Healing and Sustaining the Body & Earth

In a landmark paper entitled “Conquest of the Land Through 7,000 Years” (work done in 19381939) Dr. Walter Clay Loudermilk postulated that all the great civilizations of the world have fallen not because of war or pestilence, but through the lack of stewardship of the earth – topsoil. Much of what Loudermilk learned and wrote began with his pioneering work in China and later in the Middle East. Historical records of the past 60 centuries show that civilized man, with few exceptions, was never able to continue as a progressive civilization in one locality for more than 30-80 generations (7.5-20 centuries). The 3 notable exceptions: the Nile valley (200 generations), Mesopotamia (160 generations), and the Indus Valley (175 generations). Note that the three civilizations (Mesopotamian, Egypt, Indus) that had large river valleys that replenished the soil annually lasted over 150 generations. Civilizations that lacked this feature lasted only 50 or so generations. In these three long-lived civilizations, foreign conquerors, high taxes, etc. came and went. Only when the soil replenishment system failed did progressive civilization end. It has been further postulated that many of the ever increasing ills that insidiously creep into our daily lives can be traced to our food and their increasing lack of nutritional value. It has been shown that current agricultural practices of most of the world are working to recreate a situation of epic proportions. The use of chemical amendments and overuse of the land without renewal is painting a bleak picture for our current civilization. There exists now a movement to use organic compost as the key to sustainable and notably more nutritious organic crops. The use of rich compost is the key to create a sustainable and nutrient rich crops grown for the vitality that they impart to those who consume it. It has been shown that these foods effectively enhance the immune systems of those fighting the HIV/Aids pandemic ravaging the African continent. Enabling the body’s own immune system should just exist for the sick or malnourished, it should be a goal of all people. Incientally, farming in this manner can also lead to the replenishment of the most critical component to sustaining civilization as we know it – the TOPSOIL. Topsoil (1) Soils are an incredibly complex, intimate, and symbiotic relationship between the mineral world and the living (organic) world. Organic matter, tightly bound in soils, gives soils much of their fertility, erosion resistance, and water-holding capacity. Soil minerals stabilize soil organic matter for centuries, preventing it from being mineralized (converted back to CO2) in the normal few months, years or decades. The nuances of soil chemistry determine whether a given part of the globe can support advanced civilizations. (Much of it cannot.) The physics, chemistry and anthropogenics of soil build-up, loss and degradation determine how long a given civilization will last in a progressive mode. They also determine how much cropland a nation can have on a sustainable basis, and this largely determines that nation's human carrying capacity.

