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Is it possible to survive long-term on just the three sisters?

 
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I suspect that if you had an unlimited supply of the three sisters for your calorie needs, it would be trivially easy in almost any environment to forage for the gaps. The more I read about nutrition, the more I realize just how adaptable the human body is. And processes like nixtamalization and fermentation would help not just with preservation but also widening the nutrients made available.

As to Roy's warning about all-vegetable diet, I think there was some other problem going on. My kids are 19 and 27 and have been vegan-leaning vegetarians for their whole lives and I know a dozen or so happy, healthy young adults who were raised with strictly vegan diets.
 
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Christopher Weeks wrote:I suspect that if you had an unlimited supply of the three sisters for your calorie needs, it would be trivially easy in almost any environment to forage for the gaps. The more I read about nutrition, the more I realize just how adaptable the human body is. And processes like nixtamalization and fermentation would help not just with preservation but also widening the nutrients made available.

As to Roy's warning about all-vegetable diet, I think there was some other problem going on. My kids are 19 and 27 and have been vegan-leaning vegetarians for their whole lives and I know a dozen or so happy, healthy young adults who were raised with strictly vegan diets.



I'm one of the people that believes it is nearly, if not completely, impossible to live on a fully vegan diet without supplementation.  There also seems to be a growing trend to feed pets a vegan diet, and I think people that feed dogs and cats vegan diets are doing them a great disservice.  It is in no way controversial that humans and dogs are omnivores, and cats are obligate carnivores.  Trying to change that seems unnatural  to me, and permaculture in my mind is a decision to work with nature, rather than against it.  I don't see producing my own food as an exception to that.  Indeed, in my mind, food production is one of the most important aspects of permaculture.  My preference is to do it in as natural a way possible, and part of that is producing food that humans and animals have evolved to eat.
 
pollinator
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I just ran a nutritional analysis. If you ate 5 cups each per day of corn mush, cooked pinto beans, and butternut squash, you'd meet your caloric needs, and most vitamin and mineral needs.

However, you would be completely deficient in B12 (from animals), D (which the body can make), and K (from green leafy things). You'd be severely deficient in omega 3/6 oils, and choline.



I know I'm late to the party but I have some input regarding B12 and K.

B12 is available from bacteria present in healthy soil in a very limited amount. As long as there is some soil "contamination" in the harvested food (as well as during planting and tending the crops) then you'd get some B12. Probably not enough to be healthy however.

Squash shoots (a palm-sized section nipped off the growing tips) are perfectly edible and delicious, particularly when fried with potatoes. This would help the vitamin K requirement. Pea shoots are also often edible, although I can't vouch for pinto.

As another poster said, the addition of some chickens and some more greenery would really help!
 
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I am vegan, and I want to grow all the food for my needs and those of any with me. Being this way I know that there is nutritional needs met with having a really good variety, which is from the important food groups, that doesn't include animal products, with being sure vitamins needed are there, including B12, which is all produced from certain soil bacteria. So I would have that variety growing. The three sisters vegetables would be included but that won't be all the vegetables, and grains. And I would have fruits, nuts, and seeds.
 
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I think that a three sisters garden is a good thing to use for staples, but if you have a food forest and some chickens as well, your system will be far more stable, fertile and nutritious.
 
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I've got a bunch of threads open to look through -- I'm searching for any yield information on three sisters patches.  Has anyone done this and kept records -- yields per 100 s.f. or per 1,000 s.f.?  Trying to figure out how big a patch to plant to produce a good chunk of our calorie needs for a year.  The three sisters would not be our sole source of food -- we've got plenty of green stuff, and chickens, and dairy goats.  And potatoes and sweet potatoes are in there, too.  But I'd like to know what kind of yields we can expect from doing three sisters v.s. planting everything in separate patches.

 
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Scott Foster wrote:

Anita Martin wrote:I guess for Northamericans this is a known fact (as opposed to Europeans), but for higher nutrition you should look into nixtamalization of the corn:
Nixtamalization
Quote:
Adoption of the nixtamalization process did not accompany the grain to Europe and beyond, perhaps because the Europeans already had more efficient milling processes for hulling grain mechanically. Without alkaline processing, maize is a much less beneficial foodstuff, and malnutrition struck many areas where it became a dominant food crop. In the nineteenth century, pellagra epidemics were recorded in France, Italy, and Egypt, and kwashiorkor hit parts of Africa where maize had become a dietary staple.



..............
Hi Anita, Thanks for the information.  I did a little bit of reading last week about hominy, dent soaked in wood ash, in Mexico, to make Masa for tortillas. I thought this was a modern process.

 I read an article yesterday that said Native Americans ate corn, but it was much more nutritious than the way we eat it today because:

1. They husked the corn (which was said to be an arduous process, but they didn't say how it was husked)
2. They tended to harvest the three sisters at the same time (winter storage) and then eat them together in Succotash. Eating the sisters this way leads to better vitamin and mineral absorption than eating each on its own.

You made me think, how did the Natives husk their corn?  I know it was an arduous process, whatever they did.  So I looked into it. They were making hominy from dent corn by soaking it in wood ash. (haha nixtamalization.)  

This idea is an offshoot, but last week I was researching ways of processing foods for an emergency, and I came across sprouting.  Sprouting seeds is fantastic, how else can you get fresh produce, in the middle of winter, with little water, and no light.  

Here is another weird leap.  One of the safety warnings that pop up about sprouts is salmonella and other food born illnesses that come on the tainted seed.   (lIt seems like they try to scare you off) Now they are bleaching sprouting seeds, which kills a lot of the nutritional value.

Your response got this little chain reaction going in my head. It's like we are so afraid of food born illness that we kill our food.  I wonder if abandoning processes like nixtamalization, and embracing pasteurization, etc., are why modern man has so many issues with gut health.  Maybe it's why so many have auto-immune issues.  If your gut can't use nutrients, what use are they? Very interesting.  Thanks for your input.



Here is a helpful video, one of many on this and other traditional knowledge:
https://youtu.be/7PJv1PyuaoE
 
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