Pictures depicting empty shelves in supermarkets sent to me by friends and stories on social media showing more empty shelves do not put a great deal of trust in food security during current times. Whether it is because of COVID restrictions, floods or fire it doesn’t really matter, it’s time to take control back of your food security and quality.
During the last two years, there has been a great deal of uncertainty, with bush fires, floods, viruses, lockdowns. These events have totally disrupted our once very stable and predictable lives.
I’m afraid that I don’t see these images in real life and here is why. Firstly, I choose not to purchase my food from a supermarket, therefore it is seldom I even enter one of those establishments. Instead, I grow some of my food and the rest I purchase at my local farmers market, from someone I know. It never started as food security it began for another reason.
Claiming back what goes in my body
7 years ago, I wasn’t so concerned about food security but more concerned about what was happening to our food through dubious agricultural practices.
As a nutritionist, my eyes have always been open to food purchased at the grocery store. But when even organic food was causing a problem with my health, I dived deeper and beyond my scope of practice. I dived into farming.
From starting my own farm I began to understand a lot of farming practices and there was one in particular that I was shocked to learn more about, wheat farming. I was so shocked that I created the documentary What’s With Wheat exposing the agricultural practices of desiccating (drying) wheat just before harvest with a product called Roundup.
Roundup has the active ingredient of glyphosate which has three patents. It is a descaling (draws minerals out of solution) agent, herbicide (kills weeds) and in 2010 it was patented as a broad-spectrum antibiotic (kills life). I then dug deeper and realised that Roundup and the 596 (Australian – approved by APVMA) 96 (New Zealand) around 800 (USA – approved by FDA) registered products containing glyphosate were being sprayed on wheat crops.
More astonishingly it was also sprayed on most genetically modified crops, 70 non GMO food crops, orchards or gardens, sidewalks, forests, national parks, state parks, dog parks, children’s parks, acreages, beaches, waterways and so much more. The fact that it is water-soluble means that it leaches into waterways, soils and is destructive to the ecology of these precious earth systems.
It was at this stage that I decided I didn’t trust farmers anymore and I didn’t trust APVMA, FSANZ or the FDA, our regulatory bodies that should be protecting us from poisons and toxins in our food.
I found out that they were all industry-funded, in other words, the companies and products they register, pay their way in this world, they are not funded by the government, therefore it’s hard for them to be diligent when the people they register are making sure their budget is flush.
From farm to improved health
So, I purchased a farm because I thought if I have to protect my family from all these chemicals in our food then I needed to know how to grow food, lots of food.
I knew nothing about farming despite my grandfather being an Iowa corn farmer and an incredible companion vegetable, fruit, grain and seed grower that fed his family of 13.
In 7 years, I’ve made many mistakes, or we could call them learning experiences. I’ve spent money I should have been more careful with and I feel like at times I have failed. But with the help of Morag Gamble, a neighbour as well as friend and her guidance, I have gained incredible knowledge of the soil, plants, animals and the joy of rain and drought.
I’ve learned where to find help, who to trust, what to do, what plants work well, what chickens like, how cows are in a herd and so much more. It’s the joy of my life to watch the miracle of healthy soil unfold into abundance. I’m also incredibly lucky to have a son who has taken on the role of the farmer and has educated himself on regenerative farming, biodynamics, multi-species pastures, natural sequence farming and syntropics. This we have done to not only educate ourselves but to teach people these incredible modalities.
Our farm has become a place of interest in what we are doing, to not only improve the ecology of the soil but increase organic matter, soil water holding capacity and carbon capture. Even in the huge rains we’ve just experienced our creek still ran clean (no soil lost), we had no erosion despite the many gullies and hills on our farm and no stock loss and very little plant loss. In fact, our ginger patch has loved every drop of rain and our syntropic rows are visibly exploding in plant growth before our very eyes.
Our aim is to teach other people to do this no matter how much land they have from a small backyard to larger landholdings. We do this with our course – The Incredible Edible Garden through The Nutrition Academy.
I noticed two years ago when the pandemic started that many of the companies, I purchased seed from had been completely bought out in panic buying by consumers thinking about their own food security. Thank goodness I had plenty of produce and I had learned how to save seeds.
For the people that purchased seed back in early 2020 and have not used it yet, either give it to someone who will use it or start planting and or sprouting them now. Seeds usually are only viable for 2 years, they should be used yearly and collected yearly in order to keep the majority of the seed viable (able to sprout).
Make your garden a Victory Garden
Food security for not only nutrition but also availability is something that we should all be thinking about. In World War II in the USA to keep the troops going as well as the people back home, everyone was encouraged to have a food garden in their back yard, these were called Victory Gardens and they helped with the scarcity of food that was occurring because of the war.
