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permaculture and diet

 
steward
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You can believe whatever you want, but the fact is a low-fat vegan diet is what man evolved to eat.



I see that as more opinion than fact.  The majority of humans still consume animal products.  A large percentage that do not, are driven by economics and lack of availability, rather than by choice.
 
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BenjaminBurchall wrote:
Tofu was around in small quantities compared to today and was eaten in much smaller servings. The level of tofu production today is dependent on oil and coal. If you think about the chemicals needed to curdle soy milk, we'd have to ask how to we get so much of it for the processing. I used to make soy milk and tofu. It's a lot of work! And that was with using a food processor powered by electricity which is generated mostly with coal.



Indeed, I used to watch my grandmother and mother make them the old-fashioned way too. It is a *lot* of work, but tastes so much better than the **** found in the stores. It is also of note that most soy is consumed in fermented forms too like miso or natto. I particularly enjoy miso and use it a lot in my cooking. Natto...well, that's an acquired taste just not for me.
 
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I don't think it is unfortunate to get caught up in this, it is a valuable discussion.

One thing I found interesting was BenB's comment about humans migrating away from the tropics then needing animal products to provide some nutrients.  Is it possible that the "ideal diet", if there is such a thing, could significantly depend on our location?  This could explain why empirical evidence shows a range of traditional but very different diets working around the world.
 
master pollinator
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Hugh H. wrote:
Is it possible that the "ideal diet", if there is such a thing, could significantly depend on our location? 



Seems like it, from information about existing hunter-gatherers.  Seems like humans migrated and learned to eat different things.  In North Florida near Jacksonville there are hills made of oyster shells, they are the tallest land forms in that area, left by the Timucuan who as their staple ate the oysters which still exist there to this day.  The Timucuan ate oysters, probably raw, for thousands of years and yet the living oysters are still there  Truly an example of a sustainable diet!  I have trouble believing folks who lived different ways and ate different stuff all over the world were unhealthy for thousands, tens of thousands or even a hundred thousand years (since we became Homo sapiens sapiens and started cooking our food)! 

 
                              
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As the person who started this thread, I'd really prefer it if this wasn't a discussion about the pros and cons of various diets. I wanted this thread to be about permaculture design and how it takes into account nutritional needs if one isn't reliant on imported food. If someone wants to be fruitarian/omnivore/paleo/vegehead/whatever, then talk about how to design for that in a way that is sustainable within your landbase.

If you want to talk about whether any particular diet is going to sustain any particular human, can you please start a new thread?

Paul, any chance that the diet vs diet posts could be moved to their own thread? (I don't know how much work that is though).


Edited to add: the whole what humans need to eat thing is very interesting and I'd probably join a separate discussion, but I feel it will just derail this thread. One of the points of the thread was to focus on the gap within permie knowledge about designing for nutrition. Arguing about diet just perpetuates that gap IMO.
 
maikeru sumi-e
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BenB wrote:
That actually isn't true. The traditional diets of the Sardinians and Okinawans were primarily vegan. The book "Blue Zone" details that the societies with the highest number of centarians (people who lived past 100) were in fact the same societies that had traditionally vegan diets.   Of course, in the past few generations, these types of diets have deteriorated and western diet has taken hold.



Okinawans are definitely not vegan. The traditional diet is not even remotely vegan. I don't know where you get this idea. It is primarily based on seafoods, small livestock, some grains, lots of vegetables, lots of fruits, and quite a bit of soy items. They like their chicken, fish, and pork. Have you ever had chanpuru? This is their national dish. It's often meat mixed with tofu and veggies like bitter melon stir-fried. This dish is similar to one of the traditional dishes I know. While I won't pretend to be an authority on Okinawans, my own background and experience isn't too far away. Taiwanese, Okinawans, Japanese, etc. all eat similar and share many of the same foods. We eat bitter melon like it was candy and guzzle green tea. Asians generally are NOT vegans. We subscribe to a high protein (often fish and soy protein), high fruit and high veggie diet, generally with rice (though in the north of China wheat is the staple and in Japan, barley and millet for the poor back in the old days), with a wide and rich diversity of foods. If we can't eat fresh veggies, we eat seaweed, pickles, etc. That's more of a traditional Asian diet, though it varies from place to place and season to season.

