A couple of us Chelsea Permies attended a free presentation on Bionutrient-rich Crop Production at the Gilbert House in Ypsilanti on Sunday. This was an introduction to the Bionutrient Food Association and what it does, and also promoted a 2-day workshop to be held in February 2015 in the northern lower peninsula. The talk was even MORE than it promised to be. Not only did it address the issue of “How can we return nutrient dense food, or food with high levels of bionutrients, to our markets, gardens, and farms?. . .
But also, it demonstrated a very positive approach for how we can fix our whole food production system by first helping the grower-community fix their soils, using a method of testing crops for nutrient density, and then using that same technique to allow customers to test foods in the store so they can find the healthiet and best-tasting choices …
The presentation was given by Dan Kittredge of the Bionutrient Food Association (bionutrient.org) that is located in North Brookfield, Massachussetts. The ‘about us’ page on this site tells us about Dan… “Founder and life-long farmer Dan Kittredge launched The Real Food Campaign (RFC) in 2008, to empower and educate farmers towards the production of quality food for the improvement of human health. In 2008 and 2009 RFC made major strides in developing a cohesive local, national and global vision, and networked nationally to build the base to implement its mission. Under Dan’s leadership in 2009-2010 RFC began holding yearlong courses on Nutrient Dense Crop Production and building a professional team of staff.”
A look at his website events page, http://bionutrient.org/events, shows his ‘track record’ since January 2012… To be exact, since then he’s delivered 62 ‘bionutrient’ talks in various settings: 25 in MA, 8 in NY, 5 in CO , 3 in CT, NH, & OH, 2 in ME, MI & WV and 1 in NJ, PA & online…
From the Library section of the website is the powerpoint Dan uses in farmers workshops. Not all of this was presented to us.: http://bionutrient.org/sites/all/files/docs/PrinciplesToProduceNutrientDenseCrops.pdf
The USDA has been documenting mineral and nutrient declines on the average foodstuff for the past 80 years since the first records were kept There is also a large increase in degenerative diseases. It has been proven that 56 different chemical elements are required to construct a strand of DNA. Our body replaces between 60-70 per cent of it cells every 6 months, so we construct a lot of DNA daily. If one of those chemical elements is not present, then a piece of DNA might not replicate properly and may be missing. When a DNA fragment at a location is identified as missing, that is a form of ‘genetic marker’. Some of these types of genetic markers can be correlated with degenerative diseases. A long time ago, Linus Pauling was aware of these things. He was the one who said that behind every degenerative disease is a mineral deficiency.
Basically, two things are all that are needed to supplement your soil to provide these 56 nutrients – sea water and rock dust (so long as the rock dust has the necessary elements in a bio-available form). The soil life has DNA, just like us, so it needs these same 56 nutrients. To flourish, soil life needs 5 things: Water, air, mineral balance, microbes (themselves) and carbon (organic matter). A plant sends out through its roots much of the sugar product of photosynthesis to feed the symbiotic microbial ‘livestock’ nearby.
Conventional farming provides too few elements in the fertilizer and cuts the soil life infrastructure channels by tilling, which ends up compacting the soil more than it had been. Per the BFA website: “The BFA suggests that the objective of growing crops should be to produce nutrition that will cause people to thrive, and there is no way to do that without understanding that the soil is the foundation of that process. “
A better way is to address things systemically. Assess whether there is a ‘plow pan’ that needs to be broken so that the tidal forces can bring up water to the plants. A Penetrometer will help you see if you have a plow pan, and a Broad Fork, or Keyline Plow can be ued to fix the hardpan in a noninvasive way. It’s better to have 30 worms per square yard than it is to have a tiller. If you can’t pick up a handful of dirt with your hand, then your soil is too tight. If you’re growing annuals, you may need bare soil 2 weeks of the year. Otherwise, try not to have bare soil. Leaving soil bare damages its health.
One major nutrient that humans are dependent on is Vitamin B12. Eighty percent of the species of bacteria and fungi are also B12 dependent. This can be supplied by sea minerals. There is a book by Maynard Murray, written in the 1930s called “Fertility from the Ocean”.
You can collect your own sea water in a drum, put lye in the drum and wait until the trace minerals settle to the bottom. You siphon off the sodium and chloride at the top and use the rest. When using it, dilute it 50 to 1. Always mix your sea minerals with something like humates or humus (you’re buffering to improve bioavailability). Humus can be defined as the product of fungal digestion. Humates can be found in a layer between peat moss and coal. Leonardite is the geological name for humate. Biochar can be used as a buffer, too, after it has been activated to improve its bioavailability.
Green sand costs a lot less if bought directly from a quarry. We need to use cooperative self interest to increase our buying power. All quarries crush a lot of rock and end up burying the rock dust produced as a waste material. Dust from ultramafic (hign in iron and magnesium) volcanic formations has been found to be the best to be used if available in your region. The most important factor in deciding what rock dust to use is that the minerals are bioavailable.
A Goal of the Bionutrient Food Association is to provide a Mineral Depot in each bio-region for members to buy critical amendments at bulk price.
From the BFA Soil Profile Project pamphlet: “Using data from farm soil cores, rock dust samples from local quarries, NRCS soil type and topographical maps and geological maps produced by the USGS, we are creating a layered resource of information to assist growers in understanding how to interpret their environment and implement fertility programs using inexpensive materials …
In addition to core samples being processed, we would like to start collecting Rock Dust Quarry samples to be tested for composition. We hope to collect samples from all over the country and would like to ask for your help in achieving this goal, by ssending in Rock Dust Samples from quarries in your area.”
Use innoculants on seeds and root stock with spore forms of bacteria & fungi. There are full families of species that are no longer present in our soils. The spore shelf life of these product are in the tens of thouands of years.
Mulch and cover crops are very important. Use woody materials for mulch only where perennials are grown.
The course will cover the critical steps and timing for the entire growing season.
Fall is the beginning of the growing season. That is the time to take a soil test and to address adding what is not present. Fall is mineral-balancing and cover-cropping time.
There was a study done on prize-winning pigs to see how long it took bad nutrition to wear out the genetics of the stock. It took 3 generations. It also took 3 generations of good nutrition to build back the prize-winning characteristics.
Therefore it’s the health of the mother and grandmother plant that are the best indicators of what you’ll get. However, it’s extremely difficult to get this information at present from vendors. That’s because they give the individual customer the poorest grade of seeds, saving the best for their own re-use and larger buyers. It’s better to save your own seeds to maximize seed health.
simplest to most complex:
sugars-> carbs-> proteins-> fats/oils/lipids-> secondary metabolites (essential oils)
If a plant can build carbohydrates then pests can’t digest the plant and will not attack it. What makes a plant taste good to us also makes it inedible to insects or fungi. And, conversely, if plants are digestible to insects then they’re not fit for human consumption. Insects and fungal pests are nature’s garbage crew. Our (including insects) sense of taste is our mechanism that helps us get what we need, and as part of the natural order, we all have different needs and tastes…
A Refractometer is the best tool at present for testing quality. You need a drop of juice from the plant. The more the light bends through the sap, the more nutritive ions are present. The handicap of using this testing method is that it’s destructive to the plant being tested. BFA is working with Cornell and the Biodynamic Association to develop a near-infrared spectrometer for use as a tester. They need to develop a spectrum signature and its variation for every type of plant. The goal is to give consumers these testers, at a cost of about $150, so that they can pick the healthiest food off the shelves. That should solve the GMO problem… Farmers will be buying the right quality of product to meet the new demand from customers that will be able to select the best product for the health of their family…
Without any way to turn customers away from nutrientless produce, the Health problem will take us down before anything else will…