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Monday, February 23, 2015

Pollinators and vitamins

We need the vitamins provided by fruits
It is said that bees and other pollinators are responsible for one third of all our food. Whether this is exactly right I do not know; but a trip to the grocery store confirms that a substantial part of our food comes from plants that have been pollinated by insects rather than by the wind: most vegetables and fruits, drinks such as coffee and tea. We even have to include in this list beef, poultry and dairy products because farm animals feed partly on alfalfa or clover which have been pollinated by insects. Without pollinators we would be reduced to eating grains or cereals, potatoes, sea food and fish and very little else (and undernourished beef and poultry).

Tomato flowers
What is never mentioned but I find perhaps even more important than food quantity is quality. Many of our essential vitamins and antioxidants come to us courtesy of pollinators. Vegetables and fruits are loaded with vitamins such as beta carotene, vitamin C and a few others.

More evidence can be found in Contribution of Pollinator-Mediated Crops to Nutrients in the Human Food Supply. Elisabeth J. Eilers, Claire Kremen, Sarah Smith Greenleaf, Andrea K. Garber, Alexandra-Maria Klein. The researchers found that most of the vitamins A, C and E come from crops pollinated by insects. A large proportion of the minerals calcium, fluoride and iron in our diet are also dependent on animal pollination. Lycopene and some antioxidants, β-cryptoxanthin and β-tocopherol, are entirely dependent on insect pollination.

So, in summary, if it wasn’t for pollinators we wouldn’t be one third hungrier. Instead we would be one hundred per cent dead.

Vegetables are indispensable because of their vitamins

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© Beatriz Moisset. 2012

1 comment:

  1. Great post Beatriz! I didn't realize that pollinators played a role in nutrition. Great information to pass along to farmer's market customers. Thank you!

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