Recently I attended a very good presentation at the local Cooroy Hall, by Dr. Sandra Tuszynska, it was the local Permaculture group meeting. She was terrific building her presentation on all things in ‘soil health education and science’, in her talk she mentioned people like David Holmgren, Retro Suburbia, and Zac from Farmers Foot Print, just to name a few. She gave credit to Dr. Elaines, Soil Food Web school, and shared her infectious excitement at seeing microbiomes, with their nematodes, arthropods, and the Rhizosheath (glue), under the microscope. Good soil, wow is it possible to get that back again?
She introduced us to her passion for earthworms and mites, and ancient insects like springtails, which are kind of rare. She reminded us that it’s not really a good idea to turn the soil all the time, the soil needs time to develop its ecosystem, which makes it a better bed for our veggie seeds and reduces the risk of later plant disease. I thought about my own retreats, The Lifestyle Reset Retreats, and why we incorporate a speaker such as Andrew McLennan who speaks about improving our soils and growing something, anything to be proactive in our cultivation of food.
How lucky we are to have Andrew McLennan’s lessons on developing nutrient-dense soil, now and in the past, because Andrew helped to mentor us to grow nutritious greens and fruits in now-established pods on our property. Anyway, at the end of the talk, Dr. Sandra asked if there were any questions. I looked back on my notes, and re-read what she said about the ‘plant succession ladder’ about the sunshine, and CO2 and about Rbuscule, a tiny plant, that produces glomalin which contains 30-40% carbon. She said that in 15 years we could improve significantly our biological agriculture, this heartened me so much.
Between Andrew (who will be speaking at our next retreat), and Dr. Sandra I continue to be inspired. I liked her call to action, which is to donate worm farm residue to farmers to help them improve their soils. Not a bad idea at all. I didn’t have a question as such for Dr. Sandra, more a comment, a thought that I wanted to bring up, and it was around Nutrition and Pottenger’s cat experiments. I mentioned the cats and the generational decline of one particular set of cats fed on a basic minimal diet, of processed food, and how that turned out for those cats. After I made my little contribution, several people came up to me and wanted to know more, so I have included this information for their benefit and yours too if you are interested. It goes like this…
Pottenger’s Cats — A Study in Nutrition
by Francis M. Pottenger, Jr., MD.
From 1932 to 1942, Dr. Francis Marion Pottenger, Jr. conducted an experiment to determine the effects of heat-processed food on cats.
This ten-year cat study was prompted by the high death rate among his laboratory cats undergoing operations to remove their adrenal glands. At that time, there were no chemical procedures to measure the strength of the adrenal extract. So, manufacturers used cats. Cats die without their adrenal glands. So, the amount of extract the cats needed to keep them alive allowed the manufacturers to calibrate the strength of their product. Now I’m not in favour of experimenting on animals, however, this research was significant for me reading about Pottenger and his cats in my early 20s, as it became the impetus for exploring a natural food lifestyle.
Dr. Pottenger fed his cats a diet of raw milk, cod liver oil, and cooked meat scraps, which included liver, tripe, sweetbreads, brains, heart, and muscle. This was considered the optimum diet.
Concerned about the cat’s poor postoperative survival, Dr. Pottenger noticed the cats showed a decrease in their reproductive capacity and many of the kittens born in the laboratory had skeletal deformities and organ malfunctions.
By a quirk of fate, since the number of cats donated by his neighbors in Monrovia, California kept increasing, he couldn’t handle the demand for cooked meat scraps. So, he ordered raw meat scraps from a local meat packing plant, including the viscera, muscle, and bone. Always a scientist, Dr. Pottenger fed these raw meat scraps to a segregated group of cats so that he could observe any change. Within a few months, this group appeared healthier, their kittens more vigorous, and they had a higher survival rate after their operations.
The contrast between the two sets of cats was so startling, that it prompted Dr. Pottenger to perform a controlled experiment to verify these facts scientifically.
The experiment included 900 cats over four generations and was well documented by Dr. Pottenger. The cats were divided into five groups. All the groups were supplied the same basic minimal diet, but the major portion of the diets was varied. Two of the groups were fed whole foods (raw milk and meat – real foods for cats). The other three groups were given processed foods: pasteurized, evaporated, and condensed milk.
All four generations of the raw meat and raw milk groups remained healthy throughout their normal lifespans. The first generation of all three processed food groups developed diseases and illnesses near the end of their lives. The second generation of all three processed food groups developed diseases and illnesses in the middle of their lives. The third generation of all three processed food groups developed diseases and illnesses at the beginning of their lives and many died before six months of age.
There was no fourth generation in any of the three processed food groups. Either the third-generation parents were sterile or the fourth-generation cats died before birth! Remember, all four generations of the raw food groups were healthy throughout their normal lifespans.
As for applying his results to human nutrition, Dr. Pottenger said, “While no attempt will be made to correlate the changes in the animals studied with malformations found in humans, the similarity is so obvious that parallel pictures will suggest themselves.”
These findings got me thinking a long time ago that cooked meals, processed food, and denatured meals have a lot to answer for and most certainly could be the reason why so many children are now developing cancer. Why there were no fertility clinics 30 years ago? Pair this up with the condition of our soils today and you can see we have our work cut out for us to find optimal health.
My message to you, set up a worm farm, create healthy soil and grow something to add to your salads and soups. Start with sprouts if you live in an apartment, don’t be discouraged if your soil isn’t healthy now, you can work on that. Dr. Sandra says we can turn things around in 15 years, I believe her, it starts now.
There is no similar experiment in medical literature to this day. These findings were supervised by Dr. Pottenger along with Dr. Alvin Foord, professor of pathology at the University of Southern California and pathologist at the Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena. These studies met the most rigorous scientific standards of their day.
For you and I there is hope if we learn about these little nematodes, arthropods, and the like. Do you know there is no such thing as competition with plants, they can grow in harmony with each other, in fact, they love it. Mono crops, the ‘neat garden’ may be our undoing. I have a friend in Tasmania, Aaron, his business is ‘Lawn To Lunch’, Aaron helps to set up food gardens on areas of ground that were once lawns, so instead of mowing it, the people who live around these spaces are munching from these raised garden beds. I love that. xx Check him out. Oh, and if you would like to be at our next retreat, click on this link: