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How Our Food is Losing Nutrients

You may think that eating lots of vegetables, fish, and plant-based foods means you’re getting all the nutrients you need to stay healthy. That may have been the case decades ago but, according to Irakli Loladze, Ph.D., the quality of our food is decreasing because of the quality of what it is fed or feeds on due to climate change. (“The great nutrient collapse,” Helena Bottemiller Evich, 9/13/2017, Politco, accessed 9/16/17, http://www.politico.com/agenda/story/2017/09/13/food-nutrients-carbon-dioxide-000511) There is a complicated answer to what’s been going on, but I’ll try to keep it simple.  
 
Loladze explains that “Plants rely on both light and carbon dioxide (CO2) to grow” and that scientists have known for decades that CO2 levels have been rising in our atmosphere. “Every leaf and every grass blade on earth makes more and more sugars as CO2 levels keep rising…We are witnessing the greatest injection of carbohydrates into the biosphere in human history—[an] injection that dilutes other nutrients in our food supply.” He wonders how seriously carbon dioxide may be impacting human health.
 
According to him and other scientists, a substantial number of agricultural researchers recognize that “many of our most important foods have been getting less nutritious. Measure of fruits and vegetables show that their minerals, vitamin and protein content has measurably dropped over the past 50 to 70 years. Researchers have generally assumed the reason is fairly straightforward: We’ve been breeding and choosing crops for higher yields, rather than nutrition, and higher-yielding crops—whether broccoli, tomatoes, or wheat—tend to be less nutrient-packed.”
 
In fact, studies say that many nutrients in fruit and vegetable have substantially decreased since 1950. According to Loladze, “Across nearly 130 varieties of plants and more than 15,000 samples collected from experiments over the past three decades, the overall concentration of minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc and iron had dropped by 8 percent on average. The ratio of carbohydrates to minerals was going up.”
 
Many researchers acknowledge that we need to study more about climate change and global health to find out exactly how changes in our atmosphere are driving CO2 depletion and affecting our food sources. The place to find answers is in research studies, which are more and more difficult to get funded in our current political environment in which “climate change” is considered a dirty word. Decreasing food nutrients is a personal problem for us all and we need to understand how humans impact it and on how this trend can be reversed.
 
Best,
Karen
 
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