As the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation (ANDF) Chair, I am excited to bring you this four part series written by guest blogger, Chris Vogliano, MS, RD, LD. He is the agriculture nutrition and health research fellow with ANDF and the lead author of the article Plentiful, Nutrient-Dense Food for the World: A Guide for Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs). In this series, Chris brings you RDN farmer experts who address some common questions consumers want to know about food and agriculture. Enjoy this final segment.

Welcome to the fourth and final edition of this series. As previously mentioned, RDN farmers have answered four questions consumers have commonly asked about food and agriculture. They offered their insights at a past FNCE symposium, which were also featured in a Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics article. This final installment focuses on soil.

Soil is a key component in agriculture. But, does it have any influence on the nutritional value found in the food we eat? Jennie Schmidt, MS, RD expertly answers this intriguing question- “Does Soil Have Any Influence on the Nutritional Value of Food?” and offers ideas on how RDNs  can use this knowledge.

Flickr | Natural Resources Conservation Service Soil Health Campaign

Flickr | Natural Resources Conservation Service Soil Health Campaign

“Soil is a complex ecosystem of living organisms. Maintaining a healthy balance of microorganisms and nutrients in the soil is vital for growing high-quality, nutrient-dense foods. Many soil characteristics affect nutrient availability, including the texture, drainage levels, moisture, temperature, pH, and cation exchange capacity. Farmers use soil analysis to measure soil nutrients. Enhancements optimize soil health and fertilizers fill in missing nutrient gaps. Other techniques used to naturally sustain soil nutrients include crop rotation, cover crops, and no-till practices that keep the previous season’s crop residue on the land to decompose and return nutrients to the soil.”

How can RDNs apply this information?

“Soil health is an interesting consumer education opportunity for RDNs and other food and nutrition practitioners. A rapidly growing body of research is focused on microorganisms in the soil and how they may be beneficial to nutrient quality and quantity of food produced. RDNs and other food and nutrition practitioners could contribute to this evolving research, both domestically and internationally, and also advocate for innovations that enhance soil health, particularly in countries with poor growing conditions.”

USDA stock image

USDA stock image

I hope you have found this four-part series informative and will help you to educate others about these commonly asked agriculture questions.  If you have additional food and agriculture questions that you need assistance with, please share them.  We’d love to hear from you!

Missed the first three posts? See how Amy Myrdal Miller, MS, RDN answers the question “Is Grass-fed Beef Better than Grain-fed Beef?”, the insights Abigail Copenhaver, RDN, CDN offers about “What influence do dairy cows have on the environment?” and how Dayna Green-Burgeson, RD, CDE responds to “How Can I Reduce the Environmental Impact of My Diet?”