Chinese vegetables, a staple of Western diets, are getting less nutritious in some parts of the world.
The most important food source for the Chinese are beans, lentils, rice and rice bran, and they are getting shorter in shelf life than the others.
But there are a lot of other vegetables, like cabbage and turnips, that are also in poor condition, according to research published in the journal PLOS One.
That means we may not see many Chinese vegetables in supermarkets in the near future.
A Chinese farmer in Qingdao, eastern China, is trying to find ways to preserve his crop.
“A lot of vegetables are dying out,” said Wang Shou, an agricultural specialist with a cooperative farm in the region.
“They are getting damaged, they’re falling apart.”
Wang and his partner, Zhang Zhong, began harvesting the vegetables in 2011 and found that the crops were dying out quickly.
The average yield per head of produce fell from 6.2 kilograms to 3.6 kilograms over the next year.
The price of soybeans, a crop that the Chinese cultivate to feed their population, was also dropping.
Zhang said the crops’ yield decreased because they were less nutritious and had less vitamins and minerals in them.
Wang and Zhang found that most of the vegetables were either on the verge of dying or were damaged in some way.
So the next step for Wang and Zhong was to find a way to preserve the crop.
Wang decided to use a combination of compost and a soil mix of composted straw, manure and manure mixed with peat moss to make a mixture of the best soil available.
“The soil mix is really good because it has a lot less nutrients than the conventional soil,” Wang said.
“So I’ve found that you can preserve the soil mix.”
The two set up a research lab to study the properties of the soil mixture, and the results were encouraging.
“It seems to be better than the soil,” said Zhou, who also works for the Qingdai Cooperative Agricultural Cooperative.
“When we put it in a bucket, it was really good, so we put more in the bucket.”
Wang said they have not used the compost yet, but that it will probably be a few years before they are able to use it.
Wang said that if they can find the best quality soil, they will be able to preserve and reuse the soil for years to come.
“We’ll be able preserve this soil forever,” Wang told ABC News.
The research team said they also found that organic matter is not only preserved in the soil, but also in the water, making it a natural source of nutrients.
“If you take the compost out, it’s just like water,” said Zhang.
“You can drink it, you can eat it.”
Wang says that the water from the compost has a pH level between 6.4 and 6.8.
For Wang, the success of his experiments is an indication of what’s to come for China.
While he is working with a farmer, other Chinese farmers are also trying to preserve their vegetables in the same way.
“We’re looking for organic methods,” said Chen, who is part of the Agricultural Research and Development Center at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.
“I want to preserve vegetables, so if we can find a good soil, we can use it to produce food for us.”