In the final segment of this 3-part article, we will examine the third critical farm change that contributed to a 128% increase in profit for our NZ farmers, as well as the three changes they adopted in their home. The third farm change involved the adoption of intensive grazing strategies.
The word "science" is commonly defined as "adherence to natural laws and principles". In this context, we could review the most productive soils in history and learn from their dynamics. The Great Plains in the U.S. historically out-produced all other areas on the planet, producing more biomass per acre for centuries on end before we stepped in and messed it up. How was this phenomenal production sustained and how was it halted so dramatically when mankind intervened? It appears that it was all about the huge herds of bison that roamed the plains. The predator effect ensured that the bison were bunched together, and this close proximity ensured that there was no fussy eating. The animals consumed whatever was available, or another mouth soon would. The dense populations deposited huge amounts of urine and dung during their frenzied visits and their hooves created seedbeds for the biodiverse payload of seed contained in their dung. It was as if Nature knew the deal (and I am sure she did), as the animals never grazed shorter than four inches before moving to greener pastures.
What is this powerhouse lesson from Nature? It is quite simple: the leaf is the ‘solar panel’ housing the sugar factories that combine sunlight, carbon dioxide and water to make glucose – the building block of all life. 30% of this glucose is exuded from the roots to feed the microbe workforce, and some of this carbon prize is converted into humus. The lower we graze, the more we compromise this carbon-building, life-enhancing phenomenon, and the lower our production. That is why the bison, somehow knowingly, left 4 inches of grass – and this is the lesson for all graziers. The reality is that most of us graze down to a tabletop and completely miss this magic.
The humus-building ‘mob’ effect can be recreated with cell grazing, using electric fencing with appropriate water supply. Alternatively, it can be created with well-timed strip grazing using a long, portable horse tape. However this is achieved, the simple rule of thumb is to never graze below 4 inches. Many graziers bemoan the initial perceived loss of all of that feed, but this is simply not the case. The retained ‘solar panel’ will always outperform the bowling green finish. While it may initially seem that you are leaving all that good food intact, the enhanced photosynthesis will more than compensate.
My NZ farmers decided to adopt this approach and it was a major contributor to their impressive profit gain.
Three Productive Diet Changes
I mentioned that the attendees of my four-day course had simplified the flood of knowledge from the course by selecting just three changes in their diet. These included the addition of DIY fermented food to their diet, discarding the all-pervasive bread, and adopting green smoothies.
Ferment or Lament
There is a profound parallel between the teeming microbial life in our digestive tract and that which surrounds every plant root, awaiting their glucose feed. In fact, both groups of organisms operate on the basis of "give and you will receive". The soil microbes surrounding plant roots are intent upon supporting their host. "I look after you and you will look after me" is the reigning rationale. Similarly, our gut microbes look after their host – us! Immune elicitation, B vitamin production and nutrient delivery are all part of this package, in both cases. The longest living people have always repopulated their gut with the dominant gut organism Lactobacillus via the consumption of lacto-fermented food. The Hunzas and Georgians have made this living food part of their daily diet and the longest living Asians, Koreans, commonly consume kimchi twice a day.
In my four-day course, I teach participants how to produce six months’ supply of lacto-fermented sauerkraut in just 15 minutes. The ingredients include red cabbage, green cabbage, red onions, brown onions, spring onions, red, green and yellow capsicums, carrots, parsley, chillies, crushed garlic and grated ginger. These ingredients can be rapidly sliced and diced in a food processor, or more lovingly prepared with a sharp knife. I teach a cheap and basic strategy to demonstrate how inexpensive and easy it can be to nurture your digestive tract. However, there are more graceful options involving task-specific, clay fermenting pots.
I just use two $1 buckets from the supermarket. The prepared ingredients are thoroughly mixed together in the first bucket before they are systematically added to the second bucket. Here's how you do it:
Making a Living Superfood
Place a 4 cm layer of this multi-coloured coleslaw in the second bucket and sprinkle a tablespoon of mineralised salt over the entire layer (Nutri-Salt™ from NTS Health is the best salt you have ever tasted, sourced from the mountainous regions of Southern India). This layering and salting process is repeated until the bucket is 90% full, at which point it is capped off to create the anaerobic environment required for the proliferation of Lactobacillus. These creatures love salt, but the main reason for this additive is to slow down any spoilage bacteria or fungi that might otherwise prove problematic.
