The documentary is available on SBS onDemand in Australia,
In the video below Rick responds to Curtis Stone’s myths about permaculture.
While watching Rick talk, I had a few thoughts:
The *first* principle of permaculture is observe and interact in any given context, *second* to obtain resources relevant to that context, *third* obtain a yield with those resources. Curtis’ beef is with the yield because he believes a permaculture zone 3-4 food forest should compete with zone 0 because “experts” somewhere said so.
Maybe Curtis is right or maybe he doesn’t really comprehend zones, and the frequency and duration of work in those zones for the output. All his cropping is high intensity and long duration that I’ll call zone 0 (greenhouse) because it’s basically his home, & zone one-quarter because most of what he grows is young milti-annual crops that he harvests and transplants multiple times per season in his and the neighbours backyards. These are high turnover nitrate driven crops that he culls often in the middle of the vegetative growth stage of the sigmoid curve, only letting the most valuable annuals flower and fruit over the season like tomatoes.
The high nitrate crops then require external inputs (high nitrate turkey compost) for new seedling transplants to keep them in that vegetative growth stage. In doing so anytime he harvests or tilthers (shallow till) he disturbs the soil-plant ecosystem, even in no dig systems this happens between crops. It’s how most people garden and farm, so much so it can be considered the norm. So in Curtis and most of the world’s commercial minds eye they see it as the done thing because it yields results and order and is easier to harvest.
The one thing these commercial systems all do well is harvesting and removing life. Harvesting the pests, plants, nutrients, the ecosystems. On the other hand rarely do they perform well when it comes to sequestering and adding life or regenerating ecosystems to support diversity.
On the other hand Rick’s example of a guild above where he’s stacking the harvest time of two perennial crops in the same place does a similar thing to Curtis’ multi-annual cropping but uses nitrifying soil microbes to produce ammonium for the perennials, including soil carbon sequestering mycorrhizae that need plant hosts. All while keeping the soil shaded, and fed and getting two crop harvests a season. Permaculture needs more people like Rick performing these guild experiments, recording and sharing yield results.
A recent favourite of mine that combines a bit of both is alley cropping in syntropic agriculture.
However permaculture really could better be showing producers and consumers actual yields and practices that produce them. With real metrics, examples.
I also think that Regenerative cropping really needs a movement behind it like vegetables have with vegans, but one for plant and animals foods that are soil and planet positive. There’s probably already a name for that?
For me, regenerative farming came to mind, so I came up with the name Regenivore, but when I googled I was greeted with no results.
Are there any consumer supported agriculture (CSA) initiatives that are regenerative focused? Standards bodies for Certified Regenerative produce?
The nutritional value of a food should be evaluated on the basis of the foodstuff as a whole, and not as an effect of the individual nutrients. This is the conclusion of an international expert panel of epidemiologists, physicians, food and nutrition scientists.
“Researchers have become more skilful over the years, and we have acquired more methods for exploring what specific nutrients mean for digestion and health,” Tanja continues “But when we eat, we do not consume individual nutrients. We eat the whole food. Either alone or together with other foods in a meal. It therefore seems obvious that we should assess food products in context.”
Ultimately this means that the composition of a food can alter the properties of the nutrients contained within it, in ways that cannot be predicted on the basis of an analysis of the individual nutrients.
Tanja Kongerslev Thorning explains further “An example is almonds, which contain a lot of fat, but which release less fat than expected during digestion. Even when chewed really well. The effects on health of a food item are probably a combination of the relationship between its nutrients, and also of the methods used in its preparation or production. This means that some foods may be better for us, or less healthy, than is currently believed.”
Food is not just the sum of its nutrients. – University of Copenhagen
I wish more scientists thought like this and considered the entire living ecosystem that is our food, including the microbes they often contain. Instead we get studies that tell us the best way to cook that measure “nutritional value” like this one on mushrooms:
Effect of different cooking methods on nutritional value and antioxidant activity of cultivated mushrooms: International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition: Vol 68, No 3
Hell no says Jenny O’Sullivan from Malabar, Gippsland, VIC
Only 1.7% of people said the environment would influence their buying decisions in a recent Australian meat & livestock study.