The world as we know it is rapidly changing and as history has repeatedly proven, those who adapt and change with the zeitgeist are those who survive. No matter what your belief system is or your outlook as to what’s coming down the pipe over the next few years, there are some indisputable facts – soils seriously lacking in nutrition and weather-factors. Depending where you live, foraging may become a necessity in order to get the nutrition your body needs; but this truly is an opportunity to take something negative and turn it into positive.
Over the past five decades, the amounts of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin and vitamin C in conventionally grown fresh fruits and vegetables have declined significantly. This information came to light due to the rigorous analysis of USDA nutrient data by biochemist Donald Davis of the University of Texas. Similar trends have been discovered in the United Kingdom.
Wheat grown a century ago had twice as much protein as modern varieties. There are also major declines in protein and several other nutrients in modern corn varieties. Calcium in broccoli has taken a dive too, widely grown varieties in 1950 had about 13 mg/g of calcium, but today’s varieties provide only about 4.4 mg/g of calcium.
Scientists have known for years that high rates of fertilizer and irrigation use can lead to higher yields, but sometimes at the expense of nutrient density of the crops. Nitrogen in particular is difficult to manage in the soil, and when farmers apply too much it causes plants to take up more water, resulting in high yields but providing us foods that have lower nutrient density.
In Mineral Nutrient Depletion In US Farms and Range Soils, a paper written by Michael Karr, a certified professional soil scientist writes:
Since the 1950′s the increase in farm productivity and efficiency has not always resulted in a corresponding increase in the replenishment of mineral nutrients to the soils through commercially available means. This is because many growers in the US do not have sufficient management expertise to account for or replace all plant nutrient elements removed. In public range and forest tracts leased by ranchers, there has been relatively little effort to replace minerals removed by livestock. Consequently, there is evidence of widespread mineral nutrient depletion in U.S. farm and range soils.
The vitamins and minerals you think you may be getting in your vegetables and fruits are depleted – nutrient-depleted soil means that the vegetables and fruits are also nutrient depleted. Anything we eat that’s grown in nutrient-depleted soil means that we are lacking nutrients – unless we take supplements, or forage.
There has been an aggressive global campaign selling carbon emissions as the reason this planet is heading into some serious climate problems. Indeed, we all can do something to reduce our carbon footprint, but the reality is that even if we eliminated all these emissions, the Arctic ice will still melt. Since the 1940’s, the US and Russia have detonated tens of thousands of nuclear bombs in this region, add to this the illegal dumping of radioactive material, the radiation from Chernobyl and Fukushima, the Arctic ice is soon to be in the history books.
Arctic ice melting is currently causing changes in weather in the northern hemisphere. That melted ice is very cold water, water that is blocking the warm Gulf Stream waters from its pathway causing it to divert – this in turn is creating a definite change of weather patterns for Europe, the northwest in particular. This cold water is now added weight on the ocean floor, that floor is getting pushed down so earthquakes in the north Atlantic area are on the increase.
All this adds up to serious climate changes. In 2011, many crops were destroyed in the U.S. either from flooding or droughts. These are conditions that are on the increase throughout the world and the effects are felt at grocery stores everywhere.
Food Prices Rising
There is no shortage of news stories that global food costs are rising, and along with that more and more people are eating foods that ‘fill’ the stomach but have few if any substantial nutrients. There are an increasing number of people who are struggling with their food budget and considering that nutritious food should be a human right, it’s sadly becoming a privilege.
It is believed that more Americans (per capita) are using food stamps now that at any point during the Great Depression. Living in what many feel is such as advanced civilization, if the basic need to survive by eating healthy cannot be fulfilled, that’s not advancement, it is regression.
Idaho is a western state in the US whose population (according to the US Census Bureau, July 2009) is 1,1545,801. The number of people needing food stamps has soared 270 percent from 2007; that means 235,000 people, or 15 percent of Idaho’s population need government assistance to put food on their table.
Foraging is not for everyone, and for those who much rather eat fresh vegetables and fruit, knowing where it comes from, and how it is grown is important. If you know what you are eating is coming from farms with soil that is nutrient deficient, then taking vitamin supplements is necessary to maintain good health.
Those who are interested in learning what wild edibles are and how to identify them need to do a lot of research first. Going outdoors and foraging without education is asking for trouble. Identifying wild plants and knowing whether there are edible is VERY important. There are online resources, check your local library or visit a book store. Eating weeds was once a very natural part of human survival, not just for nutrition, but for maintaining good health. Many wild edibles are perhaps better known as herbal remedies.
Veteran foragers will attest that eating wild edibles is invigorating and healthy. Getting outdoors and spending time with family or with other like-minded individuals is relaxing and brings enormous satisfaction.
No matter where you live on this planet, one way or another climate change is happening. Staying as healthy as you can is crucial; and learning what edible wild food grows in your area, whether you plan to forage or not, is education you may one day need.
Karen Stephenson is a freelance writer and editor as well as owner of EdibleWildFood.com
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