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Minimal diet = deficiencies  RSS feed

 
Tyler Ludens
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Looks like my endeavor to eat what I grow and reduce purchased food may have back-fired. I seem to have symptoms of multiple deficiencies - B vitamins (probably mostly B12), and minerals. This is causing some creepy physical symptoms plus probably exacerbating some pre-existing health problems.

So we're going to try to adjust our diet with a little more store food, and some supplements.

I wanted to post about this because I've posted a lot about frugality and trying to live without much money, and I want people to know about my failures as much as my successes. I want others to be aware of cheaping out too much on diet and the possibility of deficiencies if you aren't able to grow a large enough variety of food and/or the soil is not optimum.

It seems like most folks here are better at growing stuff than I am.

Trying not to feel like a failure!
 
John Weiland
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@Tyler L.: " .....I want people to know about my failures as much as my successes. ......It seems like most folks here are better at growing stuff than I am. "

Probably not. When starting out several decades ago in lab research, we commiserated on the fact that success was such a rare thing to celebrate in basic research. So we created the "Worst Result of the Week" award and posted the results outside of the elevator. That way, every long face leaving for the day could look at the crappiest result and say "Hey, we are all in this together....".

People will tend not to publish nor advertise their failures. I see that there is a "Garden Picture Exchange" thread that pops up occasionally with usually beautiful additions. Perhaps we need an "Epic fail share" thread for the opposite?

It's now June 13th and my green bean growth is shown below (adapted cranberry beans on left and green beans for comparison on right). It's the most pathetic looking germination of green beans I've had in some time, ..... and this is the third planting! If I showed you the photo of my recently-transplanted bolting Swiss chard, you would probably call the "Plant Abuse Hotline" on me....
BeanFail.JPG
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Tracy Wandling
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Hi Tyler;

I'm sorry to hear about your health issues. And your feelings of failure. With so many members posting their gorgeous garden photos here, as John mentioned, it's hard not to look my rather pathetic little plot and feel just a wee bit left behind, too. But with so many helpful ideas in the Permaculture 'handbook', and supporters here on this site, I know we'll get there!

But I do admire your willingness to post about your 'failures' as much as your successes. I think we learn as much from them as we do the success stories - at least, we get an idea of what NOT to do, and that shortens the list of options. I haven't been doing it long enough to have many failures to report, but I'm sure there are some looming in my future. I'll be sure to report on them as they come tumbling down upon me!

Good luck in your ongoing transition!

Cheers
Tracy
 
David Livingston
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There are no failures there are only things that have not worked as expected, its an opportunity to learn .
In my case are the voles going to eat all my sweet potatos before harvest ?
In your case what do you need to grow to give you more B12? Kale ? Or should you just buy some marmite
Ever read about the discovery of penicillin ? It came about because an experiment on mould " failed" . Some one asked why?

David
 
Ron Helwig
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As far as B12, I was vegetarian for 17 years and developed a B12 deficiency. I read up a lot about it and one of the things I found was that one serving of beef liver (not chicken or pig) per month should be sufficient. So even though I absolutely hate the taste and texture of liver, I have figured out ways to include/hide it in food. I did find it weird that chicken and pig liver has so much less B12 than beef liver. If you want your B12 from chicken you'd need to eat it daily, and pig liver not much less often. But since beef liver from the store is cheap enough in the small amounts needed, it seems like the way to go. Now I'm wondering if anyone makes braunschweiger from beef, as that is not too bad.

I take a multivitamin mostly as a sort of insurance.

I am hopeful that in the future we'll have tech that will analyze our blood/urine/breath/etc on a daily or continuous basis and tell us what we should be eating to get complete nutrition. Imagine your smartphone alerting you to say "Dave, you should eat a handful of lamb's quarters", or "Dave, you have some spinach in your garden that should be ready to put on your sandwich for lunch". Of course it would know what you are growing and also be able to identify and analyze stuff just growing there.
 
Tobias Ber
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tyler, you re on a good path and learning to get things better.

concerning b12 or b-vitamins in general. i write just from what i vaguely remember. won t fermenting food raise the vitamin levels of the B? i think, especially the yeast might do a good job on that. here people buy flakes of "beer-yeast" as supplement and to spice up soups (kinda like broth-powder). did you research into that direction?

