By Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat
Earth Day was created to appreciate and encourage the preservation of the natural blessings of our planet. Perhaps the greatest threat to our planet and ourselves is the massive loss of good soil that has been going on since the last century. Without good soil, most life cannot ultimately survive. The attack on our soil has been led by the chemical industry, and factory farmers who abuse the land, killing the very life in the soil, causing erosion, and a reduction in usable water. Massive soil erosion leads to deserts. Yet it is not too late to save and restore our soil.
Conventional science, with its incomplete knowledge and obsessive focus on grants and profits, is not going to save us. In fact, it is the products of conventional science, such as pesticides, artificial fertilizers, modified plants and germs, and massive chemical pollution from artificial chemicals that are the greatest cause of the problem. But nature itself can save us, if we have the humility and wisdom to follow nature’s laws.
Nature itself has left a blueprint on how to make good soil, and tens of millions of desert acres have been turned into fertile grasslands, with long-dead rivers and streams coming back to life as part of the process. This was accomplished by following nature’s laws.
Dr. Weston A. Price, the pioneer who discovered the truth about nutrition, said it this way:
“Life in all its fullness is nature’s laws obeyed.”
Why Good Soil is Crucial for Life
Soil that will nourish healthy life is much more than just dirt. It is a magnificent combination of minerals, bacteria, insects, microbes, and many nutrients (including unknown substances), all coming together to form the very source of life.
Plants need soil to grow, and soil needs plants to hold it in place against wind and rain, or it just erodes away. The nutrients in the soil grow the plants that keep the soil in place.
These nutrients nourish the plants that grow in this good soil, and the nutrients go into the plants, which pass these nutrients on to the people and animals who eat them. Food plants grown in good soil contain many vital nutrients that we all need to be fully healthy. Animals grazing on these rich plants develop nutrients in their flesh, fat and organs which are crucial for human health, and which are only there if the animals get all the nutrients they require.
It is crucial to understand that science has not identified all of these nutrients, and does not know everything about how they work together. But our bodies know, and expect all these nutrients to be there in the food we eat.
Dr. Weston A. Price discovered that traditional peoples eating the diets of their ancestors, foods from animals grazing on rich soil, plants grown in rich soil, or seafood taken from the rich ocean, were immune to tooth decay. This immunity went far beyond tooth decay, as these people did not have cancer, heart disease, asthma, allergies, birth defects, mental problems, or any of the host of chronic diseases that torment modern humanity. Dr. Price understood that good soil was the mother of good food, and included a chapter on the vital importance of soil in his magnificent work, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.
How the Soil is Lost
Growing and harvesting certain crops depletes the soil of nutrients. Farming the same soil year after year could lead to erosion. The traditional solution was to rotate fields, to let the land rest and renew, or plant certain crops that would restore nutrients to the soil. Natural fertilizers like animal manure were also used. These solutions worked, but part of the land could not be used for food crops while it rested. Science supposedly “solved” this problem by using artificial fertilizers. These fertilizers enabled crops to grow in depleted soil. The same land could be used for crop after crop, without rest. But these fertilizers only provided some minerals and nutrients, not all of them. In fact, some of these fertilizers interfered with the ability of the plants to absorb nutrients. The plants that grew from the depleted soil were weak and far less able to resist pests, so artificial pesticides were introduced. Pesticides are poisons that kill plants and insects. The introduction of these poisonous artificial chemicals into the soil changed it, having a dramatic effect on the life in the soil, and killing much of that life. Soil is also damaged and changed by artificial chemicals created by industry, which are not part of the natural cycle.
Soil is also damaged and contaminated by the huge amounts of manure and liquid created by CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations). The miserable animals in CAFOs are crammed together in a small space and not allowed to graze. They are fed grains and other species-inappropriate feeds. This cruel and unnatural practice creates huge lagoons of manure and urine that greatly exceed the ability of the land to absorb them.
The result of this artificial tampering with the soil was less nutrients. Plants cannot have nutrients that are not in the soil. Food animals cannot have nutrients that are not in the plants. People cannot get nutrients that are not in the plants and animal foods we eat. Our bodies cannot function properly without all the nutrients we have evolved to need.
Artificial agriculture has caused a huge loss of useable soil, a serious loss that is continuing. And the soil that remains has far less nutrients. Even in the 1940s, studies showed that fruits and vegetables had far less vitamins and minerals than vegetables grown in the 1920s. The situation is much worse today. For example, researchers have tested commercial oranges that contained hardly any vitamin C.
How Nature Makes Good Soil
We can restore the health of the soil by following nature’s laws. The Great Plains of the United States were some of the richest land ever known on earth. Before the plains were fenced and farmed, more than 60 million bison roamed the plains. The bison traveled in tightly packed herds, so they could defend each other against predators. The herd would travel into an area, eating all the grass, and breaking up the earth with their hooves and concentrated numbers, using their hooves to expose more grass. As they ate the grass, seeds would fall off and get trampled into the earth by the hooves of the massed bison. They would deposit their manure on the soil, returning the nutrients to it.
In effect, the bison actually farmed the land. They harvested the grass by eating it. They plowed the land by breaking it up with their hooves. They planted the new grass by trampling the seeds into the earth. They fertilized the land with their manure.
Then they would move on, leaving the land to rest and grow. By the time the herd returned, they would be greeted with a new crop of rich green grass, and the cycle would begin again.
All of the great grasslands in the world were created in this manner, with different types of animals and herd sizes.
But the blueprint remained the same—the animals were concentrated into tight herds, the herd grazed in a concentrated manner, then moved on, allowing the land to rest, recover, and regrow.
Many grassfed ranchers follow these methods, concentrating their herds, doing intensive grazing, then moving the herds so the land can recover. Some of these ranchers add additional natural nutrients to their soil as well. (See Grassfed Farmer Renews the Land.) Every time I buy grassfed meat, I am supporting these ranchers who are restoring the soil with their herds. Every time I eat the meat and fat from animals raised on rich grass, I am blessed by receiving a full natural range of nutrients, giving my body exactly what it needs to function properly.
These methods have been adapted and used to literally change millions of acres of desert into grassland. Even long-dead streams have come back.
We can restore our good soil to the earth, by following nature’s laws.
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