Phoenicia was the place to be in 300 BC.

Residing in what is now Lebanon, the Phoenicias enjoyed a rich, civilized culture based on lumber exportation. They grew to obtain great wealth due to their enormous and beautiful cedar trees, whose infamy is Biblically referred to as “the cedars of Lebanon.” Their land was plentiful. Their people were strong. And their soil was rich.

The Phoenicians were self-sufficient and prosperous. But as they started to clear-cut their cedars trees over time, the quality of their soil decreased. It became harder for them to grow their food. And their people started to go hungry.

The leaders of the time decided to do what other civilized nations often do – they went to war. Their goal was to expand their borders. Take over more fertile land. Find healthier soil.

They rose up against Alexandar the Great. He squashed them like a bug and took over their entire civilization. Historically, nations who could not feed themselves would never survive.

“Food sovereignty” is the term used to describe a nation’s ability to feed itself. In North America, we are far from sovereign. Highly dependent on imports, we make Phoenician mistakes at an alarming frequency. We forget to support our farmers. To buy fresh produce. To shop locally. We force our food growers who now harvest a variety of crops to instead only focus on only one single product, quickly exhausting our soils. Then we export that product.

Soil is to the earth what blood is to our bodies. It injects nutrients – essentially vitamins and minerals – into our food. Ninety per cent of soil is made up of rocks and minerals. The other 10% is organic, made up of living things. It takes 500 years to naturally create one inch of healthy topsoil. We are now depleting it at a rate of one inch every 16 years.

Minerals are carried up from the soil into our plants via earthworms. These are minerals that are essential to our health, such as calcium and magnesium. Essential vitamins like A and C are also absorbed through the soil. Sadly, the widespread use of pesticides kills off our earthworms, leading to decreased vitamin and mineral absorption.

Here is how a tomato today compares to a tomato in 1963. Modern tomatoes contain:

  • 65% more fat
  • 200% more sodium
  • 43% less vitamin A
  • 17% less vitamin C
  • 62% less calcium

In the last 50 years, our potato has lost 57% of its vitamin C. Broccoli has lost 45%.

The iron content of potatoes is down by more than half. And the Canadian potato has lost 100% (absolutely ALL) of its vitamin A.

That’s something we should care about.