Any use of the letters GAPS on this website are used solely as an acronym for Gut And Psychology Syndrome
Dr Natasha

Blog

04/03/2011

Is organic food in shops what it is supposed to be?

Somebody sent me a Daily Mail report on the 23 February 2011 stating that organic vegetables have recently been demonstrated to have less nutrients than chemically produced ones. That may be true, because many organic vegetables in our supermarkets today are grown on exhausted soils. Yes, they do not contain pesticides, but they may not contain much useful nutrition either. Organic standards are being degraded in the Western world. As more and more consumers want organic food, large scale industrial producers jumped on the bandwagon - producers, who are only interested in producing more for less with no regard to the quality of their produce. As there is no clear legislation, various so-called "organic" pesticides and fertilisers are being used, and the organic standards are deteriorating rapidly. But most importantly nobody in the industry is interested in the state of the soil, on which these foods are grown. And we have to be concerned about our soil more than many of us realise, and not only because we grow our food in it.

The soils on our beautiful planet are being destroyed by modern farming. Why? Because the sad fact is that our modern farming is a slave of the chemical industry. How and why our farming finished up in such a situation is another story. But let us focus on the food: the food comes from soil. We are not only talking about plants but animals as well, as animals feed on plants grown on soil, so the quality of soil is the basis of the quality of all our food.

The soils in many areas of the world, particularly in the Western world, are so abused and exhausted, that they are unable to produce anything without fertilizers. Chemical fertilizers are based on three minerals (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, or NPK), while natural soils contain more than a hundred of various minerals. NPK fertilizers upset the delicate balance in the soil, which gradually leads to death of uncountable numbers of various microbes, worms, insects and other forms of life. Natural soil is alive; it is the leaving organisms in it that maintain the soil's fertility and health. As the soil looses its living community, it is not able to nourish the plants properly or to protect them from disease. As a result the food we grow on this soil has a poor nutritional value and is prone to various diseases and pest infestations. That is, of course, great news for the chemical industry, because now they can sell various pesticides, fungicides and other "cides": most crops in the Western world are sprayed with these chemicals at least 14 times every season. Our food is laced with agricultural chemicals; and a large percent of these chemicals finish up in our rivers, streams, ground waters and oceans, poisoning life there as well. The grip of the chemical industry on modern farming is so complete that nobody seems to see a way of changing the situation. And of course the chemical industry is busy spreading their propaganda, that without them we cannot feed the world. This propaganda is not true at all and is based on fear. It has been demonstrated in many studies that organic farming on rich fertile soils can provide more food than the chemical farming can, and this food is of high quality, rich in minerals and other nutrients.

Many renowned and wise scientists have warned us for decades about loss of minerals from our soils, and hence loss of minerals from our food. It has been demonstrated that between 1940 and 1991 vegetables have lost around 25% of magnesium, 46% of calcium 27% of iron and 78% of copper. Carrots, for example have lost 75% of magnesium, 48% of calcium, 46% of iron and 75% of copper. According to David Thomas, a geologist, who made a report on loss of minerals in our foods in 2003, we would have to eat ten tomatoes now to get the amount of copper a single tomato would have provided in 1940, and we would have to eat about two kilograms of apples to provide nutrition a one apple used to give us. So, the popular saying "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" does not apply anymore; and if you tried to eat two kilos of supermarket apples to supply the nutrient from one real apple, you would consume so many agricultural chemicals, that you will definitely need a doctor!

Minerals are fundamental to our lives and health; everything in this world is made out of minerals including our bodies. The alarming growth of degenerative disease in our modern populations to a large degree is due to relentlessly decreasing levels of minerals in our food. But let us step away from our health concerns for a moment and see a wider view of the problem.

Minerals in the soil are the main and most fundamental power on this planet for binding carbon from the air. As long as the soil is rich in minerals it will absorb carbon. Modern industrial farming destroys soils and their ability to absorb carbon. The more "civilised" humanity became, more fossil fuels it started to burn pumping carbon into the atmosphere, and now we have a problem of climate change. The scientific solution to this problem existed for the last 120 years, proposed by several scientists. This solution is to re-mineralise our soils. By returning minerals to the soil we will not only improve the planet's climate, but we will return to growing good quality food rich in nutrition. Trouble is that this solution would make our chemical industry redundant in farming, and they are not prepared to let it go. Let us learn more about this.

In 1893 a German scientist Julius Hensel wrote a book Bread From Stone, which was a culmination of many years of research. He demonstrated that by adding volcanic rock ground into powder to soil it was possible to produce high yields of crops rich in minerals and resistant to disease. Authorities got interested in Hensel's research and plans were made to manufacture his rock powder on a large scale. However, the chemical industry has attacked Hensel's research and lobbied the government so effectively, that the few companies, who were ready to produce the rock fertilizer, were forced out of business, and Hensel's book was removed from the libraries. His research was suppressed and his findings never implemented into practice. That was 1893! Since then during the 20th century number of scientists repeated Hensel's research and confirmed his findings. In the 1970s ecologist and environmental campaigner John Hamaker mineralised his soil in Michigan with glacial gravel screenings or glacial dust from a nearby quarry. Despite the fact that the soils were very worn out, he produced rich crops resistant to disease and full of nutrients. He wrote a book The Survival Of Civilization, where he explains the connection between mineral content of the soil with climate change, our declining quality of food and the epidemics of modern degenerative disease. In the 1980-90s a Scottish couple Cameron and Moira Thomson have implemented this method on infertile, acidic upland grassland site of the Grampian mountains in Strathardle in Perthshire. They built stone terraces and filled them with rock dust from a local quarry mixed with municipal compost. In a matter of few years they transformed a barren wind-swept landscape into a lush garden producing wonderful crops of large-size vegetables. These vegetables, grown on well-mineralised soil, are rich in minerals and other nutrients. The Thomsons have established a trust in 1997 called Sustainable Ecological Earth Regeneration with Rockdust or SEER Centre Trust as a model for conversion to sustainable organic re-mineralised agriculture.

Our planet has enormous reserves of volcanic rock; many quarries and factories consider the dust from it a waste. It is perfectly possible to fertilize the soils of our entire planet with volcanic rock, ground into dust. Moira Thomson points out: "if we humans can manage to cover the Earth's soils with various chemicals several times a year to chemically grow our crops, we can surely cover the Earth's soils with rock dust! We believe that using rock dust on a global scale for sustainable organic gardening can regenerate natural ecosystems which in turn, can nourish us with nutrient-rich organic foods." And Cameron Thomson adds to that: "we are convinced that spreading rock dust on a global scale could enable Earth's soils to absorb sufficient amounts of excess atmospheric carbon to stabilise global climate change!" Does it get better than that? These people show us the way to produce truly organic nourishing foods and save the planet at the same time!

But what about our chemical industry?

Best wishes,
Dr Natasha