I wasn’t always aware that nutrition is the primary objective of eating. I had to learn that by piecing together the evidence that allowed me to reach that conclusion.
Oh sure, I and those around me as I grew up were vaguely aware that nutrition is important. But if you asked ten people in those days to give the main reasons for eating, probably eight of the ten would have said for taste (flavor) and to fill their belly and thus assuage their hunger. Nutritional health maintenance would have been very low down the list. And it’s still far down in most people’s minds; but we’re making progress.
Things are better nowadays with more and more people recognizing the importance of nutrition in one’s diet, and by extension, the connection to nutrients in the soil, or lack thereof. The first scientific investigation of this matter was done about the year I was born (1940) by Dr. Firman Bear of Cornell. Bear examined the nutrient (vitamin and mineral) content of five vegetables grown in various soils from locations all round the country. He found, for instance, that two identical-looking carrots of the same variety could vary from near zero in nutrient content to quite high, on the order of several hundred percent difference.
I will add here that it has long been (probably still is) the official policy of the USDA that the amount and kind of fertilizer applied to a farm soil can change the quantity of a crop grown, but not its nutritional quality. This is absurd, but the USDA does not want you to know how badly the nutritional content of commercially grown food has dropped, owing primarily to the adverse effects of conventional/chemical agriculture.
It is also USDA policy that organically grown food is no more nutritious than conventionally grown food. In fact, one of the absolute rules under which regulations and criteria for certified organically grown food were to be written was that no claim could be made for a superior nutritional content in organically produced food. Ironically, that turned out to be a blessing, as I will explain.
Hundreds of gardening, cooking and health books have been written flatly stating that if you eat organically grown foods you will fare well and even recover from various maladies. This, however, is a faith-based proclamation, by and large, with little to substantiate the claim. When I said as much several years back, people got mad and felt I was betraying organics. But I was only trying to open eyes and minds so we could see our way to something much better than conventional organics. Much organically grown food today is not, in fact, very nutritious and we need to adopt a better growing method and the means for measuring crop nutrient density.
Organic growers and latter-day organic foodies simply can’t face what I am revealing. In the majority public mind, “organic” has come to mean simply food grown without “chemical” or synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Little thought is given to the soil-building aspects of how best to treat and fertilize soils. Even less thought goes into the question of nutritional quality in produce and livestock products. In 2010 I wrote an article on this blindered fixation that was titled “Hung Up on Chemicals”. The point is that as much attention needs to go into positive measures necessary to produce healthy food as goes into the negative things to be avoided since the absence of a negative is not positive, but a zero.
In 2017 I also wrote “Organic Farming Will NOT Save Us”. This is not nit-picking. It is an extremely important point and admonition affecting each person’s individual health and the long-term survival of civilization and even that of our species. There is a simple and effective remedy which I (with the help of others) have developed that is called Nutriculture (also known as Carbon-Smart Nutriculture). Go to blossomera.com and to Nutriculture.org for a full description and discussion of this advanced agronomic system. If we can show people that eating nutrient-dense food maintains their health, but also spares their wealth in fewer hospital stays, I think we can sway them over.
But here’s what I’ve been building up to. People say, oh no; you are wrong. Most organically grown food truly is wholesome and nutritious. Furthermore, organic gardeners and people who eat only, or mostly, organically grown food are well aware of the nutritional importance aspect. Aha, I’ve got you! I’m going to prove what I’ve been saying about nutrition denial in the Conventional Organic Wisdom (Sacred C.O.W.) cult. I’m going to document this from a written email reproduction someone sent me in July 2014 titled “Are Organic Vegetables More Nutritious After All?”
Because I have schooled you readers on these matters you may be shocked at what you are about to read, but Firman Bear with me.
“There may never be an end to arguments over whether organic food is more nutritious. But a new study is the most ambitious attempt so far to resolve the issue – and it concludes that organic fruits and vegetables offer a key benefit [i.e. flavonoids and carotenoids that provide antioxidants].” An earlier study done at Stanford “reviewed more than 200 studies of organic and conventional food, and concluded that organic foods do not really offer any significant nutritional benefit.”
“This new analysis – – – crunched data from an even bigger pile of studies, 343 of them, carried out over the past several years. – – – The new analysis repeats some of the Stanford’s group’s findings. It finds that organic and conventional vegetables offer similar levels of many nutrients, including minerals, vitamin C and vitamin E.”
These findings do not particularly surprise me. Recognize that I have maintained for years that the nutritional content of Sacred C.O.W. produce is not generally very high or better than conventional/chemical grown produce and this correlates generally with over-reliance on organic matter for fertility and failure to provide mineral nutrients, or at least to provide them in full amounts and balanced ratios. So, if that box of beautiful, red strawberries you bought last week is turning to moldy mush, you know it is not high in nutrients. But for the excuse of ignorance this is a case of penny-wise and pound-foolish. Nevertheless, it doesn’t need to be that way.
The article referenced above evidently was part of a forum where readers were invited to comment on the content. As we have come to learn, social media has unfortunately brought out a lot of uncivil commentary and even brutal attacks on nearly everything and everyone. What does this say about our civilization? In this case there were participants with some rather astounding and truly ignorant comments. I don’t know why I didn’t pick up on this in 2014, but the comments – nearly all of them, really took me aback in a totally unexpected way, but actually proved my contention on three counts. Let me reproduce the chain of comments and see if it doesn’t startle you.
Joan – “I don’t know a single person who buys organic produce for ‘more nutrition’. We buy them for ‘fewer noxious and toxic chemicals’.”
Alaedric (responding to Joan) – “Came here to make the same comment. This is bizarre [!!]. No one [!!] buys organic because they think it’s more nutritious. I have never heard anyone say that once. People eat organic because they do not want to eat poison, and they do not want poisons in the land, water and air. This is not a difficult concept [!!]. I remember when the first article came out, the smug headlines were everywhere (‘Organic no better!’, read one), tut-tutting at everyone ‘wasting their money on organic’ because differences in vitamin C levels did not reach statistical significance, without ever addressing the issue of conventional crops having much, much higher levels of pesticides.”
Christopher (responding to Alaedric) – “But a lot of the organic stuff just looks better, and tastes better. Are we sure it isn’t more nutritious? Even in some cases?” [An intelligent question.]
Eric (responding to Joan) – “Joan, I just posted the same comment before I read yours. This ‘nutrition’ thing is head-shakingly bizarre to me.” [What hath Gates wrought?]
Joan (back to Eric) and Laurel (to Joan) – “I agree – and it means less pesticide exposure to workers and neighbors of farms. Cognitive and reproductive impairment have been associated with that.”
Tom (to Laurel) – “Pesticides are not desirable, but your statement [about impairment?] is fiction.”
Rod (responding to Tom) – “You should call some comrades to give you thumbs-up votes to make it seem other people actually believe your bunk [about Laurel’s fiction?], Williams.”
Wow! These people are much less upset about whether organic “stuff” is less nutritious than conventional than they are about whether nutrition should even be relevant. It’s such an alien concept. We have a ways to go in educating about the facts of life. I rest my case.
© 2018, Gary L. Kline
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Tags: Fertility, Mineralization, nutrition
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