A friend recently asked me: “What makes food healthy?” Because I work closely with organics, bionomics, wastewater, nutrient cycling, sustainable biological cycles and other things to get us off fossil fuels and to put some sustainable common sense back into our society, he thought I should have a ready answer to this question. How to answer my friend’s question? All food should be healthy. Right?
The scientific approach looks at ingredients, attempts to make a determination as to safety, possible negative effects, potential benefits and then come up with an educated decision as to whether or not to consume the food in question.
Typically I read all food labels, which in fact more and more often makes me wonder just how many industrial processes our food traverses until it ends up on grocery store shelves. In fact, I have serious difficulty determining what food to buy in the grocery store. Some of the ingredients listed on food labels with unpronounceable names are better suited to a my high school chemistry kit.
According to www.organicconsumers.org there are now close to 5000 additives allowed to be used in “food products”. Most of which haven’t even been tested yet.
Organiccarefarm.com makes reference to a new study which claims pregnant goats fed GMO soybeans produced stunted offspring and altered milk.
It makes me think that things may be worse than I had thought. Between chemicals and GMOs, just what exactly are grocery stores selling?
Some grocery stores advertise and have health food isles. If the stores make a distinction between food and health foods, what exactly is all the stuff sitting on shelves in the other isles?”
When I think back to the time when Oma held the absolute monopoly on the best food on this planet, for the life of me, I cannot remember ever talking about health food or healthy foods. We did talk about having a healthy lifestyle and food that was either good for you or not so good–as in the case of candies.
The one thing I do remember is that if we did get sick, had a cold or did not feel well, then a combination of Oma’s chicken soup and camomile tea cured almost anything. Only when that combination: Oma, chicken soup and camomile tea could not get us back on your feet within a couple of days, was the doctor called, who, with his immeasurable wisdom, determined that we might have caught something that required more bed-rest, maybe the curtains drawn and definitely more of Oma’s chicken soup.
I speak from experience here as I had measles, mumps, whooping cough and chicken pox just to mention the ones I remember. In most of those cases I was fortunate enough to have them while visiting Oma during holidays and chicken soup was the ubiquitous main dish during my convalescence.
Chicken soup was simply known to be good for you. Nobody ever called foods healthy or health food. We just knew some foods-like candy–were not so good for us.
Back in those days nobody would touch food that was adulterated with chemicals, overly processed or came from some unknown source. Every city, town and village had its own daily market, the people who sold foods were known and ate from the same crops they sold.
By 1970 my parents were very much part of the daily industrial treadmill and what I call first generation grocery store culture: Get up, go to work, come home, shop and eat in between as time permitted.
Oma had quite a different routine. She took her food very seriously. Breakfast lunch and dinner were sacred to her. She always bought food during regular excursions to market. At Oma’s every food had its particular spot in either the dispensary in the kitchen or space on a shelf or bin in the basement. Oma did not have a refrigerator until 1975. That fridge has quite a story of its own and was only used for some pretty special stuff. Like keeping malt beer cold in summer. Food did not belong in a fridge. How could you tell if it had spoiled?
Now about Oma’s chicken soup…What made Oma’s chicken soup so special?
I asked Oma about her chicken soup. Why did her chicken soup taste so great? Why was it so good for us that even Herr Doktor recommended it?
Oma patiently explained to me that it wasn’t really just chicken soup; that meat from any fowl, be it chicken, hen, rooster, duck or goose could be used to make a fricassee, stew or Eintopf, but that only very special fowl could be used for her soup: The stock for her soup had to be prepared from a mature hen that had enjoyed life outdoors, the longer the better and had to have had at least one successful brood.
In its day that answer was good enough for me. The soup worked and I had discovered Oma’s ‘secret’ ingredient.
Today, with some properly structured studies in the sciences under my belt, it turns out there are some very good reasons why Oma’s soup worked so well. There are some very interesting natural–bionomic–cyclical relationships and principles at work.
Let’s look at the main ingredient’s (the hen) relatives in the wild, grouse, partridge and pheasant. These animals are disappearing at an extremely alarming rate. We blame environmental pressures–one of them insecticides–for their rapid demise.
Fowl needs access to insects, worms and other what we might call rather unpleasant critters in order to produce a healthy clutch of viable eggs.