It was the ability of farmers to emerge from an agrarian society by producing surplus food that created the religious, educational, industrial, cultural and philosophical components of human civilization (probably in that order). So when the price of food (see Section 10-E-i) rises to demand essentially all of human earning-power, these trappings of modern civilization must then vanish. Though this may seem remote, be aware that demand for food is highly inelastic: a small surplus produces plummeting prices, while minor shortages produce explosive price increases. From the start of agriculture to 1950, most food supply doublings came from expansion of the area under cultivation and area being grazed. Since 1950, these doublings have come mainly from chemical fertilizers, large-scale irrigation systems, and improvements in plant genetics. All three of these mechanisms now show clear signs of saturation or decline. • The extra crop production per increment of fertilizer-application has dropped to roughly 20% of what it was a few decades ago. (Well-established laws of plant growth predicted this limit long before the fact.) • Annual appearances of new irrigated area have dropped from about 3% of inventory (1955-78) to 1% since 1978. The rate decreases as government subsidies dwindle. But salination-caused abandonment of irrigation systems now wipes out irrigated land at about 1%/ year. This rate can only increase due to the time lag for salination to set in, and the newness of most of the world's irrigation systems. Reallocation of irrigation water to urban use wipes out an added estimated 0.25% of irrigation systems annually • High-yielding, fertilizer-responsive crop varieties are now planted on nearly all suitable land, so the potential for expanding the land area devoted to high-yield grains is limited. Most high-yield seed varieties of wheat, corn and rice are inapplicable for large areas of the developing world because of adverse soil conditions such as build-up of salts, iron- or aluminum excesses, or high acidity. Since these three mechanisms address all the controllable factors influencing plant productivity (nutrients, water, genetics), there is reason to believe that future food-supply doublings will be harder to come by. Furthermore two of these new systems entail Faustian bargains (conversion of sustainable systems to non-sustainable ones), suggesting, not a leveling-off or a steady-state, but ultimately a decline, even after human-population growth falls to zero. Positive Feedbacks – Negative Results Positive feedbacks (instabilities) seem to dominate all cropland-, grassland-, forest- and aquatic life-support systems. In the past, rising fish prices would cause greater investment in fish trawlers. Today that approach only hastens the decline of fisheries. Rising grain prices would encourage greater investment in irrigation wells. Today that approach only hastens the depletion of aquifers. These positive feedbacks are probably the main reason why nearly all ancient civilizations never achieved a steady state near their state of furthest advancement. Instead they lasted in a progressive mode for no more than about 50 generations before they collapsed. (The few that lasted far longer were the ones that were based in broad alluvial river valleys where annual floods replenished the soil.) Virtually all positive feedbacks in cropland-, grassland-, fishery- and forests systems stem from one source: the human perception that the earth must be responsive to human needs and numbers, rather than the recognition that human needs and numbers must be responsive to the intrinsic, sustainable capacity of the earth to produce food and fiber. Some examples of positive feedbacks: • • • Water-erosion rates accelerate with increasing erosion. (Erosion reduces water-infiltration which causes more run-off and hence more erosion.); Erosion reduces plant-cover and plant-residue cover, promoting higher erosion rates. Human pressures on the land convert crop rotations to monocultures, creating more soil erosion, creating more pressures on the land, creating more monoculture.

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Sheet erosion leads to rill erosion (faster erosion), leading to gully erosion (even faster rates); Over-grazing producing soil erosion creating less grass, creating a greater degree of over-grazing. Population pressures forcing croplands onto steeper slopes causing increased runoff and erosion debris to damage croplands down on the valley floor. Human pressures on the land force more over-grazing on adjacent mountainsides causing increased runoff and erosion debris to damage croplands down on the valley floor. Population pressures force irrigators to use the same amount of water for ever-increasing acreage, causing salination, lower crop yields, greater pressures to extract more from a given amount of water.

All this suggests that human civilization rests on a mass of fundamental instabilities related mainly to pushing croplands and grasslands too hard. Forest management and fishery management are also characterized by numerous positive feedbacks. So today, land-productivity-enhancement processes (described above) are saturating, while landdegradation processes are accelerating via numerous positive-feedback loops. Without fundamental changes, the outcome of all this is certain – we need to move back towards sustainability in our practices. UN Warning on Desertification (2) The United Nations used World Environment Day on Monday to warn that the growth of deserts was a growing obstacle to ending poverty and a threat to peace. To mark the day under the slogan "Don't desert drylands!," environmentalists were planting trees to slow erosion, cleaning cities, going on marches and holding special lessons in school. Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, whose largely desert country was officially hosting the campaign, urged the adoption of a World Charter on Deserts to help achieve a Millennium Goal of halving poverty by 2015. "In Africa the situation is critical: desertification threatens millions of people ... and menaces the food supply of poor countries," he told a gathering of U.N. officials. The United Nations says almost a quarter of the world's land surface is already desert, and the share is growing. "Across the planet, poverty, unsustainable land management and climate change are turning drylands into deserts, and desertification in turn exacerbates and leads to poverty," U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a statement. "There is also mounting evidence that dryland degradation and competition over increasingly scarce resources can bring communities into conflict." In Beijing, where 1,000 new vehicles take to the road every day, a quarter of a million people pledged to leave their cars at home to mark the day, state media said. But in the city of more than 16 million, there was little discernible impact on the smoggy skies. The United Nations said land degradation caused an estimated loss of $42 billion a year from agricultural production, without counting human suffering from famine. Many of the world's cropgrowing regions are drylands, which cover 41 percent of the planet's land surface and are home to 2 billion people. "It is estimated that between 10 and 20 percent of drylands are already degraded," Annan said. Much of the pressure on land quality comes from a surge in world population to 6.5 billion now from 2.5 billion in 1950. And many scientists say that one of the effects of global warming linked