Edit: i did a quick search on b-12 and found that sauerkraut will contain much b-12.

probably sprouts may have higher content of B-vitamins. maybe. nutrition value of many seeds explodes within a few days of sprouting.

good luck and blessings on your health!

tobias
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Ron Helwig wrote:As far as B12, I was vegetarian for 17 years and developed a B12 deficiency. I read up a lot about it and one of the things I found was that one serving of beef liver (not chicken or pig) per month should be sufficient.


Around here, we have Mormons in good standing that drink a glass of red wine each evening on the recommendation of their doctor... Even though all forms of alcohol are banned by the current interpretation of scriptures. They do it to maintain their health, considering that maintaining good health is a higher imperative than avoiding alcohol. I can imagine vegans doing something similar...

I fast once a year for a week to 10 days... One time during a fast, I went to a tribal get together in which food was an integral part of the activities. I dished myself up a bowl of soup, and joined the festivities. One of the people at the gathering said, "I thought you were fasting this week." My response was that "I am fasting even if I'm eating, and the food I am eating right now enhances the fast" The essence of the fast is in my reverence towards it's purpose, not so much in the physical activities involved.

So I can imagine a vegan, eating a piece of beef liver once a month as a sacrifice or sacrament: Done purely for the sake of maintaining one's health. It could be done in such a way as to enhance the reverence towards animal life.



 
K Putnam
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Steve Solomon writes about this a lot in The Intelligent Gardener, including, I believe, losing some of his teeth....and then went on to explore remineralizing his soil.

When I was young, I had fracture after fracture after fracture. It had to be malnutrition in a first-world country, but no one explored it as such. It was a minimal, poor diet. Not surprisingly, my fractures stopped when I started getting real nutrition.

I started really eating meat again after I went to donate blood and they could not take it, I was so anemic.
 
R Scott
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Almost EVERYONE in America has a B deficiency. Poor soils, poor diets, toxins preventing uptake, fake vitamins that won't absorb.

Beef liver and homemade kraut are probably the most available ways to get B. But only get organic grass fed liver--the toxins in cafo liver are not worth it. You only need a tiny bit so get the good stuff.

Edit to add: And use good salt (Redmond, Himalayan, or Celtic) to help with trace minerals. Buy in bulk, it doesn't go bad. I use redmond livestock salt for a lot of my stuff, just saying.
 
Tyler Ludens
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R Scott wrote:

Beef liver and homemade kraut are probably the most available ways to get B.


I've not been able to find a reference for kraut as a source of B12.

I had been very confused or lacked information about B12. I thought it was possible to get enough from just an egg or so a day and maybe some milk or cheese. But looking at nutrition charts, it seems like we've not had nearly enough sources in our diet. We've been eating little meat, just one or two servings of meat a week, with small amounts of dairy products. And no supplements. I can only assume that people growing their own diet are taking supplements or are chronically deficient in some nutrients. But it is difficult to get clear answers from people about what they are actually growing and eating.

Clams seem to be a really good source of B12, even higher than beef liver. And a better source for people who are trying to eat low down the food chain.

 
John Weiland
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Coming toward vegan only recently, I was not aware of the B12 issue. We use nutritional yeast quick a bit as a cooking and flavoring additive which seems to provide quite a bit, but it seems that fermentation would have provided a lot of B12 possibility in a vegan diet, yes? Outside of meat sources are not the East Indian and Asian cultures getting a significant portion of B12 from fermented/cultured products?.....or am I not thinking about this realistically?
.............................................................................................................................................................................

Abstract from a review that refers to bacterial production of B12 (regretfully, I don't think the full article is freely-available):

Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2013 Apr;24(2):160-8.

Bacteria as vitamin suppliers to their host: a gut microbiota perspective.

LeBlanc JG, Milani C, de Giori GS, Sesma F, van Sinderen D, Ventura M.

Abstract

Food-related lactic acid bacteria (LAB) as well as human gut commensals such as bifidobacteria can de novo synthesize and supply vitamins. This is important since humans lack the biosynthetic capacity for most vitamins and these must thus be provided exogenously. Although vitamins are present in a variety of foods, deficiencies still occur, mainly due to malnutrition as a result of insufficient food intake and because of poor eating habits. Fermented milks with high levels of B-group vitamins (such as folate and riboflavin) can be produced by LAB-promoted and possibly bifidobacteria-promoted biosynthesis. Moreover, certain strains of LAB produce the complex vitamin cobalamin (or vitamin B12). In this review, fermented foods with elevated levels of B-group vitamins produced by LAB used as starter cultures will be covered. In addition, genetic abilities for vitamin biosynthesis by selected human gut commensals will be discussed.

