>> the fruits and tomatoes used to taste better, too <<
While I enjoyed your humorous post, I feel a need to respond to the above statement, because there is good reason to believe that it might really be true. First of all, modern farm mass-production has changed the way we grow things A LOT (example : cows are now fed 100% on monocultured corn after weaning, not because its a good idea but only because they have to get rid of the waste products from farm subsidy programs - 25 years ago most cows were grass-fed, when farm subsidies weren't so onerous. see "The Omnivore's Dilemma" (2006) for more details.)
The practice of modern fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides have caused plants to grow lazy : they don't have to fight to produce Salvestrols, which are anti-oxidants that help the plants to fight off fungus and disease. And guess what? If you buy factory-farmed inorganic produce, it is nutritionally deficient of salvestrols. Many researchers think that Salvestrols (among them is one called Resveratrol : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resveratrol) are a key catalyst of the human immune system - the "active agent" in grape-seed extract and french red wine. These compounds are known to significantly extend life in at least 10 species so far. It stands to reason that factory farming, by removing important compounds in the name of rapid production and profitability, and by killing-off biodiversity in our food sources, may have affected food taste.
And secondly, one of the predictions from the climate change crowd is that fruits and vegetables will grow faster, and therefore, they will have less nutritional value per unit volume. Apparently, the part of the plant that takes up nutrition from the soil cannot work faster.
- Don Gillies
San Diego, CA, USA