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How you grow food affects nutritional value

 
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In some of my soil threads, as well as other places here on permies, I have brought up the need for getting our food plants back to their prime nutritional values.
This pod cast link is giving credibility to that point of view. First though I'm posting the quote Tractor Time leads in to the pod cast with.

Dr. Zach Bush is a triple-board certified physician, with a focus on internal medicine, endocrinology, and hospice and palliative care. He currently runs a clinic in rural Virginia that focuses on plant-based nutrition and holistic health. He’s an entrepreneur with a mind-boggling array of projects to his resume. So why is he on a podcast devoted to sustainable and organic agriculture? It’s quite a story, as you’ll hear. At his clinic a few years ago, Dr. Bush began noticing that nutrition-based medicine just wasn’t working as he had expected. Some of his patients were just getting sicker. That led him on a journey deep into a dysfunctional and toxic agricultural system that through the heavy use of chemicals like glyphosate is robbing crops of nutritional value, accelerating the decline of human health, destroying the environment and paving the way for mass extinction. Yeah, it gets pretty bleak — there’s talk of disease, cataclysm and collapse — but stick with it — because Dr. Bush is at heart a radical optimist. He believes that regenerative agriculture can save the world by creating healthy soils that will sequester carbon, reverse climate change, produce highly nutritious food and create healthy humans. To further that mission, Dr. Bush has started Farmers Footprint, a nonprofit that aims to transition 5 million acres to regenerative practices by 2025. According to Dr. Bush, all successful revolutions start with farmers.



Podcast by Dr. Zach Bush

Enjoy

Redhawk
 
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Whenever this topic comes up, I often get a "Huh?" reaction from the uninitiated. I explain it thusly.

Our sense of taste is attuned to tell us, to some extent, what is good and bad for us. Refined items throw us off, but if we are talking raw food goods, it remains pretty reliable. Feces are disgusting to us because something in our brains is told through our olfactory sense that the chemical combinations we're detecting are likely pathogenic and should be avoided at all costs. Ripe fruit makes us salivate because our bodies recognise what the smell means and in that case is preparing to digest what it's smelling, but we make those associations because our body recognises the nutritional significance.

Think of tomatoes. First, think of those winter-grown hothouse tomatoes that you buy in store, hard enough to be stacked into pyramids without bruising and with about the same taste appeal as wet cardboard after an altogether-too-brief run-in with a used ketchup packet.

Then think of the last really fresh tomato you ate directly from someone's properly kept garden. The smell that hits you before you even puncture the skin, the firm, resilient ripeness of the flesh, and the texture and juices and explosion of nuanced flavour that hits your tastebuds as you eat it like an apple because your body won't let you do anything else.

All that added experience is largely chemical, and it comes directly from the soil in which the plant is grown, and the systems that interact to produce the soil in that location. With wine grapes and hops, it is discussed as terroir, and though that is a contextually specific issue, I think the larger abstract concept, as it applies to the actual nutritional value and how it is expressed to us through greater scent and flavour, is what we're talking about.

I have not, as yet, been able to listen to the podcast; perhaps on the ride home tonight. But in general terms, I do believe this is the case.

-CK
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Good observations Chris.

In vegetables and fruits the compounds that give the human body the nutrients needed for good health are called Flavonoids.
This is, I believe, why flavor is such a good indicator of nutrient quality and quantity, the term flavonoid comes from the word flavor and we have shown for years that these compounds are indeed where flavor originates.
Sadly, the food corporate world has decided that they can "enhance" flavor in foods by artificially making flavonoids and incorporating these "chemicals" into the foods they are producing, giving a whole new meaning to the term artificial in my book.
flavonoids created in the lab do not have any nutritional value, shown through testing, so what these corporations, supposedly "feeding the world" are really doing is pulling a fake out to the consumers. The term "empty calories" fits almost everything that has "enhanced flavor" on the labeling.

Flavonoids are extremely important for humans, they are the conveyors of nutrients, they have antibacterial and antifungal qualities as well. The overall consensus in my world is that we need foods with the maximum amount of flavonoids possible for best health.
Just in the last 10 years it has been discovered that fungi, bacteria and many of the other microorganisms found in good soil are necessary for the plants to be able to develop their maximum amount of flavonoids which makes them far more nutrient dense.
In the last 5 years hydroponic growers have been able to gain access to the organisms of the soil microbiome but these organisms, while doing better than just fertilized water, still don't seem to be able to latch onto the roots of many of the plants being grown hydroponically.
This is why the grocery store tomato tastes like water. Today most of the vegetables in grocery stores are grown hydroponically, the plants take up less space, can be grown year round in green houses or any building under lights and that means more foods can be grown in less space.
The lust for easy money has always been near the front of farmers minds, they are, after all, doing the work of farming to make their living, the problems come when the farmer forgets the main purpose of food which is to nourish our bodies so we can remain healthy.

