Progressive Life At The Equinox

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Greetings from HumanaNatura at the equinox! In the natural year, we are now halfway between the extremes of light and darkness of the summer and winter solstices. Everywhere on earth, there is equal day and night, and a natural balance or centering that touches many aspects of life, and can aid and inform us all.

A Moment in the Everchanging Light and Rhythm of the Natural Year

In the HumanaNatura natural health system, and as explained in our Mastering The Natural Year graphic and post, we encourage review and renewal of our Natural Life Plans during the twice-yearly times of natural balance that are the equinoxes. This includes making changes to our existing plans as needed, and reconsidering what progressive natural life and health mean for us – as we look back, around, and ahead in our lives.

If you have not yet created a Natural Life Plan to guide your use and expression of the third HumanaNatura technique, Natural Living, our links will take you to our planning worksheets and seven-step planning process. Together, these resources will help you to begin more intentionally health-centered and naturally progressive life in the days and weeks ahead.

From all of us in HumanaNatura’s worldwide natural health community, we wish you new health and happiness, at this and every equinox.

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Eggs & Oysters Salad Meal

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We might not think of combining eggs and fish in the same meal, but they can be delicious together and one of the healthiest food combinations, especially when we eat the HumanaNatura way and follow HumanaNatura’s OurPlate healthy eating guidelines. Fish is of course high in protein and healthy omega-3 fats, while eggs from naturally-raised hens are packed with fat-soluble vitamins and other micronutrients. Today’s meal shows one way of having your eggs and getting your fish too, in this case using shelled and pre-cooked oysters packed in olive oil. Check out the meal photo and instructions below, and be sure to subscribe to follow our healthy eating and other natural health posts!

Please note that today’s HumanaNatura meal includes shellfish and is proportioned for both ketogenic (very low carb) and OMAD (one meal a day) eating – with about 1800 calories and 70 percent of them from fats. However, options are included in case you are vegetarian, eat non-ketogenically, or have meals more frequently than once a day.

Our sample meal begins by wilting two cups of mixed and shredded cruciferous veggies on medium-low heat in a saute pan, on top of a standard tin’s worth of smoked oysters in olive oil, along with a bit of black pepper and minced or chopped garlic. Once the ingredients are lightly cooked and combined, they are used as the filling for an omelette made with four eggs from pasture-raised hens. As the omelette cooks on medium-high heat and then is allowed to cool in the pan for a minute or two, a generous raw salad is prepared with fresh arugula or another lettuce, a coarsely-diced large avocado, diced cucumber and red bell pepper, and a small scattering of pumpkin and sunflower seeds. When the omelette is done, it is plated as shown, and the whole meal is topped with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, an optional shake or two of nutritional yeast, and black pepper and parsley flakes. This delicious and extra-healthy meal is of course then served promptly.

Options: If you are vegetarian – HumanaNatura supports lacto-ovo but not vegan diets – or have a shellfish allergy, the oysters can be omitted or replaced with cheese. For a non-ketogenic version of the meal, use a small avocado instead and add berries and/or a bit of cooked potato. If you eat more than once a day, the meal easily can be scaled down for fewer total calories. And if you require more calories and nutrients, the meal can be made larger by adding more of the above foods, or by supplementing it with nuts and celery. In all cases, we hope you try and enjoy this healthy and moth-watering meal!

Learn more about creating naturally delicious and optimally nutritious meals like this via OurPlate, HumanaNatura’s simple natural eating guide for designing optimally healthy modern meals. Experience how this science-based and 100% natural approach to our daily meals can change the way you eat, feel, and live. Sharpen your skills at making delicious and naturally healthy Salad Meals via our Salad Meal Overview. And explore the science and key principles of optimal Natural Eating through HumanaNatura’s comprehensive Personal Health Program.

Once you have begun eating the HumanaNatura way, you can explore your many opportunities for new, more natural, and healthier life between meals – via HumanaNatura’s comprehensive four-part system for modern natural life and health. Check out the overview of our free health programs and resources at About HumanaNatura.

Tell others about HumanaNatura…give the gift of modern natural life!