When you go shopping for food there are two ways you can purchase it, either by weight or by the absence or less agricultural chemicals (as in organic or spray-free). I don’t think I’ve ever purchased food based on nutrient value, that is it is not a factor when you purchase fruit and vegetables, it’s all about weight. Yet this is the most important value of food.
We not only need to start looking at the macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats and proteins) but we must also look at the micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, antioxidants and alkaloids to name a few that we know of and probably many more micronutrients that we don’t know) these are all important.
Current agricultural practices are destroying the ecology of the soil which in turn changes the nutritional competency of plants and animals. The microbes in the soil are as important as the microbes in your gut, without them we would be dead and without them plants and animals become vulnerable to disease and more chemicals must be sprayed to prop up the crops. Their nutrition is depleted, and the chemical residue rises. It’s just like when you go to the doctor to be propped up with medications, yes you are being propped up but slowly you become sicker and sicker needing more and more medications to just get out of bed. Fixing the root cause in soil ecology and human ecology is the key.
These incredible bugs make amino acids, carbohydrates, fats, allow minerals to be taken up by the plant, make the vitamins for the plants as well as all the other micronutrients that not only make the plant healthy but also those who consume it.
Eat plants not plastic
With FSANZ now pushing the irradiation of fruits and vegetables which in turn destroys any ecology left on or in the plant, then eating these foods is as smart as eating plastic. They are both sterile and neither will be able to sustain health, vitality, energy and exuberance for life.
I had a lot to learn on my farm, but the most important thing I’ve learned in becoming a farmer is if my soil is not healthy teaming with microbes then neither will my plants nor my animals be healthy. The humans who eat these plants and animals will also not be healthy.
Knowing how to grow food no matter where you live, not only makes sure you have food security but also guarantees that you have nutrient abundance in the food you consume. The most rewarding thing I do is go out into my garden and pick my food for dinner as well as go to my chickens and grab a couple of eggs.
Then with the freshly chosen food which is nutrient-rich, I can create a meal that not only tastes good but it has no chemicals or has not been sprayed on it or near it.
This food has an abundance of nutrients and microbes (read my probiotic article for more info on soil based microbes) that help feed my body and microbiome, allowing me to be healthy, vital, energetic and ready to tackle whatever the world wants to throw at me.
Resilience, adaptability and being fearless is how I choose to live this life and I can only do it with a healthy mind and body.
The Incredible Edible Garden course, more than just a course
The Nutrition Academy teaches skills so that you too can live a resilient, adaptable, fearless life. It is about taking responsibility and taking control of what you feel is now out of your control. Food quality and security are not in your control it is in the control of the farmers, the chemical companies, politicians, floods, fires, wars, biotechnology and so much more. But when you choose to put your time and money into a garden, that security is given back. It’s time for the modern-day Victory Garden.
Due to my experience, at The Nutrition Academy, we not only teach nutrition but we teach how to grow your own food. With the help of my wonderful friend and world class teacher of food growing, Morag Gamble, we have put together a step by step course, guide and workshop on how to grow your own.
It starts with you making sure your soil is healthy and then you can watch mother nature at her absolute best. One minute it’s mulched ground that you’ve prepared with precision and next you see the seedling grow daily into food that you can pick and consume.
Your food will not be from poor soils devoid of ecology and nutrients, it won’t be sprayed with chemicals that are proven to cause cancer, developmental delays, kidney disease, brain tumours and skin rashes to name a few. The food won’t be stored for long periods of time depleting any nutrients that were in the food and it won’t have had dubious processes done to it like sterilisation and irradiation.
When you grow your own food, you are in control, whether you are worried about scarcity of food or not, you should be worried about the food that you purchase in the grocery store as you do not know the farmer, you do not know what’s been done with it and you are putting your family and your own health at risk.
Say goodbye to chronic disease
We now have more chronic diseases in childhood (and all ages), since the beginning of the grocery store and we have a disconnect with our food. By connecting with how your food is grown it puts you many steps ahead of most people.
If you think you can’t grow food because you don’t have much room or much time, you will be surprised where you can grow food and what little effort it takes. It’s the small things you do every day that makes the difference in a garden.
While I have a farm, I also live in town with not a lot of space but what space I have I grow food in pots and in small gardens. I have herbs, lettuce, tomatoes, pumpkin, aloe, lemon myrtle tree, potatoes, onions and whatever else I choose to plant, or my compost heap decides to grow for me. Recently a mango seed sprouted in the compost to reveal a tree, we quickly transported it to the farm to plant.
2022 is the year to start your garden to increase your knowledge from nutrition to farmer and become the example of change that the world needs right now. By you playing your part and improving the soil in your area of the world, you then become part of the solution rather than perpetuating the problem. This is our way of making an impact on the health of this and future generations.
Author, farmer, nutritionist, researcher, speaker.
Co- founder of The Packing Company
Producer of What’s With Wheat