The longest lived people are generally not the modern Chinese but island Asian peoples like the Japanese, Okinawans, etc. If Chinese people in rural areas aren't eating enough protein, this is generally because of increasing and harsh poverty and a substantial deterioration in environment, farming, and diet thereof. There are places in rural China where people have high cancer rates because of a lack of selenium in the soil. Then there are other problems due to industrialization and modernization.

In the case of the Sardinians, their longevity is believed to be in large part due to the combination of excellent diet AND favorable genetics:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/7250675.stm

Sardinians still eat meat but less of it, being primarily grass-fed or wild game, seafoods such as fish and shellfish, lots of nuts, and lots of cheese. It is rich in animal protein, fiber, antioxidants, etc. similar to traditional Asian diets.

http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/VitalityProject/sardinian-diet-hold-secret-longevity/story?id=8875605
http://www.go-sardinia.com/sardinia-food

The information you're spreading is misinformation, IMO.
 
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maikeru wrote:
It is also of note that most soy is consumed in fermented forms too like miso or natto. I particularly enjoy miso and use it a lot in my cooking.



I'm glad you mentioned that!  Fermenting soy removes some of the anti-nutrients in soy although I'm not sure if it removes the plant estrogens. Unfermented soy is known to mess with human estrogen balance when eaten in the quantities westerners have come to eat it. Personally, I like fermented bean curd. It much more tasty than tofu which is mostly bland on its own.  Fermented soy bean curd is tempeh. (Delish!) Fermented bean curd can be made from a variety of beans. The Bermese version curd is made from chickpeas.

I think it might be a good way to preserve beans in edible form for emergency preparedness. Does anyone know how long various fermented beans curds can last?
 
Benjamin Burchall
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Hugh H. wrote:
I don't think it is unfortunate to get caught up in this, it is a valuable discussion.



The reason I think it's unfortunate is that while some permies might enjoy the discussion (polite debate), it serves as a serious barrier for others. It's one of those things people get highly charged over because at rock bottom a lot of vegans and vegetarians hold their diets as an ethical position. That means that they come across as saying the rest of humanity is unethical (read: immoral) because we eat animals. I don't think that kind of position helps our cause. I'm saying that as a former strict lacto-ovo vegetarian who was once among the evangelical anti-meat eating crowd.
 
maikeru sumi-e
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BenjaminBurchall wrote:
I'm glad you mentioned that!  Fermenting soy removes some of the anti-nutrients in soy although I'm not sure if it removes the plant estrogens. Unfermented soy is known to mess with human estrogen balance when eaten in the quantities westerners have come to eat it. Personally, I like fermented bean curd. It much more tasty than tofu which is mostly bland on its own.  Fermented soy bean curd is tempeh. (Delish!) Fermented bean curd can be made from a variety of beans. The Bermese version curd is made from chickpeas.

I think it might be a good way to preserve beans in edible form for emergency preparedness. Does anyone know how long various fermented beans curds can last?



Fermentation of soy generally concentrates and frees up more of the isoflavones like genistein, but decreases things like phytate and trypsin inhibitors, which can interfere with mineral absorption or digestion. However, I'm not going to fault soy for having these. They're common in grains and legumes to protect the seeds from herbivory and pests. Both miso and natto are excellent sources of genistein and other soy antioxidants/isoflavones. There's a lot of debate on soy's influence on hormones. Their estrogenic or antiestrogenic properties are debatable, since they activate and inhibit certain estrogenic receptors, have a short half-life, and there are a wide range of isoflavones with different properties and structures.

Miso will last almost forever but continue to ferment and get stronger and darker in flavor. I prefer light miso, so I keep it in the fridge to slow down the process. But it shouldn't spoil, similar to kimchee or the daikon pickles I'm fond of.

Edit: Paul if you could, you can feel free to move my posts or something to another thread or point me to the proper place to put them. I don't want to take it too far off from what the original poster intended.
 
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maikeru wrote:
Fermentation of soy generally concentrates and frees up more of the isoflavones like genistein, but decreases things like phytate and trypsin inhibitors, which can interfere with mineral absorption or digestion. However, I'm not going to fault soy for having these.



