Nutrition is far more than the sum of nutrients

Nutrition’s scope covers everything from field to plate. The healthier the earth, the healthier the food you eat. As consumers we want to know, see, taste the goodness of our food. We want to “meet it at first hand”.

Hanni Rützler, an expert in dietary trends, says there is a growing need to “meet food, not nutrients”. We want to know where our macadamia nuts come from, how they are processed, and whether the smallholder in Kenya who harvests them has enough land to feed her family. We want a vivid and vibrant experience of cabbage, rather than a mouthful of insipid, limp and watery stuff.

Diverse as a beautiful concerto

But let’s go back a step. No doubt you will have wondered at some point what a healthy diet is. Should we adhere to nutrient recommendations and simply ensure we have an adequate intake of proteins, fat, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins? Would a mix of nutrients taste good and satisfy us? Constituents alone do not make up a whole eating experience, and so we want carrots not carotenoids, Bircher muesli not beta-glucan. 

A text is more than all the letters that compose it, and a melody more than the separate notes. A healthy diet is an interplay of many factors: a coming together of knowledge, ability, skill, of mindfulness, care and quality in a whole and pleasing concerto. How food is prepared and presented is as much a part of this as the quality of the soil, the way the food is cultivated, the seed from which it grows, the health and vitality of raw ingredients and produce.

Mindful eating promotes health and enjoyment

Our own very personal part in a healthy diet starts with eating: consciously appreciating the food on our plate, its aroma, appearance, taste. But there’s more than that to a meal: I notice how I respond to the food, how it agrees with me, and whether it makes me feel nourished and strengthened.

Dieticians see mindful eating as the first step to recovering health. If we attend to meals in this way we will soon find that we develop a subtle sense of the quality of our food; we notice whether we experience the carrot as a carrot and the milk as milk. These intrinsic qualities are enhanced by biodynamic agriculture. In the case of wine we can taste this quality clearly, as the distinctive regional “terroir” of each one. 

Dr Jasmin Peschke
ecotrophologist, Section for Agriculture

Bibliography:

Masson, P. and Masson, V. (2015).Landwirtschaft, Garten- und Weinbau biodynamisch. AT Verlag, Aarau

Hurter, U. (2014). Agrikultur für die Zukunft. Verlag am Goetheanum, Dornach

Geisteswissenschaftliche Grundlagen zum Gedeihen der Landwirtschaft. Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach

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