The Direct Effect of Malnutrition on Tissue Degeneration

By Dr. Royal Lee

Summary: In this 1949 address to the Seattle chapter of the American Academy of Applied Nutrition, Dr. Royal Lee touches on some of the major findings of early nutrition history that are still, incredibly, ignored to this day. Topics include the importance of calcium, phosphorus, and raw protein to tooth health; the total destruction of nutrients in bread caused by bleaching; the connection between vitamin E deficiency and heart disease; the dependency of connective-tissue integrity on adequate vitamin C levels; and the various lesions of B vitamin deficiencies. Dr. Lee explains that most of the health problems caused by nutrient deficiency are the result of the consumption of overcooked and processed foods and concludes with perhaps the most important edict for good health: “We must take the trouble in our homes to prepare our foods from the basic materials as far as possible, even to the extent of growing our vegetables and fruits on properly composted soil if we can. The dividends will be quite possibly twenty years added to our life span, to say nothing of the life added to our years.” 1949. Reprinted by Selene River Press in Lectures of Dr. Royal Lee, Volume I

A Critical Discussion of Trace Elements and Biodynamic Agriculture

By Dr. Royal Lee

Summary: By the close of the 1940s, Dr. Royal Lee had seen many “peeps behind…the iron curtain that is so carefully maintained by the makers of fraudulent foods to keep the American people in ignorance as to the real cause of their chronic diseases.” Thus, in commenting on the opinion of a committee who’d concluded, on very little evidence, that fertilizing soil with trace minerals is unnecessary to produce nutritious plants, Dr. Lee could not help but question the motives of the committee’s so-called experts. “Such haste in promoting one side of a vital question that cannot be settled without a great amount of research certainly throws a lot of doubt upon the integrity and honesty of the committee.” Lee would spend the next two decades calling out such formulaic chicanery, the kind of which would later lead to some of the great shams of modern nutrition, including cholesterol theory and low-fat diets. 1949. Original source unknown.

Potassium—The Dynamic Mineral in Nutrition

By Dr. Royal Lee

Summary: The perfect primer on the roles of potassium and sodium in the body. The trick to understanding these major minerals, Dr. Royal Lee says, is to consider where they should be. Potassium belongs in cells, not the blood, while sodium belongs in the blood, not the cells. “When these minerals lose their home,” he warns, “they may be the cause of trouble.” Dr. Lee discusses the keys to maintaining the proper distribution of these minerals, focusing particularly on the role of the adrenal glands and the need to take in more potassium, which has been largely displaced by sodium in the modern food supply, through the consumption of fresh, raw vegetables. From Let’s Live magazine, 1958.

Are We Starving to Death?

By Neil M. Clark

Summary:  Dr. William Albrecht was the Chairman of the Department of Soils at the University of Missouri and the foremost authority of his time on the subject of soil fertility and its relation to human health. In this 1945 article from the iconic Saturday Evening Post, author Neil Clark recounts Dr. Albrecht’s pioneering experiments demonstrating the critical connection between the trace mineral content of a soil and the health and hardiness of plants grown in that soil—and, consequently, the health and hardiness of animals and humans who eat those plants. Dr. Albrecht warns the magazine’s readers in no uncertain terms that unless America makes a concerted effort to restore the trace minerals to its depleted soils, the country’s population will suffer a slow extinction from the “hidden hunger” of mineral-poor foods, as evidenced by ever increasing rates of degenerative disease. With the “chronic disease problem” worse today than ever, Dr. Albrecht’s prophecy rings ominously true, and his findings demand the adoption of organic farming practices across the board in America’s agricultural industry. From The Saturday Evening Post, 1945. Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research reprint 21.

Are We Starving at Full Tables?

Author unknown

Summary: One of the fundamental discoveries of early nutrition research was the connection between ill health and soil deficiency. Investigations like the one featured in this 1950 article showed that mineral shortages in worn-out land lead to malnutrition and disease not only in plants and animals grown on that land but in humans who eat those plants and animals. In the study described here, diseased dairy cows raised on mineral-deficient pastures are returned to health through dietary supplementation with trace minerals—those elements so often lacking in the overworked soils of conventional, nonorganic farms. The author also discusses the negative nutritional consequences of pasteurizing milk as well as the nutrient-robbing effects of industrial food processing in general. Thanks to a loss of nutrients at just about every step of the modern food manufacturing process, he says, Americans suffer widespread malnutrition despite a preponderance on their plates. From Steel Horizons magazine, 1950. Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research reprint 41A.

Current Thinking on Nutrition

By Jonathan Forman, MD

Summary: “What I want to talk about is the relation of nutrition to productive farming,” writes Dr. Jonathan Forman, a leading pioneer in environmental medicine during the 1940s. Here, Forman reviews research on nutritional deficiencies and degenerative diseases and traces their origins to poor farming practices throughout the entire food chain. “Poor land makes poor people, poor people make poor land, the people get poorer and the soil gets still poorer.” This is nutrition from the soil to the table. From the Ohio State Medical Journal, 1945.  Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research reprint 32.

