What a bumper New Scientist – food less nutritious now

From Isis Brook, Head of Faculty for Environment and Transdisciplinary Studies:

‘In a recent edition of New Scientist (17.10.15) is a fascinating article by Chloe Lambert on the decline in the nutrients in food.  The cover picture is a food package with a best before sticker saying “best before 1950s”.  It goes on to look at some of the research on the impact of modern intensive farming methods has had on the vitamins and minerals in the food we eat.  It cites evidence like a drop of 43% in the iron available  and 12% drop in calcium.  The vegetables and fruit tested in that long study comparing nutrients between 1950 and 2009 were from the USA but declines are apparent in UK studies as well. Some of the evidence from these studies could be due to less accurate testing methods in the past, but more recent comparisons do seem to bear out a growing depletion of minerals like zinc, copper magnesium and vitamins c and B2.  Some of this can be attributed to changes in varieties grown and changes in harvesting but the article has little to say about the depletion of these from the soil. Compare with material on the Soils Association website https://www.soilassociation.org/

The article makes the point that the increased variety and availability of vegetables in wealthy nations means that we at least are still having better diets than before, but shouldn’t we aim for both availability and quality?’

Use of Computers Detrimental to Learning

Isis Brook, Head of Faculty of Environment and Transdisciplinary Studies:

“An article by Manfred Spitzer in the latest issue of New Scientist draws together work from numerous studies that show computers have had either no effect or a detrimental effect on children’s learning.  The latest report is from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and states that educational systems investing most in IT saw “no appreciable improvement” in exam results.  Earlier studies have also shown how detrimental it is on learning for children to have a computer in their bedroom.  There also seems to be increasing evidence that things like taking notes by hand in a lecture is more helpful for learning than typing them into a laptop.  Spitzer links these findings to evidence from neuroscience which has shown that “the deeper content is processed mentally, the better the learning .. and IT use seems to result in shallower processing”.

Back to the pencil and notepad then!”