It's easy to get answers about health and nutrition! Just send your question by email to firstname.lastname@example.org and Dr. Harlan will respond to selected questions of general interest. Answers will be posted in the Ask Dr. Gourmet newsletter (sign up now!) and archived in the Ask Dr. Gourmet section of the website.
Do you feel that the food available to us today is of lesser quality than years prior? Obviously, nothing beats home-grown fruits and vegetables, but have you heard or read anything that could support that foods of today have fewer nutrients than they did years ago?
There may be some truth in the assertion that the food we eat today is not quite as nutritional as in the past. Fresh fruits and veggies begin to diminish in nutritional value the minute they are picked. Because these ingredients are transported the long distances they are today, it is likely that they are losing more nutrients than in the past, when our food sources were much closer to home.
There is some argument that the quality of the growing, soils, and fertilizers are not what they once were. This may be true and is the foundation of the Slow Food movement.
All of that said, the fresh food that we have available is still very healthy, and the key to a great diet that is good for you is to take the time to make your own food from scratch - rather than relying on prepackaged and preprocessed food.
There's no solid evidence that vitamin supplements are beneficial - except possibly in cases of those who are malnourished or have other special needs, such as those who are pregnant or vegans.
Stick with good food. Vitamins and supplements have so far been shown to be a waste of your money.
Thanks for writing,
Timothy S. Harlan M.D.