A major conclusion from that review is this:

"The increase of B-group vitamin concentrations in fermented/functional foods is possible through judicious selection of microbial species and cultivation conditions. It is expected that the food industry will exploit novel and efficient vitamin-producing strains to produce fermented products. Such products are expected to provide economic benefits to food manufacturers since increased ‘natural’ vitamin concentrations would be an important value-added trait without increasing production costs."

So with the many references to fermentation here on Permies, this may be a good place to investigate complementing nutrition in the vegan diet.
 
John Weiland
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@Tyler L: "I can only assume that people growing their own diet are taking supplements or are chronically deficient in some nutrients. But it is difficult to get clear answers from people about what they are actually growing and eating."

Yes, although we are still eating some meat (my wife, much MUCH less than I), neither of us take vitamin supplements. I suspect my wife is getting a lot of hers from fermented foods (vegan-based cheeses, etc, although she eats nutritional yeast more than I). I wonder to what extent a raw food diet helps in this way as well.....my wife eats a lot of fresh foods straight from the garden with little food washing (with the exception of root crops of course). In the long winter months, it's frozen veggies stored from the summer along with the other things already mentioned.
 
Tyler Ludens
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It looks like 4 eggs per day per adult will provide the minimal amount of B12.
 
Todd Parr
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The problem with the RDA is that the amounts are not realistic for optimum health, they are amounts needed to ward off vitamin deficiency induced disease, and, I believe, much lower than the amounts needed for optimal health. It's a little like saying a person can survive on 300 calories a day. That may very well be true for some length of time, but you won't enjoy good health and you will be miserable.
 
Tyler Ludens
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When trying to grow a complete diet, I think I have to start with the minimum, and build from there. So far, I'm not even achieving the minimum.

 
Andrew Brock
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Track your meals on cronometer.com and you will be able too see deficiencies before they manifest. Also, take a b12 supplement. I take one a few times a week that is 30,000% rda. I'm a vegan and I just had blood work and it was flawless. Seriously people, just take a supplement!
 
Gilbert Fritz
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What is the supplement made of? And how does it get made? Where?

I'm working on this problem too. In my case, it is made worse by severe food allergies in the family. How can I grow all our food if we can't eat anything I can grow? How to get by without raising a cow? etc.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Gilbert Fritz wrote:What is the supplement made of? And how does it get made? Where?


This is a problem I found trying to research supplements - so many seem to contain toxic gick, and I don't know which brands to trust (if any) to actually contain ingredients which the body can metabolize.

So we've decided for the time being to try to eat a greater variety of food, including some animal products from the store, namely clams and shrimp.

I don't know if it is realistically possible for an individual or small family to grow a complete diet unless it is the only thing they do, as homesteaders. The work needed to raise animals to provide B12 seems like it would be too much for folks trying to do anything but homestead, if they aren't going to "cheat" by purchasing animal feed, in which case it might make more sense to simply purchase animal products from other farmers. I think a small community could produce complete diets, I'm just having my doubts about this being possible by an individual or small family. I'm personally very very far away from being able to do this, as it turns out.

As mentioned above, apparently some properly prepared fermented products can be made at home to provide B12, but this seems challenging also, as you have to make sure you have the right bacteria, and how would you know without lab testing?

 
R Scott
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Most vitamins are poorly absorbed, partially because of the synthetic way they are made being ALMOST the same, partially because they are only the vitamin without the adjuncts and enzymes in food, partially because our gut bacteria are woefully inadequate compared to prior generations.

Synthetic B vitamins are notorious for being in a form 30-50% of the population can't process due to missing an enzyme. You may need METHYLATED B vitamins. They are rare and more expense, but work even if you are missing the enzyme. purple mooseage me if you want a brand that is fully methylated.

