Food scientists at the USDA have been collecting data on the nutrients in food for over a century and by the 1950s they had an extensive catalog. Some decades later, scientists began noticing that nutrients were on the decline. In tomatoes for example, there was a 57% decline in calcium from 1950 to 1999, a 29% decline in iron, 21% in vitamin C, and 16% in phosphorus. Tomatoes showed an increase in riboflavin. While none of these changes are statistically significant, the more general trend toward decline is. To learn more about it and what you can do, check out our article on nutrient decline in the food supply.
Nutrient Change for Tomato
In the table presented below we include the nutrient content of tomato from 1950 and 1999. The 1950 measures for tomato are adjusted for water content — a sample with more water will bias the results. These nutrient indicators are based on a small number of data points and none of the apparent differences are statistically different, however all together, they suggest a decline in nutrient content in small garden produce.
Nutrient Change In Tomato
*The 1950 data is adjusted for water content.
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The figures used to present decline in nutrients in garden produce on the Traditional Foods site, including change in tomatoes, can be reposted for noncommercial use with a link to this tomato page or to the article about nutrient decline : nutrient decline in garden crops.
The historical measures on the nutritional content of fruits and vegetables has been archived and made available by the United States Department of Agriculture. It was also examined by Davis, Epp, and Riordan whose analyses we describe on this site. In line with the researchers, we adjusted the 1950 tomatoe nutrient values so that the 1950 and 1999 food samples had the same water content.
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