Depleted soils - why the fruit and vegetables we eat may be doing more harm than good!
We've all heard and read it countless times - "the best way to maintain health is to eat a balanced diet including lots of fruit and vegetables". Of course, this is absolutely correct, so long as those fruits and vegetables are not grown on the mineral-depleted soils that necessitate todays ever-increasing range of chemical "fertilizers".
Why is the soil depleted?
As long ago as the 1920s, the British and US Governments were warned by nutritional experts that the soils on which most crops were grown were so deficient in mineral content that the foods grown on them contained less than 10% of the vitamins and minerals they should have. The intention of these reports was to highlight the problem so that remedial action could be taken to remineralise the soils, leading, once again, to naturally healthy fruits and vegetables.
Unfortunately, neither Government took any action to correct this problem, and as a result, which has been intensified by modern intensive farming methods, the fruits and vegetables not only have little or no vitamin and mineral content, but they are routinely sprayed with such a broad selection of chemicals that they are actually poisonous.
How can plants grow without vitamins and minerals?
Most plants require only three nutrients to grow, namely nitrogen, phosphorus and water. In the presence of these nutrients, virtually all plants will grow into what appear to be healthy, nutritious adult specimens. However, if the minerals found in their natural habitat are not present, such plants and their relevant fruits and vegetables will be nutritionally "empty".
As a result of this, these plants are less able to defend themselves against natural predators and are susceptible to insect attack and damage from viruses / bacteria. In order to control this, insecticides, antifungals, antibiotics, pesticides and dozens of other categories of chemicals have been designed to limit the damage done to plants by their natural enemies.
Unfortunately, many of these chemicals have not been properly tested to assess their effects on either plant or human health, and virtually none have been tested in combination to assess their combined effects. The result is that most fruits, vegetables and other plant-based foods are so contaminated with a huge variety of chemicals, and so deficient in nutrient content that they actually do more harm than good.
How do we address the problem of depleted soils?
The simplest (and cheapest) way to address the depleted soils problem is to do what was suggested in the 1920s - "repair" the soils our fruits and vegetables are grown on by remineralising them and using organic waste products to put back those nutrients necessary to plant, and therefore human (and farmed animal) health.
Fortunately, in recent years, "Organic" farms have sprung up all over the World. Unfortunately, not all countries have imposed the rigorous methods of, for example, the UK Soil Association to accredit organic producers, and standards a varied. Organic products are, however, in most countries guaranteed to be free from pesticides and other chemicals, which means they are at worst, not detrimental to health and, if grown on appropriately "cleansed" and "fed" soil, as beneficial as we all believe they should be and not the depleted soils used in factory farms.
Until this is done on a massive scale (and that is unlikely - US farmers in particular are relying on genetically modified (GM) versions of plants to overcome increasing growth and yield problems due to depleted soils) we have little alternative than to avoid the worst of the chemicals and to replace the missing vitamins and minerals through the use of nutritional supplements.
Back from depleted soils to nutritional supplement