Kraut and fermented foods are funny things, kind of like Elaine Ingraham's soil tests. They are FULL of precursors of good stuff, but it won't show up on a standard composition test. They need stomach acid and/or gut bacteria to finish building it.

Lacto fermentation is SO MUCH EASIER than canning, you really NEED to do it as a homesteader. You have to buy salt. Once you get the salt brine right, only good stuff grows in it. You can easily pickle one or two quarts a day instead of having to wait and do a huge batch like normal canning. We still can during the peak, but for shoulder season or things we don't need that much of--fermenting is much easier. I still can't get a crispy pickle, though
 
Gilbert Fritz
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Tyler, I think you are right; it takes a village.

I'm hoping to grow most of my food, but then grow or produce something on my land to sell to cover the rest of it.

Lacto-fermented foods are great. The greatest thing about them is that when a batch goes bad, it smells BAD. That way, one will not get poisoned like one can with a canning batch gone bad.

I've heard conflicting things about how much b-12 one can actually get from fermented foods.
 
William Bronson
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R Scott wrote:I still can't get a crispy pickle, though

I have no hands on experience, but I am curious, have you tried adding tannins or calcium chloride?
 
K Putnam
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Capitalism has taken things to an unhealthy extreme, but there's nothing wrong with specialization. If I was part of an old village, I'd probably be the healer. No one would put me in charge of building anything, ever. Perhaps you can do a trade and it will feel better to you?

B-vitamins or no B-vitamins, if you're not fermenting, that would be an excellent place to start upping your overall nutrition. Your homegrown food might have more nutrition in it than you're currently able to access.
 
Anne Miller
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I have always admired the pictures of your garden. Right now I have an abundance of green beans, spinach, corn and summer squash. We only have a small garden. I have always felt that green vegetables give you the most nutrients. I don't know what you are growing but it is time to think about what to plant in the fall, maybe collards and winter squash. I have read that the winter squash keeps well. I also eat a lot of fermented veggie. My favorite is chow chow and a squash relish. I have done some lacto ferments but I am not as fond of those.

If you lived closer to me I would gladly give you some deer. Our diet is about 75% deer. I cook it like I would cook beef or pork. My favorite is chicken fried steak. Axis is a much milder flavored meat. If you are not fond of the taste, I would recommend mixing it with ground meat and fixing it maybe a ratio of 25% deer and 75% ground meat. When you get used to the taste then increase the amount of deer. I have read all kinds of secrets to get rid of the gamey flavor, but when it come to taste most people don't think it tastes gamey if they don't know it is deer. Also the gamey flavor may have something to do with how it was processed. We do our own processing of letting it bleed out in the fridge for a day or so. Then cutting it up and putting it in the freezer.

 
Zach Muller
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Thats too bad you are feeling the deficiencies tyler, not being at 100% is a tough place to be. Get back to feeling right with some extra diversity in your diet.
In order to never 'fail' we would have to stop trying things for our selves. Sometimes i am dealing with only 10 percent of my efforts and experiments going as planned, which puts me at a near 90% failure rate. But that is an observation in the short term, by the end of the season hopefully things will be learned and things will progress.


 
Tyler Ludens
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Thank you. Unfortunately we don't have a hunter in our household. We're sometimes gifted some deer meat, but it ran out awhile ago. If we could hunt, our meat problems would surely be solved. We have for a long time avoided buying meat at the store, for environmental, humane, and budgetary reasons. Doing some research, it looks like canned clams may be the most practical source of B12 for us, as well as fresh gulf shrimp in season (which we can freeze for later). Critters higher up the food chain generally seem to have less B12 except in their organs. I would only consider eating organs from grass-fed and grass-finished critters and we have no local source for those that I've found so far.

Looks like turnip greens are one of the most nutritious kinds, and I can grow those, though for some reason I didn't this past season. Too hot to plant them now. Right now our main green is Malabar Spinach (I think I have Basella alba, although it was sold as Basella rubra), and we have a few other kinds of greens. I'm trying harder to serve more greens each day. I need to try for more variety, though, and would like more perennial kinds.

The garden was waterlogged during the floods and some plants suffered, but things seem to be recovering now as the soil drains.