Redhawk
 
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I believe the nutrition is much better growing with the proper biology, but how do I prove it.  I see the health benefits in people that have always grown their own food.  Do you know or have a place to actually test for micronutrients?  Is there a lab that might be cost effective?  Every time I try to explain this to people I get funny looks.  I would like to take a store bought tomato and a home grown one and actually see the results of why one has taste and the other doesn't.  I would also like to test our old line of corn.  
 
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:

In the last 5 years hydroponic growers have been able to gain access to the organisms of the soil microbiome but these organisms, while doing better than just fertilized water, still don't seem to be able to latch onto the roots of many of the plants being grown hydroponically.

Redhawk



Slightly off topic, but I have seen an aquaponic system run with perennial herbs (watercress, mints, Vietnamese cilantro) continually for several years and it built a soil like substrate up over time that included worms and other visible arthropods.
Not very surprisingly to you all, these herbs were generally very flavorful and the only hydroponic plants i have ever had that compared to nice soil grown examples.
 
Chris Kott
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When I design around hydroponics, I like to look at either raft designs or flood-and-drain, but both adapted such that the top half of the root zone grows in actual living soil. I like designs that bubble solids up on top of potted root zones. Most of the nutrients stay with the soil, and the bottom two-thirds of the root zone adapt as they normally do, optimised for water uptake, and getting more oxygen between floods than otherwise available for containerised plants.

In this way, you get your soil life and your bank of nutrition in the soil surrounding the root zones.

-CK
 
Bryant RedHawk
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hau S. Lowe, yes indeed systems such as you describe are getting to where they can get flavonoids into their crops. And there are easy ways to tell that bacteria and fungi are present in their system.

If there are worms present in any hydroponic system then there are bacteria and fungi. We know this because worms go where the food is and they eat bacteria and fungi.

There are several companies that have developed a system for hydroponics that gives bacteria and fungi places to live and that means the organisms primary to plants being able to take up nutrients in the proper form are present and working.
The hydro farms that are using these companies systems are producing better tasting foods and they also last longer on the shelves in the produce department.

Redhawk
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Christopher Shepherd wrote:I believe the nutrition is much better growing with the proper biology, but how do I prove it.  I see the health benefits in people that have always grown their own food.  Do you know or have a place to actually test for micronutrients?  Is there a lab that might be cost effective?  Every time I try to explain this to people I get funny looks.  I would like to take a store bought tomato and a home grown one and actually see the results of why one has taste and the other doesn't.  I would also like to test our old line of corn.  



You should be able to find a Laboratory that does organic tests, those outfits would be able to do the testing for nutrient content and quantities. A google search for "Organic testing laboratories" or some similar wording should bring them up.

A brix meter can be used at home (around 60 dollars for the instrument) brix is the measurement of sugars and if there are good amounts of sugars, usually there are similar amounts of nutrients.
To set up your own lab would cost about 80,000 US dollars or more, (GC with FID, Mass Spectrometer), the Kjeldahl  apparatus might be desired but it only measures N for the determination of proteins,

Redhawk
 
Chris Kott
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:The hydro farms that are using these companies systems are producing better tasting foods and they also last longer on the shelves in the produce department.



That's surprising to me, as most of the time, the food items with the longest shelf life are those most devoid of nutritional value. How does that follow, kola Redhawk?

-CK
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Chris, they are doing that by selecting the thicker skinned varieties (tomatoes and some of the other veggies that generally don't last very long). (I checked this (what some grocers told me) with some folks I know at LIBBY and HUNTS)
I know we have purchased more than a few tomatoes that we had to peel to be able to eat, which is what got me wondering why the skins were more like leather.
When I first experienced this I had to do some checking to make sure there wasn't any genetic engineering going on, turns out they are just using selection of desired traits.

Do note though that I didn't say these products had great flavor, just better flavor, you and I can grow circles around those grocery store tomatoes with out really trying.
I'm still looking into aquaponics since I have a friend in Australia that is quite expert in aquaponics, I tell him an idea and he is nice enough to trial the idea and let me know if it worked or not.
So far we have found that using a medium like small lava stones works well for keeping a microbiome in contact with the roots. It works well enough that he is converting more of his aquagardens to make use of the lava supporting medium.

He is also a great fully organic gardener so it was pretty easy for him to use some of his regular garden soil as a seeding for the microbiome we have built (well, he built it, I just consulted on the how to build the biome) some really great soil, the numbers of bacteria and fungi are outrageously high per sq. cm.
The last two years he has gone sheering so away from his homestead for two months straight yet he didn't loose any of his plants or his yabbies' and perch.