A Concept of Totality

By Joe Nichols, MD

Summary: Pioneering holistic medical doctor Joe Nichols writes about the “six chief causes of disease”: (1) emotions (2) malnutrition (3) poisons (4) infections (5) accidents, and (6) inheritance. The worst, he says, are the emotions. “Worry, fear, anxiety, hate, envy, jealousy—these are the great killers,” he explains, recommending the three A’s (acceptance, approval, and adoration of others) as a remedy. A second great killer, Dr. Nichols says, is malnutrition, which starts with soils that have been exhausted of minerals through irresponsible farming practices utilizing artificial fertilizers. “The end result of chemical farming is always disease, first in the land itself, then in the plant, then in the animal, and finally in us. Everywhere in the world where chemical farming is practiced the people are sick. The use of synthetic chemicals does not make land rich. It makes it poorer than before.” Dr. Nichols founded the Natural Foods Associates and edited its magazine, Natural Food and Farming, one of the first natural-food magazines published in the United States. From Natural Food Associates, 1954. Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research reprint 58. 

The Cause of Erosion

By Dr. Royal Lee

Summary: Dr. Royal Lee grew up on a farm in Dodgeville, Wisconsin, giving him firsthand knowledge of what he called the “two most important problems of the land—the problem of erosion and the problem of maintenance of fertility of soil.” In this 1947 commentaryDr. Lee suggests that the two go hand in hand. He speculates that a depletion in mineral salts—or an unnatural imbalance of them like that created by artificial fertilization—leads to an inability of the soil to absorb water and leach from it the organic matter necessary for its health. In turn, he says, a precise make-up of organic matter is required in the soil to ensure the proper mineral constitution. “It seems,” he says, “that we must have organic matter to hold the mineral elements needed by plant life, and we must have mineral salts…to hold the organic matter.” Dr. Lee follows his discussion with excerpts from the classic 1863 text The Natural Laws of Husbandry by German chemist and agriculturist Justus von Liebig, who decries the simplicity with which most agricultural scientists view soil constitution and warns of the profound danger of partial soil fertilization—a practice that nonetheless has become the calling card of modern agriculture. Finally, in an unrelated piece from the January 21, 1944, issue of Science, Dr. Lee comments on the similarity of nutrient factors within and across species in an article titled “Vitamer or Isotel? Both?” Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research reprint 29, circa 1947. Multiple original sources.

Deaf Smith’s Secret: An Explanation of the Deaf Smith Country

By A.W. Erickson

Summary: With tooth decay ravaging virtually every town and city in mid-twentieth-century America, the inhabitants of one region remained famously free of cavities. The oral health of Deaf Smith County, Texas, was so legendary, in fact, that rumor had it one could grow a new set of teeth just by moving there. Of course this was just fancy, but it bespoke Deaf Smith’s reputation as a place “where the best man develops,” with residents boasting not just superior dental health but overall health as well. In this captivating booklet, crop reporter A.W. Erickson reveals Deaf Smith’s secret to be the food grown on its extraordinarily mineral-rich soil and water. Erickson, detailing how unique climatic and geographical factors result in the continual deposition of myriad minerals across Deaf Smith’s farmland, affirms one of the great discoveries in early nutrition research and the reason why organic farming is so important today: human health is only as good as the land we grow our food in. Published by Field Notes Crop Reporting Service, 1945. (For a comprehensive look at the connection between human health and soil health, see Empty Harvest by Bernard Jensen and Mark R. Anderson.)

He Enriches Soil for Crops That Go into Vitamin Pills

By John T. Alexander

Summary: A bittersweet newspaper account of a man who remineralizes soil using special organic composts, developed with the help of nutritional and agricultural scientists, to grow crops for concentration into whole-food supplements. On the one hand, the story is exciting and inspirational, revealing the difference that well-mineralized, well-bacterialized soil makes in the nutritional quality of foods grown in it. On the other hand, this is a sad reminder of the path industrial agriculture in this country did not take, opting instead for producing nutrient-deficient plants from sapped soil propped up with artificial fertilizers. Includes the famous quote by Dr. C.W. Cavanaugh of Cornell University: “The fact is there is only one major disease—and that is malnutrition.” From The Kansas City Star, 1952. Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research reprint 55.

Fundamentals of Nutrition for Physicians and Dentists

By N. Philip Norman, MD

Summary: Weston Price. Harold Hawkins. Percy Howe. Melvin Page. Royal Lee. What do these giants of early nutrition science have in common? They were all dentists—firsthand witnesses to the explosion of modernity’s most common disease, tooth decay. In their search for the cause of the epidemic confounding their profession, these practitioners discovered a startling fact: those patients with the worst oral health tended to have the worst overall health as well. Digging deeper, each researcher discovered that the reason for both tooth decay and the other degenerative diseases afflicting their patients was the same—malnutrition, brought on by a diet of industrially processed and adulterated foods. In this rousing 1947 article, New York City Hospital physician and nutritionist N. Philip Norman lauds the maverick dentists for their groundbreaking work while lambasting both mainstream dentistry and medicine for virtually ignoring the connection between diet and disease and allowing deranged foods to destroy the health of America. “The medical and dental professions failed to oppose the wholesale adulteration of our food supply, thereby allowing the insidious extension into our food culture of processed foods whose nutritional value was never questioned until after the damage was done.” From the American Journal of Orthodontics and Oral Surgery, 1947. Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research reprint 33. 

