Friday, April 14, 2000, 8:58:46 AM, you wrote:
HL> It is of little value to know whether an organic or biodynamic
HL> vegetable or fruit has more calcium, iron, copper, manganese,
HL> boron etc. in it than another conventionally grown item. What form
HL> is the mineral in? Is it present as a salt? Or is it incorporated
HL> into an enzyme, hormone, vitamin or other complex organic form?
HL> For over 15 years I've been saying that the real issue is how much
HL> vitality is in the food and my utterances seem to bring stone deaf
HL> silence in their wake nearly every time.
Glad you said that. Here we coincide totally. All my work and theory
is guided by that principle: "That which is life giving". Call it
vitality if you want.
We would also agree that the mechanisms or distinguishing features of
this trait or quality must (or had best) be defined. (You already
Where we might stray apart a bit (unless you recognize my point) is:
If vitality is definable, why not love (or what have you)?
HL> Most of the organic industry is focused on keeping noxious
HL> materials OUT of the food. There is very little concern about
HL> vitality. Yet the two are related.
HL> Care to consider how?
HL> Virtually all of the contaminants that can or do poison food have
HL> a disorganizing effect on the chemistry of the food. Chlorinated
HL> hydrocarbon poisons like DDT, DES, TCDD, DBCP, etc. or the
HL> organophosphate poisons like glyphosate and malathion disrupt the
HL> living chemistry of the plant and ultimately whatever comes in
HL> contact with it IN MUCH THE SAME FASHION AS GAMMA RADIATION DOES.
HL> For this reason they are sometimes called RADIOMIMETIC (they mimic
HL> radioactivity) chemicals. TCDD (commonly known as dioxin) is one
HL> of the worst of these and is a contaminant in many other
HL> chlorinated hydrocarbon compounds. One might as well dust things
HL> with radioactive waste as the effects on biological organisms is
HL> similar in its disruptive effects.
HL> I know it is not the same as. Many poisonous chemicals are more
HL> specific in their reactions than gamma radiation. For example DDT
HL> mimics the effects of estrogen resulting in biological male
HL> organisms exhibiting female characteristics along with loss of
HL> their male ones.
Some anti-microbial medications also do that as a side effect.
HL> But even so the effects disorganize the chemistry
HL> of the organisms that come in contact with them.
The effects disorganize the chemistry of the organism's congruency -
i.e., the organism has a function that's disrupted.
HL> What is a living organism? It is organized.
HL> The degree to which it is organized is a measure of its vitality
HL> and life force.
We also want to consider the quality of the work / activity that comes
out of that organism (they shall be known by their deeds).
HL> We don't eat food for how much calcium or iron it
HL> contains. We eat it for the complexity of its organisation of
HL> these things.
Higher (more highly organized) organisms are definitely where it's at.
My example would be (remember where I am) a mamee, cherimoya, mango or
avocado on the one hand, and a melon or banana on the other. The
structure of the first group is much more complex, the roots go much
deeper & take longer to bear, and the fruit is more sustaining. (Not
that the plants - vs. trees - don't produce a worthy, worthwhile life
HL> The hemoglobin in our blood is a complex organic chemical with
HL> iron at its core. That's the form we need iron in, not iron
HL> chloride or iron nitrate. The apatite in our tooth enamel is a
HL> highly organized combination of calcium, silica and carbon forms.
HL> If all we do is eat dolomite tablets we won't do much to build
HL> strong teeth because we won't be taking in the level of
HL> complexity, the organizational level necessary to build strong
HL> teeth. The body chemistry would have to do too much transformation
HL> from simple salts to complex organic forms to get there and where
HL> is it to get the forces to do this? So the degree to which our
HL> foods are highly developed in their organizational complexity is
HL> the degree to which they do us good when we eat them.
I try to keep things on the organism level.
HL> It is possible to analyse both the crude protein content of a
HL> vegetable and also run an assay of its actual proteins and amino
HL> acids. The crude protein test is in reality not a test of protein
HL> but a test of all nitrogen compounds, many of which may be crude
HL> forms such as ammonium, amines, amides, nitrites or nitrates.
HL> Foods grown with nitrogen salt fertilizers are notorious for being
HL> loaded with such salts. For example, baby food formulations of
HL> spinach have a bad history of containing enough nitrates that they
HL> are harmful to babies if they are eaten. Of course, most babies
HL> try to spit them out when they are served as the taste is awful.
Vitality and quality go hand in hand.
HL> We don't really have to go to a chemical laboratory to determine
HL> food quality.
We ourselves are very capable analyzing mechanisms if our tastes (and
consciousness) haven't been subverted.
HL> There is no way a vegetable, fruit or herb is going
HL> to have delicious, savory characteristics if it is not highly
HL> organized in its chemistry. Many organic growers know that the
HL> brix readings of plant juices are a good test for how well
HL> organized the plant chemistry is, but you know what? You can taste
HL> the plant juices and get a pretty good idea of its sugar content.
Of course - and it's not just sugar content / brix. True quality is
defined in it's OWN terms.
HL> As the professor in my first chemistry course, second class
HL> meeting, in my biochemistry cirriculum said, "You have two of the
HL> best methods of chemical analysis that you carry around with you
HL> at all times. Taste and smell."
