With an emphasis of food as medicine in my practice, I feel a sense of urgency to protect the quality of our food and accessibility to our growers, local producers, and real traditional unadulterated foods.
When examining farming methods, I think of sustainable farming as a way of working with nature to allow her to produce bounty by ensuring healthy vital soil composition with biological nutrients, compost, and organic minerals, encouraging beneficial bugs and pollinators, and harvesting produce when ripe and at peak of nutritional density. When we focus on supporting soil and the life within it (beyond the produce growing in it) we also have improved water retention with less run-off. I think of conventional farming as unsustainable, focusing on only three nutrients in the soil (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium) rather than the hundreds of micronutrients, minerals, and compounds required for optimal development a nutrient dense product. Also, conventional farming is in some ways a battle against nature, working to kill weeds, insects, modify genes, and only catering to the top soil with synthetic fertilizers thus using the soil as a dead anchor rather than a vital source of nutrient exchange. When we only focus on feeding only the plant, we are farming or growing with limits and producing food that is lower in nutrients.
Nutritional density is directly correlated to the root structure and when we feed the soil vs. the plant (treating root vs. silencing the symptoms) such as seen in sustainable methods, the roots need to grow deeper searching for nutrients below the surface.
Produce that has to fend for itself without herbicides, insecticides, pesticides against pests, insects, and drought must develop its own shield of protection for survival. This shield is comprised of biocompounds or phytonutrients that have beneficial impacts on our bodies upon consumption in the form of antioxidants, immune system regulators, anti-inflammatory, detoxifying, and cancer fighting compounds. Organically or Sustainably grown produce has more phytocompounds (79% more Quercetin and 97% more Kaempferol) than those seen in conventionally grown foods as well as higher ascorbic acid (vitamin C), lower levels of nitrates, and higher zinc to phytate ratio.
Nature beats man in all accounts!
We see this with antibiotic resistant organisms, breast milk vs. formula, grass-fed vs. grain-fed proteins, wild vs. farm-raised fish, etc. And nature provides if you let her. For example, dandelion plants tend to grow in calcium-deficient, compacted soils, and their massive tap root bring calcium back up to the surface. Its seed won’t even germinate unless, to some degree, these soil conditions exist. Also, some “weeds” as we call many of them are forms of super foods to the body! This can be seen with dandelion’s effects on cleansing the liver and promoting detoxification as well as nutritional density of wild foods such as purslane, miner’s lettuce, blackberries, etc. tend to be 10-100xs more nutritionally dense than those selectively grown and harvested.
I think of myself as an organic/sustainable gardener of the body!
Rather than silencing the symptoms of imbalances going on below the surface (or underground) I work to understand why it is occurring and how to work with the body through nourishment and removal of irritants to find systemic balance. Treating the body from the root cause rather than silencing the symptoms through restoring the gut “soil of the body” with beneficial bugs/microbes “probiotics”, and minimizing toxin exposure promotes optimal growing conditions for the body to thrive. When we work to improve the functionality of the body rather than block biological pathways and work towards replenishing nutritional deficiency from processed foods or “food-like products” of the industry, we can achieve balance for the body as a whole without side effects!