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The Big Planning Problems For Raw Food Permaculturists Eating Fruit-Based Diets?  RSS feed

 
Andrew Michaels
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Hi Geoff.

I don't mean to put words into your mouth, but I've heard you've questioned the viability of fruit-based raw food diets working well with permaculture.

I've been eating a fruit-based diet since 2005 and have used it to overcome colitis, lose weight, and otherwise improve my health. I'm healthier eating this way than I've ever been before, I'm able to be extremely physically active (I run marathons, work out daily, etc), and I haven't had so much as a head cold since 2005.

So there's no doubt in my mind that it's nutritionally a great diet, but I wonder more and more about implementing PC systems focused on supplying fruit-based-diets.

I wonder if you've given much thought to the topic and if you could give me your concerns and suggestions. The number of people eating fruit-based diets is skyrocketing, and I think this is going to be coming up more and more.

Some Topics For Consideration:

1) On one hand, fruit is the single most productive crop in terms of calories produced per acre when measured in monoculture orchards by University studies. Even fairly low-calorie fruits like apples easily beat out grains. As we all know, trees do far more for the environment than other agricultural systems. PC systems claim to be more productive than monocultures, so, at first glance, the idea of growing fruit as a staple in PC systems seems quite viable

2) In sustainable PC systems looking to eliminate outside inputs, many other types of trees would need to be implemented to fix nitrogen, build soil, etc, therefore reducing yield. I'm unsure of how much it would reduce yield.

3) On healthy fruit-based raw diets, fruit provides the majority of calories, but greens are also consumed in large amounts with other vegetables. Nuts and seeds are eaten sparingly. This means that many other foods that could be harvested from a PC setup that require cooking or are otherwise considered less than ideal in raw food diets, such as meat, dairy, eggs, underground tubers, beans, grains, etc, are not collected, therefore "leaving resources on the table," so to speak, and reducing the possibilities of the site. Another issue is that fruit, with a few exceptions such as dates, does not store well, so you need a significant harvest at all times of the year.

Obviously, this means that climates experiencing winter won't supply foods all year long, and will require outside food inputs.

Specific Questions For Geoff

1) Have you seen any fruit-based PC designs that can supply 3,000 calories a day for most or even all of the year? If so, can you name some or give an idea of the setups? I'd really like to study successful models?

2) What specific reservations do you have about fruit-based PC setups? Any problems that come to mind?

3) What tips do you have for someone who wants to supply most of their food needs on their property with fruit? What special concerns might they have to deal with?

4) Do you think fruit-based diets will require more land than cooked ones. How much more?


Thank you very much for your time.

If anyone else would like to chime in, such as Paul or anyone with any experience with fruit-focused PC projects, I'd be happy to hear from you.

Thanks,
Andrew
 
Geoff Lawton
permaculture expert
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Specific Questions For Geoff

1) Have you seen any fruit-based PC designs that can supply 3,000 calories a day for most or even all of the year? If so, can you name some or give an idea of the setups? I'd really like to study successful models?

2) What specific reservations do you have about fruit-based PC setups? Any problems that come to mind?

3) What tips do you have for someone who wants to supply most of their food needs on their property with fruit? What special concerns might they have to deal with?

4) Do you think fruit-based diets will require more land than cooked ones. How much more?

Hi Rustic
yes I have designed and help install fruit-based and raw food systems but I do not know their exact daily calorie outputs, they have all been in the tropics or subtropics which does make it a lot easier.

If you do not want to dry tour fruit or cook food it would be much easier in a warm climate and choose your fruit trees very carefully.

You will not need more land than a grain based diet but a root based ploy-cultural would need less land.




 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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I suspect that a well rounded diet including anything edible would use less land and create equally good health without the need to constantly monitor nutrient values or anything else. This type of diet who would make more complete use of living systems.
 
Tim Southwell
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Location: Hamilton, MT
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Rustic,

If you take the time to juice your veggies and fruits you will gain many more nutrients than otherwise cooking them or eating them raw. This will inturn cut down on the land requirements for your edible plantings. Juicing also allows use of frozen fruits, so there should be no rotting / waste from an edible standpoint. Check out Gerson Institute for more info on benefits of juicing.

Tim
 
Jeffrey Hodgins
Posts: 166
Location: Yucatan Puebla Ontario BC
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Rustic: can you tell me a bit more about your diet I'm very interested in consuming more fruit. I think that drying fruit is a good way to be able to eat more of it.
Geoff: From June until December we can have fresh fruits right? But mostly one or two types at a time. Again I think preservation is the answer.
 
