Calories today just aren’t what they used to be… So you have to be careful as to whether you plan a calorie or nutrition based approach to your weight loss.
Humans generally eat “food” from 3 categories: plants (fruits and vegetables), animal (beef, chicken, eggs, etc.) and synthetic man made (aspartame, saccharin, olestra, butylated hydroxyanisole, and all those other ingredients on the list that you can’t pronounce!)
Today I’d like to talk about the calories we get from vegetables and how they are no longer what they used to be.
In my last article I mentioned that calories serve 2 purposes: 1) they provide energy and 2) they provide the vehicle to deliver nutrition.
The USA and Canadian food guides are pretty similar and recommend that the average person consume 4 vegetable and 3 fruit servings in a day. For vegetables, a “serving” is comprised of 1 cup of raw leafy greens or ½ cup of cooked or chopped raw vegetables or ¾ cup of vegetable juice. For fruit one serving is considered 1 piece of fruit (apple, orange, banana, pear, etc.) or ½ cup of raw or canned fruit or ¾ cup of fruit juice.
These are not random recommendations. They were made because these foods are meant to provide the bulk of your vitamin, mineral and fiber uptake.
But here’s the problem with those serving recommendations: They are assuming that the nutrient count in the fruits and vegetables you eat are at optimum levels. They measure fruit the same way car companies measure the gas mileage for their vehicles. My Honda Civic was rated for 51mpg on the highway. And sure it got decent gas mileage but certainly nowhere near that. It’s the same for fruit and vegetables.
These food guides assume that a naturally ripened apple has: 0.26g of protein, 7.86mg of fiber, 0.19mg of vitamin B2, 73.14IU of Vitamin A, 9.66mg of calcium, 0.05mg of copper, 0.24 mg of iron, 0.41mcg of selenium, etc. Do you honestly think every apple you eat has exactly the same make up of vitamins and nutrients? Do you think any even meet all of these figures?
Did you notice that I stated “naturally ripened” in the paragraph above? Most of the nutrition a plant possesses is obtained through ripening “on the vine”. We live in eastern Canada. There is snow on the ground 4 months of the year. Our growing season is 3-4 months long. So most of our food comes from Florida, California, Mexico, Central America and even now even China! If these fruits and vegetables were picked after they had ripened on the vine, what do you think the odds are they would arrive in my grocery store 5000 or more miles away still fresh and blemish free???
Let me explain something else… Back in “early times” why did farmers farm?
They farmed for food! That seems like the obvious answer right?
But nowadays, why do farmers farm?
They farm for MONEY!
So how does that difference affect farming practices?
In the early days of farming, farmers didn’t have access to all the chemicals we have today and they knew if they wanted healthy food then they needed healthy fields. So they would rotate crops, till under vegetation, not plant/grow for a season, and they would allow their fields to stay healthy and vital. By growing different crops, different stresses are placed on the soil and a diverse harvest is available to the family. By following these practices they ensured good crops and healthy food for their families How Many Calories in an Apple?.
But nowadays farmers aren’t feeding their family with their crops, they are selling their crops to earn money for their family. So now, the more crops they sell, the more money they make. There is no need to diversify their crops. If they grow lettuce, then lettuce is all they plant. If they grow beets, then beets is all they plant. This practice leads to 2 major problems:
The first problem is that if there are no crops in the fields, then no money is coming in. So crops aren’t rotated and the fields are never given a rest. With no recovery period, over time all the nutrients are extracted from the soil. Luckily for farmers, all a plant needs to grow is water, sunlight, nitrogen, phosphate and potassium. Why do you think fertilizers are made up of nitrogen, phosphate and potassium? Given those 5 ingredients, a plant can produce a large, healthy “looking” fruit. But of course, if there is no copper, iron, selenium, etc. in the soil there is no way for it to be in the fruit either.