to increased emissions from the burning of fossil fuels will be to increase the overall amount of desert. Desertification of China (3) A giant dust bowl is forming across northern China, converting swathes of arable land to desert and triggering sandstorms whose impact carries across the Pacific, a leading environmentalist said on Tuesday. Lester Brown, of the Washington-based Earth Policy Institute, said China was far from arresting the problem he attributed to overgrazing and falling water tables in the country whose landmass is already one-third desert. "There are huge areas there that were once productive grassland that are now desert," Brown told foreign correspondents. "It represents the largest conversion of productive land to desert anywhere in the world." China, which is plagued by sandstorms every spring, has embarked on a campaign to plant billions of trees and says it is slowing the rate of desertification, but Brown said the problem was far from under control. "Here and there are successful pilot projects, but overall we are not anywhere close to arresting this situation. The deserts are expanding," he said. The number of livestock grazing had mushroomed since China began economic reforms in the late 1970s, and, with little management, the number of sheep and goats jumped to 339 million, compared with about 7 million in the United States. China has also said the sheer size of its deserts mean it will never completely tame the sandstorms that this spring covered the capital in brown dust, and left skies a murky yellow. The dust from storms originating in China has in the past been traced all the way to the United States and Canada, Brown said. Sandstorms were this year exacerbated by droughts across northern and western China, that were also contributing to forest fires raging in Inner Mongolia and Heilongjiang that some 20,000 firefighters were struggling to control. Desertification, which officials at China's State Forestry Administration say is causing direct economic losses of about 54 billion yuan ($6.7 billion) a year, was also not helped by poor management of water, Brown said. Water tables were diminishing in north China, causing rivers and land to dry out and affecting grain harvests, especially of wheat, which is grown predominantly in the drought-stricken northern provinces. China plans to pump water from southern rivers to the parched north in a project known as the South-North water diversion scheme, but Brown said he doubted the efficacy of the plan already hampered by pollution and lack of adequate waste treatment. The Organic Food Movement (3) Earthbound Farm's fields of organic baby spinach and romaine lettuce are a living symbol of the organic food movement's explosive growth in recent years. What started two decades ago as a three-acre roadside farm in this valley 90 miles south of San Francisco has grown into the country's largest grower of organic produce, with more than 100 types of fruits and vegetables on 28,000 acres in the U.S. and abroad. Earthbound's extraordinary growth is only the most visible example of how organic farming is changing. Small family farms created as an alternative to conventional agriculture are increasingly giving way to large-scale operations that harvest thousands of acres and market their produce nationwide. And with Wal-Mart, Safeway, Albertson's and other big supermarket chains expanding their organic offerings, the transformation may only be in its early stages. "I don't think (consumers) have any idea just how industrialized it's becoming," said Michael Pollan, a journalism professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of "The Omnivore's Dilemma." "There are some real downsides to organic farming scaling up to this extent." Pollan and others worry that the expansion of "Big Organic" will lower food quality,