Fault them? It's just a matter of knowing that foods in certain forms can have effects we might want to avoid. It's probably better for health to eat fermentedd soy than to eat it unfermented. Other foods require some kind of processing to neutralize harmful things in them or even make them edible. Unfermented soy is one of those things that many have a sensitivity or allergy to even though they don't know it because they haven't made the connection.

A female friend would complain about breakouts on her skins during her periods, but not all the time. I started noticing they seemed to happen when she's eating a lot of soy. I told her she might want to look at the information about how soy can have hormonal effects and that she could try limiting the unfermented soy in her diet. But she was a vegetarian who relied on soy for adequate protein and refused to consider it. Oh well! I don't see what would be so hard to switch to fermented soy, but I'm not her.
 
maikeru sumi-e
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It may not be totally hormonal. Soy also influences the immune system and fibroblasts, collagen production, etc., which can in turn affect the skin. It's a complex issue. She may also want to check her iron levels. Vegans and vegetarians might be at a little higher risk, since they usually have lower iron intake and many antioxidants in plant foods can chelate metal ions like iron, copper, zinc, etc. and remove them from the body. A metal nutrient deficiency can cause the immune system disturbances.
 
Benjamin Burchall
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Good point, Maikeru!
 
Benjamin Burchall
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paul wheaton wrote:
Stating "the truth" makes it so that if somebody has a different position, the only way they can present it is by entering into a conflict.   And I like hearing different positions.



I like that! I sure could have used that as a good guideline on the forum I used to run. (It wasn't permaculture related.) I may have to steal that.
 
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Avocados provide more fat than you could ever want in your diet.  Also, who is the one stating that protein doesn't come from plants?  Even broccoli has protein.  Beans, peas, lentils and potatoes provide an amount as well.  Don't forget about iron it's essential for blood production.  Don't like eating liver?  Just eat dark leafy greens like Kale and spinach.  There is a Japanese study that shows the healthy vegan eats 40g of protein a day from plant sources.  Eat whatever you like, but know that all your nutritional needs can be met from a variety of sources both plant and animal.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Lori Leigh wrote:
Avocados provide more fat than you could ever want in your diet. 



I sure wish I could grow them.  I could happily live on them with a few other things thrown in for good measure.  But they are not hardy in my climate. 
 
Benjamin Burchall
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Lori Leigh wrote:
There is a Japanese study that shows the healthy vegan eats 40g of protein a day from plant sources.  Eat whatever you like, but know that all your nutritional needs can be met from a variety of sources both plant and animal.



40g of protein a day isn't much. What I suggest to people is to look at pictures of people in populations with such low protein intake on a plant based diet and decide if they want to look like them. (They tend to look emaciated and not have much muscle on them.) I have yet had anyone say they would. To each one's own I say.
 
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Hugh H. wrote:
...  Is it possible that the "ideal diet", if there is such a thing, could significantly depend on our location? 



Yes, I think that is reasonable to consider. For example, people far from the tropics are likely to experience vitamin D deficiencies over much of the year unless they eat certain foods (especially liver or fatty fish). Eskimos, Innuits, and Icelanders consider such foods to be necessary for living in their environment. But in a climate where the sunshine is stronger and the weather is warmer, vitamin D deficiencies are rare regardless of diet (provided one gets outdoors now and then).   
 
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You have not to be in alaska to have vit D defficiency,

i've read on a french site related to nutrition that we can't convert sun to vit D between november and february, so i figure this could be the same in US.

Oyster seems to have good vit D amount, and could be eaten by some vegans, depending on their motivations.
 
Benjamin Burchall
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permaguy wrote:
Oyster seems to have good vit D amount, and could be eaten by some vegans, depending on their motivations.



Since an oyster is an animal, I don't know how a vegan could be a vegan and eat one. Haha!
 
Guy De Pompignac
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BenjaminBurchall wrote:
Since an oyster is an animal, I don't know how a vegan could be a vegan and eat one. Haha!



You know, pain, nervous system, bi-valves, etc. ...

http://www.slate.com/articles/life/food/2010/04/consider_the_oyster.html

But, nervermind.
 
