– First in a 3-part series on storing fresh local produce
– By Kristin Henderson, chief veggie conversationalist:
The fruits and vegetables your grandmother grew up eating were much richer in vitamins and minerals than the varieties most of us get today. 1950’s broccoli, for example, had 130 mg of calcium, but only 48 mg today, based on USDA data.
When it comes to the loss of so much nutritional value, soil depletion is Public Enemy #1, according to Scientific American. The modern corporate food industry uses highly intensive agricultural methods that strip nutrients from the soil, and they strip it over and over again: “Sadly, each successive generation of fast-growing, pest-resistant carrot is truly less good for you than the one before.”
Public Enemy #2: Big Corporate Agriculture has been focused on developing produce that can travel from California or even New Zealand for days or weeks and still arrive at the supermarket looking good – as if shelf life and good looks are all that matter. In the process of selecting for looks and shelf life, Big Ag sacrificed yet more nutrients and flavor.
Public Enemy #3: The very act of transporting, packing, and storing produce over long distances for long periods of time makes the problem worse. Most of the produce in grocery stores is at least a week old. But just look at the graphic of what happens to the vitamin C in broccoli in that amount of time. Even when it’s refrigerated, after 3 days a steady drop in nutritional value begins — it’s even worse for tender produce like spinach and green beans. It drops even more when produce is handled roughly by machines, or when things like broccoli, carrots, and celery are pre-cut for those ready-to-eat salad bags.
Seasonal Roots is working to change all that by partnering with small local farmers who use sustainable farming practices to keep their soil nutrient-rich. Then, after they harvest the produce grown in that rich soil, it doesn’t have to travel far. So, working fast, our veggie fairies gently hand-pack your produce and deliver it to you within 48 hours. We know that as soon as it’s picked, the clock starts ticking.
Plus there are things YOU can do to make sure get you more nutritional bang for your produce buck. Next week we’ll lay out some of the ways you can stop the lost-nutrients clock… or at least slow it down!