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Natural Truth: Optimizing Proteins

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The goal of optimizing dietary proteins is a recurring theme among health-minded people, including professional health practitioners and those involved in athletics at all levels. In this Natural Truth post, we will consider our need to carefully control or optimize proteins in our diet, and summarize what we believe are the most important and certain guidelines for this practice.

Proteins: The Right Amounts & Types Are Fairly Clear But Often Misunderstood

Today, it is hard to avoid advice to reduce, increase, or change the amounts and types of proteins in our diets. As with the other two major macronutrient groups – fats and carbohydrates – the topic of protein optimization is recurring in news pieces and scientific papers, and common in the counsel of physicians, dieticians, coaches, and well-intentioned friends. Indeed, the three topics of optimizing proteins, fats, and carbs naturally are a central dietary focus. Together, they form an interconnected macronutrient triad, notably where changes or assumptions in one area inevitably impact and inform the other two, especially at constant calorie levels.

However, unlike today’s highly contentious scientific, professional, and popular debates about optimal fat and carb consumption, our ideal intake of proteins, at least in amount, is comparatively uncontroversial – though even here, there is ongoing debate and now new suggestions of empirical uncertainty.  By contrast, the optimal types of proteins is an area that is far less clear and certain to many people, even as science in this area is fairly straightforward and easily summarized. But again, there is also new questioning and seeming uncertainty here too, as we will discuss.

Protein Optimization

When we talk about proteins, we of course mean various protein-rich foods, including fish, meats, poultry, eggs, insects, nuts and seeds, most dairy, edible grains and legumes, and other selected foods. More technically, proteins are chain-shaped molecules made of amino acids, each rich in carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. In general, proteins are broken down into their component amino acids during digestion, and then used in specific ways throughout the body.

Proteins and the amino acids they contain form much of the structure of our bodies, support our physiology and metabolism, and can be used as a fuel source (though sometimes deleteriously, and signalling either excessive protein or inadequate fats or carbs in our diet). Like carbs, but unlike more energy-dense fats and oils, proteins contain 4 calories per gram.

Though hundreds of natural amino acids have been cataloged by scientists, only nine have been demonstrated as essential in our diets, since our bodies naturally and normally can synthesize other required amino acids. Notably, when a dietary protein source contains all nine required amino acids, it is commonly termed a complete protein. Animal-derived foods are broadly protein-rich and normally contain complete proteins. By contrast, plant foods can be relatively protein-poor and frequently do not contain complete proteins in themselves (though their combination can create complete proteins and thus provide all nine essential amino acids).

As highlighted before, our needed minimum amount of daily protein and optimal mix of dietary amino acids are each well understood and uncontroversial in our time. That said, it is important to again emphasize that there exists both ongoing and new questioning of other protein standards, including ideal protein amounts and sources. Notably, much of this effort is led by health scientists and practitioners encouraging ketogenic and/or plant-free diets. Here, it is proposed that elevated proteins and/or fats may be highly desirable, especially when accompanying and enabling reduced or even eliminated carb-rich foods (see the links immediately above to explore this debate – which remains primarily supported by anecdotal data and hypothesis, and is not yet well-researched or empirically decided).

Reflecting broad international consensus across established public health institutions, governmental recommendations for protein intake (see here and here for examples) generally align and frequently cluster today around a daily standard of 0.7-0.8 grams of complete protein per kilogram of body weight (or roughly half this amount for body weight measured in pounds). Additionally, these guidelines typically recommend increased protein intake for active people, including athletes, and reduced protein consumption for those of us who are more sedentary or have selected pathologies or allergies.

Importantly, we want to highlight that many people in the developed world eat well in excess of this recommended amount of protein, whether daily or regularly. Sometimes, this is deliberate and seemingly produces beneficial results, again as in intentional low-carb, low-fiber ketogenic and carnivore eating. Though a safe upper-limit for personal protein consumption is not well-established and even has been hard to approximate, there are a number of potential disadvantages associated with a chronically high protein intake. In addition to potentially increasing food costs, these include risks of high physiological ammonia and urea, liver and kidney stress, increased risks of kidney stones, and the potential for elevated blood pressure and cardiovascular impairment. However, where increased protein is combined with significant carbohydrate reduction, this has been shown in some studies to be effective at reducing excess body weight, blood sugars, circulating insulin, and inflammation markers, all with potential positive benefits (though perhaps less so or less beneficially than increasing dietary fats instead).