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permaguy wrote:
You have not to be in alaska to have vit D defficiency,

i've read on a french site related to nutrition that we can't convert sun to vit D between november and february, so i figure this could be the same in US.



This isn't quite accurate. You can convert sunlight to vitamin D any time, but if you live north of ~33 degrees of latitude the sunlight is filtered by the atmosphere to such an extent that there isn't enough UV radiation hitting your skin to provide for your normal vitamin D needs. The farther north you are, the longer this low radiation window is. (Switch everything around for southern hemisphere locations.)

Your conversion efficiency will also depend on your skin tone. The darker your skin, the less UV radiation you convert to vitamin D. So if you have dark skin and live in Toronto, you most likely have vitamin D deficiency unless you supplement.

This actually ties into the paleo/primal diet as some evolutionary anthropologists think that the reason Europeans lost all their skin pigmentation is that their increased use of grains in their diet caused them to need more and more vitamin D to help prevent bad side-effects like decalcification of the bones. Their skin got lighter so they could absorb more sunlight. Contrast this with Inuit or Siberian populations who live at very high latitudes but did not totally lose their skin pigment.
 
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BenB wrote:Fruit isn't good because you can't do work in cold weather? I haven't heard that one before.

So? I'm not here to repeat stuff that everyone already knows or bs that everyone has read before. I am posting from personal experience of bricklaying in an English winter when eating fruit and I found it wasn't much good. 

Fruit is a fuel just like any other, be it rice, meat, or potatoes. The problem most people have with eating a fruit-based diet is that they don't know how to eat enough. Do you know how much 3000 calories of fruit looks like?

Yes I do know. 1 banana = approx 100 calories. 30 bananas = approx 3000 calories.

The vegan thing is pretty much irrelevant anyway because the person that started the thread wanted advice on using animals and plants in a permaculture system.
 
Warren David
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Omega 3 and 6: Somebody raising their own animals on a natural diet has little to worry about getting the omega 3 to omega 6 ratio in balance.
 
Warren David
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BenB wrote:What HASN'T been shown to be the case is that there are certain diets can make one group of people healthy and one group of people sick based off their genes. There is only one species-specific diet for humans, just as there is one species specific diet for cows, or pandas, or any mammal for that matter. To determine what this is, I think it is helpful to look towards human's closest living relative, the bonobo. They have an extremely similar physiology to ours and guess what their diet is. Mostly fruits and vegetables. This may not be favorable to you but it is nonetheless the diet that completely reverses any disease from diabetes to heart disease to even some forms of cancer. When undertaken, almost everyone finds that they lose excess fat, have fantastic energy levels, and generally feel happier. It doesn't matter what your genetic makeup is, when you go back to your species-specific diet, every person will benefit.

You spend far too much time reading vegan propaganda. Forget the bonobo. If you want to know about ideal foods for humans, look at other humans.

Some of the things that the healthiest communities around the world have in common are that they are eating a large proportion of fresh foods that they have hunted, raised, gathered or cultivated themselves. Very little if any of processed foods. They are also getting exercise from getting this food and a lot of the other manual work they often do.

Diets of Sardinians and Okinawans. They eat meat and eggs and always did. This stuff is very easy to find out if you look on sites that are not trying to push some diet or other.
 
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Warren David wrote:
You spend far too much time reading vegan propaganda. Forget the bonobo. If you want to know about ideal foods for humans, look at other humans.

Some of the things that the healthiest communities around the world have in common are that they are eating a large proportion of fresh foods that they have hunted, raised, gathered or cultivated themselves. Very little if any of processed foods. They are also getting exercise from getting this food and a lot of the other manual work they often do.

Diets of Sardinians and Okinawans. They eat meat and eggs and always did. This stuff is very easy to find out if you look on sites that are not trying to push some diet or other.




