Can you boost your health farming organic foods?
Absolutely! In fact simple steps to a healthier life start in your own backyard. Reaping the benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle relies on good nutrition, the only reliable source of which is produce that is both organic and minerally balanced. Here we look at why…
Proper functioning of the chemistry of life in all living things depends on the availability and metabolism of essential building blocks needed to manufacture a myriad of biochemicals – such as carbohydrates, fatty acids, enzymes, hormones and proteins.
These building blocks are source in the diet as basic nutrients and essential vitamins, enzymes, minerals and fatty acids. If any are lacking, the chemistry of life is impaired and improper cellular function and disease are the result.
CAN’T YOU GET WHAT YOU NEED FROM A “GOOD DIET”?
Many health conscious people erroneously believe that they can meet their body’s needs for nutrients simply by eating plenty of fruit and vegetables. This belief is touted by official nutritionists and perpetuated by reference to the classic food pyramid.
Unfortunately much of the scientific research that informed this dangerous modern fallacy was funded by companies with vested interests in maintaining the status quo. Their “results” have been used to promote the concept that you can enjoy good health from a diet based on food grown by industrial agricultural chemicals.
Why? Because both agri-chemicals and pharmaceuticals are big business. Life science companies gained market synergies by producing both pharmaceuticals and agricultural chemicals, for example giants such as Monsanto, Bayer, BASF and until recently Astra-Zeneca, Novartis, Aventis, Du-Pont and Dow.
Such companies profit only from our continued ill-health and ignorance.
WHY DOES OUR FOOD LACK NUTRITIONAL VALUE?
Minerally Impoverished Soils
Minerals are vital to human metabolism and health. We get them from our food. However, no plant or animal can incorporate into its body any mineral which is not present in the soil on which it feeds.
Long ago, before corrupted by corporate interests, the US Senate was genuinely interested in promoting the public good. In 1936 they tabled a Document 264 which raised alarm at the massive and widespread threat to public health posed by food grown on mineral impoverished soils.
Excerpts of the original report as published in the Readers Digest, March 1936:
US Senate Document 264, 1936:
“Laboratory tests prove that the fruits, the vegetables, the grains, the eggs and even the milk and meats of today are not what they were a few generations ago. No man of today can eat enough fruits and vegetables to supply his system with the minerals he requires for perfect health…
Many diseases stem from impoverished soil that no longer provide the mineral elements essential to human health.”
The Situation Today is Worse…
Since this startling report, the mineral content of soils in the US and elsewhere in the world has continued to decline, exported out of farms as agricultural produce and not replaced.
Conventional agriculture only supplements soil minerals with those necessary to produce a high volume crop – chiefly NPK (nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium).
The luxurious but metabolically weak crops that result require protection with herbicides and pesticides, lacing the nutritionally inadequate produce that results with poison, and polluting the environment. The superphosphate used also often adds toxic levels of cadmium to the mix.
Especially in Australia…
An even more depressing fact for Australians is that the US soils referred to in Senate Document 264 as being inadequate were profoundly more mineralized than ours.
Owing to its geological antiquity our nation has the worst soils in the world. Millenia of leaching by rain and the elements has washed or blown most of its minerals away. Our nutritional situation is thus even more precarious.
The Science Behind US Senate Document 264
In many ways the integrity of science reached peak during the 1930’s when many brilliant scientists undertook research that made vital and profound contributions to the health and welfare of humanity.
One was Dr Charles Northern, a US MD who was among the first scientists to recognize the link between soil mineral content and human, plant and animal health (another was famous soil scientist William Albrecht).
The implications of his contributions were espoused in a US Government Printing Office publication of 1941:
Experiments on animals provide an inkling of what mineral deficiencies what it may mean to our health, and the growth and development, both mental and physical, of our children. We know that rats, guinea pigs, and other animals can be fed into a diseased condition and out again by controlling only the minerals in their food.
It has been established in long term research in rats that size, skeletal mass, general health and even intelligence can be controlled by adjusting dietary minerals.
”They can be made quarrelsome and belligerent; they can even be turned into cannibals and be made to devour each other.
A cage of normal rats will live in amity. Restrict their calcium, and they will become irritable and draw apart from one another. Then they will begin to fight. Restore their calcium balance and they will grow more friendly; in time they will begin to sleep in a pile as before. Many backward children are “stupid” merely because they are deficient in magnesia. We punish them for our failure to feed them properly.”
Modern Miracle Men: Dr. Charles Northen, Who Builds Health From The Ground Up
The report concluded that our physical well-being is more directly dependent upon the minerals we take into our systems than upon either calories, vitamins or the precise proportions of starch, protein, or carbohydrates we consume.
