Why It Matters How Your Food Is Grown

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From Farm To Fork

You might think that by eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and nuts you’re getting all of the nutrients you need. While eating that way is undoubtedly healthier than consuming highly processed food, there’s a good chance that you’re missing out on many nutrients vital to your health and well-being. And that’s largely down to the way your food is grown and stored. 

Various studies show that globally farmland soil is diminishing in quality and becoming deficient in micronutrients, which affects the quality of produce that is being grown. In one such study, Canadian researchers compared current vegetable nutrient content to that grown 50 years ago. Shockingly, they found that the mineral content of cabbage, lettuce, spinach, and tomatoes had depleted from 400 milligrams to less than 50 milligrams throughout the twentieth century. 

According to Rick Hein, MD of MicroThumbs who supply microgreens to retailers countrywide, there are a number of reasons for nutrient loss being so pronounced in soil. “Water and wind erosion, for example, can physically remove the top layer of soil where many nutrients are concentrated. Excessive rainfall and irrigation, meanwhile, can cause nutrients to leach down below the levels that roots can reach. Poor agricultural practices, such as excessive tilling and lack of crop rotation can also play a role, as can climate change and increased urbanisation near agricultural areas. 

“Fruits and vegetables can keep losing nutrients once they’re picked too. This is because they continue to consume oxygen and release carbon dioxide, water vapour, and heat once they’ve been picked. Vitamins C and B Complex experience particularly large drop-offs during this process. Prolonged exposure to light and improper storage temperatures can also lead to the degradation of certain vitamins and minerals,” explains Hein. 

Revolutions in agriculture and supply chains have been vital in bringing down global rates of hunger (at least prior to the pandemic) and ensuring that people can eat varied diets year-round. However, overfarmed land means that plants aren’t able to draw the nutrients they typically would from the soil and certain nutrients can leach during the cold storage process. 

Those concerned about getting requisite nutrients from the food they buy day-to-day may opt for other wellness solutions like nutritional supplements, but more research needs to be done to prove that such supplements will deliver what consumers can expect. One impactful solution is to eat those nutrients by supplementing your diet with food grown to maximise nutritional value. 

When it comes to addressing those nutrient deficiencies, food is the best option according to Hein. But if the food you typically buy is short on nutrients, what options do you have? Hein believes a good start is to add microgreens to your diet. “Typically defined as the shoots of salad vegetables such as rocket, celery, and cabbage, microgreens are often far more nutrient-dense than their fully-grown equivalents. Another factor to consider is that microgreens are usually consumed raw, that’s not to say you can’t reap benefits from cooked greens. That means there are significantly lower levels of loss or degradation of heat-sensitive micronutrients or vitamins through cooking and other forms of processing,” he explains. 

Another aspect to consider when consuming these greens is to ensure that the microgreens you buy are grown in the right way. Ideally, you should look for a producer that carefully regulates the environment its microgreens grow in and guarantees maximum nutritional value and growth. Here, nascent growing techniques such as vertical farming can be incredibly helpful. 

At the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this year, it was highlighted that at least 65% of consumers want to make the right spending choices to live a healthier and more sustainable life. Therefore, by adopting sustainable vertical farming practices a farmer demonstrates a commitment to innovation and adaptation to changing agricultural practices.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), this need for sustainable resource management within the agricultural sector is increasingly urgent, with WHO stating that “the how and where we produce food is one of the most important conservation issues of the 21st century”. 

Additionally, you want a provider that can deliver microgreens to you quickly. Keeping in mind that the longer fresh goods are on the shelf, the more their nutrient rate diminishes. 

“Microgreens, grown the right way, can be vital to ensuring that you’re getting all the nutrients you need from your diet. But you shouldn’t just view them as an addition. Instead, you should view eating them as an investment in your long-term health that will reap rich rewards down the line,” concludes Hein. 

For more visit: www.microthumbs.co.za