I think the main solution is to try for a much more varied diet. We had gotten into the habit of eating a very small variety of things, some of which were low nutrition. We seem to have paid the price for laziness! So far my husband hasn't exhibited deficiency symptoms except gaining weight. Too many empty calories. Also he seems to have even less energy lately, as a low-energy person to begin with. Lack of energy seems to be a general symptom of poor diet. I wonder if most of the people with depression, chronic fatigue, and other disorders characterized by low energy are actually suffering from poor nutrition. Unfortunately once one falls into this kind of pit of despair, it's hard to make decisions and take action. Lately I've felt totally overwhelmed and experiencing some breaks with reality - for instance, being convinced we're going to starve to death! I'm sure symptoms of mental illness are going to be increased by poor nutrition (I'm bipolar). I'd rather spend our money on better food than on toxic pharmaceuticals.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Symptoms of B12 deficiency:

strange sensations, numbness, or tingling in the hands, legs, or feet
difficulty walking (staggering, balance problems)
anemia
a swollen, inflamed tongue
yellowed skin (jaundice)
difficulty thinking and reasoning (cognitive difficulties), or memory loss
paranoia or hallucinations
weakness
fatigue


http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/vitamin-b12-deficiency-can-be-sneaky-harmful-201301105780
 
Abbey Battle
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Trying isn't failure, it's not trying that is failure.
As for success in growing or otherwise. I have plenty of fruit trees and bushes, little else. I try and try again with veg, just don't seem to see anything grow from all that seed. I'm now looking to see what edible wild plants I can forage, also may give me an indication of what I could grow if I tried again.
Anyway, er, want some rhubarb? Anyone?
 
Andrew Brock
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Gilbert Fritz wrote:What is the supplement made of? And how does it get made? Where?

I'm working on this problem too. In my case, it is made worse by severe food allergies in the family. How can I grow all our food if we can't eat anything I can grow? How to get by without raising a cow? etc.


it comes from cyanocobalamin which is made from bacterial fermentation...fermented foods do offer some b12. If you look on a bottle of synergy kombucha it has 20% b12 RDA. If you are growing organic in your garden you can get some b12 from microbes on the plants. I do know of some vegans that don't take b12 at all and they don't have issues, but I would only do this if you had access to blood diagnostics regularly
 
Dan alan
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It's true when you provide all your own food you need to be sure it's a complete diet. I have found fermentation for preserving is the best option. Combucha tea has a lot a b vitamins. I have found I function so much better and am more productive when I drink it regularly.

Ecology action has some great material on growing food and providing a complete diet. It's bases on studies of traditional dirts that sustain people for generations. Here is an example of a Mexican diet. I'm not

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Tyler Ludens
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That "complete diet" looks grim in the B12 department. The diets from the research of Ecology Action, such as those in "One Circle" are typically lacking in B12, iodine, and calories.

 
r ranson
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Tyler, that's a tough situation. B12 is a difficult one. Sending you good thoughts.

I haven't seen anyone mention miso yet. I don't know if it has a high amount of B12, but what it does have is exceptionally easy for the body to use. I've also seen it said that having miso soup daily helps your body absorb more nutrition from the food you eat. It might be worth investigating. Most parts of the world can grow some sort of pulse, and most pulses can be used to make miso. Quick miso takes about 3 weeks, so this would be a more long-term solution. You can get the koji spores from gem cultures for about $5 and it's ridiculously easy to make. The hardest part for me was getting the courage to try. Once you have the spores, Katz's book Art of Fermentation has some instructions on how to make your own.

I'm a bit worried this is going to be a problem for us soon. We've stopped eating red meat for a variety of reasons and eat very little chicken or fish. We also have a family history of malabsorption of various nutrients, especially B12. Even if I could find a vitamin pill I could take without triggering food allergies, I don't like to take them as I feel nutrition should come from diet and diet alone. I do take sublingual B12 for pain management - weird but it helps. I've considered raising bugs for eating but haven't gotten over the squirm factor. Having a pint of dark beer each day (usually half at lunch, half at dinner) seems to help tremendously, but it's real beer, made locally and fresh from the brewery, not that industrial stuff which is so common these days.