By contrast, protein deficiency is a well-understood and recognized form of harmful malnutrition, and a near-certain path to reduced personal health. Key effects include decreased body weight and development, musculoskeletal impairment, mental retardation, emotional disaffection, inactivity and behavioral passivity, altered fat metabolism, increased eating and obesity, increased stress sensitivity, reduced fertility, cardiovascular impairment, and premature death.

Across all of the considerations above, we can see a strong and clear case for consuming sufficient protein, a critical one to avoid insufficient protein intake, and a more uncertain or contentious case for avoiding high protein consumption. Once again, these ideas reflect the relatively high scientific consensus on the minimum amount of complete proteins and range of amino acids we should eat each day, as well as new and now quite strident debate about the optimal mix of proteins, fats, and carbs overall within our natural macronutrient triad.

Looking past these issues to some extent, there is also less institutional, practitioner, and popular consensus on the optimal forms of protein we should eat in any case. This is especially true when the environmental and not only personal health impacts from different forms of protein consumption are considered, and more so still when animal welfare considerations are added to the discussion. As suggested, this latter set of controversies is unfortunate and largely needless, since the environmental and animal welfare effects of different forms of protein foods are quite clear, as summarized below:

> Naturally-raised land animals – protein foods in this category involve land-habitating animals of all kinds raised entirely or substantially in a historically natural manner. Examples include pasture-raised and 100% grass-fed beef and dairy, and forest-raised and foraging poultry and egg production. Overall, these protein and sometimes fat-rich foods appear personally healthy, especially amid a low-carbohydrate and high-fiber diet, though high consumption of red and especially processed meats may be less desirable. Environmentally, this method of generally perennial and polycultural food production is readily made fully sustainable, pesticide and fertilizer-free, carbon-sequestering, soil and groundwater-preserving, native ecosystem-leveraging, and local economy-supporting. While the approach can produce significant methane, a greenhouse gas, this amount is normally no more than natural background or pre-industrial levels – or ones these ecosystems would produce if abandoned – when production is conducted naturally and in a sustainable manner. From an animal rights standpoint, food animals in this mode of production would live a largely natural life and have a roughly natural average expected lifespan – though one achieved via reduced predation and overall mortality at and after birth, in conjunction with intentionally limited longevity and natural senescence.

> Unnaturally-raised land animals – crucially, nearly all the points in the previous section are reversed in this form of food production, which can be defined simply as the raising food animals in wholly or substantially unnatural conditions from a historical standpoint. Often, this will take the form of animals raised in close confines, rely on unnatural and relatively inefficient diets high in unsustainable annual plants grown in erosive monoculture (such as corn and soy), increase natural methane levels and reduce carbon sequestration as a result, employ widespread use of hormones and and feed supplements, require use of antibiotics as a consequence of unnatural animal confinement, and lead to the pooling and unnatural decomposition of animal wastes. The full result of this can be inferior food and health outcomes for people, greatly reduced long-term food supply sustainability, immediate environmental harm on multiple fronts, and unnatural and stressed living conditions for food animals.

> Naturally-raised fish – as you may know or have guessed, most or all of the above points regarding natural land animal production apply to the natural production or harvesting of fish, which we will define similarly as aquatic animals of all kinds raised entirely or substantially in a historically natural manner (including the provision of natural diets and freedom from modern pollutants). Broadly, these foods are extremely healthy personally (often even more so than land animals), are often readily producible in sustainable ways, are apt to have similar ecological impacts as abandoned or fallow natural fisheries, and tend to foster highly naturalized animal living conditions (once again, often with reduced senescence overall, whether wild caught or farmed, though with the potential for different population and average age dynamics in each case).

> Unnaturally-raised fish – once again, nearly all the above points are reversed when we consider the case of unnaturally produced fish, which we will define as aquatic animals raised in substantially denaturalized settings and fed unnatural diets (in practice, again often including soy and other unsustainably-produced monoculture foods). As before, this can produce lower quality food for us, significant environmental harm and reduced food supply sustainability, and a poorer quality of life for food animals.

