"Organic food is even more nutritious, of course, if you enjoy it raw, with all the fresh, whole nutrition intact and no toxins created by cooking!"
Organic food IS more nutritious, especially if fresh, and eating it is vital to good health; let those who claim otherwise try to prove their case! I still see articles in reputable magazines stating that there is no nutritional difference between organic produce and regular supermarket food. I've even repeatedly received this erroneous information from Agricultural Extension offices and Professors of Agriculture at "reputable" State Universities...although one Professor, probably safely tenured, told me in hushed tones that "of course, most of our funding comes from chemical companies." Here's how I found the truth. In May of 1995, when I thought I was pretty healthy, a business acquaintance talked me into trying an unusual food supplement. After some misgivings I did, and became astounded at my improved health...lowered weight after a 30 year losing battle, more energy, loss of a chocolate addiction, and additional pleasing results. Testimonial tapes from different food supplement companies disclosed that others claimed similar amazing results.
This quite unexpected situation led me into an ongoing research into "why" and a continuing study of the links between soil fertility, plant nutrition, and animal/human diet and health. I'm now to the point where I can argue with "experts" and often win. Here's the proof that organic produce is more nutritious and necessary for good health...let's build the case step by step:
First, Dr. Westin A. Price, DDS, of Cleveland, Ohio, wondered about negative trends in dental cavities in the late 1930s. He examined 14 native tribes in places like Africa, the far North, New Zealand, Australia, South America. Dr. Price found that where original native diets were followed there was very little evidence of dental cavities. BUT, when modern white flour, white sugar, and canned foods were introduced, not only did dental cavities increase markedly, but the next generations of these people developed poor bites, restricted nasal breathing, cavities, and often other physical deformities. These findings were implicit evidence that malnutrition even negatively affects DNA! The original native diets varied from sea oats, to fish, various plant crops, insects, animal blood, etc. and they were richly natural, organic, and not polluted with pesticides. The Price-Pottinger Foundation was formed to republish Price's 1939 book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, from time to time, until the world wakes up to its message. The last updated 1989 publication carried endorsements from leading authorities, one of whom, Dr. H. L. Newblood, MD, said, "This is the most important book ever written." However, as the age of NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium) salt based fertilizers became dominant, and wonder drugs turned medical schools away from nutrition - from post W.W.II to the present - this information fell by the wayside according to Dr. A. Hoffer, MD, Ph.D. He added "Recent research has shown that, on a uniformly poor diet, the offspring of each generation deteriorates more and more. Unless we begin to take the message [of Dr. Price] seriously ...I think we are in for major health catastrophes."
Second, in 1948 a remarkable study was sponsored by Reader's Digest, and conducted at Rutgers University by a team led by Dr. Firman Bear. This was before the age of "organic gardening" and examined the differences in nutritional content of commercially raised snapbeans, tomatoes, cabbage, spinach, and lettuce as grown in 10 different states covering South Carolina to New York to Colorado. Findings: trace mineral and nutrient content vary considerably, are affected by geography, climate, fertilizing and liming practices, and that the "variation is of considerable significance to [the health of] animals and man." Third, during WW II, Prof. William Albrecht, one of the greatest soil scientists ever known, then a department head at the University of Missouri, analyzed 70,000 US Navy dental records as a function of where in the US it was that the sailors were born and raised. Findings: Sailors from the topsoil rich midwest had far fewer dental cavities than sailors from other parts of the US where the soil was more eroded and less rich in nutrients.
Fourth, more of Dr. Albrecht's work showed how animals like cows and sheep would naturally seek out more nutritious pasture...areas where overgrazing had not occurred, where a mound of hay had been left to rot, adding nutrients back into the soil, etc. Albrecht made a film "The Other Side of the Fence" demonstrating this information.
Fifth, in 1993, Doctor's Data Lab, in Chicago, did a study published in the Journal of Applied Nutrition, Vol. 45, Issue #1. For over two years, researchers collected specimens of similar variety and sizes of apples, peas, potatoes, corn, etc. from Chicago area organic food stores and supermarkets, just as would a local shopper. Their lab test results showed that organic produce had TWICE the nutritional element content of regular supermarket produce, on a fresh weight basis (how else would one buy fresh food?!) and far less of the dangerous heavy metal residues; aluminum, lead, and mercury.
