Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

Shankar Venkataraman
6 min readDec 27, 2020
A great farming guru Eliot Coleman

I want to ask the readers of this blog a simple question. Would you like to contribute to the GDP of your country by taking prescription medicines and going through additional medical treatments in hospitals on a regular basis?

Your answer is NO. Then why do we completely fail to think about this critical truth? => without sufficient minerals in it, the food this fraudulent. The so-called healthy foods like carrots, spinach, berries, fruits are supplying only 20–50 percent of the minerals or less than what you need for optimal health. So what is the point in new diets you take up to get to optimal health? You are only eating an empty shell of fraudulent food. Not the full mineral composition you need daily. Do you want a dramatic improvement in day to day energy, an alert mind, and good digestion and good sleep, and excellent healthy gut bacteria? Then I want to share one of the many aspects of food that is completely forgotten.

Your health starts in the soil. It's the very foundation of your health. Please see why by reading further. I write this because I have been farming in India for 5 years and before that, I farmed in Vacaville California since 2008. My focus was on growing organic vegetables. It is a long period of failing and learning and the learning never stops. It took me a while to find the alarming truth that if the soil is not healthy, a farmer will become a financial failure no matter what government subsidy or any other support the farmer gets from customers. If you eat from a farmer who grows on poor soil, you will surely get sick sooner or later. This is the undeniable truth. There is much more to soil and the food that grows in it than what meets the eye. So many secrets hidden in nature that if you fully understand and appreciate can change your life forever. After all, we have to eat highly nutritious food, breathe clean air, and drink pure water. These are basics before we get to the superficial things.

Financially successful farmers are the foundation of society. If good farmers cannot farm anymore because they have no money left, they disappear quietly. Here today, gone tomorrow. The other remaining farmers continue with hopes and dreams and the success rate is very poor. Why so? Its because the farmer's education and training are completely lacking in how the soil should be managed. Today, anyone can farm and be answerable for his/her own mistakes. The farming learning curve is long and difficult. This needs to change.

In 2020, $46 billion was paid to farmers in America as a subsidy by the American government. The total debt of all farms combined in 2020 is $434 billion. However, farm bankruptcies increased by 8% in 2020.

As a farmer, I see two major problems.

  1. Farmers depending on the government or a big corporation to sell their product and in return, the farmers grow huge monocultures (one crop on hundreds or thousands of acres) and ZERO polycultures (more than 10 crops in a mixed production system). This is sold as industrial food to you with residues and poor nutrition content in colorful packages and shiny websites.
  2. Problem 1 is hiding another major problem. There is no economic incentive for farmers to produce healthy food. It’s ONLY how much tonnage per acre and NOT the nutritional quality of tonnage. This directly leads to poor health for you because you are not giving farmers the reason to grow healthy food. You are not asking the farmer anything other than price and an organic label. You must ask and find out if the soil is healthy.

As a consumer, you buy organic food to protect yourself from cancer, auto-immune diseases, and many other diseases. But even the organic food label you seek does not ensure the nutritional quality of the food you eat.

If the farmer ensures his soil is extremely healthy, the nutritional quality of food is very high. There is very little attention paid by anyone to soil health. The farmer does not publish the data on his soil health. The certification agency (for organic) does not publish or ask for this data. The customer wants an organic label and does not care for anything beyond that. Even a simple question like “soil organic matter content” or “soil humus content” of the farm that grows your food is not asked for? Why? It's because you as a consumer does not ask this question, you will guarantee a nice bed in a hospital for yourself very soon.

I want to ask you, Why does a certified organic beetroot I buy from a certified organic farmer I know have no sweetness at all (my own personal experience again and again). See the table below to find the answer.

BRIX is the refractive index of crop juices. Crops with the higher refractive index will have higher sugar content, higher protein content, and a greater specific gravity or density. They are sweeter tasting and minerally nutritious and will have lower nitrate and water content and better storage attributes.

picture of Brix meter

Human health starts with the soil. As a consumer, you can measure the Brix of all the products you buy and eat and particularly vegetables and fruits. Healthy soil means higher Brix. Lower Brix means poor soil. An organic certificate will not tell you anything about nutrition content at all.

Farmers lose their business not just because they cannot sell their product at a fair price and not just because they are not getting government subsidies. It is mostly because they do not take sufficient care of their soil to produce disease-free and pest-free plants and nutrition-dense high Brix food. They are not getting sufficient help in training and education and financial assistance to grow healthy food and build healthy soil. Don’t pay for junk food or food that looks healthy but not actually healthy. Instead, help the farmer build healthy soil. Participate more in the food system. For buying a car, you spend a lot of time researching. For buying a book, you read reviews. For buying anything you spend time to do homework for that purchase decision. Why should you not participate in the soil restoration process. Why can’t you ensure that your food comes from super healthy soil. Without your efforts, the food system will never change. The consumer creates the future of the food system. Visit your farmer today. Ask questions. Find the answers. Protect your family.

We will continue the discussion on nutrient-rich foods in the subsequent blogs.

I want to highlight a few organizations that are working toward the nutritional quality of your food through regenerative agriculture.

In 2019, I started Bhoomi Farmers along with my close friend. A few more like-minded people joined this in 2020 to support the initiative.

The purpose of Bhoomi Farmers is to come up with repeatable and reliable methodologies to improve soil from a biology, chemistry, and soil structure standpoint. Then only plants will grow well. Without this change, the soil will never perform and plants will not give the yield needed and farms will not succeed economically without exploiting the soil and workers. We desperately need this transformation for the entire society and environment to be healthy.

Organic farmers in India need education and training to improve the soil. They need help with finances and planning and purchase of their product. A lot needs to be done in this area in India.

-Shankar @bhoomifarmers



Shankar Venkataraman

Farmer, author, farming teacher, public speaker. Areas of Agriculture and technology in Agriculture.