"People from the islands of Ryūkyū (of which Okinawa is the largest) have a life expectancy among the highest in the world.,[2] although their life expectancy rank among Japanese prefectures has plummeted in recent years.[3] Their unusual longevity has been attributed in part to the traditional local diet, but also to genetic inheritance, lifestyle, and environmental factors.
Generally, the traditional diet of the islanders was 20% lower in calories than the Japanese average and contained 300% of the green/yellow vegetables (particularly heavy on sweet potatoes). The Okinawan diet is low in fat and has only 25% of the sugar and 75% of the grains of the average Japanese dietary intake.[1] The traditional diet also includes a relatively small amount of fish (less than half a serving per day) and somewhat more in the way of soy and other legumes (6% of total caloric intake). While pork is a part of the Okinawan diet,[4][5] almost no other meat is consumed; virtually no eggs or dairy products are consumed either.[6]
An Okinawan reaching 110 years of age has typically had a diet consistently averaging no more than one calorie per gram of food and has a BMI of 20.4.[citation needed] (also note that when values - such as caloric density - vary from 1x to 10x, the average is not relevant)"

I never knew Wikipedia was trying to push the vegan diet on us! You can bet that if their fat intake was very low that they were eating VERY small amounts of pork and eating mostly sweet potatoes, greens, and grains.
 
Tyler Ludens
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The traditional diet also includes a relatively small amount of fish (less than half a serving per day) and somewhat more in the way of soy and other legumes (6% of total caloric intake). While pork is a part of the Okinawan diet



In other words, not a vegan diet.

 
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has anyone mentioned the hunza people in the Himalayas in this thread?

they were extremely healthy and long lived people, and lived mostly off grains and vegetables along with some meat.
 
                              
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Hello everyone,

as the person who started this thread I would prefer it didn't get overloaded with discussions about the validity of different kinds of diets (although those are worthy conversations!), so I've started a new thread - https://permies.com/bb/index.php?topic=10517.0

Can you please post there about diets, so we can get this thread back on topic? It would be much appreciated
 
Guy De Pompignac
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Things to think about :

Produce enought :

* omega 3 (short and long chain)
* vitamin D in winter
* proteins
* calories

i think its the most limiting factors
 
                              
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I would add fats (as a whole food) as essential to that list.

We can assume that most people will have a diverse enough system to be getting vitamins and minerals? Although some land may be deficient in certain minerals.
 
John Polk
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Absolutely.  Fats/oils are essential to human health.  Vitamins A, D, and E are not water soluble, so without a certain amount of oil intake with the meal, those vitamins are lost.  Perhaps we (humans) are not as dumb as we act sometimes...oil has been poured on salads since long before "we discovered" vitamins, and their role in nutrition.

Besides nuts and avocados, few plants provide us with sufficient oils for proper health.  And avocados grow in limited regions...damn it!  With, or without meat, nuts are essential for any permaculture planting.  If you live where nuts will not grow, you are pushing the ecological limits of "sustainability" unless blubber is significant in your diet.
 
Benjamin Burchall
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John Polk wrote:
Besides nuts and avocados, few plants provide us with sufficient oils for proper health.  And avocados grow in limited regions...damn it!  With, or without meat, nuts are essential for any permaculture planting.  If you live where nuts will not grow, you are pushing the ecological limits of "sustainability" unless blubber is significant in your diet.



We can grow plenty of seeds with good fat content in a home garden: sunflower, sesame, chia, (remember Chia Pets?), and flax (I don't care for their taste though). Then there are the seeds that can be grown as secondary crops such as pumpkin, butternut squash, and watermelon, cantaloupe. If your zuchini, cukes and other squash get too big for good eating, let them continue to grow and harvest them for the edible seeds.

I'd like to get a press so that I can express my own plant oils.
 
                              
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I'd love to see an analysis of EROEI (energy returned on energy invested) for food fat/oils

How much more work is there in seed fats vs say butter or lard? It would be a difficult calculation because it would vary from land to land, climate, people etc.
 
Guy De Pompignac
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pebble wrote:
I'd love to see an analysis of EROEI (energy returned on energy invested) for food fat/oils

How much more work is there in seed fats vs say butter or lard? It would be a difficult calculation because it would vary from land to land, climate, people etc.



And if your interested as nutrition as this thread suggest, you should ponder  EROI with what type of fat (and what use - cook vs salas dressing)

Should be interesting to know how many duck you have to butcher or how many olives tree to grow to get your fat ration
 
John Polk
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How many acres of sunflowers would I need to grow to replace the 4 ounces of half&half I use in my daily coffees?
 
