Varied Farming and High Level Thinking

Food for thought….


            Sometimes a conversation meanders around and then suddenly and spontaneously winds up in a profound place.  Such was a guest podcast I did a couple of days ago with Certified Health Nut Troy.  I do several guest podcasts a week and can’t begin to keep them all straight, but apparently he also has a superfood line where everything is grown in volcanic ash beds.

             He told me about a healing pilgrimage he took to the Amazon where for a few weeks he ate things he’d never seen and it resulted in almost a spiritual awakening, a heightened intelligence and clarity.  As a result of that experience, he’s been rotating foods for a decade, trying to ingest as much variety as possible.

             As we discussed current American intelligence and the seeming inability of people to think reasonably, we made the connection between lack of diversity in farming and lack of diversity in thought.  I think we both realized we were beyond our expertise skis and only bantering about possibilities, but it’s at these edges of idea exploration that practical considerations develop.

             For many years, I’ve preached the link between America’s health crisis (we lead the world in non-infectious disease morbidity) and factory farms.  It’s not a stretch to link the high calorie, stressed, pathogen-friendly, sedentary, nutrient-deficient factory farm model to a similar outcome in the people who eat that food–in this case, meat and poultry.  Flabby pigs, for example, create flabby people.  I’ve not received push back on this idea, although I know of no empirical science that links the two; it’s intuitive enough that folks let me get by with the notion.

             How can animals living as couch potatoes in their bathrooms give vibrant life to people who consume them?  That simply makes sense.

             But in this podcast conversation, we went even farther and wondered if current lack of diversity on farms expresses similarity in the human thought process.  This digs much deeper than animals and factory farming.

             It includes the notion that when we view complex soil life as unimportant and think we can grow plants with simple nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous (NPK) chemicals like an IV tube, that mentality comes through the tomatoes, carrots and grass.  A complexity mentality in human thought flows directly from a complexity mentality toward the soil.

             Carried further, how about diversity of production on a farm?  Rather than just animals or just plants, how about more variety?  So a dairy also grows apples.  A vineyard also grows chickens.  A cow doesn’t just eat corn; ideally she eats a plethora of pasture plants, from clovers to forbs to various grasses.  Each of those offers a different chemical and nutritional nuance, expressed in the elemental exchanges going on between food and our micro-biome.  What if we have a bacteria that thrives on plantain derivatives?  How do we feed that diversity in our gut if we don’t eat ground beef from an animal that routinely ingested plantain?

             Our current study of the micro-biome reveals new-found appreciation for how it affects our thought process and mental stability.  The gut-head relationship is now well documented.  So if we deprive our gut of essential elemental nuances, are we not depriving our brains of those essential nuances as well?  What a fascinating idea.  If engaging in respectful far-ranging discourse is the fertilizer of cultural progress, perhaps the conversation starts at the soil and farm level.  Absent that, we have simpletons divided along simplistic argument lines.

             Is it possible that the reason we’re starving for solutions is because collectively we’re starving for nature’s cornucopia?

 PS:  Remember, folks, if you find these posts interesting, please pass them along so that one day we can have as many people reading this kind of stuff as those who read the Kardashians.

joel salatin


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