost.  To that longing I have added the loss of nutritional value.  According to the USDA store bought vegetables were better for you in the 1950’s than they are today.  True there were not as pretty but that quest for beauty could very well be the cause of the problem.  Hybrid crops are often bred for size, color, and firmness, not nutrients or flavor.

It would be difficult to determine which fruits and veggies in a traditional market were not grown from hybrid seeds and most employees would probably have not idea.  It would be safest to assume they all were.  Even the staff in natural food stores might not know; though vendors at farmer’s markets should be able to provide you with accurate information.  The nutritional value of heirloom produce should not have changed from the days of yore unless the seeds were genetically modified in some way.

Here are examples of how the nutritional content of some foods has changed over the past five decades:

IRON            CALCIUM                 VITAMIN A

Broccoli*                                  -27%                 -60%                        -52%

Tomatoes**                              -29%                 -58%                        -46%

Carrots***                                 -40%                 -37%                      +127%

Swiss Chard                             -12%                 -40%                        -54%

Eggplant                                   -38%                 -57%                         NA

Spinach                                    -22%                  +6%                       -38%

Corn                                        +13%                 -76%                       -22%

Turnip Greens                           -46%                  -14%                        -6%

Asparagus                                -11%                   -8%                       -46%

Honeydew Melon                       -84%                  -68%                        NA

It would appear that consumers have not benefited from the “modern methods” agri-businesses have adapted to grow and sell the foods we eat.

*       Greater “head density” might mean fewer nutrients.

**      Pretty tomatoes taste worse – flavor comes from nutrients.

***     Extra vitamin A may come from amped-up orange color.

-Debbie Jones-Steele

What is your favorite fruit and vegetable?