Mineral content decline in a basket of foods: soils, plant breeding, NPK et Alia.
Declining mineral content in foods (under construction)
The central tenant of this site and the Society is that cells require nutrients including minerals to function optimally. There is no way round this it is the way living systems are designed; the feasibility of life and existence is ultimately dependent on the properties of individual atoms their size configuration electrical and electromagnetic properties. Organic substances are made of atoms and require particular specific combinations to function; if the required co-factors including minerals are absent they do not function at all; if factors are insufficient function will be poor.
Food refining strips out minerals; they are often soluble so disappear down the sink with vegetable water and cooking fluids left on plates; they are bound by substances such as phytates which are reduced by process but we and or industry no longer have time, or see the potential economic worth of healthier products produced by natural fermentation soaking malting etc.
For example it appears that ‘industrial’ so called sourdough loaves are not naturally fermented they just contain sourdough derived flavouring. The baking industry invests large amounts to find ever quicker ways of proving bread, likely without significant consideration of nutritional consequences.
Even if we eat whole foods as a generality the mineral content of foods have significantly declined since the 1940s, and likely since the 1900s. A McCarrison ‘Nutrition and Health Journal’ in 2007 published a paper by David Thomas titled “The Mineral Depletion of Foods available to us as a Nation (1940-2002) – A review of the 6th Edition of McCance and Widdowson’ which showed significant varying falls in minerals in a basket of foods.
The reasons for mineral decline in foods are likely to be a mix of factors including;
- Mineral declines in the top metre of soils the portion where most agricultural crops are grown.
- Crop breeding for a variety of traits including yield without regard to mineral content; indeed traits could in part be consequence of mineral uptake needs.
- Failure to return organic matter to the land, so declining organic content, lower mineral retention intention including iodine both in organic matter and the microbial community it supports.
- Lower water retention due to lower organic matter and absence of structural modification including mixing by worms.
- Lower water retention consequent on reduced organic matter may result in higher rates of leaching of minerals from soils.
- Loss of worm populations due to crop treatments including artificial fertilisers pesticides and related products.
- Worms also turn the soil, create drainage and during life and death create nutrients.
- In health soil there are millions or worms to the acre,
- Artificial fertilisers will not support worm populations.
- Worms mine and circulate minerals
- NPK fertilisers which drive growth but not comensurate mineral uptake.
- Many hydroponic solutions only contain limited minerals; increasing amounts of vegetables are grown hydroponically
- Growth under glass reduces plant stress due to UVA and UVB, so impacts often reducing phyto-antioxidant production, and increases yields. Increased yield might result in reduce density of mineral content, although I have not seen any research to check if this is the case in green house crops, but things are complex better more complete mineral nutrient solutions may overcome any such issues.
- A lack of a full range of nutrients in hydroponic growing solutions.
- Loss of phyto-chemicals in plants grown under glass due to reduced UV stress
- Degradation of fertile land so capacity to grow food, and examples of the potential to revitalise devastated landscapes.
- Loss of land to subsequent erosion – rinse and repeat – a history of devastated landscapes
Nutritional value v yield
Persuit of yield has dominated agricultural policy. Livestock and humans require energy substrates so fats and or carbohydrates, but also needs minerals an other related nutrients to support energy pathway and wider metabolism.
Animals including cattle will select food for mineral content over carbohydrate content, and we given the choice would likely do the same. We and animals arguably have mechanisms to naturally enable us to seek out the nutrients we need including taste.
Albrecht and others have experimentally demonstrated this ability in a range of animals. Pregnant women seek out odd foods presumably because the contain required nutrients. The condition is know as Pica (Link) and is also seen in children. Substances selected are generally inorganic, and contain minerals including paint chips, so likely potentially sources of minerals even if not very good or potent ones, or hazadous due to the additional unwanted minerals they contain such as lead. It is also seen in animals; cows will lick rusty iron gate posts and horses chew on wooden rails.
Sadly it appears pica often interpreted as a mental disorder rather than a potential quest for nutrients. Ingestion of toxic metals may complicate the prognosis and divert attention from examination of mineral status as a potential cause of pica.
Impact of mineral folar sprays on yield
Older breeds of wheat had a higher mineral content
Natural selection – ability of animals including cattle to select mineral rich food sources.
Iodine cycle, soil content, role of organic matter.
Fermentation of grains and other products to improve nutritional value and storage characteristics
Submission to a food forum
The detrimental effects on humans livestock and plant health, of the global mining via crops of minerals from the soil including the serious decline of minerals in the food chain. (Link)