SOIL – NUTRIENT DEPLETION
(Sugar beet crop – lack of boron in the soil)
The human race has lived off the land for millennia. Good quality soil is vital to our continued existence. Around 1500 BC, this Sanskrit text was written, “Upon this handful of soil our survival depends. Husband it and it will grow our food, our fuel and our shelter and surround us with beauty. Abuse it and the soil will collapse and die, taking humanity with it.” This was written by someone with amazing foresight.
Soil Erosion and Soil Degradation
Soil erosion and degradation are global issues, affecting everyone on the planet. Dr R. Amundson, who is a professor of environmental science at the University of California, Berkeley, says that through our farming practices over the century, we have caused the acceleration of soil loss through erosion and essential nutrient removal. This has obviously impacted on any food that is grown in our soil, leading to severe nutrient depletion in commercially grown food in particular.
Nutrient Loss in Food
A study published by the University of Texas which had analysed data (1950 – 1999) on nutrients in 43 garden foods showed that calcium, phosphorus, iron, protein, riboflavin, ascorbic acid, magnesium, zinc, B6 and vitamin E were seriously compromised due to nutrient depletion in the soil. “Efforts to breed new varieties of crops that provide greater yield, pest resistance and climate adaptability have allowed crops to grow bigger and more rapidly, but their ability to manufacture or uptake nutrients has not kept pace with their rapid growth,” said one of the study’s contributors.
An Australian study, cited by Courtney White, the author of “Grass, Soil, Hope,” found that apples lost 80% of their vitamin C content between 1948 and 1991 and carrots lost a staggering 99% of their vitamin A content. A UK study, also cited by White, which examined data collected between 1940 and 1990 on the vitamin and mineral content of vegetables, showed that their copper content had diminished by 76%, calcium by 46%, iron by 27%, magnesium by 24% and potassium by 16%. Another study in the States found that we would have to eat 8 oranges to get the same amount of vitamin A that our grandparents got from one orange.
Organic Foods and Supplements
Many scientists and researchers are now strongly recommending that we eat organic foods. Foods grown on home allotments were found to have a much higher vitamin and mineral content than commercially grown foods. Given the nutrient depletion in our soils and hence our food, nutritionists strongly recommend taking supplements to ensure that we get all the daily nutrients we need.