gives you top-quality food, exercise in the sunshine and fresh air, a good lifestyle, and food security while saving money – all in an attractive setting appropriate for backyards.
Let’s look at several factors that affect the quality of our food.
Homegrown produce will typically have higher mineral content than conventionally produced food. Why? Because conventional farming uses chemical fertilizers that only supply three nutrients: nitrogen, (precursor of protein), phosphorus and potash (potassium). This depletes the soil as the other minerals that are taken away with each crop are not replaced. Under ideal circumstances, plants absorb 70 to 80 different minerals from the soil, while the number returned to it by plants grown with commercial fertilizers can be counted on one hand.
Pesticides and herbicides also reduce the uptake of trace minerals by plants. Chemical fertilizers kill the soil organisms that form a symbiotic relationship with the plant roots and make micronutrients available to the plant.
Application of chemical fertilizer surpassed manure some 75 years ago. Data shows that over the last 100 years, average mineral levels in agricultural soils had fallen worldwide – by 72% in Europe, 76% in Asia and 85% in North America. Studies have shown drastic reductions in the mineral and vitamin content of both plant and animal foods from 1940 to the present. This accounts for the lack of flavor in today’s “natural” foods.
Organic farming practices improve mineral content, but don’t solve all of the problems. Organic fields were typically very depleted when organic culture was started, and not necessarily re-mineralized. Just like conventional growers, organic growers do everything that they can to make their produce and pastures grow as fast as possible. This also reduces mineral accumulation, as minerals are taken up with water, and left in the plant as the water evaporates.
Lastly, tilling also kills soil organisms. A permanent mulch system or a cover-crop/cut system is the ultimate, as it is the least disruptive to the natural balance.
There is no “garden-fresh” produce, “cacklin’ fresh eggs” nor milk fresh from the cow this morning without your own farm. Everyone knows the flavor is unmatched, but the nutrition levels are as well. The nutrition in produce begins diminishing as soon as it’s picked. Animal products begin building histamine, which is a major issue for many.
Organic produce typically fails even more than conventional when it comes to freshness. Due to higher prices, it is often obvious that it has has been laying around for a very long time.
Common sense would tell anyone that a cow, goat, chicken etc. out in a sunny pasture, will produce a more nutritious product. It is also proven by science. One major difference is Vitamin K2. This nutrient is needed to keep calcium where it belongs: in the bones and teeth, and out of the brain and arteries. Thus, Vitamin K2 protects against arteriosclerosis, heart disease, dementia, osteoporosis etc. More on the benefits of Vitamin K2
We’ve all heard of omega 3 fatty acids, and how we need to eat cold-water fish, such as salmon. But, if you consider “natural” = healthy, then how can it be necessary to ship fish in from far away lands for a person to be healthy? The answer lies in grass-fed animal products. Grain-fed animal products tend to be high in omega 6. Then there’s also the anti-cancer fatty acid CLA.
Pastured eggs are much higher in DHA (active form of omega 3), Vitamin B12, folic acid. Lutein and zeaxanthin (for eyesight). Of course you can buy “pastured” eggs in the supermarket -for $7 a dozen) – but apparently, most are still far from the real thing. The supermarket analysis of average supermarket “pastured eggs” doesn’t compare to what was found in the grain-free, pastured eggs from Greece that were analyzed in the study done by Artemis Simopoulos in 1988. The difference is in feed. Most commercial producers provide abundant feed to the birds on pasture; those Greek birds had to find their own feed (bugs, greens, seeds). On the Mini-Farmstead, feed is very limited, and even eliminated in the summer by using Black Soldier Fly Larvae.
RAW: The first diet protocol I followed was a raw vegan one (after a few months of vegetariansm). This diet liberated me from asthma that controlled my life, as well as other histamine-related issues, some of which I had had since childhood. Over time, the raw vegan diet proved to be inadequate, and I now eat a mixed diet. However, I raw food has continued to prove more healthful for me. High heat tends to be destructive, we don’t expect a fire to make a tree or a house better, why would it make our food better?
