By Guest Blogger Farmer Allan Balliett, Owner, Fresh and Local CSA
I suffered from the effects of Multiple Chemical Sensitivities(MCS) for over 10 years. My healing didn't begin until I abandoned AMA doctors and found a Naturopath. He got me off from cigarettes and tranquilizers and onto organic food. (With MCS I was painfully reactive to food additives, trace amounts of pesticides, tobacco smoke and 'fragrances' and was horribly fatigued all the time.) Because fresh organic produce was rare in the early 80's, I adopted a macrobiotic diet which was based around organically grown staples like grains and beans and wild crafted foods like seaweeds. Once I was "minimizing toxins and maximizing nutrition," my healing began almost immediately and in 3 weeks I had made more progress towards “Wellness” than I had in the previous 10 years. In 3 months, I was a new person, with a clear head with literally boundless energy.
Every once in a while after I was well I'd bite into a piece of 'fresh' organic food, like an apple, and have an MCS reaction. When I brought this up to my macrobiotic counselor he said, "Not all organic food is toxin free. Some of it is fake and some of it gets contaminated in the distribution process. If you want food that's chemically free, you'll need to go out to West Virginia and grow it yourself with the other people who are healing."
Having grown up on a conventional farm under the influence of a grandmother who had studied herbalism with a Native American medicine man, I took up the challenge and moved to West Virginia, using my new energy to commute from West Virginia to my job in DC while searching for an appropriate non-toxic way to grow food.
My Journey to Biodynamic Farming
After reading every book I could find on farming without chemicals, I found my first book on biodynamic farming. Biodynamics was the only holistic method of farming I'd run across and, unlike Rodale organics, it's goal was ‘to produce foods appropriate for human development’ rather than produce foods that could be sold profitably by weight or count using the least inputs possible. The goal was quality, not increased profits. There's a huge difference in these approaches to producing food. I think my mentor, Alan Chadwick, www.alanchadwick.net said it best about the effect of commercialization on food quality: "When a man goes into a field to produce good food, that food is completely different from the food he will grow if he goes into that same field to produce $10,000.00."
While reading about food-as-medicine ("healthy soil=healthy plants=healthy people") I read Dr. Carey Ream's statement that “All disease is the result of mineral deficiencies", and soil scientist William Albrecht saying that physicals for the draft for WWI proved that the least healthy young men came from the areas of the country with naturally mineral deficient soils. It was also clear that there is a strong relationship between the minerals in our food and ultimate health and clear indications that we absorb minerals from living organisms more readily than we do from pills.
It became clear to me that toxin free food wasn't all that was necessary for health. We also need mineral rich foods, foods that are called 'nutrient dense.'
Nutrient Dense Food That Heals
Nutrient Dense fruits and vegetables are those grown on soils that are both mineral-rich and biologically robust. Available minerals are required by plants in order for them to synthesize important compounds that not only include the full spectrum of vitamins; but to also create "secondary compounds", which are medicinal in nature, such as the flavonoids, the carotenes, and the terpenes (essential oils). These 'secondary metabolites' are now known to contribute substantially to our health and well being and are virtually non-existent in commercial produce in the United States.
All metabolic processes within the body (muscle contraction, nerve impulse, immune function, digestion, etc.) are regulated by catalysts called enzymes. All enzymes are dependent upon the presence of at least one or more minerals. The vast majority of Americans are mineral deficient, especially of these trace minerals, such as zinc, selenium, iodine, boron, etc.
Fresh and Local CSA
I've been working with what's called The Real Food Movement for the last several years to learn how to make the food I grow as full of minerals as possible. In the movement we are still continuing to learn but I can't imagine anyone knowingly buying food from farms that aren't working to build and balance their soils to make their products as nutrient dense as possible.
Fresh and Local CSA in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, is a farm from the original philosophy of CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) management and delivers to the DC metro area weekly during the growing season. If you are looking for fresh, clean, nutrient dense fruits and vegetables, you would do well to sign up as soon as possible. You can purchase "shares" which enable you to receive nutrient dense vegetables and fruit during the growing season. They are delivered to a location near you for 18 weeks in the summer- the same day they are harvested!
More information is at www.freshandlocalcsa.com.
Allan Balliett is the founding farmer of Fresh and Local CSA. CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is a social model that connects you to your food, the land, and with those who tend the soil. CSA is an economic model that allows you to place your food dollar directly in the hands of a family farm, a farm that adopted labor intensive biodynamic practices to respect the health and nutritional value of your food, a farm that reduces the impact of agriculture on the environment and provides habitat for beneficial insects and birds and provides both and example and training for future farmers.
farm photo credit: BAMader