Food Chain Weekly News Topic
GOING TO GROUND
Food Chain Radio Show #922
June 1, 2013 • Sat 9AM Pacific
Michael Olson hosts: Judith Schwartz, Author
Cows Save the Planet: And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth
Can livestock be managed to restore soil?
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away!”
This advice may have worked eighty years ago, but that apple has since lost about 50% of its calcium and over 80% of its phosphorus, iron, and magnesium. To keep the doctor away today, we must now eat about five apples a day!
What happened to the food in our food?
There are two ways to grow a plant: One way, which we have come to call the “organic” way, is to feed the soil with life, and then to allow for the decomposition of that life in the soil to feed the plant. The other way, which might be called the “synthetic” way, is to bypass the soil and feed the plant directly with synthesized nutrients.
Most of our food is now produced the synthetic way, on an industrial scale. As a consequence, the role soil plays in the production of food is different than it was 80 years ago. Where soil was the source of nutrients, it is now an inert medium through which plants can be fed nutrients.
This synthetic technology has given us a great amount of control over the production of our food, and has allowed for the industrial scale with which we now grow our food. With control, however, comes responsibility. We are now responsible for providing all the nutrition plants need. If we fail to do so, plants will not provide us with all the nutrition we need.
Who among us is smart enough to know which nutrients plants need, in what quantity, and at what time? We do our best, but given the nutritional quality of our apple, and the state of our health, it would seem as though we should be going to ground. And so we ask…
Can livestock be managed to restore our soil?