How Biological Farming Can Transform Your Food Supply for the Better: A fascinating interview with Jerry Brunetti, wherein he discusses how the entire food chain is connected to soil health, from plant and insect health, all the way up to animal and ultimately human health. Health, therefore, truly begins in the soils in which our food is grown. Building on the work of pioneers like Weston Price, WIlliam Albrecht and Louis Bromfield, Jerry Brunetti expands on a variety of strategies for optimizing plant growth to increase the nutrient quality of the foods we eat, while touching on the plant rhizosphere, plant communication and strategies of self-defense, pesticides, GMO, paramagnetism, and the future of food as medicine -- and needless to say, it all centers around the health of the soil. Read on...
News From the Field
"I spend my days in a sterile 8x10 room practicing family medicine and yet my mind is in the soil. This is because I’m discovering just how much this rich, dark substance influences the day-to-day health of my patients. I’m even beginning to wonder whether Hippocrates was wrong, or at least somewhat misguided, when he proclaimed, 'Let food be thy medicine.' Don’t get me wrong—food is important to our health. But it might be the soil where our food is grown, rather than the food itself, that offers us the real medicine." So starts a great article by Daphne Miller, M.D., one of a growing number of scientists and health practitioners who are waking up to the fact that healthy soil equals healthy bodies.
When it comes to a healthy diet packed with nutrients and vitamins, simply eating your veggies might not cut it anymore. Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that nutrient levels in crops have continued to go down in the past three decades, raising concerns for farmers and consumers alike. At the same time, controversy over genetically modified crops continues to brew, as some advocacy groups argue the risks associated with the technique have not been properly studied. In honor of Earth Day, the Hopedale Unitarian Parish is offering in April several programs to raise awareness of several environmental debates that could impact our health and wallets, and what we can do to grow the best food possible.
Are organic foods more nutritious than conventionally raised ones? Stanford University scientists cast doubt on that concept last year in a widely publicized report. But the gritty little secret is that whether your apples and spinach are organic or not, nutrient levels can vary dramatically depending on growing conditions, such as soil type and quality, temperature, and days of sun versus rain. As a consumer, you have no independent way of verifying that you have chosen a superior batch. But what if you had a handheld scanner that would allow you to check nutrient density? “You could compare carrots to carrots,” says Dan Kittredge, executive director of the Bionutrient Food Association, which is raising the funds to research such a device. “If this batch is a dud, pass. If the next one is good, that's where you spend your money.”
The world record yield for paddy rice production is not held by an agricultural research station or by a large-scale farmer from the United States, but by Sumant Kumar who has a farm of just two hectares in Darveshpura village in the state of Bihar in Northern India. His record yield of 22.4 tons per hectare, from a one-acre plot, was achieved with what is known as the System of Rice Intensification (SRI). To put his achievement in perspective, the average paddy yield worldwide is about 4 tons per hectare. Even with the use of fertilizer, average yields are usually not more than 8 tons. Sumant Kumar’s success was not a fluke. Four of his neighbors, using SRI methods, and all for the first time, matched or exceeded the previous world record from China, 19 tons per hectare. Moreover, they used only modest amounts of inorganic fertilizer and did not need chemical crop protection.
Dan Kittredge is trying to change the way the world eats, and he’s starting right here in New England. The North Brookfield resident is the executive director of the Bionutrient Food Association, a 501(c)3 whose mission is “Increasing Quality in the Food Supply.” Kittredge grew up on an organic farm in Barre and has been a professional organic farmer his whole life.
Though anything but a soils science expert, as a premed student some 25 short years ago and after a year as a farm intern, I felt I knew enough biology and farming to attempt a six-month bio-nutrient soils study on an organic farm. Jeffrey Colle' of Colle' Agriculture, green lit the project and David Retsky, owner of County Line Harvest Farm in Thermal, CA, provided the test plots for the six crops he was about to plant. Ignorance is bliss and little did I know what I was in for.