It’s Old News to Veterinarians
Unlike human nutritionists and most doctors, veterinarians are well aware of the importance of minerals to health, and the fact that any significant lack of one or another nutritional element, however microscopic the body requirement may be, can cause ill-health, disease and premature death.
It is a surprising fact that dog food is usually more completely balanced in mineral needs than baby food!
Though my passion for sustainability pulled me in a different direction soon after graduating, my first qualification was as a Veterinarian. In the course of my studies at Murdoch University in Perth, Western Australia, and associated on-farm experience, I learnt of the importance of minerals.
No professional farmer would attempt to raise sheep or cattle productively in Western Australia without routinely supplementing them with cobalt and selenium, and putting out stocklicks to boost seasonally low feed values.
Similarly, newborn piglets are routinely injected with iron, and dairy cows in production, monitored carefully for signs of calcium or magnesium deficiency.
Other Factors Reducing the Nutritional Value of Our Foods:
Commercial food processing
Much of the processing to which food is subject renders its original source quite unrecognizable. Refining also often removes and discards the most nutrition rich components.
Pasteurization destroys valuable enzymes and renders wholesome living foods dead to bolster their shelf lives – milk is a great example. The resulting products often have very little of their original food value left and can be downright toxic.
Food storage and transport
I recently heard the astounding revelation that many oranges available on supermarket shelves have absolutely NO VITAMIN C WHATSOEVER! Why? Because to minimize transport and storage spoilage, they are picked green, before natural ripening has had a chance to endow them with Vitamin C. The Vitamin C is also very labile and deteriorates rapidly over time.
Many essential vitamins and enzymes are heat sensitive, and are utterly destroyed by cooking. Cooking also destroys vitamins (e.g. folic acid and vitamin C), renders minerals inorganic and harder for the body to absorb, coagulates proteins, transforms fatty acids, and destroys natural fiber, increasing the transit time through the intestine.
The result is bowel putrefaction and the creation of additional toxins. Although cooking is the traditional method of preparing food, it does not increase nutritional value, but reduces it and actually robs us of vitality.
Learn how to boost your health with a raw food diet here.
Food is irradiated to reduce the risk of food poisoning. The process, using radioactive sources, or high energy electron beams, while it destroys bacteria, also breaks up the molecular structure of the food.
Free radical byproducts are formed. These may then react to create dangerous new substances such as formaldehyde, benzene, formic acid, and quinines. Many are known to cause cancer (e.g. benzene) or are otherwise harmful to human health.
Further, irradiation severely affects nutritional value, destroying essential vitamins, (e.g. vitamin A, C, E, B2, B3, B6, B12, and K, thiamine and folic acid).
Genetically modified (GM) or engineered (GE) foods derive from plants that have had foreign genes inserted into their DNA for the purposes of production advantages such as resistance to pests or specific pesticides. Testing on animals strongly implicates a GM diet as causing significant deterioration of a range of body organs and systems.
AND WE NEED MORE NUTRIENTS THAN WE USED TO…
Adding to the problem is other hazards of modern life that actually increase our body’s need for nutrients.
- Lifestyle (e.g. smoking)
In order to detoxify these stressors the body must use enzymes and antioxidants and other vitamins, especially Vitamin C.
Your physiological state also determines your nutritional needs, which are higher for the young, the old, and the pregnant.
THE ILLHEALTH EPIDEMIC
Given that the factors above that reduce our food’s nutritional value have all increased in intensity over recent decades, is it any surprise that our health has showed a proportionate decline over the same period?
Some Common Deficiency Symptoms:
Some reports estimate the proportion of US citizens deficient in essential minerals to be 99%. Consider these escalating symptoms of Western ill-health (just a few of the many) and their link to mineral deficiencies…
It wouldn’t matter how much modern food you ate – you would still be malnourished! Our mineral-starved bodies try to make up the deficiencies by endlessly demanding empty calories. The result for people on western diets is that obesity is growing into a major epidemic.
Cardiomyopathy is linked with Selenium deficiency. No wonder it is so high in my home city, Perth! In sheep, selenium deficiency causes a common syndrome called “white muscle disease” in young animals, and cardiomyopathy (animal drops dead of a heart attack) in older animals.
Anuerysms, Grey Hair and Wrinkles<
Apart from being associated with graying of the hair and wrinkles, copper deficiency is the most common cause of aneurysms (the thinning, blowing out and sometimes rupture of artery walls, especially in the brain and aorta).
Wake up in the wee hours and can’t get back to sleep? That’s typical of magnesium deficiency, suffered by an estimated 75% of the US population, and unfortunately often treated with sleeping pills!!!
Many minerals are essential to the hormones that balance our moods. Two of the most commonly deficient ones are iron and calcium.