> Perennial/polyculture plants – remembering that proteins, complete and not, can come from vegetable sources, it is important to consider these protein sources as well, which we will do here in two broad categories. The first category again is perennial or enduring plants, such as seed plants and nut trees, especially when they are grown in polyculture or diverse natural groups or guilds with other plants and/animals. Overall, these protein sources are quite healthy at a personal level, though their often elevated fat levels may or may not fit with your goals for fat consumption, and their routinely high phytate, oxalate, and fiber levels may limit the amount of these foods that you can eat healthfully on a regular basis. Ecologically, foods grown in this manner usually can be done so on a highly sustainable and even regenerative basis, are often naturally resilient and self-feeding and require no pesticides or fertilizers, are naturally water and soil conserving, and in general offer an ecological footprint similar to wild natural conditions. While there may be no immediate animal welfare issues here, we would point out that this form of food production can often synergistically create naturalistic habitat and shelter for both wild and domestic animals. Importantly, where perennial plants are grown monolithically or in monoculture, rather than in more natural polyculture, we should expect reduced ecological benefits, and overall performance somewhere between this and our next and final category of protein food production.

> Annual/monoculture plants – as before, almost all the points just raised find their opposite expression when we consider our second category and the other extreme in plant food production, that of unnaturally raising annual plants, or perennial plants grown as annuals, in large single-species or monoculture plots, a practice that is also called monocropping. While this practice readly lends itself to mechanised production, it also contains significant disadvantages. At a personal health level, annual monoculture typically produces protein foods that are high in carbohydrates as well, which may or may not align with our overall nutritional goals. These grain and legume foods are also often high glutens, lectins, phytates, and other allergens and inflammatories, which may result in chronically reduced health when eaten in significant volumes. More importantly, as with and often underlying unnatural animal food production, this form of farming is enormously destructive to the environment overall and to most local ecosystems – exposing and impairing soils and promoting erosion and desertification, often undermining local aquifers via high water use, requiring external pest control and fertilization because of the unnatural lack of plant diversity and progressive soil degradation, promoting carbon and nitrogen release into the atmosphere, and broadly displacing local plants and animals. But as before, where annual crops are instead grown in natural polyculture, this still uncommon practice can be expected to reduce these negative impacts and produce ecological results closer to the perennial polyculture food systems described in the previous, third, and first sections.

For many readers, and reflecting our often unsustainable modern food systems and societal norms, some of these ideas may be new and unfamiliar, even as they are all strongly supported by now longstanding and well-tested scientific research. You can explore the overall pattern of findings via the links above or via our summary articles here and here. In any case, we would urge you to consider all of the ideas we have presented, as you think about optimal protein consumption for yourself, your family, and your community.

Protein Guidelines

With this full discussion in mind, we would offer the following guidelines for optimizing protein consumption. As you will see, all are based on current scientific understanding, and most will hold true regardless of how a variety of controversies in modern nutritional science are ultimately resolved:

> Use government total protein guidance for your age, gender, and lifestyle

> Adjust levels if instructed to therapeutically by a physician or professional dietician

> Understand risks from both excess and inadequate protein consumption

> Consider new proposals for higher proteins and fats, and especially reduced carbs

> Select protein sources that align with your overall fat and carbohydrate intake goals

> Limit proteins high in lectins, glutens, and other allergens and inflammatories

> Consider ecological impacts and sustainability when selecting proteins

As you can see, these guidelines are relatively simple and easy to follow, reflecting the fairly high scientific consensus regarding many aspects of protein consumption, and its personal and ecological effects. The guidelines do require you to have clear goals for your fat and carbohydrate intake – the other two macronutrients in our nutritional triad. But we would recommend this as part of your overall nutritional planning, and view it as at least as important as considering needed protein levels and sources. Our Personal Health Program can provide assistance in this and many other areas of natural health promotion.

Our Natural Truth Rating

Given our discussion, HumanaNatura rates the idea that careful control of proteins is essential to our long-term health an 8/10 (Strong Evidence) in our Natural Truth rating system.