Jeffrey Hodgins
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Location: Yucatan Puebla Ontario BC
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Fruit as a staple I think can reduce the amount of land you need to live from. For example this year I grew about 1 ton of fruit on about 150 meters squared and 1 ton of grain on about 2500 meters squared. Plus I invested $20(harvest cost) this year in the pears and $250(from sowing until harvest) in the corn. The only thing better about the corn is that I still have it and due to a lack of drier the pears are long gone.
PS ever bearing figs can be a pain when you look for a fig and find none but the odd time you do get a fig or two and that happens from June until long after frost (where I have my farm) if you don't mind eating shrivelled ones like I do.
 
Kirk Cascade
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We are doing a primarily fruit and meat based diet (with self-seeding kale and collard greens) on our permaculture project. We're in Oregon on the wet, west side of the Casades, at 1300 feet.

Our fruit and hazelnut and berry orchard is planted with an understory of nitrogen-fixing white clover (trifolium repens) as is all of our 20 acres of pastures. Our American Guinea Hogs (critical to our project) graze under the fruit trees and keep grass from competing with the fruit trees and keep all fallen fruit cleaned up. We also have cows and sheep, but they can't be trusted near fruit trees. We also have chickens. But our American Guinea Hogs are our key animals (because they graze year-round and rarely root, but also eat all our farm scraps).

We have

Apples (Many varieties from the very earliest season to latest season)
European Pears
Asian Pears
European Plums
Japanese Plums
Sweet Cherries
Peaches
Blueberries
Raspberries (ever bearing)
Blackberries
Strawberries
Hazelnuts
Walnuts

Most of our orchard is quite young (as we plant more and more trees each year), but we're getting some good production now and in a few more years we could probably keep 10 people fully fed, year round (so we'll sell our excess or the pigs will eat it). We can "make" our own fruit trees now as we have root-stock plants to providing cuttings to make new root-stock trees, and plenty of varieties to provide buds for grafting.

The MOST important thing to know is that there are apple (and pear) varieties that ripen from late-July to late-November. I just picked some today (Goldrush Apples) that ripen (in storage) for good eating in January and can be good for eating until April (if kept in a cool place). European plums (sometimes called Italian plums/prunes) are a big workhorse fruit for us because they dry VERY easily (they are the plums that make prunes).

Our fruit year consists of

June: Strawberries, raspberries, cherries (end of June)
July: Cherries, raspberries, blueberries
August: Apples, blueberries, raspberries, peaches, plums, blackberries
September: Apples, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, peaches, plums, pears
October: Apples, raspberries, plums, blackberries, pears
November: Apples, pears
December: Apples, pears, dried plums
January: Apples, pears, dried plums
February: Apples, pears, dried [lums
March: Apples, dried plums
April: Some Fresh Apples may still be good, Dried Apples, Dried Plums, Other Dried fruit
May: Dried Apples, dried pums, other dried fruit

Berries freeze nicely, but our plan is to be able to do it WITHOUT electricity, so we graze in the berry patches and eat our fill.

The European prune-plums are VERY easy to dry with VERY little prep work. Just split them open with your hands and pull out the seeds and plop them on drying screens.

Our fruit trees, berry bushes, nut trees and pigs are VERY easy to manage (they manage themselves mostly). The fruit trees get nitrogen from the clover and pig-poop. They get calcium and potassium and phosphorus and other nutrients from wood-ash from our wood-burning stove (which is our only source of heat, from wood from our 20 acres of woods). Our methods require very little work and it sure seems like a VERY healthy and simple diet... Tons of Fruit, greens, nuts, meat, eggs.

 
Kay Bee
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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Kirk - sounds like you have a great set-up going. I would love to hear more details on the fruit and other parts of the operation.

I am in southwest Oregon, a few hundred feet higher in elevation than your site. It sounds like there are quite a few similarities in our design goals and plans, but we are just getting started this past year. Here is the thread with the details for our site: http://www.permies.com/t/7625/permaculture/Birth-Arboretum

I'd be interested in trading cuttings or grafting stock in the future.
 
Jonathan 'yukkuri' Kame
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Location: Foothills north of L.A., zone 9ish mediterranean
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Loquat is a delicious springtime fruit!

If you have climate for Avocados, you should be able to select a few cultivars that will keep you in Avos all year round. Many varieties also do well in cold storage.

Goumi/Gumi/Silveryberry is a nitrogen-fixer that produces edible fruit, high in Essential Fatty Acids, somewhat rare among fruits, and makes a decent understory shrub. Tolerates drought & partial shade.

A solar fruit drier is going to be important. Tomatoes make delicious dried fruit!
 
