Project: PRI New Zealand (Koanga Institute)
Posted by Adam Shand over 10 years ago
As part of the Koanga Institute’s research program regarding relationships between human health, soil health, plant health, and animal health, we have come to the realisation that if we wish to be eating nourishing food that maintains our DNA for the long haul, we need to follow the principles or ‘Laws of Nature’ around how energy becomes matter, how we grow and maintain health, and how our plants and animals grow and maintain health.
Weston A. Price discovered that all the indigenous people he studied were getting at least 10 times the fat soluble vitamins and 4 times the minerals, compared to a Western diet of the same time (1930s). He also discovered that although they all ate very differently, they all followed the same principles in their diets. They knew how to eat to maintain their DNA so that they were extremely healthy and passed on strong genes. These are the principles of healthy traditional diets, discovered by Weston A. Price and others:
1. No refined or denatured foods.
2. All traditional cultures consumed some sort of animal protein and fat.
3. All diets contains 4x the minerals and 10x the fat soluble vitamins (A, D, K, E) found in foods like organ meats, fish eggs, fish liver oils, butter and egg yolks from pastured animals.
4. In all traditional cultures some animal products were eaten raw.
5. Total fat content of all traditional diets varied from 30 – 80% of daily calorie intake, and only around 4% of that was polyunsaturated oil. The balance was saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids.
6. Traditional diets had a high food enzyme content from raw meat and dairy and also fermented fruit, vegetables, and meat/fish.
7. Seeds, grains, and nuts were soaked, sprouted, fermented or naturally leavened in order to neutralise anti-nutrients in these foods such as phytic acid, enzyme inhibitors, tannins and complex carbohydrates.
8. Traditional diets contained nearly equal amounts of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.
9. All primitive diets contained salt.
10. Traditional cultures consumed animal bones, usually in the form of gelatine rich bone broths.
11. Traditional cultures made provisions for the health of future generations by providing special nutrient rich foods for parents-to-be, pregnant women, and growing children.
As a lifelong gardener, and a Permaculture garden designer, I have never ever seen a design for a food garden that takes into account the fats, minerals and vitamins we actually need, according to science and history.
The relatively new science of epigenetics (see Deep Nutrition by Katherine Shanahan, Primal Body Primal Mind by Nora Gedgaudas) confirms the critical need to follow these principles. My understanding of the principles expounded by Dr Carey Reams, as written in Nourishment Home Grown by A.F. Beddoe supports these understandings as well.
I have come to the understanding that soil health, plant and animal health, and human health are intimately linked, in incredible ways beyond our ability to fully comprehend at this time. As microbes, plants, and animals, we actually have daily requirements for energy which comes from the interactions that take place in our bodies between the mineral compounds in the food we eat, during the digestion process (in the case of humans).
The implication of this is that if there is a long term shortage or imbalance of minerals, then plants, animals and humans are not able to absorb those minerals, and that energy shortage shows as ill health, degenerative disease or premature ageing.
According to Dr. Weston Price, we need around 1500mg of available calcium on a daily basis, and at least 10,000 IU of Vitamin A on a daily basis although our bodies can store that so some variation can be coped with. If we don’t get the vitamin A, we can’t absorb the minerals or perform a myriad of processes in the body. There are many other minerals and vitamins that we need, but I’m finding that if we actually focus on the calcium, the vitamin A, and getting daily high quality traditional fats, most of everything else is basically taken care of.
So, if I am serious about designing my daily nutritional needs into my small back yard, perhaps an urban garden where half the world is living, how do we even begin to get it right? How can we be permaculture designers if we don’t at least try to match gardens up with human nutritional needs?
We’re going to give it a go! This is the brief:
We have an urban, low income family in a large city who are super resourceful, with common sense and basic handy man (and woman) skills, who are very keen to learn and would like a design for their 200sqm urban garden to produce as much as possible of the key elements of nutrition needed to keep their family of 2 adults and 2 children (aged 4 and 6) super healthy. They are concerned that high quality food is not easy to buy and is not affordable, and that it is likely that this situation will rapidly become worse. They have been given some money ($2,000) which they want to use to establish this garden, to enrich their lives in every way.
They live in a Mediterranean climate, cold in winter, maybe 20 frosts between 1-5 degrees celsius below, normally very hot and dry in the summer, with free draining sandy loam soils and a water table around 1m below the surface. Rainfall annual average, 1600mm.
They have every weekend to work in their garden, and in the summer, evenings as well. They dream that this garden can be their fun, their work, their play, their connection with nature, their connection with their own ancestors.
They also dream that the skills they use and the resources this garden might produce could enable and empower them to take the skills to their wider community.
Obviously there will be endless ways to do this. We’d love feedback and ideas from you all. We will follow this introduction up with our designs and we will publish all of them on the Koanga Institute and PRI websites. ✼ Kay Baxter
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