                              
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I think sunflower oil would make your coffee kind of gross

But what's the energy difference between a house cow and extracting oil from sunflowers?

Permaguy, yeah that's pretty much what I was getting at. I also think having a range of fats is important.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Here's a chart of vegetable oil yields:  http://journeytoforever.org/biodiesel_yield.html
 
Tyler Ludens
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BenjaminBurchall wrote:

I'd like to get a press so that I can express my own plant oils.



Here's some plans for making equipment for processing oil seeds:  http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library/oilpress.html
 
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Guy De Pompignac wrote:Things to think about :

Produce enought :

* omega 3 (short and long chain)
* vitamin D in winter
* proteins
* calories

i think its the most limiting factors



While I would love to get into the Vegan vs omnivore debate I am going to try and respect the thread starters wish and not go there too much... I have the book The New Complete Book Of Self Sufficiency by John Seymour. John is widely regarded as the grandfather of self sufficiency. The book is an awesome resource for the self supporter/permaculturalist. John was a big fan of having a house cow, preferably a jersey or maybe a dexter. I Quote 'Nothing keeps the health of your family, and your land, at a high level better than a cow. If you and your children have ample good, fresh, unpasturised unadulterated milk, butter, buttermilk, soft cheese, hard cheese, yogurt, sour milk, and whey, you will simply be a healthy family, and that is the end of it. A cow will give you the complete basis of good health. If your pigs and poultry also get their share of the milk by products, they too will thrive. If your garden gets plenty of cow manure, it too will thrive. This cow will be the mainspring of all your health and wellbeing. He then says that if you followed a regime of grazing and crop rotation on one acre of land (admittedly with hay bought in for the winter) ' I would be very surprised if, after following this regime for a few years, you did not find that your acre of land increased enormously in fertility, and that it was producing more food, for humans, than many 10 acre farms run on ordinary commercial lines.'
If you had 2 acres of well managed land, it's likely you wouldn't need to bring any hay or outside feed in for your animals. The cow would provide all of the omega 3, winter vitamin D, protein and good fats for a family for the year. Combined with poultry, maybe a few pigs, whichever grains and vegatables grow well in your climate, and fruit and nut trees, that's ample nutrition for anyone.

Now as for the vegan diet being more healthy, natural, and better for the environment and animals. If everyone became vegans, as many vegans advocate, what would happen to all our domesticated livestock? It would be pointless keeping them, as they would just be taking up land which could be planted in edible vegetation. So would we release them to wander around untill they starve to death, or do we kill them all? Do we keep the ones which have usefull products like wool and leather, and then kill them and bury them somewhere where their neutrients can't contaminate our plant food (proponents of veganic gardening seem very concerned about animals or animal manure getting into their food, otherwise known as the 'neutrient cycle') or do we all wear synthetic clothing made out of oil? In a future with little oil, animals are going to once again be needed to provide muscle on farms, from pigs turning compost, to horses pulling manure spreaders over fields, or even bullocks trampling straw into clay to mix cob for building (the traditional British method).

As for a vegan diet being healthier, the fossil record shows that in North America for example, where indians went off their hunter gatherer diets and started cultivating maize in the south, skeletons became smaller and tooth decay became an issue. The Indians further north, whose diet was largely one of animal products with an emphasis on 'guts and grease', the early European settlers were amazed at their muscularity and height. Their traditional healthy animal based diet is the reason Native Americans are so prone to alcaholism and diabetes now, along with other cultures like Pacific Islanders who traditionally had few starchy carbohydrates in their diet.

So back to John Seymour. When he was in his eighties he was convicted of sabotaging Monsanto's GE feild trials in Ireland, still sprightly enough to scale fences and destroy crops. He was instrumental in Monsanto abandoning their GE beet trials. When he was 90 he called his family togeather and informed them he had had a great life and it was time to move on. He died later that week. He may not have lived to 110 like some Japanese or vegans on a restricted calorie diet think they're going to but I reckon 90 is plenty old enough and it shows that all those dairy products did him no harm at all.
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Location: North Fork, CA. USDA Zone 9a, Heat Zone 8, 37 degrees North, Sunset 7/9, elevation 2600 feet
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