I don't really know what to say, but I'm rooting for you. I hope you can find a diet that meets your nutritional needs.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Thank you. I don't think I can plausibly raise a complete diet, I think I'll need to be content with raising most of our vegetables, but not most of our food. Trying to raise sufficient calories while also obtaining these critical nutrients, seems unlikely. I think it's an admirable goal for anyone to attempt, if aware of these hazards,and I think a lot of assumptions might be off-base, like mine were. For instance, most common animals raised for meat, they just don't compare to fish, which you rarely see people talk about raising in a homestead situation. I assumed poultry and pigs, which are considered standard homestead yard animals, would be high in B12 but they aren't, compared to fish. So some kind of aquaponics or aquaculture might make more sense for a lot of people. I still hope to try raising fish again, but they have the same challenge as poultry in trying to produce feed for them in a home situation.


http://www.dietitians.ca/Your-Health/Nutrition-A-Z/Vitamins/Food-Sources-of-Vitamin-B12.aspx
 
Bobby Clark Jr
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According to Coe's comfrey web site comfrey is one of the few plants that have b12. He recommends making tea or using it in green drinks. Back in the 90's I think it was there was a tape that I listened to called "chalk in your cheerios" that said any thing ending in "ate" in not usable by the body. Calcium carbonate being the chalk in the cheerios. So maybe my chronic fatigue is from eating too many cheerios?!! and not enough comfrey!!!
 
R Scott
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Fish. That is a very overlooked subject. Harvesting fish WAS a key part of homesteading anywhere near water. And many Amish take care to stock their ponds to provide fresh fish. Hmm.
 
Gilbert Fritz
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That "complete diet" looks grim in the B12 department. The diets from the research of Ecology Action, such as those in "One Circle" are typically lacking in B12, iodine, and calories.


Tyler, you are right about that. Not to mention, they are VERY BORING! And that fact alone could probably affect one's health; at least one's mental health!
 
David Livingston
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I'm with R scott on the fish . Particularly oily fish .
Have you thought about catching fish or breeding fish ? Fish traps work well and are not too difficult to build .

David
 
Corey Schmidt
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many sources say comfrey contains compounds that are toxic to the liver
 
Tyler Ludens
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Also, we might need to consider that "traditional diets" from places which are typically impoverished, are actually very poor in nutrition, though traditional. There's evidence that many agricultural societies have had chronic deficiencies, which is why the people tend to be short compared to modern affluent people and compared to many hunter-gatherers. People can scrape along on these poor diets for hundreds or even thousands of years, as long as they can produce sufficient children who survive to reproduce. Some modern poor diets may date from conquest by Europeans who eliminated truly traditional local foods. Neil Layton mentioned this in one of his recent book reviews. I think permaculture has the opportunity to improve on tradition, using current science on nutrition.
 
Anne Miller
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Everyone has given you great advice. I did not mention beans as I don't like them but they are high in protein. I could only find nori bean that is high in B 12.

Maybe you have a neighbor who needs to clean out their freezer for the coming hunting season. I would suggest an ad on craigs list but I would be afraid of how it was stored. If you have a neighbor that hunts offer to pay them for the meat. For now the clams and shrimp should work but you need a long term plan. Maybe offer to let someone hunt the Axis on your land and share the meat with you. I haven't looked lately but I used to see ads frequently looking for a place to hunt.

When my son was a toddler he had a gamma goblin deficiency. The doctor advised me to give him some beer everyday, just not enough to make him drunk.
 
Gilbert Fritz
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I think an important part of this is the following:

Tyler has convinced me that agriculture, as opposed to horticulture, is unsustainable. I would add that it is unhealthy. Agricultural societies were generally plagued by high infant mortality, epidemics, famine, and a short average life span.

Horticultural, pastoral, and hunter-gatherer societies did better as far as nutrition, at least as far as I can tell. Not only did they eat large animals, but more importantly, they ate lots of small ones; bugs, slugs, snails, grubs, worms, fish, shellfish, etc. They also, intentionally or not, ate a lot of dirt with associated microorganisms. And they ate a wide variety of plant foods. This probably covered a lot more of the bases then a farming based diet.

The question is, how do we mimic this? A forest garden is step in the right direction (most "hunter gatherers" were not actually gathering from "the wild", but from managed forest gardens.) But yields are generally low.

 
Beware the other head of science - it bites! Nibble on this message:
Video of all the permaculture design course and appropriate technology course (about 177 hours)
https://permies.com/wiki/65386/paul-wheaton/digital-market/Video-PDC-ATC-hours-HD
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