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The Nutrient Levels In Our Food Are Declining

By Cheryl Long

As our food system has shifted from decentralized, local small-farm “agri-culture” to highly centralized industrial “agri-business,” this has caused the nutrient content of many foods to decline. Numerous factors are causing this decline, including breeding for ever-higher yields, food processing, cheap sugar and oils, and industrial meat and dairy production.

In some cases, the declines have been very gradual. Over the last 100 years, important minerals in WHEAT varieties grown on the Great Plains—iron, zinc, phosphorous and sulfur—have declined from 20 to 33 percent.
Sulfur is essential for plants to produce protein, so a drop in sulfur indicates a decline in protein content. One study found that contemporary wheat varieties contain ONLY HALF AS MUCH PROTEIN as older varieties! During this same period, YIELDSof wheat have at least doubled as a result of “green revolution” varieties that are shorter, but require heavier levels of fertilizer and irrigation than older varieties. In CORN, studies show similar trends—a doubling of yield, but accompanied by declines in important nutrients.

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