Is Chemical Farming Making Food Less Nutritious, Organic Gardening Asks USDA


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Several recent studies indicate that the vitamin and mineral content of US and British food may be declining, according to Organic Gardening Magazine's November/December issue. The magazine has sent a letter to the US Department of Agriculture asking that the agency respond to what appears to be a growing body of evidence on the harmful effects of industrial agriculture.


In its letter, Organic Gardening cites the following alarming new research:


* In an analysis of USDA nutrient data from 1975 to 1997, the Kushi Institute of Becket, MA found that the average calcium levels in 12 fresh vegetables declined 27 percent; iron levels dropped 37 percent; vitamin A levels 21 percent, and vitamin C levels 30 percent. * A similar analysis of British nutrient data from 1930 to

1980 published in the British Food Journal found that in 20 vegetables, the average calcium content had declined 19 percent; iron 22 percent; and potassium 14 percent. * A 1999 study out of the University of Wisconsin found that three decades of the overuse of nitrogen in US farming has destroyed much of the soil's fertility, causing it to age the equivalent of 5,000 years. * A new US Geological Survey report indicates that acid rain is depleting soil calcium levels in at least 10 eastern states, interfering with forest growth and weakening trees' resistance to insects.