Diseases as Deficiencies via the Soil

By Dr. William A. Albrecht

Summary: In this article world-renowned soil scientist William Albrecht, former Chairman of the Department of Soils at the University of Missouri, connects the dots between unhealthy soil created by unsustainable farming practices and deficiency-related disease. “The degenerative diseases of the modern world,” Albrecht says, “need to be traced not only to the supplies in the food and feed market where the family budget may provoke them but a bit farther and closer to their origin, namely the fertility of the soil, the point at which all agricultural production takes off.” From the Iowa State University Veterinarian, 1950. Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research reprint 37A.

Calcium

By Dr. William A. Albrecht

Summary: A comprehensive discussion of the amazing role of calcium in the soil and its effect on crops and animals, written by one of the greatest soil scientists of all time. Dr. Albrecht, who chaired the soils department at the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, is known in the organic farming movement as the “father of soil fertility research.” Born in 1888, he published his first article on soil fertility in 1918 and would publish research papers continually until his death in 1974. Albrecht was a friend of Dr. Royal Lee, and the Lee Foundation published several of his papers, which are available in this archive. From The Land magazine, 1943. Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research reprint 8.

The Technique of Health Achievement

By E.E. Rogers, MD

Summary: This is an excerpt from the book The Philosophy and Science of Health published by the Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research. Dr. Rogers, in relating to the book’s overall discussion of the decline of health in America, discusses how ill health begins on the farm, with deficient soils. He then proposes some methods for revitalizing the soil, thus invigorating the entire food chain. 1949.

Sources of Fundamental Nutrition

By Louis Bromfield

Summary: In 1939 Pulitzer Prize winner and farsighted agriculturist Louis Bromfield established Malabar Farm, a thousand acre spread in the heart of Ohio that would become a hotbed for sustainable agriculture research as well as a popular getaway for Hollywood celebrities (Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall wed there in 1945, with Bromfield serving as best man). Bromfield would dedicate Malabar to what he considered the biggest challenge facing the country—conservation of the soil and water—pouring the profits of his writing into developing practices considered highly radical at the time, such as controlled grazing, crop rotation, contour plowing, and the use of natural instead of artificial fertilizers. In this 1950 article, Bromfield gives a glimpse of the philosophy behind his “conservation farming,” reflecting an understanding of the connection between soil health, microbial life, and animal and human nutrition that is truly years ahead of its time. “It is the duty of every citizen,” Bromfield urged, “to support and fight for—and possibly initiate—measures having to do with conservation of soil, water, and forests.” From The Role of Research in the Conservation of Our Nutritional Resources, 1950. Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research reprint 85.

Nutrition and Health

By Sir Robert McCarrison, MD

Summary: Dr. Robert McCarrison, the famed British nutrition researcher knighted for his work in India (which culminated in the classic reference Studies in Deficiency Disease), gives a lecture to London schoolchildren about diet and nutrition. He recounts his famous rat-feeding studies mimicking the diets of differing populations in India and, based on the results of his studies, gives his prescription for a basic healthful diet: freshly milled grains, raw milk and milk products, legumes, fresh vegetables, fruit, eggs, and meat. Reprint 43, 1937.

Modern Miracle Men

By Rex Beach

Summary: A fascinating document from the U.S. Senate that originally appeared in Cosmopolitan magazine. Beach describes the work of Dr. Charles Northen, whom he credits as the first person to show conclusively that mineral-deficient soils produce nutrient-deficient food plants, which in turn lead to nutrient deficiencies in the livestock and humans that eat them. A historically significant record of the decline of America’s soils, nutrition, and health. Reprint 109, 1936.

Interrelation of Soils and Plant, Animal, and Human Nutrition

By Dr. E.C. Auchter

Summary: In this 1939 article from Science magazine, a USDA scientist discusses the budding awareness of the nutritional dependency of the plant on the soil and, in turn, of the animal and human being on the plant, making the health of the soil critical for human wellness. “These developments in the science of nutrition,” Auchter writes, “suggest that we ought to give more attention to producing crops of the highest nutritional quality for man and animals.” Too bad the USDA never took his advice. Reprint 79, 1939.

Soil: A Foundation of Health

By Arnold P. Yerkes

Summary: Soil is the weakest link in the knowledge-chain of nutritional understanding. This excellent article explains what happened to the greatest soils on Earth and how we have abused them to our own loss. Yerkes, the supervisor of Farm Practice Research for the International Harvester Company, underscores what Dr. Royal Lee and the other great nutritionists of the mid-twentieth century knew to be true: nutrition begins in the soil. Reprint 23, 1946.