Several scientists are convinced that fruit, vegetables and cereals have less nutritional value today than they did in 1950. They claim that a 1950-apple is worth 100 2015-apples. It is not the first time that research has reached this conclusion. In fact the issue crops up regularly on health blogs and in the media. According to various studies by American, Canadian, and British scientists in the past 20 years, the nutritional value of 75% of fruit and vegetables has supposedly decreased.
In 2015, to get the same amount of vitamin C from apples as 65 years ago, you would have to eat 100 of them. You would need 21 oranges to find the same concentration of vitamin A as our grandparents found in only one. And broccoli in 2015 has 4 times less calcium as 60 years ago. According to experts, this decrease is linked to crossbreeding between different varieties, which make plants more resistant, to the detriment of nutritional value. The other cause is intensive farming methods using pesticides and other chemicals. This results in poorer soil, and food that grows there is poorer too.
But actors in the farming industry in Belgium contest the result of these studies. “It is an evolutionary process. We are working more and more on improving varieties and our aim is not to make them less nutritious, on the contrary. We are striving to improve varieties so that they better resist some types of diseases to reduce the use of pesticides and herbicides. We aim for more regular growth,” explains Alain Delvigne, technical assistant at the inter-professional centre for produce, speaking to RTL-TVI.
These studies place great emphasis on organic farming, whose produce is less affected by this decrease in nutritional value, a conclusion the inter-professional centre for produce rejects, although they do agree organic farming is beneficial to the environment.