Gardening Articles for week ending 26th APRIL 2008
by Wally Richards
PUTTING NUTRITION INTO FOOD CROPS
couple of weeks back, I mentioned that researchers had determined that two factors
in our conventional food chain are having adverse effects on our health, namely;
amount of chemical pesticides, herbicides, fungicide and fertilisers that are
in our food chain, many of which affect our health over a period of time. Some
of these are known to cause cancer and other health problems.
The other factor
is that our food lacks the nutritional values that it once had.
consensus was that if our food had more nutritional value then the chemical poisons
would be of less significance to our health.
My conclusion to this, as with
any common sense thinking person, would be that our conventional food chain, (fruit,
vegetables, dairy produce and meats) has a double whammy; lacking in good nutrition
and consisting of a number of harmful substances.
When we look at the dedicated
Organic food producers, we can rest assured that they have done their best to
eliminate the chemical poisons from their produce. That is great but have they
really obtained the nutritional values that their produce should contain?
some cases likely so but in the tough requirements of being organically certified
they are prevented in using many natural sources of minerals as the source may
contain heavy metals and other pollutants.
This always amuses me as there is
two factors that they seem to sweep under the rug.
Previous use of poisons
in the soil, in the past, that have long term toxic effects such as DDT.
requirement I believe is 3 years without further chemicals being used on land
that will become certified. Lack of soil tests to determine what harmful substances
will be taken up by organically certified produce and no real requirements to
remove these past harmful substances.
The other one is even more difficult
and that is the rain or water, that is used to irrigate the organic produce, which
can contain all manner of pollutants.
These aspects would fade into less importance
if the food produced contained as much nutritional value as possible.
are examples from the USDA (America) which are likely to be similar to our own
country as we tend to follow similar agriculture practices; USDA figures show
a decline in nutrient content of 43 crops it has tracked since the 1950s.
recent analysis shows vitamin C declined by 20%, iron by 15%, riboflavin by 38%,
calcium by 16%.
Figures from England show similar results and put another way,
you would now have to eat 3 apples to get the same amount of iron you would have
got from a 1940s apple.
Why has our food crops and the grasses (or crops)
that are feed to animals declined in nutritional value?
A good question and
one that is puzzling researchers that are so locked into our modern conventional
agriculture methods that they cannot think outside of the square.
are simply: The introduction of NPK chemical fertilisers into agriculture reduced
or killed off the soil life which naturally assisted plants in obtaining nutrients
and even created more nutrients in the soil.
Modern fertilisers directly feed
plants (like hydroponics) with between 3 to 16 elements that are contained in
the fertiliser used. Most fertilisers only have half a dozen elements yet we know
that there are 92 natural elements. What we don't know is how many and which ones,
each plant needs to be very healthy.
(We know that wheat and barley will take
all the 92 elements but these two grasses are exceptions rather than the rule)
The old saying you only get out what you put in is a logical fact.
If a plant
such as a lettuce required say 35 elements and we only supply 16 man made fertiliser
elements, we are about half the nutritional value of that lettuce potential.
and grasses grown with the aid of man made fertilisers have more shallow root
systems than normal.
The fertilisers are applied to the top area of the soil
so the roots do not have to penetrate deep to gain the basic nutrients to grow.
On the other hand deep rooting plants get their roots into sub soils which contain
Man made fertilisers make plants grow faster and reach maturity
quicker than plants grown naturally.
This could mean that a fast grown plant
does not have the same time to gain the nutritional value of its naturally grown
Another problem arises with man made fertilisers is that they
lock up in the soil causing deficiencies in in the elements that have been supplied.
has also created a further problem in breeding hybrid crop and grass seeds that
produce quantity rather than quality. Experiments have been conducted which prove
these modern variations of plants when grown in a natural or good soil, do not
take up the natural goodness available as their older original fore bearers do.
In fact I am told that some of these modern hybrid seed/plants will only grow
successfully in the man made chemical fertiliser conditions they are designed
for and will be poor or fail in natural soil conditions.
The answer to the
home gardener in this aspect is to grow the older open pollinated types and keep
their own seed for future plantings. (Old varieties are constantly disappearing)
lot of you readers are already aware of the health problems which are a direct
result of modern agriculture, processed foods and dietary information which is
so far out of touch with our daily body needs for good health. So what can you
do to obtain some real nutritional food value?
Grow your own vegetables and
fruit. Grow them naturally using natural manures and products.
the produce has all the possible minerals by applying Ocean Solids, Simalith rock
Magic Botanic Liquid to the soil and plants. Stop using the chemical
solutions that will contaminate the soil and your health. Don't water the soil
with chlorinated water. Grow your soil life and the soil food web with the use
of natural products and Mycorrcin.(Mycorrcin is a special food for the soil life)
recent book called, In Defence of Food by Michael Pollan is well worth reading
in regards to how our diets have altered over the last 100 odd years and the health
problems that have resulted.
For instance the ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s
used to be 3 to 1. Now it is 10 to 1 in favour of omega-6s. This big unnatural
change to our bodies leads to obesity, diabetics and heart disease (as well as
other problems) The Western diet shifted from eating leaves (vegetables; leaves
contain omega-3s as do fish oils. Fish obtain their omega-3s from eating plants;
plankton and seaweeds) to seeds (grains which contain omega-6s)
Pollan points out in the book, this switch, such as from butter (omega-3s) to
margarine (omega-6s) in regards to heart attacks showed that fewer people died
from heart attacks. It also showed that just as many if not more people had heart
attacks but due to modern medical intervention few attacks result in death.
may come to the conclusion that we are part of a giant experiment between the
food producers and the pharmaceutical companies and it has the appearance of a
mad hatters tea party.
Problems ring me at
0800 466 464 (Palmerston North 3570606)
Web site www.gardenews.co.nz
Garden Pages and News at www.gardenews.co.nz
Shar Pei pages at www.sharpei.co.nz