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Food for Thought:
Some Observations on the Relationships Between Soil Health
and the Physical and Mental Health of Humans

by Malcolm Beck


Earth, the only planet known to support and sustain life, is home to many beautiful, fascinating and wonderful forms of life. The vast majority of these life-forms, both plant and animal, follow their instincts and live their lives in harmony with nature.

Humans, on the other hand, have free will as well as instincts. They have the freedom to be stupid, to be jealous, envious, and greedy. They can choose to make war on their own kind, pollute the environment, abuse the earth and other creatures living on it, and even allow abuse and erosion to destroy the thing that supports all life -- the soil.

Along with free will, humans were also given superior intelligence. Why haven't we used this intelligence to learn the ways of living in harmony with the environment and our own species?

Could it be that the body that houses and nourishes our thinking and learning brain requires better nutrition than it is receiving?

Animal life is programmed to seek out the most nutritious foods for both body and brain. Humans have the free will to decide whether or not to properly nourish their bodies.

Poorly nourished people have unsatisfied cravings, suffer from allergies and degenerative diseases, and find their thinking and reasoning powers impaired. As a result of these problems, lack of nourishment effects not only the person involved but also their associates and people with whom they interact.

The undernourished person is irritable, discontented, and unhappy. They have less and less ability to think their way out of their problems.

Could it be that many politicians, lawyers, judges, teachers, parents and students are not nourishing their bodies and minds sufficiently to support sane and logical thinking?

We have vast knowledge of the history of mankind, but for some reason our supposedly superior intellect has not used this knowledge. Nations are still fighting nations. Neighbors are still killing neighbors. Now even school children are killing school children. Where do we look for the answers?

Dr. Lowdermilk's studies, published in Agriculture Bulletin No. 99 in 1939, tells how soil neglect, erosion, deforestation, and overgrazing have toppled empires and wiped out civilizations. At the same time, he learned that careful stewardship of the earth's resources and soil conservation measures have enabled other societies to flourish for centuries.

The body (brain included) must be properly nourished to be healthy and sound. All life on earth is nourished by a thin layer of soil. The quality of that top soil is maintained by soil life's ability to use energy from decaying organic matter and minerals from decaying rock.

Greed has caused humans to allow much of the food producing soils around the world to fall below par in organic matter and mineral content. The quality of our top soil determines the quality of the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. If the quality of the top soil is allowed to degrade to any degree, the life it supports degrades to the same degree.

In the 1930s, Sir Robert McGarrison, M.D. of England, carried on an elaborate experiment using more than 2000 clinical animals under controlled conditions. The rats in one group were fed a near perfect diet. They grew large, were healthy, lived long and were docile and affectionate. The rats in the other group were fed a more common diet of polished rice, condiments, very little milk or vegetables. The diet was chiefly refined foods. This poorly fed group were sickly, nervous, vicious and short-lived. They had many of the diseases common to man.

In the 1950s, Warren Walker did a similar test, using a big group of pigeons. Half were fed polished rice; the other half were fed brown rice. The pigeons who ate white rice eventually got five degenerative diseases, stopped reproducing and started dying prematurely. The pigeons fed brown rice lived a normal, full, healthy and reproductive life. One unexpected outcome was that the pigeons on the polished rice became irritable and discontented long before any clinical ailments appeared.

In 1963, I did an experiment similar to Mr. Walker's, except I used baby chicks instead of pigeons. I fed one group on white bread and the other group on whole wheat bread. The chicks eating white bread quickly became sick, irritable and discontented. They began dying on the 13th day and by the 17th, they were all dead. The chicks who ate whole wheat bread never became discontented or irritable. I kept them on the whole wheat diet until full grown. They were normal and healthy. I released the hens to our laying flock, and we baked the rooster for Thanksgiving dinner.

Beginning in 1957, my wife and I and our five children ate only natural, unrefined foods, most of which were produced on our own organic and mineral-rich farm. We had no doctor bills. Our children never missed school because of illness. The teachers reported that they were well behaved, and they all did well in school. Because of my own and other diet studies using animals, I was interested in how diet related to health and behavior in people. I paid close attention to my children, my sisters and brothers, and other people I knew well. I noticed that diet does effect, not only health, but human behavior as well.

In the spring of 1999 I bought some chicks from a hatchery and did another test. In this test I fed one group white rice and white bread, the other brown rice and whole wheat bread. Since white bread is now enriched, the chicks on it and white rice survived longer than before. The chicks on brown rice and whole wheat bread, however, also eventually became sick and started dying. According to Dr. Vestal, DVM of Dodd Animal Hospital and Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory, the chicks on the brown bread and rice were almost in as bad health as those eating white bread and rice. The brown bread and rice chicks were mineral and vitamin deficient except for calcium, and they were also obese. The chicks on white bread and rice were very deficient in minerals and vitamins, except calcium.

Has the quality of our food-producing soils gone down over the past 36 years, or could it be that the chickens we eat and get eggs from are so far removed from nature that they now need medicated feed and vitamin supplements to survive?

 
Modem studies have many times shown that nutrition has an effect on the behavior of animals and humans. Could the root of all the troubles in the world be from over-processed, de-vitalized, chemicalized foods grown in poor soil? Could these facts be too simple to be understood by our powerful but poorly nourished brains???

Malcolm Beck


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"Conquest of the Land through Seven Thousand Years" is Dr. Lowdermilk's personal report of a study he made in 1938 and 1939. Despite changes in names of countries, in political boundaries, and in conservation technology, the bulletin still has significance for all peoples concerned with maintaining and improving farm production.

To download a PDF copy click here.

 

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last updated:  January 5, 2004