Minerals in the Soil: Where Did They Go?
Did you know that the fruits and vegetables you eat today are less nutritious than they would have been 40 years ago?
Sad, but true. Let’s talk about why.
Minerals in the soil
The soil provides a lot of important minerals in our diets. To name just a few: calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin, magnesium, copper, and zinc.
Why are these minerals important? We won’t go into detail on every mineral up there and its individual benefits. But just to give you an idea, minerals: strengthen bones and teeth, maintain and repair cells, contribute to energy production, support the immune system, and help make connective tissue, sex hormones, bones and blood clotting factors.
They’re the building blocks of your body, basically. And a lot of high-vitamin foods are also high-mineral (it’s funny how healthy foods tend to group all the things your body needs together). You’ll find a lot of these minerals in dark leafy greens, nuts and legumes, and whole grains—all the usual suspects. But the foods we’re eating now have changed a lot from what they once were.
Well, farming practices. We live in a time of monocropping, which is to say planting one crop in one spot, over and over again. This requires less manual labour than planting a variety of crops on a piece of land, or rotating what kinds of things you’re planting. But over time, when you just keep taking from the land without giving it a chance to rest or giving it a variety of plants to interact with in different ways…you take away from the soil. You make it more vulnerable to insects, weeds, fungi, and a whole bunch of other problems. Which makes monocropping farmers lean harder into pesticides. And amp up the fertilizer.
Sustainable Table, a food program with a focus on consumer education, has this to say about the problems with fertilizer: “Commercial (inorganic) fertilizers are products synthetically created (or mined) for the purpose of adding nutrients plants need to grow to the soil…The practice of monocropping and lack of crop rotation on industrial farms often results in the greater need for soil augmentation with synthetic fertilizers. While commercial fertilizers can improve plant yield, there are a number of environmental impacts that lessen the overall usefulness of commercial fertilizer application.”
So we’re stripping the rich variety of minerals that were once in the soil, and replacing it with chemicals that will work for a season but ultimately leaves us with nutrient-poor land. And that’s what we’re growing our fruits and veggies in.
What’s the effect?
You have to remember, the effects of this kind of farming are cumulative. Every season the soil is a little less rich. Every season, we lose a little bit more. Donald Davis and his team of researchers at the University of Texas published a study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. They compared nutrient data from the United States Department of Agriculture from 1950 and 1999. The study found reliable declines in the amount of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C over that time.
Davis reported that the decline seemed to be because farmers were working to get more, bigger crops, not ones that were high in nutrients. He said, ““Efforts to breed new varieties of crops that provide greater yield, pest resistance and climate adaptability have allowed crops to grow bigger and more rapidly, but their ability to manufacture or uptake nutrients has not kept pace with their rapid growth.” He also said there had probably been declines in minerals like magnesium and zinc, but they weren’t studied in 1950, so we don’t know how much we’ve lost.
If that weren’t fun enough, our soil is also getting more acidic as it loses mineral content. This is because minerals like potassium, calcium, and magnesium are all alkaline, and help keep the soil’s acidity in balance. But we’re losing those minerals. And we’re using nitrogen-heavy fertilizers, leading to higher and higher levels of acidity.
How can we get those nutrients?
That is such a good question. Thank you for asking it. On a broader scale, there needs to be seismic change in farming practices. We need to remineralize the soil, which means using compost and manure instead of man-made, chemical-full fertilizers.
A study conducted by researchers at Berkeley University said we need to look at the nutrients we may be just throwing away: “One proposal is to stop discarding nutrients captured in waste treatment facilities. Currently, phosphorous and potassium are concentrated into solid waste rather than cycled back into the soil. Additionally, more efficient management is needed to curtail losses from soil. Excess nitrogen, for example, is considered a pollutant, with the runoff sapping oxygen from the nation’s waterways, suffocating aquatic life and creating dead zones in coastal margins.”
We need a total rethink of how we produce crops on a mass scale.
On a personal scale, though, we need to do whatever we can to get those vital minerals back into our bodies. At Activation, we believe the best and most efficient way to get those minerals is with Trace.
What is Trace?
Trace contains 70+ major and trace minerals, including:
And many more minerals!
Trace is made from pure ocean water from the southern coast of Australia. We then collect the ocean water into small ponds where the actual water content naturally evaporates under the hot sun, leaving nothing but highly concentrated, pure, ionic, ocean mineral solution.
The minerals that are extracted from it are reduced to their pure pristine, elemental states. We test the remaining raw sea mineral solution to ensure total purity before being bottled.
All you have to do to reap the benefits of this remarkable product is put a few drops into your water. But if you want to explore all the ways to use it, just check out our blog post on the five best ways to take Trace.
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