I think it is important to try as many different methods (another form of diversity) as possible, that way we can have success even if one method falls to the whims of the earth mother.

I should also add that when I mention longer we are really talking a few days not a week or more. On our place we can pick a tomato and set it on the counter for around 3 days (we pick the ready to eat ripe ones unless wolf is going to be canning sauce).

Redhawk
 
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:

Christopher Shepherd wrote:I believe the nutrition is much better growing with the proper biology, but how do I prove it.  I see the health benefits in people that have always grown their own food.  Do you know or have a place to actually test for micronutrients?  Is there a lab that might be cost effective?  Every time I try to explain this to people I get funny looks.  I would like to take a store bought tomato and a home grown one and actually see the results of why one has taste and the other doesn't.  I would also like to test our old line of corn.  



You should be able to find a Laboratory that does organic tests, those outfits would be able to do the testing for nutrient content and quantities. A google search for "Organic testing laboratories" or some similar wording should bring them up.

Redhawk



Has anyone done a test like this? I’m trying to find some evidence—whether it be scientific literature, or a post on permies—that someone has managed to increase the micronutrient content of their food. In particular, I’m interested in increased levels of magnesium.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Check at academia.edu,  you can search for papers published there.

Redhawk

*corrected to .edu
 
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:hau S. Lowe, yes indeed systems such as you describe are getting to where they can get flavonoids into their crops. And there are easy ways to tell that bacteria and fungi are present in their system.

If there are worms present in any hydroponic system then there are bacteria and fungi. We know this because worms go where the food is and they eat bacteria and fungi.

There are several companies that have developed a system for hydroponics that gives bacteria and fungi places to live and that means the organisms primary to plants being able to take up nutrients in the proper form are present and working.
The hydro farms that are using these companies systems are producing better tasting foods and they also last longer on the shelves in the produce department.

Redhawk



this is interesting to hear - can you point me to an example of a company with a hydroponic system like that?  I use an aeroponic tower for growing greens during our long winter, but I'm always looking for ways to add some active biology to an otherwise chemical-only system
 
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Kevin David wrote:

Bryant RedHawk wrote:

Christopher Shepherd wrote:I believe the nutrition is much better growing with the proper biology, but how do I prove it.  I see the health benefits in people that have always grown their own food.  Do you know or have a place to actually test for micronutrients?  Is there a lab that might be cost effective?  Every time I try to explain this to people I get funny looks.  I would like to take a store bought tomato and a home grown one and actually see the results of why one has taste and the other doesn't.  I would also like to test our old line of corn.  



You should be able to find a Laboratory that does organic tests, those outfits would be able to do the testing for nutrient content and quantities. A google search for "Organic testing laboratories" or some similar wording should bring them up.

Redhawk



Has anyone done a test like this? I’m trying to find some evidence—whether it be scientific literature, or a post on permies—that someone has managed to increase the micronutrient content of their food. In particular, I’m interested in increased levels of magnesium.



the easiest way I've found to add magnesium to my diet is to make "mineral water" with Epsom salts.  My well water is naturally low in magnesium, and I found a calculator online to tell me how much Epsom salts I need to add to reach 50ppm.  It tastes delicious!
 
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So correct, Bryant. The French say: "The prettiest girl in the world can only give what she's got".
That applies even more to soil: A poor soil can only give poor vegetables and grains whose nutrition has been compromised. It all starts with soil. I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir but it bears repeating: Feed your soil and it will feed you.
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/soil-depletion-and-nutrition-loss/
 
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As an example, I have grown some plants that were very mediocre. I didn't even bother with eating the fruit.  I live in a very winter wet area, so many of the minerals wash out unless you do something.  I added biochar around the drip line of my trees.  The change in flavor was astonishing! Biochar acts as hotels for microbes, to improve the structure of the soil, so minerals and biology can be retained, even during rainy winters.  Two of my persimmon trees have amazingly better flavor now than they did before.  I have also heard about improved mineral content improving flavor and bug resistance from many other gardeners and farmers.

John S
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the easiest way I've found to add magnesium to my diet is to make "mineral water" with Epsom salts.  My well water is naturally low in magnesium, and I found a calculator online to tell me how much Epsom salts I need to add to reach 50ppm.  It tastes delicious!



I've looked for ways to increase magnesium intake. What I've read all says that forms of "by mouth" don't normally get absorbed in sufficient quantity to be worth a plug nickel! I haven't tried any of the magnesium oil skin products; I think a good old fashioned bath soak (or foot soak if the tub is a problem) works just fine. I like the way my skin is extra soft when I get out of the bath after soaking in epsom salts.

