What do you see as being the main health benefits of buying vegetables from a local organic grower?
There is a huge difference in the nutrient profile between organic and local produced food, and food that is ‘commercially produced, as the longer produce sits in a cold store the less nutrients it will contain when it finally reaches your plate. Not to mention the nutrients that are lost when foods are flown internationally. Produce just tastes better when it has been ripened by the sun and then picked/cut. This is an easy way to increase the flavour and nutrient density of your food.
You talked about soil quality in a latest seminar that we sat in on. Could you elaborate on soil quality relating to nutrient levels in produce?
From the soil, health and energy are born. The soil contains minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, which we need to live. But we can’t eat the soil, so we need a medium that is able to supply us with the Earth’s nutrients. The middlemen are plants, as they absorb the nutrients from the soil and make them available to us as food. Isn’t that an incredible way to think about how we obtain the nutrients that sustain our life?
However, if the soil is deficient in nutrients, then those nutrients are not in the food. So the quality of the soil where our food is grown plays an enormous role in how we feel, function and look each day.
That’s one of the reasons why it’s important to shop at farmers markets - that way you can buy local, get to know your farmers, find out how they tend to the food you buy and you can thank them for their hard work. Without their care and efforts, it is impossible for us to have great health. It seems crazy to me that most people know the name of their doctor but not the names of their farmers.
There is often the view that buying organic/local produce is more expensive than buying produce from the supermarket. How can we help consumers overcome that view?
I believe organic food is the true cost of food. I once started and ran an organic café. Once a week, a local farmer delivered fresh greens picked that morning from his biodynamic farm. I always set aside some time on the day of his delivery to chat with him, as he always had wonderful tales to tell of life on his farm. One day, when I asked him how he was, his reply was along the lines of “not so good.” When I enquired further, he went on to tell me that snails had invaded his broccoli patch virtually overnight. When I paused to consider this, I realised that, if they took hold, a portion of this man’s meagre livelihood would be lost. So I asked him how he deals with snails on his broccoli given that his farming principles do not involve spraying the patch to get rid of the invaders (which would have taken less than 30 minutes to do). My farmer friend went on to tell me that snails lose their “stick,” their ability to suction on to things, in salty water. So he made up a bottle of salt and water, and he spent two days, crouched down on all fours, crawling between his broccoli plants, squirting saline water up under the fronds. Not only that, he didn’t kill the snails but collected them in a bucket and fed them to the chickens “to keep them in the food chain,” as he so delightfully put it. Think about each of these scenarios. Spray in under 30 minutes versus crawling around on your haunches for two days. For me, that illustrates precisely why organic and biodynamic food costs more. It reflects the real cost of food, plus it has a greater nutritional value, not to mention what’s left out. Every time we purchase something we are casting a vote for the world we want to live in, that’s why I believe buying organic and/or local is one of the most important votes you can make!
And finally, What is your favourite vegetable to eat over winter?
What a great question! I absolutely love cabbage; I think it has to be one of the most underrated vegetables. But, I also love broccoli, can I pick two?!
A huge thank you to Dr Libby for answering our questions.
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