more yield, less nourishing: on perversity in our food system


Whether or not you like the look or taste of broccoli, what we most need is the nutrients ostensibly contained therein.

Yet, our inherited food system elevates quantity above quality, and the nutrient content of our food is falling fast as a consequence, says Donald Davis (via grist).

Worse, the industrial process for boosting the yield per acre simultaneously diminishes the plants' ability to take up nutrients and depletes the soil from which these nutrients arise. Yikes!

So, if we restored the nutrient quality, we'd need less gross quantity, and a sustainable food system might be cheaper by this measure.

Says Davis, "when breeders select for high yield, they are, in effect, selecting mostly for high carbohydrate with no assurance that dozens of other nutrients and thousands of phytochemicals will all increase in proportion to yield."

Oh, and, that's just the nutrient loss before harvesting. Our food loses more nutrition before we eat it.

Time and travel reduce vital nutrients, and crops picked "green" to avoid spoilage in transport may not have had much nutrient content to begin with.

No wonder we can feel "full" and still be malnourished!

What's the implication for re-inventing our island food system?

For one thing, we won't have to grow as much if we pack our food with nutrients and eat it right away.

Published by Ken on March 12th, 2009 tagged Food, HI-specific, Systems Thinking

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