The Worlds Most Nutritious Food

The Soil Mineral Underground's Nutrient-Dense Project

The World's Most Nutritious Food

What is the world's most nutritious food? We don't know, exactly, but we have a good idea of where and how it would be grown: In highly fertile mineral-rich soil.

We have all heard that our food is nutrient deficient because our soils are mineral deficient. Reports of declining nutrients in our food go back well over a century. More recent studies from the 1990s and early 2000s document a serious decline in vitamins and minerals just since the 1950s. As the mineral and vitamin content of our food declines, degenerative disease increases. Two-time Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling famously said, “You can trace every sickness, every disease, and every ailment to a mineral deficiency.”

There are two main reasons for the decline of nutrients in our food:
1.Food crops have been selected and bred for commercial goals such as appearance, uniformity, disease resistance, storage and shipping qualities, and above all yield. They have not been bred for nutritional content.
2. Soils have been depleted of essential minerals as the crops are sold out the farm gate, and the minerals have not been replaced.

The remedies for these problems are as simply stated as the problems:
1. Determine which existing varieties of food crops provide the most nutrients.
2. Encourage selective breeding with an emphasis on nutrition.
3. Test the soil for mineral content and amend any deficiencies so the soil has all it needs to grow nutrient dense food.

Our research so far strongly indicates that the decline of vitamins and minerals in today's food is unnecessary and easily remedied. We believe it is possible to transform our food supply, in such a way that it contains even more nutrients than the food our grandparents and great grandparents had. The nutritional value of any crop can be increased simply by supplying any missing minerals to the soil the crop is grown in.

Please have a look at the chart below.
33145706_1539732138700292_r.jpegBeets grown by John Myser___Bar graph by Jim Porterfield

These beets grown in Minnesota  were 931% higher in calcium and 193% higher in crude protein than the official USDA numbers. Brussel's sprouts grown by one of our researchers in Maine  had 97% more crude protein and 229% more calcium. Like the beets above, okra grown in Maryland  in 2010 tested well above average in all but one of the nutrients measured, but was exceptionally high in three essential trace minerals. This okra, grown in mineralized soil, contained 24 times more Iron, 27 times as much copper, and 33 times more zinc than the USDA average. Zinc is called the “intelligence” mineral and is essential for reproduction in both plants and animals; copper is crucial for the immune system, and we know that iron is needed to form red blood cells. Adequate amounts of all three are frequently missing from our depleted soils and our food as well.

Almost across the board, all of the crops grown in mineral augmented soil far exceeded the government's official averages. Importantly, all of these results were obtained in the first year of soil amending.

If these sort of results can be replicated consistently, that opens a whole new world of food as medicine. If we can grow food with two times or ten times the present amount of essential nutrients, we can feed more people, with better food, on less farmland than is presently cultivated.

It's not how many tons of food that can be produced on a given area of land that matters, it's the amount of nutrients that food contains. We already know how to grow huge amounts of carbohydrates and empty calories. It's not that big a step to start growing food with huge amounts of real nutrition; it just requires changing the focus from bulk quantity to nutritional quality.

How do we get from where we are now, to having the most nutritious food that has ever been grown? We need to forge a strong connection between the sciences of health and nutrition and agricultural science.

We need to know how to work with Mother Nature and the soil so that every crop can achieve its full nutritional potential. What If there was little need for nutritional supplements, because anyone could get an abundance of all the nutrients they needed right in the food they normally eat every day? Imagine every child getting all of the essential nutrients they need to reach their full genetic potential.

History of this Project:
Our informal group has been studying the connections between minerals in the soil and nutrients in our food since 2010. A long-neglected website,  still remains online from our early days. You can find examples of our data and accomplishments there.

Our “formal” research ended after the first year and a half. By fall of 2011 we had run out of volunteer labor and money for lab fees and were busy with other projects, but we didn't give up. Around a dozen of the original volunteer crew have stayed in touch and have continued growing nutritious food and experimenting with soil amendments. We have been joined by some talented new researchers as well. Another seven years of experience and observation have made us all better informed.

What We Are Proposing
The purpose of this research is to measure the variation in nutrient content among different varieties of the same fruit, vegetable, or grain, and to see how that nutrient content is related to the mineral content and overall fertility of various soils.

To the best of our knowledge, a trial such as this has never before been done. There have been a (very few) trials measuring the variation in nutritional content of different varieties of vegetables (e.g. cabbages, lettuce, broccoli,) but we have found no nutritional research that includes soil test data and the effect of soil minerals on nutrient content.

