Before you sit down for a meal, do you pray?  Do you pause for a moment to give thanks for all the hands that had something to do with getting the food to your table?  Depending on where your food came from, that could be a lot of hands.  When it comes to produce, I feel the less amount of hands the better.  March is National Nutrition Month so what better way to celebrate than to write about nutrition.  In this blog post, I will discuss the nutritional loss of vegetables and fruit from farm to store, the declining soil and the value of supplements. 

 With Shrove Tuesday being tomorrow, at the last minute I decided I wanted to buy blueberries for my pancakes.  I went to the store and found organic blueberries from Miami.  Those blueberries were picked by someone in a field in Miami.  They were placed in a container and stored somewhere (who knows for how long).  Then the berries were placed on a truck.  That truck then traveled all the way from Miami to Beaufort and someone took the berries off the truck and then placed the berries in the back of the store (again not sure on the time length) until someone from the store was able to put the berries on the shelf.  This is the same for all produce bought at the grocery store.  University of California studies show that vegetables can lose 15 to 55 percent of vitamin C, for instance, within a week.  Some spinach can lose 90% within the first 24 hours after harvest.

      In Beaufort, we are extremely lucky to have the farmers market.  If it was June, I would have found blueberries at the market and would have purchased those.  There are many benefits to shopping at the market.  The main one is you cut out all the middle men when buying from the market.  It is the next best thing to growing your own produce.  It is the freshest you will get.  The fruit purchased and vegetables aren’t traveling from Miami or Mexico but instead from places like Ridgeland, Yemassee and Hampton.  The second benefit to shopping at the market is you get to know your farmers.  You can ask them questions like how they grow their produce and simply get to know them.  The farmers at the Port Royal Market are all so nice and interesting.  They know me by name and I enjoy visiting them each Saturday.  A third benefit is you are supporting a local family and the local economy.  Finally, shopping at the market can help you eat seasonally; the way God intended for us to eat.  There are probably many more benefits I am not even thinking about like there is research supporting the benefits for gut health of eating food grown from local soil.  Shopping at the market has gotten easier too since Covid.  Now, most farmers accept credit cards and some even use Venmo. 

     Eating fruits and vegetables that are the freshest is important in order to get the most nutrients out of them.  Due to conventional farming, soil is depleted of nutrients and therefore we are not getting all the nutrients we need from our fruits and vegetables.  In a 2004 study, 43 garden crops were analyzed to compare nutritional content in 1950 versus 1999, using USDA data.  Some nutrients were unchanged, but calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin and Vitamin C were all lower in 1999 compared to 1950.  Magnesium content of vegetables and wheat has declined by up to 25% and trace minerals in vegetables like manganese, zinc, copper and nickel have decreased over the last several decades.  What is causing soil erosion?  Synthetic fertilizers, monoculture (growing just one crop year after year after year), Tillage-based farming (tilling fields reduces microbes in the soil, promotes erosion and releases greenhouse gases), usage of herbicides, pesticides and fungicides and mismanaged grazing all lead to the erosion of the soil.  (For more information on this topic go to  Nutrient-Depleted Soil: What It Means for Our Food – Chris Kresser).

     If the produce you eat is grown in depleted soil, chances are you are not getting all the nutrients you need.  Therefore,  it is very important for you to get an annual check- up with your doctor and blood work done to see which vitamins and minerals you lack.  As a health coach, I don’t tell my clients which supplements to take but I can offer a discount with Fullscript.  Fullscript is an online dispensary where you can find various, high quality brands of supplements.  Supplement prices can add up if you end up being on multiple ones so use my link below to receive a 15% discount. 

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