If consumers are asked if you rate the quality of our food better, worse or more consistent than they used to, many people say that you find the quality worse. Is this really true? Have higher-quality foods been produced in the past?
The term "quality" has many definitions. For food, product quality is determined mainly by nutritional value and health value. But also the utility and pleasure value is of great importance. These are properties that can usually be detected and controlled on the product food.
The nutritional value
Mistrust of consumers about nutritional value relates in particular to fruits and vegetables. Many assume that the soil is depleted of nutrients through intensive agricultural use and, accordingly, the plants that grow on these soils also contain fewer nutrients such as vitamins and minerals and thus the nutritional quality is reduced.
However, there is no scientific justification for this. In order to ensure a good harvest and best yields, cultivated crops are fertilized and the nutrient content of the soil is regularly checked. This ensures that the plant has optimal growth conditions, because a sufficient supply of nutrients makes the plant grow well and thrive. An important side effect is that we also consume many vitamins and minerals through the consumption of fruits and vegetables, which serve to maintain our health.
Did you spend more time in fruits and vegetables?
Looking at the nutritional value of plant foods, it is noted that it is subject to natural variations. Many factors can lead to deviations. Soil, location, climate, cultivation, fertilization and harvest time are included. But maturity, transportation and storage also play an important role. Nutritional tables are therefore usually given an average value.
Comparing the current averages with the data from previous nutrition tables shows that there have been only minor variations in the average nutritional value over the last 5 decades. This is the conclusion of the 2004 Nutrition Report, which included a comparison of the nutritional values of 8 exemplarily selected foods.
The health value
When talking about the health value of a food, it is particularly about food safety. Here the hygienic-toxicological quality plays an important role, ie the content of contents, additives or pollutants, which can have a negative effect on our health.
If you look at the diverse food scandals of recent years, it gives us the feeling that our food is not safe. This is misleading that today we have a very high level of safety in the vast majority of foods. This is confirmed by the results of food monitoring and annual food monitoring. You can read more about this topic in our series "Are our foods harmful?"