Please post a link to this calculator you use. Do you need to know where your levels are at to begin with? I don't drink tap. In my area the tap water tastes awful. I've found a good-tasting water at a local water store that has some awesome filtration. They have a jar of water that has what they say is the crap filtered out of their water. I'm not naïve enough to accept that at face value, because marketing happens. But the water tastes the best in this area, so I have to accept that their marketing tool could in fact be true!

I regularly add azomite to my growing beds to boost the available micro-nutrients, perhaps once each year. I grow now in raised beds because my back won't allow me to get to ground level up and down and up and down... Are there any other nutrients you might recommend I add?

This is a great thread. I've long known that what you put into your growing soil you will also get out of it. The old adage "you reap what you sow" has never been truer!!
 
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John Suavecito wrote:  I added biochar around the drip line of my trees.  The change in flavor was astonishing!
John S
PDX OR



David The Good tried variety of the experiments with additions to the soil, and from many, charcoal had the best taste. It seemed you got great results with it too.
 
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Cindy Haskin wrote:



the easiest way I've found to add magnesium to my diet is to make "mineral water" with Epsom salts.  My well water is naturally low in magnesium, and I found a calculator online to tell me how much Epsom salts I need to add to reach 50ppm.  It tastes delicious!



I've looked for ways to increase magnesium intake. What I've read all says that forms of "by mouth" don't normally get absorbed in sufficient quantity to be worth a plug nickel! I haven't tried any of the magnesium oil skin products; I think a good old fashioned bath soak (or foot soak if the tub is a problem) works just fine. I like the way my skin is extra soft when I get out of the bath after soaking in epsom salts.

Please post a link to this calculator you use. Do you need to know where your levels are at to begin with? I don't drink tap. In my area the tap water tastes awful. I've found a good-tasting water at a local water store that has some awesome filtration. They have a jar of water that has what they say is the crap filtered out of their water. I'm not naïve enough to accept that at face value, because marketing happens. But the water tastes the best in this area, so I have to accept that their marketing tool could in fact be true!

I regularly add azomite to my growing beds to boost the available micro-nutrients, perhaps once each year. I grow now in raised beds because my back won't allow me to get to ground level up and down and up and down... Are there any other nutrients you might recommend I add?

This is a great thread. I've long known that what you put into your growing soil you will also get out of it. The old adage "you reap what you sow" has never been truer!!



yes, you need to know what you're starting with.  I used Ward Labs to test my water when I moved to this house: https://www.wardlab.com/services/water-analysis/

I have good-tasting well water, so I start with that, then add minerals.  If your tap water tastes bad, it could be for a range of reasons.  If you're buying water from the store, you can send a sample of that to Ward Labs

I'm not sure where the idea came from, that magnesium is not absorbed in drinking water.  It most definitely is.  There have been studies comparing areas with different naturally-occurring magnesium levels in drinking water, and estimate that fortifying low-magnesium areas could prevent 4.5 million strokes and heart attack deaths every year: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306987713004763#:~:text=Universal%20drinking%20water%20and%20beverages,stroke%20deaths%20per%20year%2C%20worldwide.

Here is the calculator I use.  It's an Excel spreadsheet.  Punch in your test results from Ward Labs, then select your target water profile, and it will tell you how much of each salt/mineral to add to reach that target
https://khymos.org/2012/01/04/mineral-waters-a-la-carte/





 
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What people do not understand is if it looks good, does not mean it has nutrition.





Nutrition is very very important.
 
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There's a young American doctor that has been very vocal in the media lately speaking on food as medicine, the medical crisis that we are facing and the roots of the problem in modern agriculture. Does anyone know who I might be referring to?
I was looking on YouTube for a particular video that I had seen but I think Google might be taking down this guy's content because I can't find it.

Edit: I just scrolled up to the top post in this thread and saw the name I was looking for. Zach Bush.
K thanks bye.
 
John Suavecito
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Yes, Zach Bush is awesome. I have watched innumerable interviews with him and he does tie it all together.  We don't get enough minerals and nutrition in our food because we're using extractive, soil depleting methods.  That creates long term health problems. He explains how our health system doesn't really promote health, but profiting on the lack of health.  He explains why we need to change that.  We are also making the climate hotter and less tolerable.  The pollution is also causing lots of cancer and auto immune disease.  He has set up a video system called Farmer's Footprint, that explains how real agriculture can work, and how it can save our society, our individual lives and our communities.  He is a triple board certified MD, but he also accepts integrative methods in medicine and in agriculture.  He wants agriculture and farmers to be valued and then we'll value high quality food and improve our health. Then our whole society gets better.

https://farmersfootprint.medium.com/

John S
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Those cherries would go best on cherry cheesecake. Don't put those cherries on this tiny ad:
"Permaculture Now! - Desert or Paradise?" movie by Sepp Holzer
https://permies.com/wiki/137395/Permaculture-Desert-Paradise-movie-Sepp
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