How to increase the nutritional value of your homegrown veggies and why…

Here’s something we’re not really talking about in the boom of food knowhow. No, we know about GMOs and what “natural flavoring” really is, but what you might not know is that the food you consume and feed your children every day is lacking greatly in nutritional value. Yep, all of it, no matter how much of it you are eating,

“The alarming fact is that foods – fruits, vegetables and grains – now being raised on millions of acres of land that no longer contains enough of certain needed nutrients, are starving us — no matter how much we eat of them.” -U S Senate Document 264 1936

I started wondering about this when I watched my three-year-old down a few PB&Js made with whole wheat bread, some fruit, and glass of milk for lunch then claim he was still hungry. We all know the taste difference between a tomato you buy in the store versus one you pick up at your local farmers market or out of your own yard and even genetic engineers are trying to Monsanto a more flavorful tomato in response. But do you know the real reason behind this taste difference?

Dirt. That simple.
Neither the USDA nor the organic community address the nutritional quality of food and apply standards for this value. The marketplace has no real reward system for growers who improve taste and increase nutritional values in produce so, simply put, no one cares. Grocers stock what’s readily available on the cheap and consumers blindly use their buying power to support outdated agricultural processes that erode the soil of beneficial microorganisms and minerals at an alarming rate.

According to the Nutritional Security Institute, “The Earth is losing arable topsoil at a rate of 75 to 100 GT. per year. If soil loss continues at present rates, it is estimated that there is only another 48 years of topsoil left.” This arable topsoil is essential to growing food containing the nutrients needed to keep people healthy and studies have shown that the nutritional value of food has been on a steady decline for the last 70 years as diseases including heart conditions, chronic bronchitis, asthma, tinnitus, bone deformities as well as other general health markers became more prevalent; asthma increasing by almos

t 88% directly associated with the lack of magnesium in our soil and consequently in our food.

Got a headache now?
Well, could be a mineral deficiency causing it since that apple you ate for a snack has lost around 48% of the calcium and 83% of the magnesium of that same apple eighty years ago. Both of these mineral are needed to prevent excessive muscle tension in the body, one of the leading causes of headaches and muscle pain in general, probably also a huge contributing factor in the overuse of painkillers in this country, so…

What can you do to grow better food?
It is impossible to grow nutritionally valuable crops in soil that has been stripped of minerals and microorganisms. The answer then, seems quite simple. Put the minerals and the microorganisms back, right? But how? Compost, compost everything and anything you can. There are numerous ways to compost and infinite resources available for starting composting including ready made compost bins. Through composting you are maintaining a level of microorganisms necessary to break down minerals into a form your veggies can digest and transfer to you when consumed.

Bacteria is not all bad.
Recent studies have found that there are soil bacteria that release antibiotic substances that can suppress disease-causing microorganisms in the soil. It has been known for many years that many bacteria species are extremely important in decomposing organic matter for healthy soil. Additionally, Rhizobium bacteria can attach themselves to the roots of peas and beans, extract free nitrogen from the air, and change it to a nitrogen form that legumes can use. Plants alone can not remove nitrogen from the air.

Once these microorganisms are established in your garden soil, they survive year after year providing a “biologically alive” environment rich with minerals so your veggies will be full of nutritional value and flavor. Layer compost and organic mulch on top of the planting area before winter and if need be add trace minerals such as sea minerals or volcanic rock dust to deter pests and optimize the mineral content of your soil and the food you grow in it.

Kate Hunter enjoys organic gardening, whole food cooking, crafting, making natural products, and following up on politics and the latest health food news. After changing her major from art to biology to English, she finally obtained a B.A. in English with an emphasis on writing from Southern Oregon University and has been writing about nutrition, healthy living, cooking, and gardening for over nine years. Kate is a published author both online and in print and has owned, operated, and published a literary journal. She is a mother of three, speaks sarcasm, some Spanish, but mostly English and spends her time baking, taking pictures, canning, growing and drying herbs, reading, selling natural products and homemade crafts in her Etsy store Turnip Mims, and checking food labels of course.

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