Industrial Vegetables

I’ve pasted below an article discussing the fact that vegetables produced by industrial agriculture aren’t as nutritious as those grown naturally.  A friend of mine linked this to her facebook page a few weeks ago and I’ve been planning to blog on it ever since.

The fact that naturally raised vegetables taste better than the industrial variety is well known.  Not so well known is that industrial farming is stipping produce of nutrients.  Using natural biomass and compost to fertilize and enrich soil assures that a full and proper complement of minerals are in the food the vegetables consume, on their way to our tables.  The use of synthetic nitrate fertilizers has the effect of robbing the eater of nutrients.   Just another reason to avoid industrial food.

Declining Fruit and Vegetable Nutrient Composition: What Is the Evidence?
By Donald R. Davis
Journal of HortScience; February 2009, 5 pp.

 

The Gist:

If the economy isn’t grim enough for you, just check out the February issue of the Journal of HortScience, which contains a report on the sorry state of American fruits and veggies. Apparently produce in the U.S. not only tastes worse than it did in your grandparents’ days, it also contains fewer nutrients — at least according to Donald R. Davis, a former research associate with the Biochemical Institute at the University of Texas, Austin. Davis claims the average vegetable found in today’s supermarket is anywhere from 5% to 40% lower in minerals (including magnesium, iron, calcium and zinc) than those harvested just 50 years ago.

Highlight Reel:

1. On the Difficulty of Comparing “Then” and “Now:” Davis is quick to note that historical data can sometimes be misleading, if not altogether inaccurate. Take early measurements of iron in foods: because scientists failed to sufficiently remove clinging soil, iron levels appeared unusually high in certain vegetables like spinach (which gave rise to the myth that it contained exorbitant amounts of iron — a notion further propagated by the popular cartoon character, Popeye). Then again, good historical data provides the only real-world evidence of changes in foods over time, and such data does exist — one farm in Hertfordshire, England, for example, has archived its wheat samples since 1843.

2. On the So-Called “Dilution Effect”: Today’s vegetables might be larger, but if you think that means they contain more nutrients, you’d be wrong. Davis writes that jumbo-sized produce contains more “dry matter” than anything else, which dilutes mineral concentrations. In other words, when it comes to growing food, less is more. Scientific papers have cited one of the first reports of this effect, a 1981 study by W.M. Jarrell and R.B. Beverly in Advances in Agronomy, more than 180 times since its publication, “suggesting that the effect is widely regarded as common knowledge.” 

Less studied, though, is the “genetic dillution effect,” in which selective breeding to increase crop yield has led to declines in protein, amino acids, and as many as six minerals in one study of commercial broccoli grown in 1996 and ’97 in South Carolina. Because nearly 90% of dry matter is carbohydrates, “when breeders select for high yield, they are, in effect, selecting mostly for high carbohydrate with no assurance that dozens of other nutrients and thousands of phytochemicals will all increase in proportion to yield.”

3. On the “Industrialization” of Agriculture: Thanks to the growing rise of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, modern crops are being harvested faster than ever before. But quick and early harvests mean the produce has less time to absorb nutrients either from synthesis or the soil, and minerals like potassium (the “K” in N-P-K fertilizers) often interfere with a plant’s ability to take up nutrients. Monoculture farming practices — another hallmark of the Big Ag industry — have also led to soil-mineral depletion, which, in turn, affects the nutrient content of crops.

The Lowdown:

If you’re still not buying the whole “organic-is-better” argument, this study might convince you otherwise. As Davis points out, more than three billion people around the world suffer from malnourishment and yet, ironically, efforts to increase food production have actually produced food that is less nourishing. Fruits seem to be less affected by genetic and environmental dilution, but one can’t help but wonder if it’s even possible to avoid nutritionally bankrupt veggies. Supplementing them is problematic, too: don’t look to vitamin pills, as recent research indicates that those aren’t very helpful either.

Love Wins 

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Goose eggs

Until recently we only saw Canadian geese as they flew by on their way south or north.  They might rarely stop for a drink of water, but that was it.

But now that the winters are warmer, some prefer White Flint to Miami Beach, or wherever they used to go.

This year a couple of them decided not only to spend this winter at our pond, but they even liked it enough to try to start a family there.  Early in the spring we discovered a down nest on the water’s edge with four large goose eggs in it.  I’d never seen goose eggs before, and was amazed at how large they are.  And I was excited about seeing the little goose family swimming around on the pond.

I was a little puzzled that the geese didn’t protect the nest better.  When I approached it, they’d swim a few feet away and honk at me, but that was it.  I had some domestic geese when I was a kid, so I know how aggressive they can be.  These were typically White Flint mellow, however.

Near the time that I assumed they were due to hatch I took Cherie down to the pond, to show the eggs to her.  Sadly, what we discovered were just broken shells, probably the victims of a coon or a possum.  I wonder if the result might have been different had these geese been more aggressive.

Anyway, no goose babies on White Flint.  Maybe next year.

Love Wins.

Temple

Before its destruction in 70 A.D., the temple in Jerusalem was the focus of Jewish worship.  It is where they believed God lived.

