Are Fruits and Vegetables less nutritious?

Updated: Oct 31, 2020

According to the Association of Organic Consumers of the United States, crops are losing their nutritional levels due to the proliferation of diseases and the use of chemicals. There are those who think otherwise.

The Organic Consumers Association, indicated that 60 years ago in the United States, fruit and vegetable products had a greater amount of nutrients. According to the entity, currently the soil's nutrients have been depleted mainly due to the application of chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides.

The modern conventional farming system does not help and has to change," said the Association.

According to the University of Texas: "Efforts to obtain new crop varieties that provide higher yields, pest resistance, and climate adaptability have allowed crops to grow faster and faster, but their ability to produce nutrients has not kept pace with growth.”

For this reason, the Association is already questioning the possibility that this scenario is the cause of chronic diseases.

In this regard, Adalberto Romero, an agricultural engineer and expert in fruit production, pointed out that such statements are false since the level of nutrients in fruits and vegetables depends on the farmer himself, especially if he has the expert advice.

"It is normal for entities of this type, which do not have a certain affinity for the production of fruits and vegetables in a traditional way, to express their disagreement. If a farmer misuses chemicals such as fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides, it stands to reason that production will have less quality and properties. That is why it is important to follow the recommendations of the labels of this type of products and that they also have the advice of agricultural engineers, in order to improve the quality of the product, ”said Romero.

For his part, Álvaro Ernesto Palacio Peláez, general manager of the Colombian Fruit and Vegetable Association, Asohofrucol, assured that there is no known study that indicates the OCA's claims and also highlighted the scientific work that has been done in various parts of the world and of the country to improve the conditions of fruits and vegetables so that they resist diseases and have high nutritional levels.

“Agrochemicals can pollute if used improperly. Today people follow basic rules such as those dictated by Good Agricultural Practices, that is why the levels of resistance to diseases have increased. Now, that is also due to the genetic advances that have been made, "said the union leader.

Consequently, both Palacio and Romero insisted that people should not be guided by any statement and encouraged the consumption of fruits and vegetables, which prevent various diseases.

It is not uncommon to hear this misconception: eating fruits or vegetables today is not what it used to be. And for good reason: whether in scientific journals or science magazines, several studies talk about how fruits and vegetable are losing their nutritional value, that conclusion however falls short of the reality.

Dr. Donald Davis is interested in the question. After studying the content of vegetables between 1950 and 1993, the researcher explains that foods contain less protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron and finally vitamin B2. In short, the vegetable would be very different from what it was.

For Thibault Fiolet, Agro Paris Tech engineer specializing in nutrition and health, there would be a less scandalous explanation for these losses of nutrition. It could simply be a mixture of statistical error and, above all, show that the nutritional values ​​are anything but stable. On his website he explains: “The methods of 50 years ago were more based on dosages. Today’s are different in terms of accuracy, nutrient extraction, reduced contamination of samples. ”

In addition, nutrient content can change enormously within the same fruit or vegetable, due to various factors. “Measurement errors (not always quantified), inter-and intraspecies variability of fruits and vegetables, the influence of cultivated soils, climatic conditions and variations in the degree of repiness/maturity generate a lot of heterogeneity”.

Food accounts for 26% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The use of agricultural land is one of the main factors in the loss of biodiversity. Faced with this double challenge, it is necessary to change the way we eat to change agriculture.


When a vegetable is fresh, it contain five main elements: water, dietary fiber, potassium, vitamin C, pro A and B9. Scientists think that each food should be taken on a case-by-case basis to find out if it has lost its nutritional value. The same goes for fruit: Vitamin content depends on many things. The date of harvest, the variety or the duration of storage. As a result, things have not really changed from before and still depend on many factors.

This applies to both vegetables and fruits. How it is grown, how it is transported and how it can be stored can have an impact. Certain ways of growing could decrease food in nutritional values: when they are placed in a greenhouse for example.

The most important thing is to choose well what you eat, but also the right time. Let's take the example of cherry tomatoes, scientists have noticed that the more ripe the tomatoes (the longer the storage time) the more the vitamin C levels increase. After three weeks of storage, the tomato reaches almost 20 mg of vitamin C, compared to less than 14 mg during the first week of storage.

Soil depletion caused by intensive farming is another influencial factor, not allowing the soil to regenerate causes the depletion of minerals and, as a result, food loses nutritional value. As for transport, the longer the fruit or vegetable has traveled: the more it loses its value.


Surprisingly, the best way to eat vegetables that have retained their nutritional values ​​is to choose them frozen. Frozen vegetables are picked at full maturity, which allows their nutritional value to be preserved in full.