When we look at food storage as prepared minded individuals we tend to go through a well-organized, quite thorough systematic matrix. We do our due diligence to ensure our food has the right amount of calories, proteins, and carbohydrates. Most of us even ensure we put the right “kinds” of food like fruits and vegetables to supplement. Most preppers don’t have elaborate off-grid gardens or homesteads (less than a fraction of a percentage point of Americans do) and many of the ones that do often use fertilizer (natural or not) to help grow the food they consume.
Many preppers are consumed with the idea of organic which personally I’m not against however as you will see from this article I’m more concerned about food quality and the nutritional properties of the food and the health of the soil than I am with a paid-for certification by a National Organic Program (NOP). Meaning you can grow something “organically” but that doesn’t make it organic legally. This is an importance inference to make especially since most of us buy our food rather than grow it. The last caveat I want to say about #Organic is just because a product says it is organic, that doesn’t automatically mean the quality or the nutritional properties will be superior to those that don’t have that accreditation. Just because I grew something without additives in my backyard and paid an accrediting agent of a NOP doesn’t necessarily make my produce quality better than or on the same level as other producers (accredited or not).
Before I dive head deep into this idea of the importance of food-quality and nutritional value lets break the ice with a joke. What is worth less than a penny? The very same penny tomorrow. This all goes to the main point of this article; our fruits and vegetables are becoming more and more dirt poor (nutritionally speaking). A landmark study on the topic of changes in food composition by Donald Davis and his team of researchers from the University of Texas (UT) at Austin’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry was published in December 2004 in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. They studied U.S. Department of Agriculture nutritional data from both 1950 and 1999 for 43 different vegetables and fruits, finding “reliable declines” in the amount of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C over the past half century. Davis and his colleagues found that the declining nutritional content was directly contributed to agricultural practices. Practices such as using Fossil fuel intensive synthetic nitrogen fertilizers, Pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and nematicides in order to grow food have become the standard practice.
Also with the corporate rise of modifying crops to improve certain favorable traits (size, growth rate, pest resistance) other than nutrition it’s no surprise we see in for-profit institutions trying to get the most “bang for their buck”. Profit is the driving force behind the unsustainable practices in big agriculture. In agriculture creating products with greater yield, pest resistance and climate adaptability have allowed crops to grow bigger and faster meaning more profit. However the down-side being the inability for these institutions to match the nutrients, and phytochemicals levels to keep pace with their rapid growth. The inability for big agriculture to keep pace with the incredible increase of not only population size but also produce consumer desired yield and nutrition output is not a controversial item of discussion it’s merely a fact.
Thanks to scientists, professors and other think tanks like David Thomas, Michael Crawford, Yoqun Wang, Richard Mithen, Donald Davis and many others who have analyzed the empirical data have shown incredible repercussions in our current agriculture (food production) paradigm. Thanks to these innovative leaders once you analyze the food tables prepared by government scientists between 1951 and 1999 researchers found that potatoes had lost over 90 per cent of their vitamin A and 57 per cent of their vitamin C, while today’s consumers would have to eat eight oranges to get the same amount of vitamin A as their grandparents obtained from one fruit.
These numbers are not just unprecedented but undeniably horrific. As we see an ever increase in soil depletion, the creation of new GMO strains, also coupled with the ever increase in petro-chemical inputs in desperate hopes to match consumer desired output we can only expect that these trends of quality loss, and higher food costs in our commercial market will continue to rise. They will rise until we ultimately reach unsustainability.
What can you do?
So what does this mean to us as “prepared minded” people? In regards to basic food preparedness it most notably means that it will require more and more food to maintain a healthy nutritious lifestyle. This has undeniably caused higher produce costs; it also requires that we have to store more food to meet our nutritional requirements. This is especially a cause for concern when considering most of the popular food items in food preparedness are usually dehydrated foods. Meaning the food was heated up (degrading the already degraded nutritional value) so the water could be extracted. This causes a lighter, longer lasting (the longer food sits, the more nutritional value is lost), easier to store food source that can be reconstituted with water at a later time. So in modern-day 2017 from the time the food is harvested to the time it is consumed as a part of your preparedness planning it has most likely already gone through at least 3 phases of nutritional content degradation. This is not including the fact that food itself was in some circumstances already 8 times less nutritious at harvest then food grown generations past! As I have mentioned earlier this is just looking at it from a basic scratching the surface level of food preparedness.
Understanding where we are currently at in regards to food preparedness, food quality and overall sustainability is nothing short of horrific. But what makes this topic apocalyptic is this unfortunate fact. 99% of everyone who hears this information or reads this article will do absolutely nothing about. Even worse yet, they will continue to perpetuate this paradigm to next generation that will ultimately lead them down the path to unsustainability and ultimately their demise. So what can we do? Well if you are the 99% thank you for reading this far and realize the remaining portion of this article is not for you and I bid you a fair day.
One way is through supplementation. Now I will not say what kind of supplementation your body needs or what brands to get. But for myself I insure I have a bottle of vitamins in every container of food storage I have. A two-month supply of a quality multivitamin/multi-mineral supplement will cost you under $4 at most convenient stores. With this in mind I know these supplements won’t contain everything my body needs but something is way better than nothing. The next thing to look at would be where you are getting your foods currently. If you are like me you will notice right away for higher quality, locally produced food items you may have to pay much more. Figuring how to get the most nutrition for your buck would be your next step. Whether this is through a local retailer, or farmer’s markets or even local hobbyist looking to cover their overhead costs there are options out there.
The next step would be looking into what you can do in the future to produce your own high quality food. If you are like myself and have notice the increased price of easy to grow produce like tomatoes or strawberries it might benefit yourself to have a couple of plants yourself. This not only allows you the benefit of knowing where it comes from. It will also give you the piece of mind of knowing you have the ability to grow your own. Coupled this with the knowledge and learning along the way will really set you up for success in the future.
The last thing and most overlooked way to change this agriculture paradigm is by voting. When I say voting I don’t mean for a person I mean vote with your money, your time and your knowledge. Express to your delegates your displeasure with the costs of food, laws and ordinances that criminalize home gardens or seed banks. In some places having a tomato plant, or sharing heirloom seeds is a criminal offense. So change those laws, ordinances, and red tape that would prevent you as a prepared person from being as prepared as you can be.
About the author: Mike Harris is a full-time RV’r spending the last couple years traveling not only the country but all over the world. Being a 4th generation sailor he has not only operated all over the world but grew up experiencing the rich diversities that make this world great but also a dangerous place. He is still Active duty he is a Search and Rescue Corpsman (Flight Medic) and an Aerospace Medical Technician. His preparedness and desire for sustainability are deep-rooted in reality. Having to endure and face catastrophe is not just a job description but also his personal mission. He has trained both local and federal agencies as well a foreign. He done real life missions he was there during hurricane Sandy and was also apart of the 2515th NAAD. When not working or prepping you can find him traveling the country in his RV, hiking off the beaten path or enjoying much-needed catch up time with friends and family. You can catch his adventures on his YouTube channel.