Saturday Linkages: Speedos, Blue Eggs and the Rise of Rye

A rancher of the future

A rancher of the future according to the 1981 children’s book Tomorrow’s Home.

Trojan Horses, Recipes, and Permaculture http://www.patternliteracy.com/770-trojan-horses-recipes-and-permaculture …

How bad for the environment are gas-powered leaf blowers? http://wapo.st/14bgqIQ 

In Pursuit of Tastier Chickens, a Strict Diet of Four-Star Scraps http://nyti.ms/15yN8EY 

Rye’s Rise: New Loaves That Are More Than a Vehicle for Pastrami http://shar.es/i9wrV 

Let’s get (soil) physical… https://sharepoint.cahnrs.wsu.edu/blogs/urbanhort/Lists/Posts/ViewPost.aspx?ID=943 …

The Cold War Bunker That Offered Subterranean Suburbia Below Las Vegas http://gizmodo.com/the-cold-war-bunker-that-offered-subterranean-suburbia-1258816518 …

Speedos, Computers, and Robot Butlers: Rural Living in the Future http://paleofuture.gizmodo.com/speedos-computers-and-robot-butlers-rural-living-in-1203668270 …

Take Your Vows: To Farm is To Be Married http://garynabhan.com/i/archives/2249 

Find A Blue Chicken Egg? Congrats, Your Chicken Has A Virus http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-09/find-blue-chicken-egg-congrats-your-chicken-has-virus …

Uncivilisation: the Dark Mountain Manifesto http://www.newstatesman.com/books/2009/09/civilisation-planet-authors …

Power from the Tap: Water Motors http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2013/09/power-from-the-tap-water-motors.html …

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The Connection Between Human Health and Soil Health

What’s the connection between soil and human health? It’s an intriguing question that family physician and author Dr. Daphne Miller discusses in the lecture above and in her book Farmacology: What Innovative Family Farming Can Teach Us About Health and Healing. In the research for the book Miller visited farmers who, as she put it, “farm in the image of nature,” who approach the farm as a living organism.

While she cautioned that there is little research behind the connection between farming practices and health, she suspects that biodiversity on the farm may be an important factor in our well being. To back this idea up she cites:

  • Erika von Mutius, who found an intriguing connection between children who grew up on farms and their lack of asthma and allergies later in life.
  • Research that is taking an Integrated Pest Management approach to cancer, treating it as a symptom of a lack of internal biodiversity.
  • Studies that have shown the higher nutritional value of eggs from chickens raised on pasture.

It seems obvious that there’s a connection between the health of a farm and our own health. Biodiverse soils produce healthier, more nutritious food. And way too much of the food we eat comes from farms where the soil is treated as a sterile growing medium. As Miller notes, “We are the soil.”

The Genetic Diversity of Watermelons

Navaho Watermelon

Damn those supermarket watermelons! Every one I’ve bought this summer has been mealy, old and tasteless. Why? Yet again, the folks who sell us our food have decided to grow only a handful of the over 1,200 known varieties of watermelons.

The one pictured above is a Navaho watermelon I picked up at the National Heirloom Exposition. Note the vibrant (and tasty) red seeds. Navaho watermelons are sometimes called “winter melons” since they can be stored for a few months.

Another watermelon I tasted at the Exposition was a yellow fleshed variety called Orangeglo. It was probably the sweetest and tastiest watermelon I’ve ever eaten.

The problem with supermarket watermelons is not due to the seedless vs. seeded issue. Seedless watermelons are created with a complex genetic process you can read about here. What’s more relevant to taste is how early watermelons are picked, how long they’ve been sitting around and the limited varieties commercial growers plant.

The Heirloom Exposition eloquently demonstrated the benefits of genetic diversity with its watermelon display and tasting. And that diversity is something we can all address in our gardens, if we have one, by planting unusual seeds. You can bet I’m going to try growing watermelons in next summer’s straw bale garden.

What kinds of watermelons have you grown and what’s your favorite?