You Are What You Eat: That’s Just the Beginning
The phrase “you are what you eat” has been circulating, in one form or another, for about 200 years. It’s as true today as it was then, but
Before we dive in too deeply, though, we wanted to spotlight this research from our agricultural lab that has been independently verified. This research shows how, when you choose to eat vegetables from The Chef’s Garden, you’re choosing to eat plants that are chockful of nutrients that your body needs for good health.
Here’s an overview of research results: “After comparing mineral content of our kale varieties to the USDA baseline nutrient density results, we’ve got wonderful news. Although results from our agricultural research lab vary, based on size, our kales exceeded USDA numbers for numerous minerals. They include calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, manganese, and selenium. As another example, carotene levels in a variety of our fresh carrots also exceed USDA requirements by significant amounts.”
In fact, results show that our farm-fresh vegetables are 300 to 600 times more nutrient dense than USDA baseline figures.
Pretty amazing, right? Now, back to the concept of “You are what you eat!”
Background on the Phrase
The phrase of “you are what you eat” means that, to be healthy, you need to eat healthy foods. Although that can seem obvious today, the earliest written mention of this concept likely came from a French lawyer named Anthelme Brillat-Savarin in 1826. What he wrote translates into the following: “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.”
In Germany in around 1863, Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach wrote a phrase that translates into something similar: “Man is what he eats.” It then took several decades after this statement for the idea to appear in the United States, and that came from a nutritionist named Victor Lindlahr who created the Catabolic Diet. In a 1923 advertisement of his, he noted that “Ninety per cent of the diseases known to man are caused by cheap foodstuffs. You are what you eat.”
In 1942, Lindlahr published a book titled You Are What You Eat: How to Win and Keep Health with Diet, and he probably used this phrase regularly in his radio shows that were aired from the 1930s to the 1950s. We say “probably” because transcripts and recordings no longer exist.
Here’s the thing, though. Although we wouldn’t necessarily call Lindlahr a lone voice in the wilderness, by the time he was sharing how you are what you eat, the nutritional deficiencies in vegetables were already plummeting (more about that soon in this post).
You Are What Your Plants Eat
Medical professionals, nutritionists, researchers and more from around the globe often discuss how important fruits and vegetables are to a healthy diet. For example, a recent Wall Street Journal says the following to boost your immune system: “Stick to a healthful, balanced diet filled with lots of colorful fruits and vegetables to ensure you’re getting enough zinc and vitamin D and other important vitamins and minerals.” A doctor in the article specifically noted the importance of dark green leafy vegetables.
Plenty of experts also recommend eating the rainbow, including Dr. Gan Eng Cern, who shared with us how this strategy can provide us with a “myriad of health benefits that will elevate our wellbeing. The nutrients and vitamins that plants manufacture on their own are what our bodies exactly need—and this ensures that they will be potent in improving, protecting, repairing, cleansing, and enhancing our bodies.”
Unfortunately, though, as research has shown, not all crops are the same in terms of nutritional content. Here’s what we shared about a significant decline in nutrition in our recent post, Regenerative Farming: From the Planet to the Plate.
Nutritional deficiencies, in fact, continue to become more alarming, as research that compares 1940 data with that collected in 1991 shows. Here are just some of the findings.
Boiled broccoli has 75 percent less calcium.
Carrots have 75 percent less magnesium, 48 percent less calcium, 46 percent less iron, and 75 percent less copper.
Potatoes have 30 percent less magnesium, 35 percent less calcium, 45 percent less iron, and 47 percent less copper.
Scallions have 74 percent less calcium.
Boiled spinach has 60 percent less iron and 96 percent less copper.
Watercress has 93 percent less copper.
Here’s something else to consider. The 1991 data is now nearly 30 years old, which means that nutritional deficiencies may be much more significant now.
“The deacceleration of nutrients, overall,” Farmer Lee Jones shares, “is happening at ever faster rates because of how today’s conventional farming uses chemicals and synthetic techniques.”
So, stay with us here:
You are what you eat.
When you eat plants, as medical experts recommend as a key part of a healthy diet, you’re eating what your plants eat.
Because plants have not been getting the nutrients they need, typically, neither are we.
What’s the answer?
In short, healthy soil—which creates healthy plants, which leads to healthy people and a healthy planet. It really can be that simple.
We’ve been touting the benefits of healthy soil for decades now, as part of our intense focus on regenerative farming, and here are just a few resources that you can look at from our site for more information:
Digging Deeply into Soil Science: This post contains, among other things, links the USDA video series on the science of healthy soil. They’re worth a look and listen.
National Soil Health Day: Honor Healthy Soil with Us Today: This is a day when we remember how “soil, plant, animal and human health are intricately linked and the sustainable use of soil affects climate, water and air quality, human health, biodiversity, food safety, and agricultural production.”
Benefits of Cover Crops: Giving Back to the Land: This is where Bob Jones, Jr. explains how “Soil is no different than you and me. Soil is a living, breathing organism just like we are, and you have to treat it as such. It needs food, air, and water to be able to be productive. And, if you really want it to be productive, you’ve got to give it rest. The same things we need.”
Benefits of Cover Crops, Carbon Sequestration and Regenerative Farming: This is an excellent post to read to find definitions and uses of cover crops, the process of carbon sequestration and why it’s so crucial, and how regenerative farming facilitates these natural processes.
Our Farming Philosophy: Regenerative Farming for Healthy Soil and Crops: We’re growing vegetables slowly and gently in full accord with nature—and yes. We recognize that this philosophy goes against much of today’s lightning-fast speed of living. Find out more!
We’ve got plenty more posts on this subject, each of which contributes to the conversation of you are what you eat AND you are what your plants eat. We also wanted to highlight an article in Successful Farming that shares new research that “suggests soil health may have a surprising influence on your food.”
Experts who study soil microbes (microorganisms) believe that the “plants we eat and the dirt we come in contact with may also directly fortify our own gut microbiomes”; this has “sparked a research boom that may soon tell us whether soil microbes are as important to our longevity as daily exercise and a restful night’s sleep.”
The Jones brothers—Farmer Lee and Bob, Jr.—are thrilled to see this kind of research in print in a high-profile magazine. “What’s interesting,” Farmer Lee says, “is that, nearly 40 years ago, chefs were telling us that the three most important things for them were as follows: flavor, flavor—and more flavor. We had a hunch, even back then, that if we were to increase flavor by rebuilding the soil, we’d also be increasing the density of nutrients. And both the research in our own agricultural lab and independent research has shown this to be true.”
“Talk about a win/win/win/win,” Farmer Lee says. “The sexiest and most flavorful fresh vegetables are also the healthiest and most nutrient dense.”
Best of the Season: Fresh Vegetable Box Delivered Directly to You
You can have these nutrient rich fresh vegetables, bursting with flavor, delivered directly to your front door.
Depending upon the season, our farmer’s market delivery box may contain a mix of fresh lettuce and greens, a mix of root crop, potatoes, cruciferous, sweet potatoes, and the best micro greens and herbs. Seasonal favorites are added when available.
We invite you to order our Best of the Season Box today! This makes a wonderful gift for friends, family members, and business associates. If you’re able to help, you can also donate a box to people in need.