ACRES USA 2015 Conference Report
The ACRES USA Conference this year was mind blowing. If you haven’t heard of ACRES USA and what they do, here is a brief description. They are one of the oldest publishing organizations on all things eco-agriculture. They educate farmers on how to produce the highest quality food in the most sustainable, ecological, and economical way for the health of people and the planet. They also hold this awesome conference every year where they bring together farmers and consultants to learn from each other about all things eco-farming.
This year was my first ACRES experience and I am so grateful for all the sharing and inspiration that happened in those few days between the lectures, trade show mingling, and insightful conversations. It was literally impossible to be at every lecture, film, consultation, or workshop. I did, however, go with specific interests in mind: to learn as much about the connection between soil and human health, and what we can do to improve both. So, this is how the course of lectures to attend was chosen.
The first night I listened to the keynote address by Steven Druker on his book, Altered Genes, Twisted Truth. He essentially debunked many claims regarding GMO safety and the corruption that has allowed the continued use of them, as well as the deception of the public that prevents massive uproar and change from becoming widespread.
The next day I started off with a small group discussion with Dr. Richard Olree, a mineral nutrition consultant, chiropractor, and co-author of the book Minerals for the Genetic Code, about minerals in agriculture and human health. My brain is still assimilating the knowledge from this session. He went deep on the importance of certain minerals, how they interact, and which ones are harming us. It is about balance and the dangerous exposure to bromine, fluoride, and aluminum pair with deficiencies of iodine, boron, selenium, magnesium, and trace minerals causes unhealthy conditions in the body – aka disease.
Pumped up from that, I then went to a lecture by Klaas Martens, a long-time large scale organic farmer, on how to build a better farming system. His answer was simple, ask the right questions and make observations. We need to have discussions with other people in current situations, because a second pair of eyes is always helpful and people are going to ask different questions, make different observations, and try different things. Soil health is the most pressing factor in the ability to feed the world, and the crop varieties or productivity. There is a difference in being productive and being secure. The current system of agriculture is brittle and relies on a few outside inputs to get yields. These inputs are destroying the health of the soil. His push is to restore the soil and listen to what it is telling us. His answer is to add diversity through cover crops and rotations and to see what the soil is growing as a message of what it needs.
I was excited about listening to Glen Rabenberg, farmer and consultant for growing nutrient-dense crops, as he connected the dots of life between plants animals and humans. His main call is to balance the nutrition in the soil to balance the nutrition for humans. The soil is a living organism and its health can be tested similar to that of humans. He likes to do this by checking the sugar content of the plant, or the Brix reading, as well as the conductivity of the soil, or electricity of the soil. These readings reflect the health of the soil and the plant, as well as its resistance to disease and nutritional value for those consuming it. Our fundamental needs directly correlate to the needs of the soil/plants.
This trend continued throughout the day, as well as the next. There were many more lectures on the many ways to improve our soil and health as well, but the last highlight I want to mention was Dan Kittredge (Founder/Executive Director of the Bionutrient Food Association) and his lecture on principles of biological systems and their implications for eco-farmers. His approach to remineralizing the soil, and thus improving human health, is the application of rock dusts and seawater. Besides that, keep the soil covered with organic matter, well hydrated, and equipped with the soil life necessary to aerate the soil and make the nutrients available to the plants. The high quality of the plants from this ecologically abundant system will result in an enhanced flavor in the food. Taste and smell are evolutionarily important, as it correlates with nutrition. Except in the case of big food companies that have figured out how to hack your taste buds in a way to get you to eat more and buy more of their products. For the sake of this post though, you know the difference in taste between a farm fresh tomato and one from the store that was picked before it was ripe and shipped across the country. So, we need to grow nutrient dense foods so that we can have food that tastes good, the way nature intended.
When you grow healthy plants, they are naturally more productive because there is a well functioning ecosystem. This is the reason supporting ecological farming is important, because fighting is not the strategy to save the world, creating the solution will, and I feel that most common agricultures today are based on fighting with nature, rather than understanding it. We are not machines designed to just replace moving parts, we are living systems designed to continuously rebuild and regenerate. In order to rebuild, we need the building blocks from food, we are degenerating because our food is, because our soil is. Labels are not an accurate determination of nutrition, “organic” does not equal quality, it just means there were no synthetics used. Organic is a good start, but we must keep improving and mimicking nature. The ideal is to know where your food comes from and that it was produced in a regenerative and ecologically minded way in mineral-rich, living soil. This is where a new era of human health begins, in the soil.
*This article was originally written for Rebel Health Tribe at https://rebelhealthtribe.com/acres-usa-2015/. They are an incredible resource for everything you need to know about health!