Intensive agriculture farming aims to grow as many large fruit and vegetables as quickly as possible, but this comes at a price; nutritional value. Rapid growth and a drive to increase the size of produce has meant that farmers could keep up with high demand, but it has meant that the nutritional value has decreased. We will take a closer look into why this is, and why farmers markets and organic produce are the best choice when it comes to good soil quality and nutritional value.
Produce get nutrients from nutritionally rich soil, just like we get nutrients from the food we eat. In this vain, if we are eating food with low levels of nutrients then we are taking in low levels of nutrients. So the question is; why isn’t the soil used to grow fruit and vegetables nutrient rich? Intensive farming has meant that fields used for growing are becoming over used and not given enough time to replenish and restore. Also the use of fertilisers and pesticides rather than organic methods of growing contributes to low soil quality. Close plant spacing means that the plants have weaker root systems and less access to nutrients in the soil. All of these factors combined mean that the produce we eat today has significantly less nutritional value than it would have 40 years ago. One study found that it would take us eight oranges to get the same value our grandparents would have gotten from one orange 40 years ago.
Organic farming methods allow the soil to restore to ensure it is nutrient rich and in the best quality for vegetable and fruit production. Methods such as the use of manure and organic matter feed the soil with much needed nutrients. Field rotation gives the land used time to restore itself to fertile soil, and the non-use of fertilisers and pesticides is healthier for the soil, the produce growing in it and most importantly for the consumers. Fertilisers and pesticides have been proven to leave chemical residues in people; this video is a great summary of this. The organic method of farming support soil quality and preserves nutritional value. A report by the The Organic Centre, concludes that “Organic food may have as much as 20 percent higher nutritional content for some minerals, and 30 percent more antioxidants on average, than conventional fare.”
Farmer’s Markets are a great place to buy organic produce, where the growers truly do focus on the quality of their produce; including tending to the soil they use with care and thought. It is important that consumers are aware of how important the methods of organic farming are. We hope this brief explanation was a helpful one!