some ideas, some music, some gardening

Learnings: William Albrecht's work on soil fertility and bodily health.

Starting in 1942, Rodale Press magazines and books repeatedly asserted, suggested, inferred and implied both subtly and overtly, both straight out and between the lines, that organically grown food is far more nutrition than chemically grown food— a half-truth. J.I. Rodale was an ideologue at heart. Absolutely certain about the rightness of his own opinions. If J.I. didn’t agree with you, your name was never mentioned in Rodale publications, and the gardening public never discovered you. That is why most gardeners these days have never heard of William Albrecht.

The art of remineralizing soil to increase nutrient-density was developed by independent biological farm advisors working in the tradition of William Albrecht, a pioneering researcher in the relationship between soil fertility and human health.

Albrecht’s experiments revealed precisely how patterns of soil fertility determine animal (and human) health. He taught methods for managing farm (and garden) soils so they would produce the best nutrition… He was vilified by a self-serving fertilizer industry; his publications were rejected by most university agronomists. In my opinion, the reason academics opposed Albrecht was becomes professors who wanted to advance their own careers had to please the interest groups and foundations that provided grant money. When you follow the serious money, you arrive at the major agricultural chemical and fertilizer businesses.

Albrecht’s work supports the belief that disease and insect problems are rarely seen if due attention is paid to soil fertility. This did not endear him to the makers of disease and insect remedies…. the chiefliest chiefs around the American Medical Association and/or the University of Chicago Medical School knew they had a lucrative business going and did not wish other doctors or the general public to learn that patterns of soil fertility actually create human health or disease; that sickness is rarely caused by “bad” bacteria or “bad” genes; or that the fundamental treatment for human (and animal) disease is not medicine, but better farming.

Albrecht’s one actual book (most of his publications were journals) Soil Fertility and Animal Health, is available online for free download. I hope you’ll read it. Nah… I hope you’ll buy it in hardcover and shelve it next to Weston Price’s Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. (Steve Solomon, “The Intelligent Gardener”)

There are many garden writers who are good workers: They report on what gardening or farming techniques work for them, clearly and concisely. But these good workers rarely ask why it worked for them, or the ontological history of how modern farming and gardening practices came to be. I’ve been lucky to find Steve Solomon’s pointed book The Intelligent Gardener, which takes its time in the first three chapters to give an overview of where we’ve ended up as organic gardeners, who brought us here, and why we shouldn’t continue to mindlessly follow this direction as we have over the past sixty plus years.

This is the closest I’ve found in gardening literature to a book of philosophy, and a critical one at that, akin to Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals. To have a ripe philosophy, one must have a moral standing, and an explanation of that moral standing besides the usual “that’s just the way it is.” This moral standing, put down in writing, is the writer’s attempt at aligning their personal virtues with a greater purpose in life. Solomon, virtuous in light scientism and self-questioning, appears to be an advocate for remineralization for the purpose of righting the wrongs he did to himself in his younger age, which is a type of learning and growth that can transcend those, like the mythical J.I. Rodale, who push their methodologies and ignore or censor any competing or alternative ones.

Any fans of Wendell Berry will know that philosophy and moralism can be most compatible with farming and gardening. The connection between the body and the earth is not just in the form in the form of the mystical, but the scientific, which somehow modern science both exemplifies and de-emphasizes in all the wrong ways, making the average person believe that we can fly by the seat of our pants with regards to our health deriving itself from the health of the soil. Somehow we know food nutrition is important, but we have no idea what the actual nutrition of our food is. We know the earth is important, but have little understanding of the ramifications of compromised earth growing our food. We live the consequences every day, attempting to race ahead of inevitability with increasing complexities of technology and medicine to maintain a semblance of health while badly grown food corrodes us from the inside out.

An attainable goal is at hand: To grow our own food. We can start with a plant, move to a garden, or even move to a small farm. When we grow our own food, with health soil, we’ll have even more tools at mitigating physical decline than we ever had. Food is truly an answer for good health. But it’s not just eating broccoli and kale: It’s eating food grown on good soil, a complication and challenge that we don’t consider when we rely on people thousands of miles away to produce food for us, who are typically too indebted and desperate to produce such good food, on good soil.

No amount of climate change, financial, or human rights policy changes will change the fact that we must grow our own food. From one plant to one thousand. Start with one plant.