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The two books I have to finish

Bill FoxBy Bill Fox/Columnist

A gift from one of my sons and his fiancé was “Kiss The Ground” by Josh Tickell. I found the book very interesting, but after reading about half of it, I got the main points which I share here.

According to the United Nations we have less than 60 harvests left. The United States, and I’m assuming Canada, on average are losing 4 tons of topsoil per acre, per year on our cropland.  Is there an opportunity to make the shift to an agricultural system that nourishes both people and planet and therefore soil?

Farmers today are losing topsoil at an alarming rate, perhaps 10 times faster than it can be created.  The negative unintended consequence of the chemical industrial agriculture system also has been enormous.  Practices such as intensive use of chemical pesticides, aggressive tilling and a focus on single crops have denuded the rich biodiversity of our bountiful soil and contributed to a host of interconnected environmental problems.

The ground otherwise known as soil is our home. The appreciation of healthy soil is under appreciated

Scientists estimate that it takes nature about 500 years to create one inch of topsoil.

The most recent drought in Syria began in 2006.  Crop failures in some areas reached 75 per cent and as a result up to 85 per cent of their livestock died of thirst or hunger.  Farmers then fled to the cities on masse.

Syria’s internal refugee count as well as its poverty skyrocketed and hunger soon led to riots, which led to a bloody civil war which forced 4 million people from their homes.

How can we change this trend?

Eating more whole plant foods and less animal foods and eat real unprocessed foods is a starting off point to make the planet and us healthier.  We must also appreciate that good soil not only brings us food, clothing and shelter but also keeps our water cycle healthy.  It is in fact an important part of reversing global warming.  I found the following fact rather startling:

70 per cent of U.S. grain production is fed to cows. It takes 2,500 gallons of water, 12 pounds of grain, 35 pounds of topsoil and the energy equivalent of one gallon of gasoline to produce ONE POUND of beef.

“If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.”

So what can we do to reduce droughts and floods? Manage for healthy soil. Use no-till or reduced-till farming methods, rotate deep-rooted crops, use cover crops, manage crop residues so there is no bare soil, don’t overgraze, manage for healthy grass and crops, and, most importantly, manage for healthy soil. While these management practices will not eliminate droughts or floods, they can reduce their impact.

My Doctor recommended the other book I’m having trouble finishing.  You see I have had type 2 Diabetes now for four years.  I believe my problem started as a result of being too fat.  So my doctor recommended I read “The Obesity Code” by a local author, Dr. Jason Fung.

I could not do this book justice in even a few columns, so I recommend you buy it yourself, but here are some startling insights.  Everything you believe about how to lose weight is wrong.  You can lose it temporarily, but how often have you heard people say it all came back?  Fung maintains that hormones drive weight gain and obesity and only by understanding the effects of insulin and insulin resistance can we achieve lasting weight loss.  He talks about proper nutrition and five basic steps or life long habits that will improve your health and control your insulin levels.

What I found most interesting was how intermittent fasting will break the cycle of insulin resistance and will help us to reach a healthy weight for good.

The sad part about not finishing this last book is that my doctor told me that four of his patients who have finished reading this book no longer have diabetes…so I just got to finish this book!!

I’m at bdfox@rogers.com unless I’m out planting, fasting or finishing these two great books.