The Intelligent Gardener: Growing Nutrient- Dense Food
By Steve Solomon with Erica Reinheimer
For thousands of years people have known that the nutrient density of the soil determines our health and longevity. Groups of people, such as the Indians and settlers in North America, would pack up and move when the soil in their areas became depleted. Weston Price, through his research and keen observation, also realized that the health of the soil played an extensive role in the health of the people.
Steve Solomon, the author of The Intelligent Gardener begins his book by sharing a summary of what Weston Price discovered concerning nutrient dense food. “Every healthy community Price visited - which included humans of every color, shape and hair texture, who had many types of lifestyles and ate many types of diets – was found to be composed of good natured, honest, responsible people possessed of an innate spiritual awareness that did not require regular church attendance to awaken. Their women did not fear childbirth, did not suffer much during it and rarely died from it. And the reason for their health: food with high nutrient density.”
Unfortunately, today, there is not much room left for moving to new land where we can find mineral dense virgin soil. If the human race is to survive, there is an urgent need for understanding exactly what elements need to be put back into the earth to replace the vital soil elements we are fast using up. The health of the American people appears to be diminishing in conjunction with the depletion of our nation’s soil. Degenerative disease is becoming rampant and moral character is declining along with the increased illness.
Steve Solomon started out as an organic gardener. At one point he discovered that while eating food mostly grown in his own organic garden, his teeth began to loosen. This caused him to investigate further which led him to realize that while adding compost to the garden soil was very important, the organic matter just wasn’t comprehensive enough to supply all the mineral needs of vegetables being replanted in the same soil year after year. He feels that “compost rarely contains the ideal mineral balance to grow nutrient dense – food. Excessive additions of compost usually imbalance the soil’s mineral profile and degrade nutritional outcomes.” As mineral density of the soil declines, so does the health of the growing plants and the people who consume them. The author offers a fascinating look at how the rise and decline of civilizations relates to soil fertility.
In his book Solomon includes everything you need to know about testing your soil for mineral density. He talks about what labs are best to use and has added numerous charts and worksheets to help the gardener figure out how much of what specific ingredients need to be added to the garden, according to soil test results and how large of an area you are fertilizing. The author discusses when you may want to use a complete organic fertilizer as opposed to adding mineral components to the soil separately.
In the middle of the book the author includes information on what nutritional elements the plants and humans need and what products supply these factors. Some of these elements are magnesium, calcium, boron, sulfur, phosphorous, sodium, iron, manganese, copper, and zinc. He also talks about what to do when there are excesses of specific soil ingredients.
While Solomon feels that compost alone does not adequately remineralize the soil, it is still an important component and he devotes a hefty section of the book on how to create balanced and effective compost. When he discusses the idea that you should try to get your compost ingredients from clean sources, he emphasizes the point that nutrient density of our food may be far more important than being overly particular about pesticide residues. It is the author’s opinion that if we eat foods that are highly dense in nutrition, then our bodies will operate at peak performance and should have no problems in detoxifying the pesticide residues in the food. Here is an important quote from page 258. “ Our fundamental health problem, the basic bottom line, is not that there are pesticide residues in our foods; the real problem is that only residues of nutrition remain in them.
“The Intelligent Gardener” is packed full of helpful information concerning all you need to know about creating healthy soil that will nourish garden vegetables and the humans who consume them. The author aptly expresses the dire need for focus on the critical subject of soil nutrient density and how our soil is being stripped of life sustaining properties. It is impossible for civilizations to prosper or even for human kind to survive without the adequate nourishment, which comes from properly mineralized soil. Solomon also speaks about the politics and monetary concerns surrounding the fertility of our soil.
I recommend this book to all who care about obtaining robust personal health and also to those who are concerned about the health of our governments, which run the world. The Intelligent Gardener offers much general information that anyone can understand but if the reader wants to implement some of the more detailed advice I think it would be helpful to have at least some inclination towards math and chemistry. This book is not necessarily for a beginning gardener…but more for the intermediate level. Steve Solomon’s book needs to be widely read!