The biggest loss in nutrients, according to Dr. Donald Davis of the University of Texas' Biochemical Institute, actually comes from farming practices and modern hybrids. Some factoids:
* The wheat our ancestors ate 100 years ago had about double the amount of protein of today's wheat.
* Heirloom Floriani Red Flint cornmeal (the stuff our ancestors ate) has 11.9 grams of protein, whereas the typical commercial cornmeal today has just 7.3 grams. Niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin E, iron, zinc, phosphorus, and fiber also greatly reduced in modern offerings.
* In 1950, the most popular varieties of broccoli had 13 mg/g of calcium. Today's popular varieties have only about 4.4 mg/g.
* "Over the last 50 years, the amounts of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, roboflavin and vitamin C in conventionally grown fresh fruits and vegetables have declined significantly," says Mother Earth News.
Imagine how much healthier we'd be if we simply had better quality produce!
So what can we, as wives, mothers, and Proverbs 31 Women do to help our families get the most from the produce they eat? We can buy frozen produce, when possible. This is quickly frozen at the peak of ripeness - which makes it more nutritious than most of the "fresh" produce you'd buy in a grocery store. We can also watch how we serve produce. In some cases, eating the food raw or slightly sauteed or steamed is the best option. But when serving carrots, tomatoes, and spinach, cooking actually helps our bodies use the antioxidants in the food.
Purchasing produce locally can also help. Farmer's markets are a good choice for some people; talk to the grower before buying. Are they using heirloom varieties (which may hold more nutrients)? When was the produce picked? (The less time between picking and eating, the better.) Also consider picking your own produce at a local farm.
Finally, we can grow our own produce, which may offer the best results, since we have complete control over varieties and how they are grown.
It may seem strange to think about growing vegetables and fruits at this time of year, but I urge you to do it. At the end of December, you'll be able to start many types of seeds - so gardening season isn't as far away as you may think. Take a moment and read through the Gardening 101 posts here at Proverbs 31 Woman, followed by the general gardening post - and keep an eye out for more gardening posts in the coming months.
And if you have any gardening questions, be sure to shoot them my way!