Food Nutrition Really Matters
How is soil health linked to human health?
We are what we eat and what we eat comes from the soil. If our food producing soils are minerally depleted, biologically inactive and chemically contaminated, then so is our food! Unfortunately, the tale of extractive agriculture over the past few decades involves all three of these limiting factors and our food has suffered as a result. There have been several studies that have highlighted this decline. In fact, there are nutritionists now claiming that the food we currently consume has just thirty percent of the nutrition found in the food consumed by our Grandparents when they were children. This dramatic decline is not solely related to a reduction in soil fertility; It is also linked to food processing, preparation and transport, but the soil is an important player.
How has our food been affected by conventional farming?
Conventional, acid, salt fertilisers seemed like a good idea at the time. There seemed no longer a need for the high maintenance, soil restorative practices of the past when you could just throw on some nutrition from a bag each season. However, “easy”, is not necessarily best, and, in this case, the new approach proved unsustainable. The acid salt fertilisers decimated some of the key creatures in the soil, responsible for soil rebuilding and nutrient delivery.
The most visible of these creatures is the humble earthworm which has disappeared from many conventionally farmed soils. However, the fungal organisms that build humus were similarly affected. Humus is the storehouse for all minerals and the home base for the soil organisms that deliver these minerals to the plant. Humus levels have declined by 70% during the decades of extractive agriculture and we are all paying the price. Nutrient deficient plants always require more chemical intervention. The use of farm chemicals is now astronomical and our food, our children and our planet are suffering from this toxic deluge!
How does soil health improvement affect our food?
When we remineralize our soils and invigorate the soil biology, we reclaim, forgotten flavours, nutrient density and medicinal qualities in our food.
Animals grown on nutrient dense pasture supply meat, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA – a powerful anti-cancer compound) and that meat features much lower levels of saturated fat than meat from grain-fed animals (5 times less!)
Vegetables grown in these soils contain much higher levels of antioxidants. We now know that compounds like lycopene and sulphurafane are incredibly protective but the levels of these compounds in vegetables depends upon soil life activity and the mineralisation of the soil.
Fruit quality is similarly dependent upon soil fertility. Several years ago in the UK researchers found conventionally grown oranges that contained zero vitamin C. It appears that if you ignore the nutrient delivery mechanisms in the soil (biology and mineral balance) for long enough, you produce poor food. This compromised produce is invariably chemically contaminated because nutrient density and natural pest and disease protection are directly linked.
How do I take the first steps to change the way I farm?
The first thing to realise is that there is no sacrifice required to become more sustainable in your farming operation. In their famous four-day Certificate in Sustainable Agriculture course, you will learn that this change can be the best thing that ever happened in your farming operation. You will see that what is best for the environment is best for you! Your productivity and profitability are expected to improve from the first season, not five years down the track!