Luke relates an episode in the childhood of Jesus.  His family having travelled to Jerusalem to worship, they somehow left the young Jesus behind when they returned home.  Upon discovering him missing, they rushed back to Jerusalem, where they found him in the temple.  “Why were you searching for me?” Jesus asked them. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”

So the temple was the place God hung out.  Jesus called it his “Father’s house.”

What about the post-Temple, post-Jesus world?  Where does God hang out now?

In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians he wrote, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?”

Cool. 

Our bodies are the temple.  And that is where God hangs out now.

Love Wins.

Judah

The nation of Israel is tiny.  From its southernmost tip to its northern border is only 263 miles.  The inhabited portion of the country is much smaller than that.  From east to west, Israel is only 9 to 70 miles wide. 

But interestingly, in Biblical times Israel was much smaller.  If we exclude the northern kingdom of Israel, which was conquered and exiled in about 930 B.C., what is left is the area referred to in the Bible as Judah. 

The kingdom of Judah occupied the hills and mountains around Jerusalem.  It was never able to dislodge the Philistines from the Mediterranean coast, and was therefore landlocked.  I couldn’t find a map of the region after Israel was destroyed, but the map below shows how small and isolated Judah was.

File:Levant 830.svg

Imagine a map of the modern nation of Israel superimposed over this.  (Unfortunately I was unable to find one.)  The fascinating fact is that modern Israel largely occupies land that the nation of Judah didn’t occupy, while the area that did comprise Judah is primarily part of what today we call the occupied West Bank.  In Israel this area is commonly called “Judea and Samaria.”  This map makes it easier to see why.

Just a little historical quirk I felt like mentioning…

Love Wins

 

AIDS in Africa

I’ve read a lot of inspiring stories lately of how the American church has stepped up to the plate to show love, mercy and charity to the people of Africa, particulary with respect to the absence of safe drinking water, and with respect to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.   Christ-followers are on the forefront in challenging those evils, and that is how it should be.  I have a lot to say about the African water situation, and what we can do about it, but I’ll save that for another day.  I also have a lot of things I’d like to say about particular actions and missions to address the AIDS crisis, but I’ll save that topic too.  What I’m going to do today is just share some shocking facts I recently read.

–Approximately 7,000-8,000 people die every single day from AIDS-related illnesses.  That is equivalent to twenty 747s crashing and killing every passenger on board.  Every single day.

–Over 70% of all AIDS cases, deaths and new infections, are in sub-Saharan Africa.

–“Whereas past great pandemics in human history, such as outbreaks of plague and Black Death in Europe tended to carry off mainly the weakest in society, the very young and the very old, HIV/AIDS by contrast is most devastating among the young adult population (so that the surviving young and old suffer even more). It carries off the working, childbearing generation, leaving behind precisely the very young and the very old to cope without those who would normally care for them both.  HIV/AIDS is hollowing out whole communities in Africa, throwing grandparents and very young children together in a struggle for survival, and creating vast numbers of the most vulnerable of all people, widows and orphans.  A new AIDS orphan is created every fourteen seconds.  Perhaps three more since you began reading this paragraph.”  (From The Mission of God, by Christopher Wright).

–It has been estimated that male sexual behavior underlies 80% of the AIDS epidemic.

–Yet in Africa, women and teenage girls are five to six times more likely to become infected than men.

–A very high percentage of infected women have been faithful to their husbands but contract the disease due to his promiscuity.

–In African society AIDS widows often have their husband’s property seized back by his family, leaving them destitute and outcast.

–In the affluent west, antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) are affordable and permit those infected by HIV to live long, reasonably normal lives.  In Africa, however, very few can afford the ARVs.

There are many more statistics like these, but they all add up to a terribly broken society, being ravaged by this brutal disease on a scale most of us would find unimaginable in the USA.

Let us be thankful that we are acting to try to help these people, and let us press ever harder.

I can’t remember where I read this, but in something I read the author recommended that whenever we read the word “leper” or “leprosy” in the Bible, subsitute the words “AIDS victim” and “HIV/AIDS.”  That is a convicting exercise.

Love Wins.

Sleepless in America

Whoever loves money never has money enough;
       whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.
       This too is meaningless.

 As goods increase,
       so do those who consume them.
       And what benefit are they to the owner
       except to feast his eyes on them?

 The sleep of a laborer is sweet,
       whether he eats little or much,
       but the abundance of a rich man
       permits him no sleep.

Ecclesiastes 5:  10-12

I had already written this post, which was to be nothing but this bit of Scripture, when I saw the following on my friend Rachel’s facebook page, and decided to append it.  It fits perfectly.

Jasmine (17) and Li  Ping (14) work 12-14 hours a day, 7 days a week. At the risk of getting caught and punished, they catch a tiny nap on their pile of jeans before finishing the deadline for an international order. Sometimes they use tape or clothespins to keep their eyes open so they don’t accidentally fall asleep.

To find out more about Jasmine and Li Ping, Rachel recommends the documentary China Blue.

Love Wins