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Wally Richards
Wally Richardshttp://www.gardenews.co.nz
Wally Richards has been a gardening columnist for over 30 years. Check his websites - for gardening news and tips visit www.gardenews.co.nz. For mail order products visit www.0800466464.co.nz. Wally also has a gardening problem help line on 0800 466 464.

Gardening with Wally Richards: Food and Health

Vegetable and fruits opinion

The father of medicine, Hippokrátes ho Kôios (c. 460 – c. 370 BC) apparently said the historic words:

‘Let Food be Thy Medicine and Let Medicine be Thy Food’

Fairly logical and common sense; if you eat healthy you will be healthy.

But what is healthy food and where do you get it from?

Vegetables and fruit that are grown naturally in fertile soil which is teaming in soil life (Earth worms, microbes and beneficial fungi) is a healthy base to start with for growing.

Vegetable plants that receive adequate sunlight, chemical free water and natural nutrients and are allowed to grow at their own pace will be rich in goodness and taste great.

Vegetables that are grown in a chemical environment of man-made fertilisers and with chemical controls; forced to grow quickly with applications of nitrogen’ will not have the health attributes of the above instead it will be fairly tasteless.

This produce is likely contain several chemical residues from sprays that were used to kill insect pests (Chemical insecticides) and prevent plant diseases (Chemical fungicides)

Lets look at each of these aspects; plants do best when they grow at their own speed which allows them to take up minerals and elements available in the growing medium.

They have a vital relationship with the soil life that helps provide the plants with moisture and nutrients in a form that the roots can take up.

Beneficial soil fungi attach to the plants roots sending out microscopic strands which collect moisture and nutrients and pass them to the roots in exchange for some carbohydrates.

This can increase the root catchment area of the plant by up to 800%.

The bigger the root system the bigger and healthier the plant.

Microbes in the soil break down organic matter which makes it more available to the plants and their ability to take up.

Nitrogen is vital to plant growth and when it is available naturally in the soil from actions of the soil life and from nitrogen brought down from the atmosphere with rain; the plant grows strong and steadily.

As opposed to synthetic nitrogen fertiliser?

Synthetic nitrogen fertiliser is any solid or liquid substance that is more than five per cent nitrogen by dry weight and is applied to land as a source of nitrogen nutrition for plants. Examples include manufactured urea, diammonium phosphate, Nitrophoska and sulphate of ammonia.

These compounds force plants to grow fast and unnaturally which means they have less chance of taking up beneficial elements that are available.

They are weak through forced sappy growth and thus vulnerable to attack by insects and diseases.

They are lacking in flavour and fairly tasteless.

If a plant or fruit you eat has good flavour and tastes great that means it has excellent nutritional values.

If on the other hand you have to apply garnishes or condiments to obtain a favorable taste then the health benefits are minimal.

Growing vegetables and fruit commercially is a very expensive occupation these days and one that has a myriad of problems which include weather, cost of fertilisers, chemical sprays, labour, diesel and returns to pay for all the outgoings.

Also the more crops that can be grown in a year means more produce to sell hence the faster the vegetables are grown and ready for harvest the better they are off .

The produce has to be perfect on the supermarket shelves, no holes or blemishes thus the crop needs to be sprayed regularly with chemical sprays to control pests and diseases.

The vegetables absorb these chemical poisons through their foliage and the run off into the soil is taken up by the vegetables roots.

NZ Food Safety does annual checks to find out what chemicals are in local grown foods as well as imported foods – see this link.

Have a look and be amazed and note the glyphosate (Roundup and other trade names) is not even tested for, and yet one of the most used chemicals in horticulture?

The 2015-2016 survey did however have glyphosate in relationship to wheat see this link.

There was in the past some discussion about people intolerance to gluten which is a health concern but it was also suggested that some of this was an intolerance to gyphosate.

My point being that in commercially grown produce that is not organically certified there is likely to be a number of chemical poisons that you are taking into your self through your food chain.

So your fresh (not so fresh actually days old from harvest) produce at supermarkets is not as healthy as it is promoted to be. Fast grown, lacks taste and goodness and may contain a number of nasty chemicals.

A reader passed me an article recently from their archives written by Chris Wheeler, former head of New Zealand’s foremost organic farm lobby group, the Soil & Health Association. Written in 2000 – see here.

The guts of the article is how chemicals used in horticulture food crops have a strong connection to cancers and cancer rates in NZ and else where.

Abstract from above article: ‘Who can seriously say there is really any serious interest in lowering breast cancer rates, or, for that matter, ANY cancer rates in New Zealand?

Certainly not our clapped out Ministry of Health, the Cancer Society, the breast cancer surgeons and oncologists or the farcical Australia New Zealand Food Authority who ‘police’ what contaminants are allowed into our daily diet.

They recently INCREASED for goodness sake (!) the allowable levels of the now well-established carcinogenic herbicide Roundup/glyphosate in our food just to help Monsanto’s sales figures.

Home-grown vegetables and fruit grown naturally with minerals added such as those found in Magic Botanic Liquid (MBL) taste great and are full of health giving nutrients for you and your family.

As it is very hard to avoid chemicals in the environment and our food chain then the answer is to get them out of your body by using any of the detox methods available.

Leaving chemical residues in cells and fat tissue can certainly lead to health issues.

Do detox regularly and grow some good healthily stuff in your garden or in containers to reap the health benefits.

You are what you eat.

Image credit: Hana Mara

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  1. I grew very sceptical about the “cancer society” when I noticed their sunscreen didn’t contain Titanium Dioxide- a naturally occurring mineral that repels UV.

    I prefer not to use sunscreen at all as I don’t believe in rubbing chemicals all over my skin which will then be absorbed BUT as I do not wish to be burnt, if I MUST use anything then I use sunscreen or a foundation that contains Titanium Dioxide.

    Why have sunscreen manufacturers removed Titanium Dioxide? Because it WORKS and it’s not harmful. So if you must stop yourself from being burnt because you know you will be out for a long time in the sun – always choose something WITH Titanium Dioxide in it. Preferably NOT the nano particles.

    Just my 2 cents worth.


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