By Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat
Life begins with the land. The plants we eat cannot provide us with vitamins and minerals unless the soil is rich enough. An animal that has eaten plants grown on depleted soil cannot provide us with the nutrients we need. Modern farming methods can deplete the soil of nutrients. Even traditional methods can deplete the soil unless good crop rotation practices are followed. But one grassfed farmer has reversed this frightening trend. John Wood of US Wellness Meats is renewing the soil on his farm. He has doubled the yield of grass and improved the quality of his forage. This has improved the already excellent quality of the meat he raises. And he has accomplished this with substances derived from long dead plants.
Depletion of the Soil by Farming Harms the Fertility of the Land
The problem of soil depletion is not new. Some of the most barren land on earth was once fertile farmland, until the soil was completely depleted. A number of ancient peoples would leave once the soil was depleted, and move somewhere else, where the cycle would be repeated.
In modern times, there have been many reports stating that much of the soil used for farming is depleted, and that plants grown on depleted soil lack the minerals needed for health. These reports have been published by organizations ranging from the United States Senate to the World Health Organization.
What I Noticed
I have been a customer of US Wellness for many years, long before I wrote a cookbook. In fact, the very first grassfed meat I cooked successfully came from US Wellness. Over the years, I have had many email and telephone conversations with John Wood, the founder of US Wellness. One conversation covered the efforts John was making to improve the soil on his farm. Recently, I noticed that some of the meat I was getting from US Wellness had really improved in quality. The meat had always been excellent before, but it was even better now. The meat was even more tender than before. The meat had a lot of tiny flecks of healthy fat, the very best kind of marbling. The meat always had great flavor, but now it had a wonderful flavor that was better than ever. The meat had always made me feel good after I ate it, but this new meat was even more satisfying and renewing. I knew that something had changed for the better. My guess was that this might have something to do with John’s efforts to improve the soil on his farm. I was right.
Out of Death Comes Life
What John did was to add Humic and Fulvic acid to his land. Humic and Fulvic acid come completely from very old plant matter that has undergone microbial degradation. The interaction of certain microbes with dead plant matter creates a variety of substances that are rich in minerals and other substances. Humic and Fulvic acid not only enrich the soil with minerals, but also provide the nutrients necessary for a number of biological processes that renew the soil, including causing a huge multiplication of the mycortizal fungi. These fungi greatly enhance the ability of plants to use nutrients, including carbon taken from the atmosphere by the plant and deposited in the soil by means of the roots. This is yet another example of how the ecosystem creates life from death—the dead plants eventually turn into a substance that renews the life in the soil.
What are the Results?
John’s land is now producing twice the amount of grass it used to. In addition, John is seeing a return of a very special grass to his farm. This grass is called Eastern Gamma. This is a Native American grass that is particularly delicious and nutritious to livestock. It can grow as high as 9 feet, and produces a tremendous volume of forage. Eastern Gamma is considered by many to be one of the most nutritious grasses a cow can eat, and is considered to make the best hay. Cattle like this grass so much that it was called the “ice cream grass” in the 19th century. Eastern Gamma has been killed out by close grazing on most ranges, again, because cattle like it so much. You can see the return of Eastern Gamma to John’s farm in the above photo. Those cows are in food heaven!
How Long Did It Take?
The short answer is two years.
John first added the Humic and Fulvic acid to four paddocks in 2006. In 2008, the results were so outstanding that John added the Humic and Fulvic acid to the rest of his farm. The results really showed in 2010, when the output of grass doubled and the quality of the forage substantially improved.
Better Soil = Better Meat
It is generally agreed that the minerals in the soil are crucial for the nutritional value of the food. The fact that the land now grows twice the amount of grass certainly shows that there are more nutrients in the soil. The fact that Eastern Gamma is making a successful comeback also supports the increased quality of the soil. But the fact that ultimately convinced me was the definitely improved quality of meat that had been excellent in the past, but is even better now.
The meat used to be tender. The meat used to taste great. The meat used to make me feel good and renewed when I ate it. The meat now is more tender. The taste is even better. I feel even more energized and renewed when I eat this fine grassfed meat from US Wellness Meats.
Better Soil = More Food
The most important factor needed to feed the world is good soil. Without good soil, there is no good place to raise crops or graze animals. Some farming practices deplete the soil and reduce the amount of food that the world can raise. Farming practices that improve the soil increase the amount of food the world can raise. Farmers who renew the land do us all a great service.
Kimberly Hartke started a thread where you can second my nomination of John Wood for her Heroes of Sustainable Agriculture Award. Here is the link:
This post is part of Fight Back Friday Blog Carnival at Food Renegade.
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