Kay Bee
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Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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double post
 
Rob Meyer
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Hey Rustic,

I'm curious, how exactly do you classify fruit? Do you eat nuts, as they grow on trees and fall of naturally? Do you not include "fruiting" vegetables like squash, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers? Also, I'm curious why you would limit yourself to only the fruiting parts of plants, when there are plenty of other easily harvested parts, such as leaves and flowers, that you would be excluding. Lastly, tubers would be an excellent addition to a diet, as they have extremely high energy content, and require extremely little input to cultivate, especially such rampant tubers as Jerusalem Artichoke, and store for a long time for lean times, so again, why would you want to exclude these items from your diet?

Not trying to talk you out of your current dietary preferences, just trying to understand why you've chosen them.

- Rob
 
hannah ransom
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
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He does it for health reasons
 
Rob Meyer
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That's the reason I'm a vegetarian, but I don't limit the things I eat, because it's already so limited as it is. What is "unhealthy" about vegetable and other "non-fruit" things. Also, no clarification on what's a fruit and what's not?
 
hannah ransom
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
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He eats a la doug graham's "the 80/10/10 diet" mostly sweet fruits for calories and non-sweet fruits and veggies that are tasty raw for extra minerals and variety.

Andrew, my personal opinion is that it is not the best for a permacultural system. I was actually eating 80/10/10 for the most part for the last 2 years. The reason I would say it's not as good is because you limit your layers and don't end up reaping as much from one small plot of land. Also, I do think you will need animal inputs in some form, like manure, so you could get that from an outside source, but not create it yourself (not totally permacultural, and not really totally vegan if your an ethical vegan, which is kinda the conundrum). For me while piecing together my design on the 80/10/10 diet I didn't want any nut trees because they produce way more than I could ever eat, so for an over-story you have... I'm not really sure. I got a few white sapote trees because they can get so big so I figured they'd be good over-story. And then for ground cover it is hard to have something edible by you all year long. It's pretty easy to have something like sweet potato or something edible for animals, but it seems to eat 80/10/10 and have a well functioning permacultural system is hard. And you need so much fruit to feed someone, perfectly timed so that you aren't starving. I think it would be great if you were in the tropics and had tons of land and knew exactly when things fruited and knew you had a few staples that can fruit a lot of the year, but in most cases it's basically not going to work. a HIGH fruit diet is what should be big in permie circles, though, always.

btw, I live in a pretty great fruit growing climate, san diego, ca. so I can grow:
oranges, cherimoya, stone fruits, mango, papaya, banana, white sapote, persimmon, loquat, fig, berries, guava, black sapote, jaboticaba, star fruit, feijoa, etc., etc.
 
Andrew Michaels
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Hey guys. Haven't checked the thread in awhile, so this response is a bit delayed.

I talk about the way I eat here, and I believe the answers to all your questions are around the site: http://www.raw-food-health.net

Hannah - I agree that you'll miss out on layers, and I've thought of that same excess nut question.

I don't have a problem using animals on the site to eat waste, control weeds, create manure, etc, but I would essentially waste their eggs/flesh because I wouldn't eat it.

I think I will incorporate a root layer of tubers, etc, as an emergency/end of the world food source, but obviously this isn't useful most of the time, and I have no real belief the world will crash so dramatically that I'd require such sources.

Sounds like a nice mix of fruit you've got there.

In my own vision, I see myself produces a lot of my food, but not all. I personally don't have a problem importing some stuff.

Rob There's more at play here than, "Just eat raw fruits and vegetables,". The longest lived cultures have traditionally followed a low fat, low protein, high carbohydrate diet. I'll eat nuts, avocadoes, seeds, etc, but they're fatty, so I don't eat a ton. I keep my total caloric intake of fat below 10 percent of calories.

I don't limit myself to only the fruiting part of the plant. I eat vegetables. I eat vegetable fruits, etc.

Kirk Sounds like you've got a great settup in a region not exactly overflowing with fruit options, IE, the tropics.

Jeffrey Please see my website: http://www.raw-food-health.net

Tim Southwell Many people have said this, but I've yet to see any science backing up the point. There is a dearth of studies, and these groups more or less rely on unproven assertions. Can you provide some studies to back up the point?

Regardless, removing the fiber of a fruit and just consuming the sugar is just asking for blood sugar issues. I've experimenting with a glucometer, and without the moderating presence of fiber, blood sugar rises fast and then crashes, instead of what you get with the nice steady rise and almost imperceptible drop (until you've burned it through exercise) you get with whole foods.



hannahransom Hatfield wrote:He eats a la doug graham's "the 80/10/10 diet" mostly sweet fruits for calories and non-sweet fruits and veggies that are tasty raw for extra minerals and variety.

Andrew, my personal opinion is that it is not the best for a permacultural system. I was actually eating 80/10/10 for the most part for the last 2 years. The reason I would say it's not as good is because you limit your layers and don't end up reaping as much from one small plot of land. Also, I do think you will need animal inputs in some form, like manure, so you could get that from an outside source, but not create it yourself (not totally permacultural, and not really totally vegan if your an ethical vegan, which is kinda the conundrum). For me while piecing together my design on the 80/10/10 diet I didn't want any nut trees because they produce way more than I could ever eat, so for an over-story you have... I'm not really sure. I got a few white sapote trees because they can get so big so I figured they'd be good over-story. And then for ground cover it is hard to have something edible by you all year long. It's pretty easy to have something like sweet potato or something edible for animals, but it seems to eat 80/10/10 and have a well functioning permacultural system is hard. And you need so much fruit to feed someone, perfectly timed so that you aren't starving. I think it would be great if you were in the tropics and had tons of land and knew exactly when things fruited and knew you had a few staples that can fruit a lot of the year, but in most cases it's basically not going to work. a HIGH fruit diet is what should be big in permie circles, though, always.

btw, I live in a pretty great fruit growing climate, san diego, ca. so I can grow:
oranges, cherimoya, stone fruits, mango, papaya, banana, white sapote, persimmon, loquat, fig, berries, guava, black sapote, jaboticaba, star fruit, feijoa, etc., etc.
 
Ben Bishop
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Andrew,

Take care not to turn this into a debate. I was having a polite debate about diet on another thread until all my posts were deleted and the thread closed. I'm glad everyone is being civil here though.

In my opinion, fruit based permaculture seems like the most efficient way to go if you are willing to eat it all! At full maturity, many fruit trees can provide hundreds upon hundreds of pounds of food per year with very little input from us humans. I'm glad to see Geoff chimed in with some wisdom. It's interested to hear that root-based poly culture can provide even more food. We should keep in mind, however, that these foods generally will require further work to make them edible such as cooking or drying and they are not the kindest to our digestion and overall health.

So, to answer your question Andrew, I haven't heard of any particular farm or community having abundant fruit all year round enough to feed 811ers, but I don't believe it would be any more difficult to set up than any other polyculture assuming you are in the tropics and have a bit of land. Simply choosing a variety of trees that have harvests throughout the year and the support plants would be particular challenge.

Off the top of my head, I would do something like this (feel free to poke holes in my Eden-like fantasy haha). Almost everything here is a raw edible and would seem (to me) to be able to feed you for a whole year once established.

Fruit Trees:
Mango
Banana
Papaya
Date
Persimmons
Ice Cream Bean (Nitrogen fixing)
Oranges and other citrus

Greens:
Malabar spinach
Katuk
Asparagus
Artichoke
New Zealand/Okinawan/Malabar Spinach
Sweet Potato

Vines:
Kiwi
Grapes
Passionfruit

Nitrogen fixers, and dynamic accumulators
Ice Cream Bean tree
Jungle Peanut
Acacia
Various legume shrubs (for sprouting)
Tropical Kudzu



Ground cover:

Strawberry
New Zealand or Okinawan Spinach
Sweet potato

Nuts Seeds:
Chia
Macadamia
Jungle Peanut













 
adam harms
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Rustic, I'd like some more information about how "The longest lived cultures have traditionally followed a low fat, low protein, high carbohydrate diet."
 
Collin Vickers
Posts: 104
Location: Rutledge, MO
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Hey permies,

Accoring to Martin Crawford, who lives in the UK, an acre of mature walnut trees, for instance, would provide about the same caloric output as an acre of wheat, with the additional advantage of being able to layer other species amongst the trees. I can't confirm or deny it, but if it's an addition folks like the OP are willing to make to their raw fruit-only diet, it could prove a useful strategy.
 
Mel Green
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Location: Australia
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What I enjoy with fruit based permaculture is the perennial nature of the plants.
Each year an apple tree grows more mature, so does the bounty. Bananas seem to replicate endlessly, no need to replant seedlings. Figs grow into wonderful trees. Oranges, lemons and olives literally last a human lifetime.
The "permanent" nature of these plants allows other plants to adapt to the unique sub-climates beneath their canopies. Birds take nest. Houses are shaded and then rewarded with mulch in autumn.

Vegetables are good, but are mostly ground level annuals. They leave barren soil when harvested. They need to be rotated to avoid pests (where as a fruit tree develops immunity and strength from its stability). They have shallow roots.

I haven't read the source of "fruit based permaculture isn't viable" but I would have to disagree. In our systems, fruit trees are a crucial source of life and sustenance. It just wouldn't be permaculture with grapes for wine and apple tree for the chooks would it
 
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