Over the past 60 years there have been fundamental changes in the quality and quantity of food available to us as a nation. The character, growing method, preparation, source and ultimate presentation of basic staples have changed significantly to the extent that trace elements and micronutrient contents have been severely depleted. This trend, established in a review of the 5th Edition of McCance & Widdowson's The Composition of Foods, is still apparent in this review of the 6th edition of the same work. Concurrently there has been a precipitous change towards convenience and pre-prepared foods containing saturated fats, highly processed meats and refined carbohydrates, often devoid of vital micronutrients yet packed with a cocktail of chemical additives including colourings, flavourings and preservatives. It is proposed that these changes are significant contributors to rising levels of diet-induced ill health. Ongoing research clearly demonstrates a significant relationship between deficiencies in micronutrients and physical and mental ill health.