Today's agricultural practices are wearing out the soil and in the course of the last 70 years the nutritional value of our food has declined significantly. Why? Because of the loss of topsoil due to erosion, overuse of caustic anhydrous ammonia and potassium chloride fertilizers, and other farming practices that have destroyed the soil. The end result is "food grown in nutrient deficient soil lacks the nutrients needed to keep people healthy."1
Consider the following:
• In less than 20 years the parts-per-million content of iron in tomatoes went from 1938 to under 5; spinach has gone from 1584 to less than 31.2
• The mineral content in corn in the 1920s was 5%; today it is less than 1%.3
• Wheat has dropped in protein and mineral content by more than half.4
• Recent studies that compared the mineral content of soils today with soils 100 years ago found that agricultural soils in the United States have been depleted of eighty-five percent of their minerals.5
Today more than 80% of the diseases that plague this planet have their roots in nutritional deficiencies and "without adequate nutrition, especially minerals, research has shown that people develop chronic health conditions. More and more nutritional studies have linked many of today's most prevalent, life threatening chronic diseases – diabetes, heart disease, stroke, obesity, high blood pressure, macular degeneration, bone loss, and dementia to nutritional deficiencies."6
The good news is that we don't need to accept nutrient deficient soil and nutrient deficient food as something we are powerless to change. Back in the 1920's and 30's some individuals that saw where the trend of conventional agriculture was leading. Some of these individuals were Dr. Charles Northern, Dr. Carey Reams, and Dr. William Albrecht. As voices crying in the wilderness, few have given them heed, but decades of research revealed that with proper cultivation, the soil could again become remineralized and biologically alive. They also proved that the nutrient quality of produce could be increased 10 fold. These men were able to increase the sugar content of produce by up to three or four times and the sweeter the produce the tastier it is; and generally speaking, the sweeter it is, the greater the mineral content. This is because sugars are bound to phosphates in the plant and when phosphates come into the plant it brings along other minerals with it. So having all the minerals available is very important.
The key to achieving flavorful, nutrient rich food is to restore your depleted soil. We need to rebuild and/or establish the four main components of healthy, biologically active soil:
1. Major minerals like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium need to be added in appropriate amounts.
2. Carbon needs to be added to the soil through compost, manures or other humic matter.
3. The soil probably needs to be activated with biologicals through microbial and mycorrhizal (soil fungi) inoculants.
4. Add your trace minerals like boron, iron copper, and zinc as needed in the soil.
Especially consider that the chief mineral needed in soil is calcium. Soils deficient in calcium simply cannot produce sweet, top quality produce. Calcium acts as the base in which all other minerals react and give off energy, which directly affects plant growth and quality. Additionally, to take a plant to its greatest potential a good foliar feeding program should be established. A plant will absorb 80% of what it needs through the air, so supplying a good nutrient spray will definitely increase the plant's mineral and sugar content. Knowing the quantity of each soil amendment to add is important, and balance is necessary, so we shouldn't run out to the garden and dump a ton of lime (calcium) thinking it's going to produce super sweet corn. Start by having your soil tested. It usually costs less than $50. Once you know the deficiencies in your soil, concentrate on how to build up the deficiences.
Today we don't have to settle for poor quality, poor tasting produce if we will take an active part in growing our own food and fortifying our soil. We can return to a diet of nutrient rich food that contains the vitamins and minerals needed for optimal health. It may require a bit of effort, but it is truly a rewarding field of study that will repay us and our families with better health and fewer medical bills for years to come.
Steve Day, Director of Home for Health in Stanton, Kentucky
References w1. John B. Marler and Jeanne R. Wallin, Nutrition Security Institute, Human Health, the Nutritional Quality of Harvested Food and Sustainable Farming Systems,http://www.nutritionsecurity.org/PDF/NSI_White%20Paper_Web.pdf, page 2, (2006) w2. John D. Hamaket and Donald A. Weaver, The Survival of Civilization, Michigan (1982) w3. Albrecht, William, The Albrecht Papers Vol. 1 & 2 w4. Ibid. w5.http://www.nutritionsecurity.org/PDF/NSI_White%20Paper_Web.pdf, page 4 w6.http://www.nutritionsecurity.org/PDF/NSI_White%20Paper_Web.pdf, page 3 w7.http://www.nutritionsecurity.org/PDF/NSI_White%20Paper_Web.pdf, page 3.