Tag Archives: fruits

Research: cheaper food means less nutrients

A few weeks ago, I shared a study that found nutrients in the U.S. food supply are declining. Which could explain why millions of Americans, who prefer to be thin, are overeating to get more nutrients.

Another study found that industrial farming techniques – including the use of petroleum-based fertilizer – reduces nutrient levels in food, while dramatically increasing yields. This means we have abundant cheap food with lowered nutrient levels:

This article summarizes three kinds of evidence pointing toward declines during the last 50 to 100 years in the concentration of some nutrients in vegetables and perhaps also in fruits. It has been noted since the 1940s that yield increases produced by fertilization, irrigation, and other environmental means tend to decrease the concentrations of minerals in plants.

Jarrell and Beverly (1981) reviewed the evidence for this well-known “dilution effect.” Although their review has been cited over 180 times (60 times from 2000 on), few mentions of the dilution effect contain a reference, suggesting that the effect is widely regarded as common knowledge.

Common among scientists perhaps, but the public is unaware. When I share this among friends and readers there is a strong disbelief, with the most common response being - food is cheaper. Yes it is, because it has been hollowed out like a pumpkin and there’s nothing left on the inside.

And that makes it a struggle to get the message out. How do I explain the dilution effect to a public obsessed with everything but this – from diet programs to food labels to coupon cutting that encourages cheaper food?

 

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Sharing my joy of visiting the farmers market

Through the crowds and into the market a world awaits me. Exotic fruits, luscious vegetables, and peculiar personalities. An uncharted world for one raised on the supermarkets of America. I learn simple things like knowing to smell a melon or mush a peach (but only on top). It is a food education and the market is the classroom.

I forget the real world and act like a kid. I squeeze and smell, question and query, fondle and forage. Nobody yells or gets angry, it’s what you’re supposed to do. The farmer smiles like a proud father just waiting to tell a story. All I have to do is ask the right question, or in most cases the dumb one. How do I eat this?

The answers are always unique and deep. How to pick, prepare, cook, cut, eat, and enjoy.

Every week is a surprise for what I will find. This time it was jalapeño peppers. I thought I knew about them, until I found the pepper farmer. He offers a colloquial description of each variety and I go with the ones that are semi-hot but not really.  At home I cautiously sample one and his description was precise.

This is my food life. A weekly adventure where I dive into the world of food. I become a curious kid encouraged to learn and ask questions. My teachers are the farmers and their friends and family who have devoted their lives to growing food. When I buy their wares I’m supporting that devotion. Something I never felt at the supermarket. This way of life fills my belly and my heart. I am a part of a community. I am connected to the land, to my neighbors, and eating like a king.

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Finding the best food – what do they really mean, organic, GMO, and seasonal?

There is a lot of confusion about healthy, high-quality food. Does organic mean high-quality? What does genetically modified (GMO) mean? What about fruits and vegetables in supermarkets?

The explanation starts with organic food. This is a farming method that focuses on the land, not food. Organic farming started in opposition to the use of chemical sprays, petroleum-based fertilizers and other harmful substances. That opposition continues to this day and is having a great impact on our land, waterways, and the health of farmers.

When it comes to food the great value is not in nutrition but avoiding health problems. Those with allergies have a hard time with the pesticides, bleaches, and other toxics used. Parents love it because they are concerned for their children’s health. Janitors love it because they get to use non-toxic cleaning supplies. I could go on and on, and this is what makes organic healthy, but it doesn’t mean much for nutritional value.

What does is the seed used to grow the fruits and vegetables. GMO seeds are modified to be low in nutrition. A great benefit for supermarkets because it allows food to stay on the shelf longer, look ripe earlier, and grow quicker. Not such a great benefit for us.

The opposite type of seed is an heirloom, which is used for high nutritional content. Some offer better flavor, others juicy cores, but all focus on the same thing – high quality. The side effect is that supermarkets won’t carry them because they don’t last as long as GMO.

Farmers markets do carry them, and are one of the few places to find them. These markets offer exceptional fruits and vegetables and are the best places to shop, hands down. Not only do they sell heirloom foods, but also seasonal items. Seasonal means grown with the right weather and harvested at their peak. It makes them amazing, gushing with juices, incredible flavors, and the most nutrient-dense food possible.

Seasonal organic heirloom fruits and vegetables are the kings and queens of the food world. They avoid the toxics found in non-organic foods and are not genetically modified to be low in nutrition, like GMO’s. This may sound like a lot to learn, but you can skip all that by switching over to farmers markets. Once there it’s not hard to find seasonal organic heirloom foods, they will be everywhere!

Good luck with your eating adventures.

 

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It’s the peak of the season, have you started your Winter Stores?

Peak of the season means deals are everywhere at the farmers market. There is an abundance of fruits and vegetables and prices are dropping. You can get great deals on buckets and boxes of tomatoes and strawberries, watermelons, peaches, plums, cantaloupes, etc.

But, what to do with all of them?

The time-tested, ancient answer is to turn them into winter stores. Jam, can, and preserve. Or, if you prefer to be more modern, freeze them.

Freezing is my preferred method because it is so darn easy. The recipe is simple: cut it into squares, put it in container and freeze it. I’ve done this with anything you can imagine and everything has turned out fine.

The other option is to jam and preserve. This is an ancient method for the era before freezers. For most of us, freezer space is still limited and we have to preserve. This method allows food to last for months in a closet. 

My recommended recipe comes from Pomona’s Universal Pectin, which is also my recommended brand of pectin because it is sugar-free and preservative-free (uses honey). You can order it online or find it (or something similar) in your natural foods store.

Here is a link to the recipes.

Next, your probably wondering what to do with all this stuff. Here’s what I do.

First, cash in on the abundant tomatoes because there is so much to do with them. Over the next 12 months I make pizza, marinara sauce, salsa, and any number of soups, including plain-old tomato soup.

Second, I turn my fruit into amazing smoothies. Since I use the freezer method, I have a diverse assortment of fruit ready-cut into squares for smoothie-making.

How about you, do you have any special recipes for your winter stores?

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If you want to live a low-carbon lifestyle then winter stores is definitely the way to go. Not only is it an essential part of the all-farmers market diet, but it also reduces the need to buy high-mileage fruit in the winter. During those winter months, any fruit you buy most likely flew in on a plane from halfway around the world. You can avoid this problem by buying dirt-cheap now, saving it for the winter, and absolutely delighting in high-quality (guilt-free) watermelon, blueberry, or strawberry in the heart of February.