He and me. I would add: When I was doing different diets in the 60's,
I put myself through all kinds of mental and physical tests just for
the purpose of evaluating them. The real importance of food is what
when continue to get out of AFTER you eat it - who you become through
it. I don't eat to live, I eat to do things and the quality of those
things depends on the quality of what I eat, to a VERY significant
degree. Knowing this is also important - and necessary. No one can
break the rules and live to tell about it.
HL> When I worked in a vegetarian restaurant in Montreal there was
HL> about a month where we got case after case of bartlet pears from a
HL> grower in the Frazer River valley out in western British Columbia.
HL> These were commercial pears but Wow! what flavor! Far, far out of
HL> the ordinary. We gorged ourselves on those things, and the zing of
HL> their vitality was something that reached to the fingertips and
HL> made the morning meditations crackle with energy.
Grafted or seedling?
HL> I was a produce buyer for local stores and restaurants and used to
HL> shop the Atlanta Farmers' Market in Forest Park every week. I
HL> tasted everything before buying for my customers and there was one
HL> canteloupe grower that always had by far the tastiest canteloupes.
HL> Finally I asked him to share his secret with me, another farmer.
HL> "Most of these growers pour the nitrogen to their melons in order
HL> to get big size." he said. "I'm a soybean farmer with 300 acres in
HL> soybeans and I rotate my melons to use the nitrogen the soybeans
HL> fix. What makes the sugar in the canteloupes is potash, and I pour
HL> the potash (as sulpomag) to my melons to get a sweet melon, which
HL> ends up building the fertility for my soybeans."
You are right. Pineapple can get size with phosphorous but require
potassium for brix.
HL> Gosh! A savvy conventional farmer!
Organic is just a label for the process underlying all agriculture. BD
too. The process was already there and will still be there when
organic is gone.
HL> He sure had the sweetest most aromatic melons. No way of faking
HL> it. And what was more he was using a beneficial form of potash
HL> instead of the usual muriate of potash that has so much chlorine
HL> in it it sterilizes the soil. Sulpomag leaves the microorganisms
HL> alive in the soil and they soak up the potash so it doesn't wash
HL> away. On this guy's sandy soils in south Georgia if he put muriate
HL> on it washed away in the first heavy rains and was gone. He paid a
HL> little extra for the sulfate of magnesia and potassium because it
HL> was what worked. And his nitrogen was in the form of complex
HL> aminos from the soybean rotation! These were canteloupes that
HL> tasted wonderful and, yes, they made you feel good when you ate
HL> them. They also kept longer when ripe. All the chemical analysis
HL> you needed to know this was in the nose and the mouth, not in the
A good lab could help pin it down in an objective, definable and
repeatable way. But where it counts is where the thing happens - in
the eating and the living that springs from it.
HL> It is doubtful you would have known as much about the
HL> quality of his melons if you had gone through a $500 or even a
HL> $1,000 analysis.
They are not mutually exclusive. You yourself are attempting to do
both via your description.
HL> There is such a great infatuation with laboratory analyses and
HL> putting numbers on things. But it is nowhere near as revealing as
HL> most folks assume. Rather, it is a rip-off. When you see organic
HL> vegetables in the store and you buy them and they taste
HL> awful--discard them. The farmer may have been certified and may
HL> not have used poisons on his crop, but his final product does not
HL> have what you need in it. It is not highly organized. It is not
HL> vitally alive. Maybe his soil's nitrogen was oxidized all the way
HL> to the nitrates, which you don't need a chemical laboratory to
HL> tell. Just taste it. That bitter nitrogen salt flavor can't be
HL> masked, and it is REALLY apparant when you cook something loaded
HL> with nitrogen salts. Chlorine salts are a little harder to detect,
HL> but their effects can deaden food too. You know what makes a hot
HL> pepper so hot? Hydrochloric acid. If all the pepper is is hot
HL> without other aromatic flavors then all you are getting is a bunch
HL> of HCl. It would be helpful if people had an education in what the
HL> things they taste and smell mean in terms of food chemistry
HL> because if they did it could mean a lot in terms of eating the
HL> most vital foods. As a gourmet chef and a biodynamic grower I
HL> know. As a former chemist I also know. I believe if you take what
HL> I'm saying to heart you will also know.
HL> It is really funny that people commonly don't trust their own
HL> authority on things. Instead they look to the authority of others.
HL> They want a laboratory analysis on a sheet of paper before they
HL> can believe something. Why is that? It's pretty wierd in my book.
It ain't weird considering they've been bred to do that. The
educational system breeds consumers who can read ads and buy things,
not make things; even the alternative life styles are pretty much
mapped out stereotypically. Mediocrity, homogeneity, superficiality
and loss of direction and diversity are the result. Just look at OFPA
- good rule or bad rule, it's police state mentality all the way home.
Just a few people beating their own drum, with poor quality noise the
You have a noticeable tendency to want to swallow the discussion at
the end. You start out defining things and end up kind of misty and
occult. Hope you don't mind my saying so. I happen to agree with you
but frankly, there's no one way to define anything.
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