We hope to generate a large amount of raw data in the form of laboratory reports comparing
-Variation in nutrient content of different varieties of the same crop type grown in the same soil, and
-Variation in nutrient content of the same variety grown in four different soil treatments.

All lab reports will be made public on the site as they are received. It will be open source, free to use for any purpose (including commercial applications); everyone is welcome to help themselves to the data and reach their own conclusions.

The Plan
Where will the money go? Several growers who are experienced with soil testing and mineral amending have offered the use of an area of their farm or garden soil for these trials. The Soil Mineral Underground will pay for soil and produce testing and fertility recommendations by experienced consultants, provide or pay for any soil amendments, and hopefully be able to give the growers a monetary donation for their time and effort.

We will select a few common garden crops to start with, for example broccoli, carrots, or green beans. The number of crops chosen and the number of trial areas will of course depend upon funding.

We will choose several of the most commonly grown varieties of a given crop, those frequently grown commercially (or in home gardens) in the US. We will select between four and ten varieties of each vegetable. These will include open pollinated “heirloom” varieties as well as commercial hybrids.

Each experimental plot will have the soil tested and fertility recommendations made by an experienced soil consultant familiar with both organic-biological and conventional-chemical agriculture. The Soil Mineral Underground group presently includes several professional soil consultants.

The crops will be planted in four different soil treatments:
The existing soil as tested
Soil amended to SLAN (Sufficient Level of Available Nutrients) as recommended by a local county extension agent or agricultural college.
Soil amended only with USDA organic-approved compost.
Soil amended to the Ideal Soil mineral ratios  following USDA NOP Organic rules.

Each grower will have a single soil test done at the beginning, before any fertilizers or amendments are added, and four soil tests at the end of the growing season, one sample taken from each soil treatment listed above.

Each grower will plant two or more plants of each variety in each of the four soil treatments. Growers will be responsible for amending the soil and irrigating and caring for the crops until maturity. At crop maturity each grower will harvest the crops and send labeled samples to the lab for testing. Growers are expected to keep records, at least to the extent of planting date, harvest date, and any fertilizers or other treatments applied to the plant or soil.

If each grower sends in 2 samples from 4 different varieties of 2 different crops (e.g. carrots and green beans) from each of 4 soil treatments, that will require 64 crop nutrient tests from each grower (2 x 4 x 2 x 4 = 64).

Each grower will have a single soil test before amending and another soil test from four different soil treatments the end of the trial; that will be a total of 5 soil tests per grower.

5 soil tests @ $25 = $125
64 plant tissue nutrient tests @ $30 = $1920
Total estimate for testing, per grower, for two crop species = $2045.

In addition to the lab fees will be the cost of fertilizers, shipping of samples and amendments, labor costs for crop production, data input to a spreadsheet, office supplies, website work etc. We are estimating that will add approximately another $3000 in expenses per grower. Total expenses for five researchers growing, testing and correlating results for two different crops is estimated at $25,000. We would end up with 25 unique soil tests correlating with 320 unique crop nutrient tests.

At the end of each trial, the lab data will be reviewed to determine which crop varieties and which soil treatments produced the highest nutrient levels. All data collected will be published online and will be copyright free and in the public domain.
More details here: 
Who will benefit from this research?
Anyone who cares about health, nutrition, longevity, and quality of life: nutritionists, physicians, athletes, people with health problems, backyard gardeners, farmers (both conventional and alternative), anyone who cares about their own health and that of their family and community.

We have no desire to start a business doing this. We only wish to create the beginnings of a free database that lists the most nutritious varieties of common food crops, and also a database that shows how the balance of minerals in a soil affects the amount of essential nutrients in various crops.

Please help by supporting this research and spreading the word about the Soil Mineral Underground's Nutrient-Dense Project. $25 pays for a soil test, $30 pays for a plant tissue test, $5 pays the postage to send a sample to the lab. Any and all donations are greatly appreciated. This is science by the people, for the people; science that has never before been done. Your help can make it happen.
  • Stuart McCarty 
    • $100 
    • 30 mos
  • Glenna Rea 
    • $100 
    • 31 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $120 
    • 32 mos
  • Peter Nakashian 
    • $100 
    • 32 mos
  • Faith R 
    • $50 
    • 32 mos
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Fundraising team: Soil Mineral Underground (7)

Michael Astera 
Sulphur, LA
The Nutrient Dense Project 
Jason Brown 
Team member
Jennifer Scribner 
Team member
Jim Porterfield 
Team member
Scott Maricle 
Team member
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