From Farm to Fork: Exploring the Decline in Our Food's Nutritional Value

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From Farm to Fork: Exploring the Decline in Our Food's Nutritional Value

Almost nobody gets enough minerals from diet alone. According to a large-scale 2022 study, 97% of Americans have at least one mineral deficiency and 70% have two or more. [*]

One major reason is that our food is less nutritious than it used to be. Research shows that the vitamin and mineral content of fruits, vegetables, meat, and other common foods has been in a steady decline over the past 50 years. The result is that it’s increasingly difficult to meet your body’s mineral needs with diet alone, even if you’re eating nutrient-dense food. 

Here’s a look at why the nutritional value has been declining over the last half-century, as well as what you can do to make sure your body gets all the nutrients it needs. 

Why Is Our Modern Food Supply Less Nutrient-Dense? 

Several large-scale studies have found that nutrient density in food is on the decline. 

  • In a 2004 paper, researchers compared foods grown in 1950 and 1999 and found a significant decline in protein, vitamin, and mineral content. [*
  • A 2022 study found a continuous decrease in the mineral content of vegetables and legumes over the past century. [*]
  • A 2024 study notes an “alarming decline in the nutritional quality of foods” with a particular decrease in essential minerals and antioxidants. [*] The researchers call this decline one of “the biggest challenge[s] for future generations’ health.” 

Why is this happening? As farming science improves, shouldn’t food be getting more nutrient-dense?

According to agricultural research there are two main reasons for the worldwide decrease in food’s nutrient density:

  • Soil quality. Several aspects of modern farming negatively impact soil quality, which decreases nutrient uptake into crops—as well as the animals that eat those crops. 
  • Nutrient dilution. Genetic modification and selective breeding usually prioritize greater yield over greater nutrition, which means there’s more food overall, but each individual piece of food has fewer nutrients. 

Let’s take a closer look at each of these reasons. 

1. Soil Quality Is Declining (Which Means Less Nutritious Food) 

One of the downsides of modern farming is that it tends to deplete soil of nutrients. 

A 2021 review noted that soil rich in nitrogen and minerals produces both high crop yields and the most nutritious food. [*] However, even when both those requirements are met, nutrient uptake into crops decreases with heavy commercial farming. Constant farming pressure seems to stress soil—or perhaps the bacteria within it—and leads to less nutritious crops. 

The researchers also note that industrial farming decreases soil stability, meaning the particles that make up soil are less able to bind together. This, in turn, decreases soil fertility and further lowers the amount of nutrients that crops can pull from the soil. [*]

Finally, more and more evidence suggests that pesticide use is damaging soil. A 2019 review concluded that glyphosate (Roundup), the most widely used herbicide in the world, does more than just kill weeds. It also builds up in soil and damages the bacteria that allow that soil to thrive, leading to a gradual degradation of soil viability. [*]

It’s not all bad news, though: a 2022 study found that regenerative farming with a focus on soil quality produced significantly more nutrient-dense crops and restored soil to what it was 70 years ago. [*

In other words, declining soil quality is reversible—and one great way to help reverse it is to buy your produce from small regenerative farms, perhaps at your local farmer’s market. 

2. Crops Are Bred For Yield, Not Nutrition

The other cause of less nutritious food is nutrient dilution. In the last 70 years, agricultural scientists have become very good at controlling how food grows. Through both genetic modification and selective breeding, scientists can engineer almost every aspect of the food that ends up in your local supermarket. 

The problem is that most genetic modifications and selective breeding programs prioritize yield. Crops are bred to be bigger and multiply faster—with the right tweaks, an apple tree may produce 200 apples a season instead of 100. On the surface, that seems good for everyone. Farmers make more money and their crops feed more people. 

The downside is that while yield doubles, the apple tree does not see an equivalent increase in nutrients. It may produce twice as many apples but the total nutrient content remains the same, so one apple has half the nutrients it used to have. 

A 2017 review argues that mineral dilution is the main driver of the decline in food quality, even more so than soil quality. [*] The author urges food geneticists to stop selecting for yield alone and consider the nutrient value of crops as well. 

In reality, the decline of food’s nutrient density is likely a combination of both issues: lower soil quality and foods optimized for better yield instead of better nutrition. 

Regardless of which cause is more prevalent, the result is the same: it’s almost impossible to get the minerals your body needs from diet alone. [*] Sadly, food is no longer enough. 

How to Increase Your Mineral Intake 

Declining nutrient content in food is one of the reasons we started BEAM Minerals. We make it easy to get all the minerals your body needs, in the right ratios, without any fuss. 

BEAM Minerals is full-spectrum, meaning it contains every essential mineral the human body requires to function. It comes in a super-concentrated liquid form, so all you have to do is take two shots of it each morning—one from each bottle (don’t worry. It tastes like water). 

Our formula also contains flavonoids that bind to the minerals and deliver them directly into your cells, improving absorption so that your body can actually use what you’re taking. 

More than 97% of Americans already have at least one mineral deficiency, [*] and as food’s nutrient value continues to decline, getting enough minerals will only get harder. It’s a problem that will have far-reaching effects—mineral levels affect your brain function, hormones, blood sugar, metabolism, muscle recovery, sleep, and more. 

If you want to replenish your mineral stores, give BEAM Minerals a try. You’ll feel it working, and it’s a simple and effective way to give your body what it needs to perform at its best.

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