“The recovery of the people is tied to the recovery of food.” – Winona LaDuke
“Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute to real wealth, good morals, and happiness.” – Letter from Thomas Jefferson to George Washington (1787)
We had an excellent speaker at this month’s organic gardeners meeting, Mr. Dan Kittredge of the Real Food Campaign. He was there to speak on extending the farming season and mainly on his passion about nutrient density in crops/food. He started the Real Food Campaign to educate and collaborate with consumers, farmers, scientists, retailers (grocery stores, community supported agriculture outlets, farmers markets, food coops, etc.) and policy makers about the need for nutrient dense food. Through their work they are trying to create a new standard for what constitutes highly nutritious food and is working to make this food available in the marketplace.
After hearing Dan speak I left the meeting with the same vigor and excitement that I had when I first saw him speak at the NOFA Winter Conference a few years back. He used to be a grassroots activist and believed in the notion that “the truth will save us all and change people’s minds!” but he’s lived and learned and said that we can fight all we want over what’s best for the human race but the real way to turn heads towards change is to make an alternative lifestyle more attractive.
The most important thing about farming or gardening of any kind is the soil. Plants have external digestive tracts and need the most nutrient rich soil to produce highly nutritious fruits. “Dryland farming” – the way most people farm or garden can also be called mining minerals. Unless you live in a valley and get the rain water flood that comes down the side of the mountain you are starving the fertile soil of all the minerals that the plant needs to be nutrient dense for our human needs. Basically we need to start focusing more of the Nurture side of the Nature vs. Nurture scope. Plants only really need 12 minerals to produce a crop but humans need 82 different minerals a day to fuel our bodies in the most beneficial way. When an apple tastes like cardboard or a carrot tastes bitter or soapy that is our body’s way of telling us that we shouldn’t eat it – that although a fruit or vegetable is good for you there aren’t any nutrients in it that’s why we feel unsatisfied or hungry after a meal… our bodies are still craving the nutrients it needs.
He also touched on epigenetics – which are the inherited changes in the appearance or genes changed by mechanisms (such as humans in this case) and without the proper care of your plants it only takes 3 generations for the genetics to break down and be more susceptible to disease, general regression and weakness. I know he was speaking of the plants when he spoke on this but I couldn’t help think about the bigger picture – about humans and how the further we get away from eating from our own back yards the closer we get to weakened body functions and disease (cancer, heart failure, diabetes etc). For the first time ever they are predicting that the younger generation now might be outlived by their parents.
At the end of the day the argument is no longer organic vs. non-organic food but nutrient dense food vs. non-nutrient dense food. Of course you’re going to want to eat the organic broccoli over the commercially sprayed vegetable but what we really need to know is if it is nutrient rich or not.
He recommended that we use tools (such as the refractometer or brix meter) that measure the health of our plants and by using such tools we bring confidence to our natural intuition and we become aware of what the plant needs or is lacking just by looking at it and eventually no longer needing the tools. When you have that relationship with nature that is all you need – when you give the plant what it needs the plant will in turn give you what you need – pure synergy.
Did you know that we have tools now that you can hold up to a grape and it will give you the read out of how many antioxidants are in it? Ultimately, the Read Food Campaign would like to design and produce a tool that would allow people to walk in the grocery store and be able to test fruits and vegetables for their Nutrient Density levels. Which in turn would turn attention to the farmer’s that weren’t producing nutrient dense crops and make them responsible for producing the healthiest food possible. Our processed food lifestyle has put us way out of touch with ourselves, our communities and it’s affecting our general happiness and potential in life. If tools such as this will put us one step closer to our natural intuition and general state of happiness I say let’s go for it – we are out of touch and need some confidence to get back to our roots.
When humans are more synergistic with nature their bodies are healthier and plants no longer need to depend on fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides to live. Not only that but the plants and fruits themselves will be bigger, stronger and extra tasty and nutritious! A plants capacity to vibrate is limited by poor quality in the soil and the same can be said about humans. So, let’s get back in touch with ourselves and give our bodies what they need… let’s get REAL people! Also, the Real Food Campaign is giving a great workshop series next year that I really would recommend checking out!