Soil Systems Farm

Better circulation means less nitrates

Better circulation means less nitrates
Sewerage, manures and nitrogen fertilisers lead to excessive levels of nitrates in our water supplies. Deficiencies in trace elements also stimulates excessive nitrate levels in our vegetables and fruit leading to a common bitter flavour. In children this can result in “Blue Baby syndrome”.

Blood circulation is a serious problem in babies, pregnant women and the elderly. Although diet plays a significant role, what fruits and vegetables you ingest make all the difference. In particular, how these fruit and vegetables are grown can lead you to absorbing excessive levels of nitrate.

What is baby blue syndrome
Methaemoglobinaemia or Baby Blue Syndrome is caused by the decreased ability of blood to carry vital oxygen around the body. It is caused by high nitrate levels in the water, fruit and vegetables. Symptoms include blueing around hands, feet and mouth, breathing difficulty, vomiting, gastric problems and diarrhoea. In the body nitrate is converted to nitrites. The nitrites react with haemoglobin in the red blood cells to form methaemoglobin, affecting the blood’s ability to carry enough oxygen to the cells of the body.

Why are there nitrates in our vegetables?
The most common reason why our vegetables have high levels of nitrates is because the water table is contaminated by sewerage, manures or nitrogen fertilisers. Many of the agricultural regions in Australia have nitrate levels exceeding 10mg/L (US EPA limit) – this includes many organic farms as well. In Australia our limit for nitrate is set at 50mg/L but many of these agricultural water supplies exceed 100mg/L. It is not mandated by State regulations or the Organic Standards that water quality is checked on an annual basis.

In addition, vegetables grown with low minerals tend to have higher nitrate levels because the nitrate cannot convert into protein without minerals. This is why vegetables can be bitter. There is simply too much nitrate in the leaf (this excludes naturally bitter vegetables like endive, chicory and radicchio). Another reason why vegetables may be bitter is because they are beginning to set seed.

Indicator vegetables
The most common vegetables that accumulate nitrates are leafy greens, lettuces, carrots, turnips, beets and radishes. If grown correctly they should be sweet and flavoursome – full of essential amino acids, minerals and vitamins. The best vegetables are grown with quality humic/humus rich compost with plenty of minerals (both trace elements and rare earths). Water soluble fertilisers (used to grow supermarket fruit and vegetables) and the use of pellitised chicken manure (used by 95% of the organic industry) increases the propensity for your food to have a high content of nitrates.

References

http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/diseases/methaemoglob/en/

http://www.livestrong.com/article/367209-a-list-of-vegetables-high-in-nitrates/

http://lwa.gov.au/files/products/river-landscapes/pr990211/pr990211.pdf

http://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/factsheet/nr_wq_2005-23.pdf

http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/chemicals/nitratenitrite2ndadd.pdf

 

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