Poor Soils, Great Soils—Which Ones Do You Want Your Food to Grow In?
Dr. Charles Northen1., an American physician, coined the phrase some 60 years ago that “we must make soil building the basis of food building in order to accomplish human building.” He knew the soils around the world were suffering from over-use and that they needed re-building. One problem was that large corporate farms were anxious to grow food and make profit, not build soil. They could make do by replenishing the soil with just three minerals. The result was a continuing loss of the very soils that provide the optimum nutrition that enables people to thrive. Governments, science, business, and ordinary people quietly agreed to compromise. In the end, minimal soil building led to minimal food building and accomplished minimal human building.
André Voisin, a French farmer and scientist and associate of Dr. Northen, raised this issue internationally decades ago in various papers and in his book Soil, Grass and Cancer2. Dr. Gary Farr’s 2002 review of Voisin’s book3. summarizes his clear and helpful warning:
Healthy soil, according to Voisin, is more than a collection of minerals. In fact, he demonstrated that people who ate the products of heavy clay soils suffered numerous health problems, such as thyroid disease and cancer, in spite of the fact that the soils were rich in minerals. He pointed out that organic matter served as the catalyst for mineral absorption. Minerals must first be consumed by earthworms and microscopic life and excreted as humus before they can be easily taken up by grazing animals. If you think of yourself for a moment as one of those grazing animals (an eater of plants), soil quality becomes an important issue for you. Simply put, plants grown in organically rich soils have a much better chance of supplying essential nutrients.
While scientists generally concur that soil degradation constitutes a global threat, more research needs to be done on the relationship between depleted soils and the apparent decline in the nutrient content of crops. It’s a situation that should concern all consumers because the effects of degradation often are irreversible, and technological advances tend to merely mask the severity of the underlying problem. So far, governments have been slow to act, but consumers may be able to exert their influence by undertaking four relatively simple actions:
1. Purchase food as much as possible from local farmers and certified organic growers rather than huge factory farms where high yields and high profits take priority over sustaining the soil and the nutrient content of the plants.
2. Choose supplements made from certified organic plants—and make sure the plants have been grown and harvested using sustainable methods that replenish the soil, rather than depleting it. Again, query the manufacturer.
3. Look for individuals and organizations that treat the soil as a living organism. Find out if they are conducting annual soil tests, using cover crops to help prevent erosion, rotating crops to enhance the soil, and generally focusing on creating a healthy ecosystem.
4. Demand more research and better information from government officials.
The alternative—to ignore existing evidence and wait until governments act—is no alternative at all.
Read more about soil, organics, and the Nutritional Void© in chapters 1 & 2 of EAT TO SAVE YOUR LIFE
- Beach, Rex. “Modern Medical Men.” A review of the work of Dr. Charles Northen, reprinted from Cosmopolitan Magazine. 1936. Senate Document #264, 74th Congress 2nd Edition. U.S. Printing Office, Washington DC.
- Voisin, Andre. Soil, grass and cancer. 1959. New York 16, N. Y.
- Farr, Gary Dr. “Nutrition/Soil, Grass and Cancer Editorial review.” 2002. http://www.becomehealthynow.com/article/contactusmeet/525
Our modern-day soils have NOT enjoyed the improvement hoped for in 1936 when a U.S. Senate committee reported, "foods...that are now being raised on millions of acres of land that no longer contain enough of certain needed minerals are starving us no matter how much of them we eat." (U.S. Senate Committee Document 264, 1936).
When you buy plant-based supplements, look for certified organic sources where the plants have been grown in soils containing sufficient organic matter, earthworms, and microscopic life to ensure minerals can be more readily taken up by your body.
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