Conventional fermentation just involves these ingredients and this technique, but it can sometimes include some added water to juice up the mix and form a brine. The simple end cap involves a plastic bag, half-filled with water, which is sealed and positioned at the top of the bucket to form a kind of flexible cork. This serves to keep out oxygen whilst allowing the escape of CO2, which is produced during the fermentation process. The full, capped bucket is then placed in a dark corner or pantry for around three weeks while the microbes do their thing. We teach our course attendees how to fast-track this process, reducing fermentation time to just three days. This involves a generous sprinkle of our popular probiotic drink, Bio-Bubble™, over each layer during the layering and salting process. Bio-Bubble™ contains 40 billion organisms per serve and it produces a delicious rainbow sauerkraut. In fact, we often serve it up as part of lunch on the last day of the 4-day course, and the whole bucket is usually consumed in one sitting.
Lactobacillus stimulate immunity, create a host of protective substances, predigest the raw foods and are a rare source of vitamin K2, the new superstar of the nutrition world.
Beating the Grain Drain
The second health strategy adopted by our NZ farmers involved the reduction of cereal grains in their diet.
We were never designed to consume the level of grains that have become part of many diets. We might begin our day with cereal and toast, enjoy a biscuit or cake for morning tea, sandwiches or bread rolls for lunch, more biscuits with afternoon tea, and then sometimes wrap up this overwhelming wheat overload with pasta for dinner. Allergists and food sensitivity specialists will tell us that this is a dramatic overdose and that our bodies are rebelling. It is not gluten intolerance that is the big issue here. Instead, it is a growing wheat intolerance that is often driving the inflammation that lies behind every degenerative disease.
All cereal grains contain a natural substance called phytic acid that locks on to zinc and magnesium in our bodies. This fusion forms insoluble zinc and magnesium phytates that are excreted and lost. Cereal grains also contain enzyme inhibitors that compromise your body’s own enzyme production. It is now understood that we are all equipped with an inherited capacity to produce a fixed number of enzymes in our lifespan. It is therefore not constructive to restrict that enzyme production and fuel a faster drawdown of our limited reserves.
Cereal grains are also acid-forming (with the exception of spelt) and the modern, hybridised wheat is, nutritionally speaking, a shadow of its former self. It contains much less nutrition and much higher levels of gluten than its open-pollinated predecessors. In fact, wheat is now considered one of our most inflammatory foods. I challenge you to drop the bread from your diet for six weeks and witness the difference. You will lose weight, gain energy and feel your wellness. It involves breaking a habit, but it is worth the effort.
Screaming for Green – Addressing a Missing Link
When Victoria Boutenko, the author of bestseller, Green for Life, investigated our daily consumption of greens, she was shocked to find that the average Western diet comprises just 5% greens. Even vegetarians are only managing an average of 20% greens. This pales in comparison to our closest primate relative, the chimpanzee, who consume 55% greens in their daily diet. Victoria wondered if her family's multiple health problems might improve if she upped the rate of greens in their diet. She soon realised that she would need a different way to make this chlorophyll overload palatable.
When greens like kale, spinach and silverbeet/chard are combined with fruit like bananas and pineapple, the fruit flavour overpowers the taste of chlorophyll. You can use this trick to address the missing green link in your diet. These ingredients are combined in a high-powered blender and diluted with a little water to produce an appealing green smoothie. Even children who hate greens can be persuaded to drink these smoothies and it can be a great boost to their health. Victoria witnessed the cure of all of her family’s problems with the consumption of three large glasses of this mix each day. Amazingly, a cumulative total of eight degenerative diseases disappeared after six months of this protocol. If you can manage even a single green smoothie for breakfast, you will feel the difference. Here is a link to an article containing some recipes to get you started.
Meaningful change need not involve the disruption of all that you know. Simple, well-reasoned changes can be incredibly productive, if you choose to make the effort. In this case, we saw tremendous benefits by making just 3 small changes at home and on the farm. For many of us, it is time to become the change-maker rather than the change-taker. Move forward with positivity and the outcome will be positive. I trust that you can experience the joy of passion and purpose on your healthy farm and I wish you all a happy, healthy lifestyle, as a truly holistic approach involves both.
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