weaken standards and hurt small family farms. As organic goes mainstream, critics say, the movement loses touch with its roots as an eco-friendly system that offers a direct connection between consumers and the land where their food is grown. Despite its size, Earthbound Farm follows the same practices as smaller organic farms. It rotates crops to enrich the soil and avoid disease, doesn't use chemical fertilizers or herbicides, and brings in syrphid flies and other beneficial insects to control pests. Earthbound's bagged salads and other organic products are now sold in more than 80 percent of U.S. supermarkets. "Earthbound Farm's mission is to bring the benefits of organic to as many people as possible," said Myra Goodman, who founded the company with her husband Drew. Organic food only makes up 2.5 percent of U.S. food sales, but it's the fastest growing segment of the market. Sales reached nearly $14 billion last year, up from $6 billion five years earlier, according to the Organic Trade Association in Greenfield, Mass. "Consumers see organic products as fitting in with a healthful life," OTA spokeswoman Holly Givens said. To meet growing demand from increasingly health conscious consumers and supermarket chains, farmers and ranchers are scaling up production and converting land to meet organic standards set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. According to the USDA's rules, organic produce must be grown without synthetic fertilizers or bioengineering and animals raised without antibiotics or growth hormones. A separate industry of government-approved organic certifiers has emerged to inspect farms and food handlers to ensure they conform. Some advocates don't think the rules go far enough and are asking for a requirement that dairy cows be pasture-fed, not raised on feedlots. The latest USDA survey in 2003 found that 2.2 million acres of farmland and ranchland had been certified organic, but that number is believed to have risen substantially since then, said Jake Lewin, director of marketing at California Certified Organic Farmers, one of the country's largest certifiers. Concerns about the increasing commercialism of organic farming reached a new level this spring when Wal-Mart announced it was joining other major grocery chains in ramping up organic sales. But others worry that as more farmers shift to organic production to meet the needs of big supermarket chains, they will drive down food quality and weaken standards. For example, some suppliers have been marketing organic soybeans and other products grown overseas, where it's harder to determine whether farms meet U.S. standards, said Ronnie Cummins, national director of the Organic Consumers Association, in Finland, Minn. "We're heading for a consumer crisis over standards and the outsourcing of organic products from overseas," Cummins said. "There will be continuing conflict between consumers, the USDA and companies not playing by the rules." UC Berkeley's Pollan encourages environmentally minded consumers to shop at their local farmers' market. When they buy organic products in supermarkets, those items must be refrigerated and often transported long distances, consuming as much fossil fuel as the conventional food system, he said. "If organic means anything, it should mean that this food has a lighter environmental footprint," Pollan said. "It's really the supermarket and the supermarket shopper that drive the industrialization of organic." But Earthbound's Myra Goodman said organic farmers can't be expected to solve the problems of the U.S. food distribution system. Her company has a good relationship with Wal-Mart, whose organic expansion plans represent "the democratization of organics." "The vast majority of food is bought in supermarkets," Goodman said. "Those people should have an organic choice." A New Standard – End Value Framing not Exclusion,

Present standards represent a long litany of what cannot be done while growing crops, no chemicals, not pesticides, no no no …. The exclusionary nature of the standards preempts the purpose of going organic. That is to provide proper vitality and content from food that we consume. Anecdotal evidence abounds of “organically” grown crops that are devoid of nutritional value and textures of healthy and wholesome produce grown in optimal conditions. The health of the soil is the key to growing foods that impart the nutrition to those who consume it. Without the proper balance of nutrients, organics and organisms a proper environment for growth of foods full of vitality cannot be created. Without the proper medium or environment to grow in, food value or vitality will be lacking. We propose a standard based on an analysis of the soil. We believe that the soil chemistry is the key to imparting nutritional value to any crop that is grown. So rather than specifying what cannot be used, we will frame the growing medium surrounding the plants. This will ensure healthy plants and nutritious food. Enabling the Vision The RCM process of creating biofertilizer holds the key to growing mediums leading to truly sustainable agriculture. In tandem with the production of compost through our patented containerized system, we can produce life enabling crops and resources. The delivery system for creating topsoil is a self contained tubular “sock” that can be put on any patch of land that contains the bio organic fertilizer, growing medium, irrigation system and appropriate seeds for the crop to be raised. This system will allow harvesting of a cash crop on virtually any location provided the availability of the water for the system. It is designed for several crop plantings and will eventually become a rich layer of organics and micro organisms that will transform into rich topsoil. This organic rich environment will not only create the ideal growing environment for crops, but will add the organics back into depleted soils so that repair of the land can be accomplished. An added benefit to the addition of this material will be the ability to hold and use moisture far more efficiently in arid areas. Notes:

(1) Topsoil Loss, Bruce Sundquist, http://home.alltel.net/bsundquist1/se0.html (2) “UN warns of conflict risks from growing deserts” Hamid Ould Ahmed, Mon June 5, 2006
Reuters and Yahoo News (3) “China deserts eat up arable land: environmentalist” Lindsay Beck, Tues May 30, 2006 Reuters and Yahoo News (4) Organic farms see growth on more demand” Terence Chea, Associated Press Writer, Tues May 30 2006