Worldcafé: What is needed to grow healthy food?

What is needed to grow healthy food ? 

World café during FoF stay in Spain autumn 2013.

In one World Café we discussed in small groups the question ‘What is needed to grow healthy food?’. On a big paper we wrote down our thoughts and explained to each other what we ment. For example someone wrote: ‘Education in what really is healthy food, e.g. provide knowledge and information about the food we are eating’. This person explained that we first need to know what is really ment with healthy food and what not. This text is a compilation of the thoughts we shared.

What is healthy food?

Healthy food is food that is grown without pesticides ande chemical fertilizers. Food that is grown in a clean environment and from plants that can use clean water and root in a clean soil. Plants that preferable grow outside, beneath the sun and exposed to wind and rain. Rain water has special natural healthy properties, although rain nowadays can be also polluted by our modern human society, especially when it is the first rain after a dry period.

Healthy food is from plants that can fully live and grow as they like, so no pruning of tomatoes. Growing together with other plants and allowing soil animals and all kinds of insects around and on them. Healthy food comes from plants that grow together with bigger animals like birds, moles, rabbits etc. In this way the plant has the possibility to interact with other beings. This interaction even changes the physical chemistry in plants.

Healthy food comes from plants that grow in a divers plant community, with many other different plants around, an agro-eco-system. Plants interact with each other and bring different nutrients in the soil and help each other this way. This happens in interaction with soil life, the bacteria and mycelium. About weeds: there are no wrong plants: everything that is growing is your friend, is coming to help you. The question is why is it coming?

What is needed to create a healthy soil?

Healthy plants grow in a healthy soil. How do you create this?

In permaculture we agree on the idea that in order for plants to pick up the right nutrients from the soil, we need to feed the soil and the life in the soil, in stead of  the plants.

Feeding the soil: If you want to add materials to your soil, only natural additions are good for soil life. The best is a wide variety of fresh organic materials, added with mineral rich rock powders, lava powder, dilluted celtic sea salt, seaweed, grinded shelves, etc.

Compost: A good humus rich compost helps a soil the best. Making a good humus rich compost is an art. Fresh and excellent quality materials are needed to built a good compost heap. You need to place, protect and monitor the compost heap in skilled manner.

Preparations: Knowledge is needed how to make and add special prepared  ‘energized plant information liquid’ like Biodynamic preparations – comparable with bach remedies – for the compost and soil.

Animal manure: When animal manure is used, it needs to be from healthy animals, that are not treated with antibiotics, or fed with fodder with of from genetic engineered ingredients.

Drainage: A healthy soil is also rightly drained. A good drainage is made from natural materials preferable willow branches deeply burried.

Protection: A healthy soil is always protected from extreme weather conditions like direct sunlight, heavy rains or strong winds. This can be done by plants, mulches, hedges, catch crops, ditches.

Knowledge: Good knowledge about cultivation techniques is needed to create and maintain a healthy soil and healthy plants. There are many books about this, but a lesser known example is letting the plants flower and keep deep rooting plants that can bring minerals to the surface (mineral pumps) and organic matter into the soil. An example of this are the thistles.

Awareness: Awareness is needed to feel and be connected with the earth and soil in order to make the right descisions. An attitude of respect and gratitude towards the soil, towards nature and towards the animals, insects and plants is very important.

Political awareness

To be able to grow healthy food it is essential to have access to good seeds. Good seeds are seeds that are e.g. open pollinated, free available and not patented. This brings up the political issues around seed legislation. A good seed legislation ensures the access to seeds, the right to produce and sell seeds, the protection and promotion of agro-biodiversity. We need sound regulation and legislation in order to maintain access to seeds. This is a global issue and requires quite some knowledge about global food and seed policy.

Social aspects

Last but not least social aspects are very important in order to grow healthy food. Happy people grow healthy food. Tasting food together and eating together, peer support, is important. This brings healing to people. Care is needed, the work should not only be socially just, but should bring happiness, creative force, love and well being to the people who produce, prepare and eat the food.

The posters where presented in a very funny  and creative way. In a small theatre piece, the soil, the plants and the farmer who owned the land where presented. The owner clearly didn’t take awareness of the needs of the soil, busy as she was, earning money and trying to make a profit..

This entry was posted in 2nd Meeting, Dutch Partner, Growing & Collecting on by .

About Monique Wijn

Monique is fascinated with food since a long time. She studied biology and became a vegetarian. Food was her main topic, along with environmental health and complementary medicine. She created educational materials for school children and for analphabetic mediterranean women. In the ninetees she leaded a green consumer organisation raising awareness on the ecological and social impacts of food production. She leaded campaigns on the risk of genetic engineering and radiation of food; on the impact of global transport of food; on agri-biodiversity and on oestrogenes in food. Since 12 years she is a gardener in edible wild plants and a seedsaver, after studying biodynamic agriculture, permaculture and agroforestry. She has a diet of mostly raw, vegan and wild plants. She wants to explore the relation of food and health on all four dimensions (physical, emotional, mental and spiritual) and the relation of food and consciousness. For her, healthy food is only truly healthy if it is at the same time healthy for plants, animals and the planet. Recently she is involved in the transition movement: how local food production and urban gardening can contribute in creating sustainable and resilient communities. website: Blog:

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