We base our rating on the above referenced research, which broadly recommends care with proteins, and supports the dietary guidelines we have introduced. However, our rating is less than a perfect score because the optimal amount and mix of proteins in our diet is not yet precisely known, and also because understanding of the ecological impact of different protein food production methods is in flux today, though perhaps more so ideologically or conventionally than scientifically.

However, even with these caveats, the guidelines we have presented should help most people successfully consider and progressively optimize their protein consumption, and their diet overall, for superior personal health and fitness. For a more complete view of our overall Natural Eating guidelines, see The Twenty, HumanaNatura’s OurPlate healthy eating guide, and our comprehensive Personal Health Program.

You can also click the following link to learn more about our Natural Truth health information campaign and evidence-based 1-10 rating system. And we always welcome your comments and input on this or any other HumanaNatura Natural Truth review.

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Making Cross-Quarter Progress

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Greetings from HumanaNatura at the cross-quarter! In the natural year, we are now midway between the naturally more evocative period of the recent solstice and more balanced time of the coming equinox. Everywhere on earth, there is clear but unmistakable change – away from the height of summer or depth of winter and toward the relative moderation of fall or spring in each hemisphere. It’s an ongoing rhythm of life on earth that touches us all.

A Moment in the Everchanging Light and Rhythm of the Natural Year

In the HumanaNatura natural health system, and as explained in our Mastering The Natural Year graphic and post, we recommend extra progress on our Natural Life Plans around each cross-quarter. At the equinox-nearing cross-quarters, this is so we have adequate completed actions and learning at the equinox – in another six weeks or eighth of a year – when HumanaNatura encourages reflection and updating of our plans.

If you have not yet created a Natural Life Plan to guide your use and expression of the third HumanaNatura technique, Natural Living, our links will take you to our planning worksheets and seven-step planning process. Together, these resources will help you to begin more intentionally health-centered and naturally progressive life in the days and weeks ahead.

From all of us in HumanaNatura’s worldwide natural health community, we wish you new health and happiness, at this and every cross-quarter.

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Avocado & Lamb Salad Meal

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An advantage of reducing red meats, and emphasizing potentially healthier fish and eggs for protein, is that when we do have meat, it can be an extra-special treat. This is especially true when we eat the HumanaNatura way and follow HumanaNatura’s OurPlate healthy eating guidelines, and today’s showcase meal, brimming with healthy foods and nutrients, is a delicious case in point. Check out the sample meal photo and instructions below to learn more, and be sure to subscribe to follow our healthy nutrition and other natural health posts!

Please note that today’s HumanaNatura meal iis proportioned for both ketogenic (very low carb) and OMAD (one meal a day) eating – with about 2000 calories and over 70 percent of them from fats. However, options are included in case you eat non-ketogenically and/or more frequently than once a day.

Our meal begins by gently sautéing several cubes of grass-fed lamb on medium-high heat with a tablespoon of butter, a bit of minced garlic, and a dash of black pepper. When the lamb is nearly done, a generous handful of shredded cruciferous vegetables (available as a prepared mix at our local market) is tossed in and allowed to cook for a couple of minutes, and then the cooked portion of the meal is allowed to cool slightly. As the lamb and veggies cook, a generous raw salad is prepared to one side of a plate with fresh arugula, a large cubed avocado, coarsely diced cucumber, and sliced red and green bell pepper. When ready, the cooked foods are plated to the side of the salad, and the whole meal is topped with olive oil and white wine vinegar, raw sunflower seeds, raw pumpkin seeds, raw pecan halves, an optional shake of nutritional yeast, black pepper, and parsley flakes. This naturally rich, abundant, and compelling meal is then served promptly.

Options: For a non-ketogenic version of the meal, eliminate the butter, reduce the avocado and/or seeds and nuts by half, and replace them with with berries and/or a bit of cooked sweet potato. If you eat more than once a day, the meal of course easily can be scaled down for fewer total calories. And if you require more calories, the meal can be made larger by adding more vegetables, and more calorie-rch by adding extra avocado or lamb, or some grass-fed cheese. In all cases, we hope you enjoy this beautiful, healthy, and inspiring meal!

