Recent studies claim that much of the fruit and vegetables sold today have far less nutrients than they did 50 years ago. Factory farming techniques focused on growth rate, appearance and size rather than nutrient density are blamed for the problem. Fast growing plants simply have less time to draw in nutrients from the soil according agricultural scientists.
This doesn’t mean you should stop eating your fruits and vegetables. It means that what once took “an apple a day to keep the doctor away” may now require two.
Choosing your farmer wisely can help keep the nutrients flowing to your body without having to eat a truck load of food. Not all farmers subscribe to the modern “bigger is better” cultivation practice. You can still find growers at local farmers markets who produce crops the old fashioned way. You may not find the perfect cartoonish-looking apples or enormous plump strawberries that you would see at the supermarkets or mega box stores. However, you will have a better chance of increasing the density of nutrients in your foods if you look for farmers that grow with nutritional goals in mind.
The life sustaining value of fruits and vegetables is derived from the nutrients rather than the roughage. Big and beautiful is not always better. While there is not a standard for nutrient density in foods, you can use a little common sense in determining which foods to buy. Heirloom crops that are grown in a natural way on fields that are well nourished by the surrounding environment certainly have preference over crops that are bioengineered for appearance on fields reclaimed from arid desert lands.
What you often find from small family farms is irregular fruit and vegetables lacking in visual perfection and symmetry. However, these powerhouses of vitamins, minerals and nutrients will provide far more energy and disease protection than their puffed up factory farm cousins. Don’t be deterred from the occasional bug bite or bird peck either-–this is evidence that nature knows best.
Why are Nutrient Dense Foods (NDF’s) so important? The answer is simple: It’s what your body is designed to run on. For the last million years or so, our ancestors ate naturally grown foods packed with nutrients. Energy, disease prevention and longevity was all tied to the balance of nutrients flowing through the body. Reduce the nutrients, and you get less performance and less protection. Nourishing your body has everything to do with living a long, healthy and happy life.
If someone had provided you with an owners manual at the time you were born, you would see that your body has all the necessary equipment and systems to convert natural foods into energy and to stave off disease. All you have to do is make sure that you consume enough nutrients to keep everything working as designed.
How to find Nutrient Dense Foods:
1.) Learn what fruits and vegetables have the specific nutrients you need.
2.) Know the source of your food and avoid growers who are focused on volume and appearance over nutritional value.
3.) Eat a diverse diet to make sure that you are getting a wide range of nutrients. But, learn what not to mix in a meal to avoid canceling out nutrients through adverse biochemical combinations.