Food as Medicine

Between mega batches of salsa and pickles and large harvests Lauren and Mari slipped away for a wonderfully geeky workshop. Jack and Anne Lazor have been operating Butterworks Farm, a dairy farm in the Northeast Kingdom since 1979, and proudly opened their farm for roughly 250 farmers seeking to learn more about forage crops, nutrient-dense land management, soil health and amendments, and ongoing research and collaboration with UVM Extension.



John Kempf, a young (27?) Amish expert (think virtuoso) of Ohio’s Advancing Eco-Agriculture lectured and answered questions about whole-farm health, noting that we aren’t yet capable of sustainable agriculture, first we need to do restorative agriculture.

According to Kempf, “Insects are nature’s garbage collectors and diseases the clean-up crew”. Like paramedics and haz-mat crews, pests and disease are generally only found in ‘emergency situations’ where sick plants have been malnourished. The job of pests and disease is to get rid of these sick plants so that no one eats them and so that they don’t reproduce. Pests and disease are nature’s message that a crop is unhealthy. Rather than addressing the limitations to plant health, people instead often use pesticides and kill the messenger. As a consequence we end up eating unhealthy skeletons-of-a-food that are heavily decorated with chemicals and have up to 75% less nutrients than pre-industrialized agriculture counterparts.
How can farmers produce food that is healthy and can resist disease and insect attack without the use of synthetic chemicals? It all comes down to having fully-functional photosynthesis, which is a prerequisite for complete nutrition. Photosynthesis requires the full spectrum of minerals (along with sun, air, and water), which are governed by microorganisms in the soil and on the leaf. When we do, Kempf points out, “food is medicine”.  More on his site,