Learn more about creating naturally delicious and optimally nutritious meals like this via OurPlate, HumanaNatura’s simple natural eating guide for designing optimally healthy modern meals. Experience how this science-based and 100% natural approach to our daily meals can change the way you eat, feel, and live. Sharpen your skills at making delicious and naturally healthy Salad Meals via our Salad Meal Overview. And explore the science and key principles of optimal Natural Eating through HumanaNatura’s comprehensive Personal Health Program.

Once you have begun eating the HumanaNatura way, you can explore your many opportunities for new, more natural, and healthier life between meals – via HumanaNatura’s comprehensive four-part system for modern natural life and health. Check out the overview of our free health programs and resources at About HumanaNatura.

Tell others about HumanaNatura…give the gift of modern natural life!

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Progressive Life At The Solstice

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Greetings from HumanaNatura at the solstice! Around the world, we are now at one of two crucial milestones in the natural year. Today is the longest day, start of summer, and midpoint of the natural year in the northern hemisphere. And it is the shortest day, natural beginning of a new year, and start of winter in the south.

New Day Waits For You

A Moment in the Everchanging Light of the Natural Year

In the HumanaNatura natural health system, and as explained in our Mastering The Natural Year graphic and post, we encourage spending this and every solstice with family, friends, and community. With the extreme light and heightened feelings that come with the solstices, it’s a natural opportunity to celebrate progress in our lives and Natural Life Plans, break from our routines and seek new perspective, and encourage greater health and progressivity in others.

If you have not yet created a Natural Life Plan to guide your use and expression of the third HumanaNatura technique, Natural Living, our links will take you to our planning worksheets and seven-step planning process. Together, these resources will help you to begin more intentionally health-centered and naturally progressive life in the days and weeks ahead.

From all of us in HumanaNatura’s worldwide natural health community, we wish you new health and happiness, at this and every solstice.

Tell others about HumanaNatura…give the gift of modern natural life!

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Monocrop-Free Eating

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By Mark Lundegren

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I have a fairly simple but far-reaching proposal for you – to stop eating monocrop foods, entirely and for good.

Today, this is plainly possible, if with one caveat. And although, or rather because, the move is countercultural and sweeping on many fronts, it arguably is the single most important step we can take to improve the ecological and personal health of the way we eat, now and forever.

Let me briefly explain the what, why, and how of moving to a monocrop-free diet, so you can consider if the change is right in principle, and right for you.

As you likely know, monocrop agriculture is one of the core features and indeed prides of human civilization to date, and was at the foundation of our Agrarian Revolution roughly 10,000 years ago. This development of course eventually made possible advanced civilization, science, and now modern life, even as it ironically and continually threatens each of these things.

In monocrop agriculture, and as the name indicates, single plant species – such as the staple crops wheat, corn, or soy – are grown monolithically and typically at scale. This can be done repeatedly with a single crop species, or via a series of revolving and chemically complementary crops. In monoculture farming, or monocropping, the agricultural plants used are normally fast-growing and repeatedly-planted annuals, or perennials grown as annuals.

Overall, the benefits of the approach are increased planting and harvesting efficiency, and greater edible plant density under cultivation. Owing to this, early and now modern monocrop farming tremendously increased agricultural yields, is the mainstay of the way people have eaten for centuries, and is the basis of most of the foods you will encounter in your local supermarket. This includes most plant foods, nearly all processed foods, and even many animal products, since most are now substantially raised on monocrop diets.

However, monocrop agriculture is not all benefits or upside, and free of costs or downside. As you may understand or just noticed, it is a practice unlike and even antithetical to natural plant ecology and larger natural ecosystems, and thus natural human food systems too. In wild nature, diverse mixtures of plants, animals, and microorganisms normally grow and evolve together in polyculture, and usually in persistent and synergistic guilds or interdependent systems, importantly with soils sheltered and left undisturbed. This ecological diversity of course is naturally selected and thus changes over time, but at any point normally aids the health or resilience of each participating species, as well as the soil fertility (or water fertility in marine ecology) upon which all species naturally depend, including our own.

