Produce is less healthy than it was 70 years ago. These farmers are trying to change that

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Produce is less healthy than it was 70 years ago. These farmers are trying to change that
By Carrie Blackmore Smith and Emily Hopkins, Cincinnati Enquirer
USA Today | July 9th, 2018

There it sits — in all its green glory — in the produce section of your local grocery store.   

Broccoli. One of the most nutritious vegetables on the planet.   

But 70 years ago, it contained twice the calcium, on average, and more than five times the amount of vitamin A. The same could be said for a lot of our fruits and vegetables.   

Why? How?  

The answers lie in the soil and how Americans farm it.  

Over the past two centuries, U.S. population growth and food production methods have stressed and degraded our dirt.  Our farming soil is not as alive as it once was, and experts say that’s a problem.    

It’s a complex issue, and there are various factors at play, but studies through the years draw a direct line back to American farms.  

More and more farmers are recognizing they are part of the problem — one that extends beyond their farms, affecting the water quality in our lakes, rivers and oceans downstream. 

Slowly, a soil health movement is spreading across the Midwest and other parts of America. Farmers are changing the way they farm, adding something called cover crops and changing up crop rotations. They’re finding ways to use less fertilizer, which is linked to decreased soil health and water degradation. 

"This has an impact on everybody who eats," says Eileen J. Kladivko, a professor of agronomy at Purdue University.

As states like Indiana emerge as leaders, experts say the movement is on the cusp of mainstream adoption –  though much still stands in the way.

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Photo from Pixabay.