This brings me back to Oma’s secret ingredient. Only healthy hens that have had a healthy lifestyle-living mostly outside during the day, scratching for worms, eating all insects in sight, even helping in the garden to keep things clean, weeds from sprouting and bugs from taking over-are able to produce a healthy clutch of eggs and a healthy brood. The healthy hen has had access to natural and diversified foods. Note that fowl are not vegetarian. They need animal protein to be healthy. To buy a vegetarian chicken and on top of that pay extra for it makes absolutely no sense at all. Oma would have thought you are from off-planet.
We can say that a successful clutch and brood with healthy chicks is proof that the hen lead a healthy life and was able to feed herself with naturally nutritious good food.
It follows that the eggs and the meat from such a hen will be “healthy” to consume. Applied natural nutrient life-cycle science of what happens in between the chicken and the egg confirms Oma’s explanation and provides a small part of a road map to healthy foods. There is an amazing almost entirely self contained nutrient cycle required for both the chicken and the egg to be healthy.
Can we find our way back to healthy foods?
I believe the answer is yes we can and in a surprisingly sustainable growth oriented way. It does however require us to look at agri-culture and food-farming a bit differently.
I used Oma’s eternal wisdom as source of knowledge and fowl as my subjects of study. I spent time looking at the fowl life-cycle with their associated nutrient cycles followed by how we might use and extrapolate those nutrient cycles to our best advantage without waste to produce good, healthy food.
Last year I put together a flowchart about interlinked nutrient cycles and how to use those for minimizing farm input costs and optimize productivity. Looking at that flowchart again in the light of Oma’s wisdom, I can say that the foods produced based on this inter-relational model will also produce good nutritious ‘healthy’ foods–not just minimize input costs. My food-web farm will produce a variety of crops and at the same time benefit our environment. I was able to qualify and quantify relationships in a mathematical algorithm that allows me to correctly size the different activities as well as the infrastructure required to make the food-web farm sustainable growth oriented with the opportunity to involve the community in the form of open air family food plots.
After putting this together I can also tell you that I am now convinced that first come insects, then the chicken, then the egg and then “us”. My food-web farm also has some interesting non-food co-products to close loops, made possible thanks to technological advances in anaerobic digestion and micro-algae cultivation techniques, which I borrowed from a patent I filed a number of years back in Germany about new and improved bionomic cyclical ways to process wastewater.
Thanks to those technological advances the food-web farm produces sustainable co-products like fuel, energy and electricity. A food-web farm will have a positive healing effect on the environment and best of all can be relatively small in area depending on the desired outputs. No herbicides nor pesticides required. The attached graphical flowchart shows my food-web farming concept. It is based entirely on nature’s natural bionomic pathways.
As I mentioned, I include open skies family food plots. I think it is important and healthy to give those in the community who want to grow their own food a chance to get involved.
heal our food & return to healthy foods at the source = sustainable economic growth
Nature shows us clearly how we can use its cyclical interlinked relationships for our benefit, produce healthy good foods on food-web farms, prosper economically and heal our planet – all at the same time.
With the help of classical natural life-science, we can follow nature’s pathways and establish efficient food-web family and community friendly farms that produce a variety of different good foods continuously in almost any climate and provide the farming family with multiple sustainable revenue streams.
The additional co-products of reliable renewable and sustainable continuous energy and fuel production contribute to making the farm and its surrounding community sustainable. Best of all, the overall environmental climate footprint is positive and food-web farm economics are balanced growth oriented.
While the good old days will always be the good old days, I believe we stand at a very important crossroad where our food supply is concerned. The simple fact that there is an industry dedicated to health food which is booming should tell all of us it is time to put health back into food at the source, on the farm.
I believe we need to heal our food in order to be able to have healthy food on our table once again.
I believe that food-web farming will put good “healthy” good food back onto our tables and the fun back into farming. And maybe just maybe, by setting up self sustaining surplus production food web farms, we can convince industry to quit fooling around with our food and dedicate itself to designing and building reliable equipment for deep space travel made possible by incorporation of ‘healthy’ food-web-farming practices and finding us a few more planets to colonize.
Who’s with me?
good food, healthy food, foodwebfarming, sustainable growth, renewable energy, nature’s cyclical interlinked relationships,sustainable community, sustainable economic growth, environmental benefits, positive environmental climate footprint.