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Who would have thought the subject of dirt could be such a touchy subject? But in some circles, soil depletion is just as hotly debated as gun control and climate change. Many people’s opinions fall firmly on one side or the other of the political aisle. But let’s set aside opinions. Let’s set aside politics. And let’s take a closer look at the facts in order to uncover three truths and a lie about soil depletion.
A long-accepted adage, “You get out of it what you put into it,” is often used in business, relationships, and life. And it’s true! What you invest, what you sow, you will reap. Likewise, the soil in which your food is grown affects the nutrients that the food contains. What the seeds are planted in directly impacts the finished product. If soil has fewer nutrients and minerals in it, there are less available for the fruits and vegetables to utilize in their growth.
So how is soil less nutritious? Farming practices from large, commercial operations tend to use the same land over and over. Traditional methods, such as letting fields rest and replenish between crops or for a period of several years, have been largely passed over in an effort to keep up with demand. A piece of land may be harvested of one crop, then immediately replanted with the next season’s cash crop. This continual use doesn’t permit the soil to rest, to restore minerals and nutrients.
Organic farming methods naturally reduce soil depletion. They use fewer conventional pesticides and artificial mineral supplements (such as synthetic fertilizer). They don’t use genetically modified products, which may grow at faster rates to meet demand, but are also harder on the soil in which they’re grown. Local, small-operation farms also tend to use practices that traditionally reduce soil depletion, such as resting the earth.
Organic and local farming practices are not just limited to impacting the quality of fruits and vegetables, but also carry over into dairy and meat farming. The quality of nutrients in meat, milk, eggs, and other products can be directly tied to the food the animals consume. Local or organic farms provide feed to the animals based on non-conventional, big farming operations.
Sad, but true, fruits and vegetables in the 2000s have fewer vitamins and minerals than fruits and vegetables from just 100 years ago. A study out of the University of Texas found “reliable declines” in the amounts of some nutrients, including calcium, Vitamin B2, and Vitamin C (to name just a few) from 1950 to 1999. While in some cases, these declines were substantial (you need to eat eight oranges to get the same amount of Vitamin A your grandparents would have obtained from eating one orange), fruits and veggies are still our best source of nutrients… which leads to… THE LIE.
In this era of convenience, it’s easy to think, “Well, since they aren’t nutritious anymore, I don’t need to eat fruits and veggies! I’ll just pop a pill.” On the contrary, Donald Davis, PhD, lead researcher on the Texas study, notes, “Vegetables are extraordinarily rich in nutrients and beneficial phytochemicals. They are still there, and vegetables and fruits are our best source for these.”
Yes, there are ways to supplement your diet. And making sure your body has all the foundational building blocks for health is critical. If you have a deficiency in a nutrient, talk to your doctor about ways to boost it. In some cases, a nutritional supplement may be useful. But as we say here at BIPRI, supplementation is something you do because you’re not getting what you need from your diet. Start by trying to get all the good, clean, nutritious foods you can. Then supplement.
Soil depletion affects our everyday lives, whether you’re a farmer or a city dweller, a meat eater or a vegan. If you want to further learn about soil depletion and its impact on your food sources, and how you can best manage your own needs, please call us at (888) 549-5519 or contact us via the live chat feature.
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