Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Why Grow Heirlooms?

Here's a hint:

A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition compared USDA data from 1950 to 1999, and found that overall the nutrient content of conventionally grown vegetables (i.e. the ones you are buying in the store or the novel hybrids you grow in your garden) has decreased. The study looked at 13 nutrients in 43 crops, and it was found that, on average, all minerals evaluated have declined, 2 out of 5 vitamins have declined, and protein content has dropped by 6%. The researchers hypothesized that the declines may be caused by "decades of selecting food crops for high yield, with resulting inadvertent trade-offs of reduced nutrient concentrations." Many gardeners have already discovered that older heirloom vegetable and fruit varieties have better flavor than high-yielding hybrids. Now this study suggests that they may be more nutritious, too! So give heirlooms a try in your garden this year and taste the difference! RETURN TO YOUR ROOTS! ;)

- Source: "Changes in USDA Food Composition Data for 43 Garden Crops, 1950 to 1999." Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Vol. 23, No. 6, 2004.

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