More reasons to think organic

Taste and intuitive signals are the only mechanisms with the capacity to reflect completely what our bodies need in terms of food and nutrition. These processes operate silently, even if imperfectly, for us every time we pick up one vegetable from the greengrocer rather than another.

In an age when common sense and human intuition about what constitutes ‘good’ food are both often swamped under a mass of messages that are pure advertising either explicitly (TV jingles) or implicitly (doctored or mistaken scientific publications), there is great need for remedial work to re-train our bodies to know what is good for us. (That principle forms the basis of how NutriVital came into being, using bioresonance testing for obtaining answers direct from the body to help people improve their health choices. Science also has a role to play in growing our understanding in this area.)

The trouble with this is that most of the scientific work in food and nutrition is of a highly reductionist nature, focusing on measuring the amount of a single nutrient at a particular stage in a chain of reactions and comparing to averages, or on what happens when we increase a single substrates or catalyst in one reaction. All of this does little to inform us about overall strategies for feeding ourselves and our societies over the long-term.

So we can find many studies about organic food, with various conclusions about nutrient density and other interesting reductionist factors. Here is an article summarising the more positive views:

There are also many to be found expressing a negative view, but without full investigation of the funding that may go towards discrediting the organic movement, it seems hard to know whether to trust them – though we acknowledge a bias here.

It was quite strange to note that at the recent Global Dietitians Congress in Australia, organic food was not on the agenda nor feature anywhere on the many exhibitor stands, while all of the mega-corporates promoting GM and synthetic foods (including lovely Pfizer baby-formula made from soy and corn starch) were well-represented.

Organisms including human beings evolve and change continuously and have unique biochemical footprints. It follows that apart from very broad conclusions (we all need some vitamin C and protein etc), no individual’s needs can be predicted by comparison to a random sample of others. In the long-run, we know that organisms can only thrive by having a choice of nourishing foods to suit their individual circumstances and using our innate abilities for discernment to select them.

The world of wine gives us some interesting insights. While with food the majority opt to add various exotic flavourings to cover up uninspiring base ingredients, the world of wine has always had a large number of consumers who really are willing to pay for quality and change the methods of growing accordingly. This kind of devotion to quality is where real ‘science’ often gets done. Nicolas Joly’s book ‘What is Biodynamic Wine ?’ gives some insights about about how modern agricultural practice degrades vines and the quality of the wine that is made from them:

1) Herbicides, used in place of weeding, will, after a few years of application, kill all the soil-borne microorganisms. “Each type of micro-organism supports the root to assimilate one particular geological aspect of the soil. In their absence the root starves.” It is observed that roots in heavily treated soil retreat back to the soil surface.

2) Fertilisers, used to compensate the effects of the above, are to a plants digestion, rather like a spoonful of salt – it makes us want to drink to compensate. Any organism will suffer stress from being made to absorb too much fluid, and nature always finds a way to compensate. In this case, the stressed plant falls prey to viruses and fungal disease – with the fungus effectively invited to take up residence on the leaves to absorb the excess moisture present.

3) Pesticides are how the vicious circle continues with the even more toxic molecules used to ‘kill’ the disease, which of course does nothing to remove the causes of the disease but just stabs superficially at its symptoms.

This way of working is of course, even more dominant in the major agricultural cash-crops.

While wine may be a case where people value the unique qualities of the locality, it can be seen that the efforts made by modern agriculture to supplant nature do not lead to results that enhance the vitality of the organism being grown, so why should we expect those organisms to be good enough nourishment for us ?

Traditional herbal medicines are another interesting field of study. An insight from Rutland Biodynamics who supply some of our herbs shows why, for plants being used for their medicinal properties, growing without chemical intervention may be especially necessary – as the very strengths that fight off pests are what create their health benefits:

“Under most conditions, plants produce several thousands of compounds, and invest huge amounts of their metabolic energy, sometimes up to 90% of their nitrogen resource, into producing such so-called ‘allelopathic’ compounds. These compounds, which are also known as “plant secondary metabolites”, are usually produced in response to even low level competition. In the semi-sterile cultivations favoured by non-organic chemical methods of farming, plants have no effective competition and so no need to produce allelopathic compounds. In the total absence of natural competition, selection pressures favour the production of plant mass either devoid of, or with reduced proportions of these metabolically expensive compounds.”

Much like the narrow focus of much of nutrition research, agricultural practice often ignores long-term effects of the practices that initially increase yields. The late 20th century has given us a body of science that is largely about supporting large corporations to continue to sell toxic products, and it pays to go back to the basic principles of how organisms live and die in nature as the most reliable way to get wise guidance.

It seems very likely that organic and biodynamic farming will eventually replace our current methods, with or without a disruptive adjustment. Given the huge advantages in the quality of the environment that it produces, it seems sensible to to bear the current cost premiums (at least when measured per kg), not only for our own health but to promote more of the vital research into the real science of living organisms that has been neglected by corporate and government-funded science.

Anyone who has been swayed by the idea that this kind of food growing is not a viable alternative should look at the Russian experience, where very large proportions of fruit and vegetable needs are “grown organically in back-gardens”

Quite possibly any farming system, organic or not, that relies on monocultures is still not the optimum – permaculture shows us how to combine different plant species to maximise yields and give protection to each other. Any new farming revolution that can promote a healthy population and planet will need to rely on recognising the similars in the needs of food plants and people. People, like individual plants, become stronger when they are exposed to a variety of non-fatal challenges from other naturally occurring species that grow their immunity and adaptation skills. Dosing with pharmaceuticals or synthetic chemicals promotes distorted homeostasis in either type. Creating the seed variety in a sterile lab where the characteristics are defined according to maximising a Biotech company’s profits in contrast to allowing the million informational influences that nature provides every day will lead to poorly adapted specimens.

There is huge potential for inexpensive scientific research to begin to look logically at the ecology of food production. If this happens then the agricultural and biological scientific establishment may start being known less for how to poison the world and more for how to better live in it.

Some web links for further reading:

Feeding the world with organics:

Rutland Biodynamics:

Video of dietitian conference:

Biodynamic wine organisation setup by Nicolas Joly: – selection of organic and biodynamic wines

Permaculture Magazine:

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