Nutrient News

Here’s the question:

“What has the biggest impact on the nutritional content of our fruit + veg? Travel, time on shelf, whether it’s organic or not etc?”




p.s.  I am not claiming to be a fountain of all knowledge so feel free to contribute in the comments.




Here’s my answer:  

It’s a matter of fact that fruits and vegetables eaten in the days of yore had a greater nutritional content than they do today.

We don’t farm how we used to.

old farming

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We’re a little more aggressive now to say the least.

Intensive farming 

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Which leaves us with the slight issue of soil depletion.




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Nutrients from our soil are stripped away faster than they can be replaced.  This means that each new generation of carrot, say, will have slightly less nutrients than the one before it.

sad carrot

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I read in Scientific America that one study claims that 1 orange our grandparents ate had the nutritional value of 8 oranges today!

No wonder she can do this then.

fir granny

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This doesn’t get you out of eating brussel sprouts this Christmas mind.


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Fruits and vegetables are still packed with nutrients and it would be a little sensationalist of me to state otherwise.

It’s just that they are less nutritious than they used to be.

It seems those in the agricultural business are more concerned with things like size, growth rate and pest resistance.  Which makes sense for the businesses.  The bigger and faster your carrot/brussel grows, the richer you’ll be.  So, of course, it all comes down to money.



And this inevitably leads onto the organic vs. non-organic debate.




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Do organic fruits and veg have more nutrients?


Studies are inconclusive.

This is a long drawn out debate and unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade…


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… you’ll have read about this already.

Some studies have suggested that organic produce has more Vitamin C and trace minerals, but other studies will argue against this.  There are benefits of eating organic produce, but extra nutrients are not scientifically proven to be on that list.

local food



Something you should consider, in terms of nutrients, is where your food is coming from.



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Local produce does have more nutrients.  (Disclaimer: This is based on my little bit of research so feel free to comment if you are more expert in this).
You may believe that once fruit + veg are picked they are technically dead.
But you’d be wrong.
After a plump, juicy tomato is plucked from the vine it continues to breathe, or more scientifically accurate, respire.
breathing tomato



(A breathing tomato would be pretty scary).







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During respiration products are broken down that leads to a less nutritious tomato.  The longer a tomato on the loose respires, the less nutrients it has.

The further it has to travel =  the longer it will have to respire = the more nutrients it will lose.

It’s simple math.




Companies are also choosing to pick their fruit and veg early so it can ripen en route to its final resting place.

This helps to increase the shelf life obviously, but it does mean that it hasn’t had time to fully grow using all of the nutrients from the soil.

This leads me to believe that the further a product has to travel, the earlier it will be picked and the more scrumptious nutrients it will lose.


So, my response to the question and anyone who is looking to get the most out of their 5-a-day, is to eat smart by eating local. Eat what’s in season and get it from local farmers.  If you want to do your bit for the environment and the thought of GM crops has you quivering at your knees, go ahead and choose organic.

And, no.  Wine does not count as one of your 5-a-day.




  • AnoldManc says:

    Very thought-provoking. Just a thought – did you consider the impact of chilled transport on the nutrient balance? Does it preserve the valuable nutrients better?

    • Sanna says:

      Chilling the produce during transport will slow down the rate of reaction of the enzymes so less nutrients should be lost. However, interesting to note that once at home you are better off keeping your leafy food out of the fridge. “Fruit and veg need the natural cycle of day and night to boost nutrients, claim scientists.” [The Telegraph, June 2013].
      Perhaps someone should consider a see-through fridge for optimum cool and nutritious goodness?

      • AnoldManc says:

        Nooooooo! A see-through fridge would just be too tempting. Seeing all that food food sitting inside saying “eat me” could lead to an obesity crisis! Speaking personally here of course!


  • AnoldManc says:

    And just another thought – concerning the orange that was eight times more nutritious for my grandparents: thanks to airfreight, more efficient agriculture and improved retail distribution I suggest oranges are today significantly cheaper (relative to income) and much more available all year round (not just in my Christmas stocking as it used to be) than in my grandparents’ days. So I’m pretty sure I eat far more in a year than they did – more than 10 times more? So despite the decline in nutritional value we’re still better off. Worth considering no?

    • Sanna says:

      Yes, excellent point! I do take my oranges for granted really and consider them just a regular ol’ fruit, and one that I eat daily.
      Oranges aside, I suppose the point to consider is what fruit and veg did our grandparents have easy access to and how did their diets compare to ours overall from a nutritional point of view.

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