Why the Quality of Food is Declining

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Studies have shown what we are putting into our bodies has less nutritional value than ever before. How did it get to this?

The Neolithic Revolution, the recognized birth of agriculture in human society, dates back to about 9500 BCE. This seismic shift in our methods of sustenance, headquartered in the Fertile Crescent, featured what are called “founder crops” such as wheat, barley, peas and flax.

From these basic harvests, humankind’s habitational dominance on earth began. So why, tens of thousands of years after these seminal farmers, is the quality of our modern food so low?

In 1990, the U.S. government passed the Nutritional Labeling and Education Act. This was a law that required all manufacturers to list the ingredients right on the product for any consumer to see.

The intention of the Act, ostensibly, was to force companies to use the highest quality ingredients in their food products by way of transparency. If customers knew what they were buying then they would make sure to buy the best products.

But a little unexpected snag happened on the way. According to studies done at Duke University, consumers stopped paying attention to the nutrition facts because the regulations were now there; they figured the work was already done for them. This led to a collective ambivalence toward product ingredients that manufacturers were more than happy to take advantage of.

Where public policy has failed, supply and demand has exacerbated. One of the main factors contributing to nutritional decline is quality losing out to quantity. Scientists have found that today’s modern crops, as compared to historic ones, have vastly less content of nutrients such as iron, zinc, protein, calcium and vitamin C.

This is the cost of high-yield farming: a plot of land can now grow more products, but the product itself is less substantial.

It is difficult to place blame on a particular sector or conglomeration for these circumstances. The relentless growth of the world’s population puts a great deal of pressure on prodigious manufacturing, which sacrifices quality.

Couple that situation with an increasingly misinformed and confused eating public, and you have the makings of an exponential decline in the state of our food.

On a positive note, there is a greater awareness now of nutritional quality than ever before. A long period of careless and carefree consumption (with vast societal consequences) seems to be giving way to a new wave of responsible grocery shopping—at least one sign that things may be looking up.

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Ida Cavemen

IDA is the kind-hearted cook who also takes care of the children. This is perhaps the most difficult job in the tribe.

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