Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Thursday, February 19, 2021

While the world’s agricultural-industrial complex has yielded a neverending bounty of super-sized vegetables, studies show that bigger is not better:

Today’s vegetables might be larger, but if you think that means they contain more nutrients, you’d be wrong. [Biochemical researcher Donald R.] Davis writes that jumbo-sized produce contains more “dry matter” than anything else, which dilutes mineral concentrations. In other words, when it comes to growing food, less is more…

Less studied, though, is the “genetic dillution effect,” in which selective breeding to increase crop yield has led to declines in protein, amino acids, and as many as six minerals in one study of commercial broccoli grown in 1996 and ‘97 in South Carolina. Because nearly 90% of dry matter is carbohydrates, “when breeders select for high yield, they are, in effect, selecting mostly for high carbohydrate with no assurance that dozens of other nutrients and thousands of phytochemicals will all increase in proportion to yield.”

And not only is this jumbo produce bulkily-bereft, it’s also prematurely-picked:

Thanks to the growing rise of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, modern crops are being harvested faster than ever before. But quick and early harvests mean the produce has less time to absorb nutrients either from synthesis or the soil, and minerals like potassium (the “K” in N-P-K fertilizers) often interfere with a plant’s ability to take up nutrients. Monoculture farming practices — another hallmark of the Big Ag industry — have also led to soil-mineral depletion, which, in turn, affects the nutrient content of crops.

A lot of this comes off as a veiled pitch for the organic-food lobby. Maybe the agro-cultured stuff isn’t all bad. For instance, however lacking that “dry matter” vegetable fiber is, I’m guessing it’s a better option than eating junk food, and it’s filling.

But from a personal perspective, I’ve found that I actually prefer the smaller-sized organic versions of fruits and vegetables, precisely because they come in easier-to-handle units. Sometimes, a store-variety red delicious apple is just too damned big and filling for me to consider eating it as a mere snack; but its significantly-smaller organic counterpart is usually just the right size for a pick-me-up nosh. That it’s also more nutritionally dense is a bonus.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 02/19/2009 10:35:25 PM
Category: Food, Science
| Permalink | Trackback |

Feedback »
Say something!

Comment moderation might kick in, so please do not hit the "Say It!" button more than once.