Soil is a mixture of minerals, organic matter, gases, liquids, and countless organisms that together support life on Earth. Soil is a natural body which has four important functions: all of which, in turn, modify the soil
- a medium for plant growth
- a means of water storage, supply and purification
- it is a modifier of Earth’s atmosphere
- it is a habitat for organisms
Soil consists of a solid phase of minerals and organic matter, as well as a porous phase that holds gases and water. Soil is a product of the influence of the climate, relief (elevation, orientation, and slope of terrain), organisms, and its parent materials (original minerals) interacting over time. Soil continually undergoes development by way of numerous physical, chemical and biological processes, which include weathering with associated erosion.
The Sixteen elements or nutrients are essential for plant growth and reproduction are:
Nutrients required for plants to complete their life cycle are essential nutrients. Nutrients that enhance the growth but not necessary to complete the plant’s life cycle are considered non-essential. With the exception of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, which are supplied by carbon dioxide and water, the nutrients derive originally from the mineral component of the soil. Minerals are the origin of those nutrients, the organic component of the soil is the reservoir for plant nutrients and they must be in the proper ionic form (with the exception of water and CO2). Nitrogen is the primary limiting nutrient and phosphorus is second to nitrogen as the primary nutrient for plants, animals and microorganisms.
A study by Donald Davis and researchers from the University of Texas (UT) at Austin’s published in December 2004 in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, studied the USDA nutritional data from both 1950 and 1999. 43 different vegetables and fruits, were found to have “reliable declines” in the amount of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C over the past half century. Declining nutritional content due to the agricultural practices designed to improve specific traits (size, growth rate, pest resistance) other than nutrition.
In several sets of study nutrient data from:
1930 – 1980
- 20 vegetables the average calcium content decreased by 19%
- Iron decreased by 22%
- Potassium decreased by 14%
1950 to 1999
- Average calcium levels in 12 Fresh vegetables dropped 27%
- Iron levels decreased by 37%
- Vitamin A levels decreased by 21%
- Vitamin C levels decreased by 30%
Yet another study concluded that one would have to eat eight oranges today to get the same amount of Vitamin A as our grandparents would have gotten from one.
In North America, we have seen an average of 85% mineral depletion over the past 100 years, worse than of any other country in the world, and modern farming practices do not, and are not making it better. Chemical fertilizers that focus on yields, not nutrition only replace a handful of trace minerals.
If you think the malnutrition is about the money people do not have or they cannot afford the “good” food, Bullshit! For the vast majority of the food we buy is either not nutritional in any way (Corn or any bi-product of) or has lost much of its original nutritional value.
We have to be knowledgeable, ask for better, demand for better, do it yourself, grow it yourself… It is not easy and some may say and I believe I agree, it never was. “Work for your food, and it will work for you”! I just made that up and I truly believe and know it.