Cooking is destructive to certain vitamins, for instance, just blanching reduces Vitamin C by 25%. Amino acids are damaged. Taurine is a unique amino acid found only in animal products. It is destroyed by heat. Glutathione precursors are destroyed by heat.
The Wulzen factor is a hormone-like substance that ensures that calcium in the body is put into the bones rather than the joints and other tissues. Called the “anti—stiffness” factor, this compound is present in raw sugar cane juice, raw leafy greens, various raw nuts etc. and raw animal fat (from the raw grass they eat).
There is much evidence of the destructive effect of pasteurization on milk. Destructive effects of pasteurization
Raw animal products must be super-fresh, clean, and from healthy animals. Supermarket meat and eggs aren’t meant to be consumed raw, so they aren’t handled accordingly. Raw milk is sometimes available in stores, but it has often been shipped long distances and unless it’s certified, you have no idea how it was handled. Raw, fresh, pastured milk is probably the #1 reason to mini-farm!
We already covered the soil/mineral issues with chemical pesticides and fertilizers. The other issue with conventional produce is avoidance of toxic pesticide residue. Without a doubt, that is an advantage, but I think it gets over-blown. A healthy body has amazing detoxification capabilities. My home-grown produce is organic, but my animal feed is not. However, as I minimize grain-feeding and my pasture is completely organic, my animal products are still organic to a large degree. Organic feeds exist, but they are costly and not always available.
Many will tell you that it costs more to raise your own food; and it’s true, that is often the case. Big growers have the advantage of wholesale and bulk pricing, which most of us don’t have. But, they also rely heavily on efficiency, which we can have! The mini-farmstead system minimizes monthly cost by making maximum use of what is already on the land, reducing waste literally to zero and getting three uses out of everything whenever possible! It’s also pared down to what’s really needed, leaving out all the extras.
Many costly mistakes are made by the first-time homesteader. Having a proper design and an experienced coach will save much more than they cost in the long-term.
EXERCISE and A DISCIPLINED LIFESTYLE
We all know exercise is necessary for good health. Today’s world has made exercise such a miserable thing. You work your brains out and you get nothing; not only that, ideally you should PAY for membership in a depressing gym where you must work out indoors, breathing stale air! (I think those membership fees are supposed to motivate you?) No wonder people aren’t fit! But, that’s not how things were meant to be. You’re supposed to get something from the labor of your hands. And, doing that outside in the fresh and sunshine is the ultimate! Mini-Farmsteading is provides that and also motivation. Not really motivation, but work that HAS TO BE DONE no matter what. Some people think this is a draw-back, but it’s really just putting yourself in a situation where you have to do what you should be doing! This discipline is particularly important for children.
Synergy and efficiency
This system combines aspects of permaculture with various other methods which all work together in synergy. Goats are the backbone of this system. They provide fertilizer for the fruit trees, as well as the hydroponic systems and the grow-boxes. In turn, prunings and fruit scraps from the fruit trees provide forage for the goats. Goats also do a good bit of orchard/grove maintenance. The fertilizer and water for the fruit trees also makes the pasture grow in the spring, improving the pasture. Goat manure is also used as the growing medium for the hydroponic system, and is the main organic matter for producing black soldier fly production, which goes to feed poultry and fish. Black soldier fly larvae produce strong liquid fertilizer for hydroponics. Extra milk forms part of the diet for the poultry, dogs and cats. In turn, the dog protects the goats and cats provide bird/rodent control for the fruit, and the dog provides protection from predators for the goats, poultry etc.
This system takes the advantage of all available resources, working with nature when possible, instead of against it.
In order to take the best advantage of your resources, you design in accord with nature. You take advantage of micro-climates. See that area where the weeds grow extra thick and lush? That’s the best spot; use that for a high stakes crop. A spot where things look a little scrubby? Use that spot for a building, or something that doesn’t use the soil, like fish culture, container gardening or plant something that can grow anywhere. Low spot? Don’t raise it; just plant something that thrives in wet conditions.
This system is meant to integrate with the landscape, so you take advantage of the ornamental characteristics of some food plants. For instance, instead of the classic ugly tanks sytem for raising tilapia, we have what looks like koi ponds with waterfalls.