Vegetables and fruit grown and sold commercially today are not as nutritional as they were in 1950. Researchers at the University of Texas have discovered that protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin and ascorbic acid are lower in today’s crops, with declines ranging from 6 percent in protein to 38 percent in riboflavin.
This may be only the tip of the iceberg lettuce. More research needs to be done on important foods such as grains, legumes, meat, milk and eggs which were not covered in the study. The findings suggest that important nutrients such as magnesium, zinc, vitamin B-6, vitamin E and dietary fiber, and phytochemicals may also have declined.
"During those 50 years, there have been intensive efforts to breed new varieties that have greater yield, or resistance to pests, or adaptability to different climates. But the dominant effort is for higher yields. Emerging evidence suggests that when you select for yield, crops grow bigger and faster, but they don’t necessarily have the ability to make or uptake nutrients at the same, faster rate."
A suggestion, dear home gardeners… when it comes time to order seeds for next year’s vegetable patch, buy old-fashioned varieties. And consider joining organizations that share and preserve heritage varieties, such as Seeds of Diversity Canada (http://www.seeds.ca/en.php). There’s no downside; they’re healthier, and they taste a lot better than grocery store vegetables too.