Sixth, also in 1993 came the book Genetic Nutrition: Designing a Diet Based on Your Family Medical History, by Drs. Simopoulos and Herbert, and B. Jacobson. They showed that as ancient man settled in different parts of the world, dietary practices and natural selection led to adaptations such as Eskimos easily eating high fat/fish diets but having trouble assimilating carbohydrates, Finns and many European peoples adapting to dairy products while Asians easily able to eat fish and rice had a lactose intolerance. However, I found the authors did not comment on the link between soil fertility, plant nutritional content, and animal/human health. So, I wrote to Dr. Simopoulos and received a most cordial reply including a copy of her article published p. 1412, The New England Journal of Medicine, Nov. 16, 1989. It showed favorable fatty acid levels to be far higher in chicken egg yolks from wild purslane and range fed chickens than from commercial supermarket eggs.
Seventh, in 1993 came the book Super Nutrition Gardening by William Peary and Dr. William Peavy, an understudy of Dr. Albrecht. The authors show that a one-acre planting yielding one ton of tomatoes will remove 800 pounds of the soil's mineral nutrients, the rest of the weight coming from air and water. With 23 elements essential to human health being taken out of the soil, obviously just fertilizing with NPK, and perhaps calcium, hardly replaces what is withdrawn. (16 elements are declared essential for crop growth, according to the Soil Science Society of America, which is oriented toward farm crop yields and not primarily your health.) Further, excessive NPK fertilizing displaces the absorption of other minerals, AND even produces nitrate forms of nitrogen within the plant tissues, not good for human consumption. Zinc, selenium and other minerals are already known as in severe shortage in both soil and human health. The authors show how to analyze your soil, add rock dust and other needed nutrients, and produce food rich in nutritional elements. MDs S. Davies and A. Stewart are quoted, "the quality of (regular commercial) food is often so poor that the actual nutrient intake in terms of vitamins and minerals is inadequate and can produce disease."
It is NOW, when more and more lay persons and health care professionals are becoming frightened over soaring health care costs, increases in degenerative diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart problems, and the increase of antibiotic resistant strains of killer "bugs," that attention is coming back to the vital role played by nutrition. Strong immune systems tend to fight off diseases. The immune "system" is basically the health level of each of the body's trillions of cells. And, the best cellular health can only come from sound nutrition, including the all important micro-elements.
Eighth, famed medical researcher, Dr. M. Colgan, in his 1994 book, The New Nutrition, says about iodine, "About 50 micrograms (millionths of a gram) per day is sufficient for most people. This is still an amount so tiny you could hardly see it on the head of a pin." About Vitamin B12, where only a few micrograms per day are needed, "without it one declines into pernicious anemia, leading to blindness, insanity, and death."
There is sufficient authentic and legitimate research, along with common sense, that shows your best nourishment AND HEALTH comes from obviously more nutritious organic food, much of it eaten fresh and raw to assure live enzymes and vitamins. So, grow your own soil enriched organic food and eat it freshly picked. It is even smart to grow your own sprouts, especially in winter, first soaking the organic seeds in a liquid kelp type fertilizer, and then spraying them with same while they grow. Next best: buy certified organic produce, from local organic farmers when possible. Given the practicalities of travel, urban living, etc., it is also wise to take an organic whole food supplement. Stay with whole foods to keep your body in balance, unless competent testing by a licensed health care practitioner discloses a specific need in addition. Don't let anybody tell you otherwise. The proof IS there! The odds favoring your having a long healthy life depend upon your following the organic food pathway. Social critics like John Robbins in his books Diet for a New America and Reclaiming Our Health..., and Charles Walters in his acres USA publications, describe the wrongs coming from reliance on vested interests surrounding America's allopathic medicine and agribusiness industries. Our degraded health as individuals and as a nation are described. Certainly change is needed. We should all legislatively push for open competition in the health care field, and more small organic farms. But massive change takes time, and one needs to be aware of the dilemma of poor old Dr. Semmelweis, who went insane 100 years ago trying to get Doctors to wash their hands before traveling from examining a cadaver to delivering a baby.
This article was first published in the November 1997 edition of the Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients.
Bob Heltman is President of Leading Edge Products & Services Co., and is an independent scholar and freelance author who has published in numerous magazines. You may reach him on Internet: firstname.lastname@example.org