Nutrient Poor Foods, or How We Poisoned Ourselves
by K. Shane Neifert D.C.
In 1831 Baron Justus Von Liebig was the brightest star in the chemistry circles due to his find- chloroform. His notoriety (later known as the father of organic chemistry) allowed for a new theory he developed to be taken very seriously. That theory stipulated that there was a “Law of the Minimum” for fertilizing crops. He lectured that nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium or “artificial manure” would increase the crop yields proportionately. After a few years his theories were widely accepted and put into practice. Growers noticed that the plants were growing at an increased rate and size. Many jumped on the bandwagon and left the centuries old organic ways of nurturing their crops. What farmers had done previously was learn from their ancestors and pass it on to their children. Healthy soil proved to grow healthy crops.
The new trend begun by Liebig’s theory was not to be evident for a while. The chemical purchases were a boon for the dye manufacturers and created a huge increase in demand for chemicals. The new technique had detrimental effects on the soil by killing the microbial life in the soil. The worms that aerated and micro tilled the sub surfaces naturally were affected negatively. Poor micronutrient soil leads to poor crop health. The produce looked good, yet it was nutritionally inferior. Diseases began to multiply and new varieties show up to take advantage of the immune weakened produce. This development required the invention of pest control. As the pests and diseases increased, so did the strength and number of new chemical compounds to combat the illness. Chemists developed herbicides, fungicides, bactericides, and numerous insecticides to fight the battle and ongoing escalation of stronger bugs as they were exposed to the chemicals. This eventually led to the development of some of the most horrific chemicals ever created. Organophosphates and organochlorine pesticides such as DDT and Chlordane were created to kill all insects and had side affects throughout our environment. Nature adapted and even the bugs altered their genetic code to survive in their new toxic environment. In just decades some mosquitoes developed immunity to DDT. This has been likened to humans becoming immune to drinking gasoline. Stronger pesticides make stronger pests.
Now our ground water and soils have been contaminated to the point that they are in many instances hazardous to our health. Liebig himself in his later years realized his errors.
“I had sinned against the wisdom of our Creator, and received just punishment for it. I wanted to improve His handiwork, and in my blindness, I believed that in this wonderful chain of laws, which ties life to the surface of the earth and always keeps it rejuvenated, there might be a link missing that had to be replaced by me- this weak, powerless nothing. What might justify my actions is the circumstance, that a man is the product of his time, and he is only able to escape the commonly accepted views if a violent pressure urges him to muster all his strength to struggle free of these chains of error… After I learned the reason why my fertilizers weren’t effective in the proper way, I was like a person that received a new life. For along with that, all processes of tillage were now explained as to their natural laws. Now that this principle is known and clear to all eyes, the only thing that remains is the astonishment of why it hadn’t been discovered a long time ago. The human spirit is a strange thing. Whatever doesn’t fit into the given circle of thinking, doesn’t exist.”
The originator of the chemical fertilization idea realized the harmful effects of his accepted theory and regretted its usage. Others fought to stop its acceptance and were swept aside by the powerful chemical and refined food industry that desired to seek additional profits. Dr. Harvey W. Wiley was the first appointed head of the Bureau of Chemistry in 1906 that later was renamed the Food and Drug Administration. He fought tooth and nail to limit the encroachment of refined and chemicalized foods into our society. The chemical companies ousted him in 1912 when President Taft gave in to their political clout. His vision of organically raised nutrient rich food brought to us in as natural condition as possible never came to pass. Wiley’s memoirs were published in 1930 and documented the events that led to our current state of affairs. He faced much opposition in publishing his manuscript and most of them have been destroyed or conveniently and permanently removed from our libraries by unknown parties.
The jury has come in on the nutrient values of our food supply. Since 1963 our soils no longer provide the same levels of nutrition. Should you care to do your own research compare a copy of the 1963 USDA handbook to today’s version and see the drop in values for yourself. The Mineral and vitamin concentrations in our food has greatly decreased, while our soil quality has deteriorated. Rutgers University produced a study verifying the differences between organic vs. non-organic vegetables. Organic was superior in all areas. It should be no surprise that organic farmers have produce that surpasses commercial farmers in nutrient quantity, their livelihood depends on the health of their soil to maintain their healthy crop yields. If you eat food to supply nutrients for your body, why not eat the foods that have the most nutrients?
One thing you may always count on. When there is money to be made, public health and welfare come second. Buyer bewares. Support your local organic farmers so they may continue to provide our society with healthy produce choices.
For further reading see Empty Harvest by Anderson and Jensen, The Real Truth about Vitamins and Antioxidants by Decava, and Going Back to the Basics of Human Health by Frost.