SPG - Community Expo
Post date: Sep 2, 2017
It was nice to be asked to do a talk or two and have a SPG stall at the first Community Expo which happened today at the public park in Stanthorpe next to the swimming pool. Its focus was health and wellbeing, so I decided to talk about the health benefits of growing your own food, as well as some more general healthy eating info. Here is a summary of my talk:
Why grow your own food in order to be more healthy?
Number 1: Know what is in your food. After checking that your soil is free of contaminants with a soil test, you control how your food is grown and therefore what is in it. You therefore know there are no poisons - herbicides, pesticides, fungicides in it and that there are no GMOs because you do not buy those seeds. Genetic engineering technology used in food is untested and the foreign proteins are likely to be irritating to the digestive tract.
Number 2: Ensure the best nutrition in the food. You can ensure your soil is alive with biology and therefore that the plants can access minerals and trace elements they need. Food can be eaten soon after being harvested and when things are properly ripe and not green. You can also grow health giving foods that are not available in markets and supermarkets (yacon is one of our favourites). This includes many common weeds - sheep's sorrel, chickweed, dandelion, dock, lambs quarters, nettle, and so on, as well as thousands of heirloom varieties that have superior taste and therefore nutrients. In the US 20 plants produce 90% of the diet, 9 of these equal 75% of the total diet and rice, corn, and wheat equals 50% of the total. Where is the biodiversity?? (there are 30-80,000+ edibles available)
Number 3: Exercise outdoors; bending over, turning compost, and forking the soil all give the body muscles some work to do. Get some sunshine so that your body gets important Vitamin D. No sunscreen. Cover up before burning.
Number 4: Reduce fossil fuel use (or eco-footprint) of the food you eat so that pollution decreases. If you grow some of your own food, less artificial fertilizers are used, less transport needed (typically hundreds or thousands of kms), less storage, less packaging - this benefits the environment we all share - cleaner air and water for everyone!
Number 5: Make new friends who also grow their own food. Share seeds, plants, knowledge, successes and failures. Exchange produce with them. Learn from each other and learn together. This is satisfying and beneficial to your soul.
What if you cannot grow some of your own food because you have nowhere to grow?
1. Basil in a pot loves a window sill as do many other plants. Grow micro-greens (the green sprouts of seeds) inside with a grow light.
2. Go to a Community Garden and grow food there.
3. Ask a neighbour or friend if you can grow in their back yard or on their farm.
4. Happy Pig Farm has offered land to use for reasonable exchange.
5. Plant in pots or moveable containers if you rent.
Start with something...
What if you cannot grow (and exchange) all your food, but want quality purchased food to make up the difference?
1. Get to know a local farmer or two. Find out how they grow food - do they grow ecologically or with artificial chemicals and poisons? Buy from them if eco-friendly. Another option is to buy from a food aggregator (eg Symara Farm) who sources from organic farmers
2. Buy local honey from a beekeeper who uses no poisons
3. Buy foods certified Organic - Woolworths, Aldi, even IGA has some organic dairy, GoVita has some organic
4. Join a bulk buying group who buys Organic and supports Australian farmers - this makes Organic more affordable.
5. Buy from cafes and restaurants who use organic and local ingredients. Encourage them to use more and more of both.
6. Buy local at market or shops or farm gate if no other option.
7. Buy from supermarket, but avoid imported foods/ingredients.
Other Healthy Eating points:
alive foods - ferments, pickles, kefir, natural yogurt, simple cheeses, wine, vinegar, kombucha
meat and fish broths
breads (see note on grains below)
raw milk & cheeses
Organic whole grains - must be soaked overnight, sprouted, or fermented to reduce phytic acid that blocks Ca, Mg, Cu, Zn being absorbed in the gut. Grains need fresh milling.
high quality dairy
animal foods raised naturally without unnecessary poisons or medicines
lard for cooking with (pork, beef, poultry)
cold pressed extra virgin olive oil - ok for moderate heat cooking, best raw
coconut oil - ok for moderate heat cooking, best raw
organic superfoods in small amounts:
- cod liver oil
- high vitamin butter oil
- evening primrose
- borage or blackcurrant oil
- bee pollen
- acerola powder (berry)
- wheat germ oil - vit E
- azomite mineral powder
- nutritional yeast processed at low temp
- amalaki powder (indian fruit)
- canned whole coconut milk (not lite)
- flax seed oil
low fat anything
pasteurised milk, unless you add lacto bacteria to ferment it
aspartame - artificial sweetener
packaged breakfast cereals - high pressure and heat extruded grains with high sugar content
MSG - neurotoxic
HFC - high fructose corn syrup - highly processed
alcohol - esp spirits, unpasteurised natural beer ok, organic wine without preservatives ok
soft drinks - esp diet
flour in all processed foods
deep fried anything in veggie oil
If you don't think margarine or some other processed food is bad, put an amount on a saucer and leave outside. How long until eaten by insects, animals, mold, fungi? Compare with a natural food eg butter
These ideas mostly come from 3 books I have read lately: "Gut and Psychology Syndrome", "Nourishing Traditions", and "Nutrition and Physical Degeneration" as well as watching the recent docu-series on "The Truth about Cancer" and start of "GMOs Revealed".
The second talk I decided to do was on vermicomposting as a waste reduction strategy and I wanted to demonstrate how quick and easy it is to create a worm farm in an old bath tub. So, I borrowed a tub from Paul (of Happy Pig Farm) and used some enthusiastic children volunteers to help make it:
Step 1: Isaac silicons around the hole to 'glue' in place some fly screen over it - this stops worms from accidentally going out the hole and allows free drainage
Step 2: Add bedding material - ideal is coir (coconut fibre), but torn up newspaper is good too
Step 3: Add some animal manures - cow, sheep, horse, etc
Step 4: Add some food waste - a little to start with
Step 5: Sprinkle of lime on everything (aids worm digestion processes & raises pH) [do this every 2 weeks or so]
Step 6: Add some compost worms
Step 7: Cover to exclude light with cardboard layers, old material, etc. Can be a wooden or iron lid, but need to regularly check it's moist
Step 8: Would be to make a wooden stand so that bath is at waist height OR sit the bath on old bricks or rocks, etc OR use 4 star pickets instead of a stand
Step 9: Put bucket or similar under the hole to collect leachate - keep returning this to bath until it's a very dark color - then it's great to dilute 15 to 1 with water for your soil/plants
Always keep contents moist and best to place tub in shady area. This system takes about 6 bath loads of 'waste' until it is full with worm castings -> black gold !!
The Permaculture Group stall showcased what activities the group has been doing as well as upcoming events:
Evita talked to a few people about kombucha and sold some organic pastured duck eggs. She still has several kombucha 'mothers' if anyone would like to make their own at home. It was great to meet some new people interested in Permaculture!
Photos credit - Shane Andersen