Ecological Nutrition, Our Planet, and Your Optimal Health
Nutritional healing is foundational in the True Nature Process. Without proper individualized nutrition, functional approaches often fail and become symptom-based bandaids, simply substituting supplements for medicines. At True Nature, we use a powerful combination of both Metabolic Typing® and ecological nutrition. The first addresses individual nutrient processing and requirements while the latter addresses your path to acquire the greatest possible nourishment in your MT plan. This article will focus more deeply on ecological nutrition, which I am passionate about - but what exactly is ecological nutrition?
It is more than a method, it is a commitment
It is, essentially, eating with local and sustainable biodynamically raised animals and foods
It is not only feeding the body with the most potent nutrients but saving our earth from destruction
It is the prevention of significant environmental epigenetic stressors by the removal of dependence upon fossil fuels and chemicals used in conventional farming and transport
It is the localization of work forces and economic democracy
It is the true meaning of "organic" - life-giving
It is a commitment and method which allows more adaptability with climate change
It is also a commitment and method which returns dignity and fairness to the poor vs. concentration of income and food to the wealthy (Where humans have consumed over 80,000 types of plants over the course of evolution, we now rely on 8 crops to feed 75% of the world's population, with those harvests managed by giant agriculture conglomerates.)
It is a commitment and method that returns carbon material from a renewable source (plants) vs. non-renewable (fossil)
It allows us all to eat LESS food because our food is higher in nutrients, nourishing the body more effectively
Let's begin with that last statement. We have learned that eating less equals a longer life. (1) And yet, healing can require eating more for a period of time and/or require more dense-type nutrients. With proper therapeutic attention to healing, we can often stabilize and begin to process food more efficiently and with less quantity over time. Less food consumed also equates to less food being produced and distributed, as well as to more "open space" in which diverse life forms may exist. Climate chaos and poor soil quality are directly linked with low species diversity and chemical/mechanical farming. (2) A return to to local, biodynamic food production yields higher nutrient foods for greater well-being.
In her book, Soil not OIl, Dr. Vandana Shiva shares the following evidence from decades of development of ecological farming through her project, Navdanya:
In a cubic meter of healthy, organic soil, there will be 50,000 earthworms, 50,00 small insects and mites, 30,000 protozoa, 50,000 algae, 400,000 fungi and billions of bacteria. These are key to soil fertility, especially the fungi.
Chemical fertilizers currently used in conventional farming block the soil capillaries which supply nutrients and water to growing plants. When ecological farming is employed, less water is required, and the amounts of critical nutrients such as zinc, calcium, manganese, magnesium, iron, copper and molybdenum are increased many-fold. (Zinc deficiency is rampant in our foods and our bodies. It is, simply, one of the most critical cofactors for digestion, immune function and detoxification.)
Ecological, local farming returns manure and plant compost back to soil, allowing earthworms to be hosted in much greater numbers. They, in turn, allow 30% better air volume, ten times faster soil drainage alongside 20% higher water-holding capacity in the plants themselves, plus up to 11 times more exchangeable minerals.
Ecological agriculture takes carbon from the atmosphere and moves it into the soil. In conventional agriculture, the opposite is true.
Dr. Shiva also shares, brilliantly, "The organic label itself - like every other such label in the super-market - is really just an imperfect substitute for direct observation of how a food is produced, a concession to the reality that most people in an industrial society haven't the time or the inclination to follow their food back to the farm...there is a new conflict emerging between authentic organic, based on small, biodiverse farms, and pseudo organic, based on large-scale, monoculture corporate farms." (3)
As Einstein told us, we cannot fix a problem with the same mindset it was created with. Large "organic" operations which utilize plastics and other fossil fuel-based packaging, wide distribution and transport systems, and mechanical operations are placing many of the same stresses upon the environment, and local social and economic hierarchies/democracies - only minus the chemical fertilizers. While perfection in food sourcing is close to impossible for most of us, there are certainly some very reliable and attainable strategies for practicing ecological nutrition. I share here many of my own and welcome comments/sharing of others:
Source animal and plant foods from local growers and ranchers through local stores, farm stands and farmers' markets. My community is fortunate to have many options for these, including a local butcher who uses every part of the animals brought in, not just the prime pieces. Dog feed is created from some parts of the animals, and marinated less-than-prime cuts are also created for cooking. Animal ranching is one of the more complex aspects of ecological agriculture and yet it can be both done and sourced by those with passion for it.
Ask questions of your local growers about their practices and educate yourself on what is sustainable/biodynamic.
Start your own home garden and/or join a community garden. Having done this and walking out my door to clip food fresh from the ground at mealtime is unlike anything I ever knew before.
Sign up for community garden shares. These are available at many small, local health food stores and through many local growers.
Do what you can to compost food scraps. Many cities have collection programs now, and/or farmers will accept donations for composting. Try doing your own! There are countertop units that are simple and easy and you can add your own compost to your yard.
Instead of buying bottled water, find a local source to fill yourself, here: www.findaspring.com. This is a free resource of sites where land owners have agreed to allow access to property for free collection of natural spring water. (Note: it is always good to run a simple water quality test on any water you are drinking. Kits are available, as are 3rd party testing services.)
Volunteer with community growers. They frequently need and welcome the help.
Eating an entire apple (core and all) provides 100,000,000 microbes of lactobacillus vs. 10,000,000 of the cored apple. Also, this same study shows that organic vs. conventional apples provide much greater overall microbial community diversity. Organic DOES matter, and so does consumption of a whole food when possible.
Teach your teens the basics of food prep and cooking! Diane Tavenner has helped establish a the Summit School System and written a book titled “Prepared”, both teaching us that kids better connect to their purpose and their success as adults when allowed independence in the kitchen.
Shiva states that the conversion of 10,000 medium sized farms from conventional to organic practices would create emissions reduction equivalent to removing more than 1 million cars from the road - if we can each do our part to encourage this movement, we're making a huge difference. Here's to empowerment, happy growing, eating, and preserving of our lands and environment for generations to come.
(1) C. Zhang et al., “Structural modulation of gut microbiota in life-long calorie-restricted mice,” Nature Communications, 4: 2163, doi: 10.1038/ncomms3163, 2013.
(2) Professor Ary Hoffmann, FAA, University of Melbourne, "Climate Change and Biodiversity", Australian Academy of Science
(3) Vandana Shiva, PhD, "Soil not Oil", pgs 118-120