Are vegetables less healthy today?

The quality of agricultural land has declined at an alarming rate over the past century. Artificial fertilizer is thought to be the main culprit.


Marco Visscher | September 2005 issue

The quality of agricultural land has declined at an alarming rate over the past century. Artificial fertilizer is thought to be the main culprit. This chemical mixture of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium may ensure crops grow quickly, but it also diminishes vital nutrients in the soil. Even organic food production, done without artificial fertilizer, cannot guarantee that the soil is rich in minerals. It cannot always replace the missing minerals depleted by earlier applications of synthetic fertilizer.

The United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has concluded that artificial fertilizer is contributing to a “serious shortage” of minerals. Other studies show a 60-percent fall in the level of vitamins and minerals in beans since 1985, a 70-percent drop in potatoes, while apples now contain 80 percent fewer vitamins and minerals. In 1900, wheat was 90-percent protein; it is currently only nine-percent protein. This means you would have to eat 10 slices of bread to get the same nutrients you once got from one slice.

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