Lacking these essential qualities of natural ecosystems, traditional and modern monocrop food systems have a number of unfortunate but foreseeable drawbacks. Foremost, they tend to assault and quickly diminish soil health, and in turn reduce natural soil fertility. This necessitates costly soil replenishment from either inorganic or organic sources, broadly impairs the nutritional quality of foods, and releases soil-sequestered carbon into the atmosphere. Related to this, monocrop systems also greatly increase soil vulnerability to wind and water erosion, and also ultraviolet radiation, in all cases promoting soil loss and desertification. In fact, many once fertile areas in the pre-modern world are now deserts, owing to the effects of earlier monocrop and other ecologically damaging forms of human agriculture. And today, vast areas of the world, and the societies they feed, are now threatened by unnatural or impermanent agriculture, and these practices are likely to prove unsustainable without a basic change in our approach.

Importantly, while reduced soil health and its ensuing effects are the most important adverse consequence of monocrop agriculture, and therefore monocrop eating, they are not the only ones. Monocrop plants are naturally more exposed and susceptible to pests, requiring the use of pesticides and other mitigation strategies, and today incentivizing the use of more pest-resistant, but ecologically and health uncertain, genetically modified organisms (GMOs). And beyond increasing pest populations and introducing pesticides and their greenhouse gasses into the general environment, monocrop agriculture is also harmful to natural ecological systems on other notable fronts. These effects include displacing natural plants and animals, introducing new species to local areas, imbalancing natural ecosystems, increasing water runoff and reducing groundwater recharging, and depleting or corrupting remaining water resources.

Lastly, and closer to home, monocrop farming not only can result in poorer nutritional quality in the foods we raise and eat, via soil impairment and reduced plant vitality, it can and in fact already has unhealthfully shifted our diets in favor of foods more readily grown in monocrop systems. This includes our elevated use of historically novel or unnatural, carbohydrate-rich, metabolically and hormonally-distorting, inflammatory, and antinutrient-abundant staple crops, along with increased reliance on processed and animal foods derived from these crops.

Of course, not all human food production is based on monocrop agriculture. In a number of crucial and instructive areas, our food supply is polycultural, guild-based and synergistic, natural or naturally-modeled, naturally fertile and productive, soil and water protecting, pesticide-free, carbon-sequestering, and potentially fully sustainable in perpetuity. Key examples of these natural human food systems include: 1) the world’s wild and wild-farmed fisheries, 2) human grassland and pastoral agriculture in its many forms, 3) perennial silviculture or tree-based agriculture, especially in combination with complementary plant and animal guilds, and 4) other polyculture food systems, notably including food forests and sea plant harvesting. Crucially, these and other non-monocrop food systems offer a natural and resilient model for human agriculture and economics, today and for the future, and a path forward to superior human health and sustainability.

As I said at the start of my proposal, the move to monocrop-free eating (MFE) and monocrop-free agriculture (MFA) is not only desirable today, it is entirely possible and even quite easy. To achieve this goal, we need only migrate our diet to foods from the polycultural and sustainable food systems listed above, immediately producing a diet that is personally healthier and far sounder ecologically than is the case with typical modern diets, again with one qualifier or caveat.

The caveat is that three important and related food types are missing from the above lists. These are leafy greens, vegetable fruits, and other green vegetables – all non-staple or secondary foods that are natural and health-essential sources of dietary fiber and micronutrients for us. While these foods can be replaced with new and existing polycultural alternatives, today this requires considerable effort on the part of both consumers and farmers – though, as such, it is clearly a critical new opportunity for food system innovation that should be strongly encouraged and pursued.

In the short-term, and as we await widespread alternatives, continued use of these three monocrop plant types seems unavoidable for most of us. However, since these are secondary or supporting foods in our diets, the use of annual vegetable crops is readily done on a fully sustainable basis, by recycling food wastes and replenishing impinged soils with rich composts from a primarily polycultural, and thus principally natural, modern diet.

I would encourage you to consider these important, upending, renaturalizing, perhaps strange, and also likely civilization-saving ideas – and welcome your comments and questions.

Health & best wishes,

Mark

Mark Lundegren is the founder of HumanaNatura.

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