Malnutrition starts in the soil. The paradox that is agriculture.


Obesity, starvation and infertility are all forms of malnutrition which starts in the soil.


1. We, South Africa, are now the third most obese country in the world. Sugar, which is in all processed foods which most of the population consume as their staple diet, is the primary culprit however the lack of nutrients in food also causes the human to keep eating as it’s body requires nutrients.

2. Starvation is primarily caused by lack of food however if the “food” that humans ate was actually nutritious and not empty calories then starvation would not be so severe.

3. Any livestock breeder (in my case, cattle) will tell you that the primary determinant of fertility is nutrition. How many people do you know that have reproduced with ease?

The decline in nutritional content of food over time is one of the few facts in the world that is not disputed. This is because of modern, chemical, industrial and extractive agriculture. See the example of the apple below. And below that the concomitant increase in disease as minerals go down. My WordPress skills are not so hot and so you will need to click on the weblinks below to see the charts I am referring to. Click the back arrow to get back to this article.

decline in nutritional value of food

minerals down, diseases up


Organic and BioDynamic foods don’t have this nutrient problem and they are produced in a manner that does not poison the earth and in some cases actually heals the earth by reversing global warming. 

The great thing about this dire scenario (a sick planet inhabited by sick people) is that you can participate in healing the earth and it’s people three times a day. Every time you eat, you choose your farmer and he/she is either practicing regenerative or destructive agriculture.

Consequently either your food is healing you or making you sick. Feedlot/grain fed beef for example (comprising 99.99% of the South African Beef market) has never and will never be nutritious. Cancer inducing, the wrong fats, Omega 6 overload etc etc. With your fork you can choose grass fed beef that heals the earth and nourishes you.

jeremiah nov 2014

Above is my 4.5 year old Limousin bull, Jeremiah. Standing in one of our pastures that nourishes him. No grain fed to him to get his rump this round.

We move our cattle and laying hens (in their Eggmobiles) daily to fresh pasture and back to the same pasture approximately 7 weeks later.

We have multi-species pastures (we plant 18 varieties of grasses and legumes). 126 Hectares in total. Around the pastures we plant shelterbelts (read here about how we have planted 10,000 trees into these shelterbelts). There are many reasons for having a multi-species pasture.

1. The first law of nature is the law of diversity.

2. Each plant has a different nutritional benefit to the animal eating it.

3. Each plant has a different relationship with the soil microbes (1 billion of them in a teaspoon of healthy soil. Yes, read this sentence again.)

4. Having many different plants growing means they are in a different stage in their growth cycle and so the animals eating these pastures get a balanced diet of energy, fibre and protein.

5. Some plants grow on the surface, keeping it cool whereas others have roots that go down deep for minerals and water.

6. Legumes are a critical component in our pastures. Not only do they fix Nitrogen from the atmosphere for themselves to grow, they share the now bio-available Nitrogen with the grasses and this helps them to grow. In the photo below you can see the following legumes; white clover (white flowers in the foreground), birdsfoot trefoil (yellow), crimson clover (crimson in amongst the yellow on right), lucerne or alfalfa (light purple growing tall), sainfoin (light pink left of the irrigation sprayer).

7. The flowers provide food for the bees which becomes honey.

8. Finally our pastures always have some colour in them. As you can also see from the photo below. It makes for a pleasant change from the equity trading floor I used to work on in my previous job.

multi species pasture, nov 2014

The paradox of agriculture is that whilst it is the biggest culprit in environmental destruction it is also the only thing that heal the earth in any meaningful way. That is determined entirely by your fork. Your farmer either builds soil which builds society or he/she destroys soil which destroys society.

On the subject of the fork mentioned above I have come to think of the fork as a tool for justice. Justice for the earth (destroyed by agriculture), justice for the animals (cage raised animals produce at least 95% of the protein consumed) and justice for human health (elaborated on above).

You are welcome, anytime, to come to the farm for a real food safari where we can discuss these matters in more depth than the Internet allows for.

Thanks for reading.


P.S. If you really want to understand what is wrong and how healing is possible then Johan Jacobs, founder of Go Natural down the road, is a case in point. He came back from multiple sclerosis. His story is inspirational and the required change is easy for all of us to implement.



One Response

  1. Hi Angus
    your words and wisdom is inspirational. Our system is not catering for true bio consciousness. Many people try in the city but end up just throwing in the towel. I come to Spier every December to enjoy the natural products of your pastures and I certainly feel more energised when I leave after 2 weeks.
    thank you and keep advocating.
    all the best
    Werner Mack

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *