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Thoughts about root vegetables.

 
pollinator
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When choosing what edible plants to put in my garden I have focused on plants that are expensive, rare or perish quite quickly (within the constraint that they must grow happily in my region).  So herbs and leafy greens were high on my list.  Potatoes were not a high priority as the ones from the store were cheap and seemed just as tasty as garden fresh.

Recently I started eating a plant based diet, which can be lacking in B12.  Apparently before the green revolution root vegetables would be eaten with a bit of dirt and a schwipe of B12 producing bacteria.  Fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides have eliminated that source of B12 from the western diet- and to be honest I'm not sure I would want to eat dirt from a commercial farm. But maybe homegrown potatoes would provide a boost to my healthy diet.

So now root vegetables have risen up my priority list. but I am pondering the following things:

How many seasons of chemical free gardening with hefty mulches applied would truly return my soil to a state good enough to eat?

What conditions do B12 producing microbes like?

Would all root vegetables be equal or would some have better associations with b12 producing microbes?  Celeriac, beet, onion, garlic and potato have survived in my garden before.
 
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I think I can answer your first question.  I think your soil, as is, is three times better than the soil they grow commercial potatoes in.  So I wouldn't let that stop me from growing taters for myself right now.
 
pollinator
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I don't think you're going to get any appreciable levels of B12 from "a bit of dirt" since you won't be eating much if any dirt, I would hazard a guess that I get more garden soil in my diet from spinach than I do from potatoes.

A quick google shows that only some soils contain the correct bacteria and that those bacteria like to grow on soil with high cobalt and manure.

The only real way to find out how much if any is there would be to test it, and then to test your blood now and after several months of eating it to see if you are getting any.
 
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Eating bits of bugs and bug-faeces can be a source of b12.

IIRC, there was an analysis of vegetarians in India, where the more affluent bought the best looking veg and washed them - having higher rates of b12 deficiency than the poor who ate unwashed veg of varying quality with the occasional speck of bug-body/bug-poop in it.

Great apes rely on bugs for b12 and, after all, we're just another great ape but with delusions of grandeur.
 
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James,

Great Ape with delusions of grandeur—I LOVE IT!!

Eric
 
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A quick look indicates that  most traditionally fermented foods have B12, but in an inactive form that we can't easily adsorb.

Propionibacterium freudenreichii
Is used in the production of B12 , and in the production of cheeses.
It can be found in soils as well.
Seems to mainly break down lipids, forming free fatty acids.
It seems to rely on Lactobacillus helveticus for something, so they are often used together.


Pseudomonas denitrificans
Is also used to produce B12, and found in soil and on plants.
Its said to have good effects on plants, but I can't find anything on culturing it at home.
I wonder if it's involved in the Korean natural farming micro herd.

Bacillus megaterium produce B12, but I think that is only becaue they have been engineered to do so.
There are some halophilic archaea in slated foods, and there are some B12 producing archaea, but I don't think they overlap.

I might try to find a probiotic that has Propionibacterium freudenreichi,Lactobacillus helveticus, and Pseudomonas denitrificans, and feed it some molasses and oil, if I wanted a homegrown vegan B12 source.
 
Genevieve Higgs
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Skandi - you're right, I hadn't thought about all the bits and pieces that hitchhike along with greens.  I guess root veggies might not have the monopoly on unintentional dirt consumption.  Mainly it was the thought that there might be some previously unrecognized benefits to growing the "plain jane" veggies in my garden that blew my mind.

As far as cobalt goes I see no literature suggesting an excess or lack of it in my region.  I guess that for now I will continue to amend with seaweed when possible and keep some deep rooted plants around as nutrient elevators.  Maybe one day when a soil test is done I will take more specific action.

William - Perhaps some Propionibacterium freudenreichii and lactobacillus helveticus or pseudomonas desnitrificans will make it into a compost tea!  Pseudomonas sounds like it will have a better shot at thriving in my soil, although the "produce yields all costs" part of my mentality doesn't like the denitrifying aspect.  I suppose that like all things it is important to have balance in the natural cycles.

As for direct consumibles first I will learn how to make sauerkraut and basic pickles, then one day will come the custom brews!  Some sort of fermented nut cheese could be awesome. But for now nutritional yeast or sublingual vitamin pills it is.
 
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James Flutas wrote:
IIRC, there was an analysis of vegetarians in India, where the more affluent bought the best looking veg and washed them - having higher rates of b12 deficiency than the poor who ate unwashed veg of varying quality with the occasional speck of bug-body/bug-poop in it.



This doesn't sound very likely to me (though it may be true) because almost all Indian vegetarians eat dairy products, and the rich get a lot of dairy. The only vegan Indian I've met had surely learnt it as a western idea. I've known thousands of Indians, including many hundreds of Indian vegetarians. Veganism is picking up in India now, like cappucino and pizza -- as a western idea that is gaining popularity.
 
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