Osteoporosis, Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and Hysterectomy
Calcium and copper deficiency are linked with the initiation of osteoporosis, Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), hysterectomy.
Male Pattern Baldness
Male pattern baldness is linked with tin deficiency.
Susceptibility to Infection
Disease preys most surely and most viciously on the undernourished and unfit – plants, animals, and human beings alike. A whole array of trace and major minerals are implicated in good natural immunity to disease.
Poorly nourished as we are, our society is highly susceptible to infections – leaving us vulnerable to colds, flu and the threatening specter of global pandemics.
Are Vitamin and Mineral Supplements the Answer?
Supplementation is a complex science. Everyone has a unique nutritional profile of deficiency and need for a wide range of essential minerals, either in significant or trace amounts. Moreover, minerals interact together – some facilitate the activity of others and some antagonize it!
The forms of minerals found in supplements are often poorly absorbed by the body. Supplementation through nutritionally balanced and rich foods is a vastly superior way to meet our needs.
The minerals in fruit and vegetables are colloidal, in a state of such extremely fine suspension that they can be readily assimilated by the human system. It is merely a question of giving back to nature the materials with which she works.
We must rebuild our soils: Put back the minerals we have taken out. It is neither difficult nor expensive, and provides the most viable short cut to better health and longer life.
FOOD AIN’T FOOD
To the uninitiated, one vegetable, one glass of milk, or one egg is about the same as another. Dirt is dirt, too, and we assume that by adding a little fertilizer to it, an adequate vegetable or fruit can be grown.
The truth is that, depending on how and where they are grown, food varies enormously in nutritional value. Some of them simply aren’t worth eating as food!
The best quality fruits, vegetables, meat, milk and eggs can have up to 1000 times (times, not percent) more vitamins and minerals than other fruits and vegetables that rate the same in USDA size, color, and appearance standards.
AND NOW FOR THE GOOD NEWS – ORGANIC FOOD!
As this graph shows, a representative sample of organic and conventionally grown vegetables shows huge differences in their content of some key minerals.
In all cases, organic food is much more nutritious than their conventional counterpart, sometimes to the extreme: while organic tomatoes are a rich source of iron, those grown by industrial agriculture have almost nil!
The difference lies in the way the plant feeds – in organic farming only natural, non-soluble nutrients are used, whereas conventional agriculture uses soluble fertilizers: rather than putting on viable, healthy tissue, plants are forced to eat every time they are thirsty resulting in big but nutritionally deficient produce.
All creatures with a sense of taste use it to help them select nutritious food. How many times have you heard someone say that food doesn’t taste as good as it used to? I remember as a child putting aside pocket money especially to buy a peach, and how big, sweet, juicy and delectable they were back then. Now they are floury and tasteless – I can’t recall the last time I bothered to eat one.
The force-feeding of today’s crops renders their cells into virtually tasteless bags of salty fluid, bound by weak soggy walls that provide little protection from pests and decompose quickly after harvest.
Though we may have grown to expect it, rapid spoilage is not the norm for fruit and vegetables. A generation ago you could buy a whole box of apples and store them in a cool place in the back shed. They would last for months without refrigeration.
So… What’s the solution?
BECOME A BACKYARD FARMER!
There are many compelling reasons to grow your own organic produce, starting today!
2500 years ago Hippocrates, the father of medicine, said “Let your food be your medicine and your medicine your food.”
In a world plagued by ever-increasing chronic disease, it is time to follow the wisdom of both the ancient healers and the modern ethical scientists and visionaries.
Unfortunately, modern agricultural practices have destroyed the nutritional value of most of our commercially grown and commonly used foods. The wholesome nutrition of nutrient-dense foods is the foundation for optimal well-being, and as we have seen, these can only be produced organically on minerally balanced soils.
Mankind has reached the zenith of not only peak oil and peak climate, but also peak food.
As the global population continues to rise, the amount of land brought into farming each year is now being outpaced by that lost to desertification.
Demand for oil is now outstripping our dwindling supplies. As the experience of Cuba illustrates, this will force a change from energy expensive conventional agriculture, to organic, labour intensive methods, and make gardeners out of all of us by necessity.
Runaway global warming also threatens looming shortages of water and changing climate regimes that will push the Earth’s ability to support humankind beyond its limits.
We are about to plunge into the downward side of the roller coaster and the result will be escalating shortages of food worldwide.
It takes time to master new skills and years for a fruit tree to produce fruit – the best preparation is to begin to grow your own food now.
GROWING YOUR OWN
Here are the steps to growing your own nutritious food:
- Have your soil tested
- Balance your soil’s mineral profile
- Learn organic gardening methods
- Plant locally productive varieties