By F.A. Behymer
Summary: A newspaper report of soil expert Albert Carter Savage, who in the 1940s warned of the depletion of soil and its effect on the quality of the food supply. Ostensibly about Savage’s prodigious garden, the article presents his ideas for restoring fertility and immunity to agricultural lands. “A program of countrywide mineralization could and would create, within a generation, a new type of human being,” Savage says. From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 1945. Lee Foundation for Nutrition and Research reprint 14.
[The following is a transcription of the original Archives document. To view or download the original document, click here.]
Mineralized Garden Brings Health, Acclaim to Kentucky Soil Doctor
Nicholasville, Kentucky, November 16 — The man of science stands in his garden alone, while the dew is still on the leafage, and calls to the world to come and get it, calls to the ailing to come and eat and be well, for there is healing in the plants that grow in his garden.
Better, he pleads with men everywhere to carry health to soils that are sick and have gardens of their own, where they can eat and find healing for their diseases. For the man is a physician who diagnoses the illnesses of the land and prescribes for its restoration.
Albert Carter Savage stands in his mineralized garden, where the lamb’s-quarter is head-high and the hog weeds thrive—weeds that men of little wisdom mow down and cast into the furnace with the thorns and thistles—for with fit soil to feed upon, even the weeds are food, bearing strength for the weak and relief for the afflicted.[Photo of man standing in a garden, with caption:] Albert Carter Savage of Nicholasville, Kentucky, standing in a clump of lamb’s-quarter that grows as high as his head from mineralized soil.
Three Crops a Year from Garden
Three crops his garden has borne since the coming of spring, giving of its plenty, for it is rich with the minerals that the soil must have to fulfill its mission, minerals that the soil doctor prescribed and provided after [the soil] had been robbed of its heritage by farmers who were wasteful and willful, rather than wicked, for they knew not what they did.
When Albert Savage was a boy, he wanted to know the why of things. When he was five years old, he asked, “What makes things grow?” The answer didn’t satisfy him. Grown older, he saw around him imperfect plants and animals and people. He looked at the sky to find the fault and discovered no flaw. There was perfection at the top of the world. There must be, it seemed to him, something wrong at the bottom.
If plants did not thrive, it was not because of the air that they breathed. So it must be because their roots were not nourished. He was just a lad when he realized that, for he was precocious. His great uncle, Dr. Charles Savage, had recognized his precocity and had stimulated it by giving him, instead of toys, test tubes containing colored chemicals to play with.
His parents provided him with laboratory equipment of a sort before he was eight. As a high school pupil, in a better laboratory that he had fitted up in the barn loft, he brooded over the mysteries of chemistry, seeking answers to his questions.
Experiments with Rock on Soil
He came to know that the rock in the soil had something to do with the growth of plants. In the beginning there had been abundance of rock, and the soil had been rich. But the soil became robbed of its richness, and more rock was needed to replenish it. His father gave him a little piece of land. He crushed rock and spread it upon the land. The vegetables that he grew were better than his father’s. He had something there, but it was not enough.
He saw animals languish and waste away and human beings sicken and die before their time. His father died, and his great uncle died. He asked the doctors why this was so, and they couldn’t tell him except that disease had fastened upon them and they had gone the way of all flesh. It was the law of life that found its fulfillment only in death.
Their answers didn’t satisfy him. There must be a better reason. There must be a fault somewhere that the doctors hadn’t found. It wasn’t in the sky. It might be in the ground.
Plant life, he knew, was the product of soil, air, sunshine, and water. The air elements were constant and shiftable. The sunshine was changeless. The soil elements were inert and stayed where they were except as they were displaced or washed away. The soil was subject to deterioration by natural agencies and unnatural uses, necessitating restoration of its elements. Restoration had been neglected, and there had been deterioration of the plants because of the deficiencies of the soil on which they fed.
Animals fed on the plants, and human beings fed on the animals and the plants. Could not the basic deficiencies be in that manner communicated to animals and human beings? Savage was satisfied that they could be and that they were, but he knew that he had to prove it. For twenty years the man applied himself with consuming fervor to the proving of what he knew to be true. There were countless experiments and tests that, by their progressive revelations, strengthened his faith.
Publishes Booklet of His Beliefs
Not until 1942 did he write the testament of his faith, though many knew of his work, and numbers had claimed benefits in health and well-being from the mineralized foods that he offered—without money and without price. The pamphlet that he privately printed he called “Mineralization.” It was, in his thinking of it, a lifeline thrown out to a stricken world. On the title page, he anxiously asked: “Will It Reach You in Time?”
Sponsored by the Albert Carter Savage Foundation—a nonprofit organization founded to foster the development and dissemination of knowledge for better practical life control—the pamphlet told of the mineral garden that had been planted here in Jessamine County, “where the vitally important but rarer minerals and metals, as well as the common ones, are supplied to the soil, balanced and proportioned to the needs of the soil and the [vegetable] plants and thus, in turn, to the needs of the animals and humans consuming the vegetables.”
The book set forth solemnly the inescapable conclusion from extensive tests that “all life can be and is now completely controlled by the amounts, kinds, proportions, and combinations—preponderances and arrangements—of the chemical elements in the soil.”
The human body, it was pointed out, was in vital need of the “trace” mineral elements as well as the better-known common ones. These elements, it was declared, are noticeably lacking or insufficiently present in the plant and animal foods of the nation, with the result that there is slow starvation, a gradual weakening of the body cells and susceptibility to infectious diseases or organic weaknesses, and, accordingly, national deterioration.
Appealing to the proofs of science that 90 percent of all diseases come from nutritional or chemical deficiencies—due to a preponderance or lack of some of the ninety-three [known] elements or their ill combination or ill balance—Savage blamed [the situation] on the stripping of mineral elements from the soil. He offered his proofs that health can be restored by the restoration of these elements to the soil at the source, [these elements] including, importantly, iodine, manganese, copper, zinc, nickel, boron, cobalt, and others—heretofore considered negligible, if considered at all, as vital necessities in plant and animal nourishment.
There were believers and unbelievers among the readers of Albert Carter Savage’s testament. He was acclaimed a prophet—indeed, with a message for humankind—and he was scorned as a crackpot. Yet he was not puffed up by the acclaim nor cast down by the scorn.
There were dissenters among the state university men at nearby Lexington, who, in a way of speaking, hold the keys to the scientists’ heaven, saying who may enter and turning away from the gates those who dare to be unorthodox. They shrugged their scholarly shoulders and asked how could any good thing come out of the little town of Nicholasville, just as skeptics once asked how could any good thing come out of Nazareth.
It was a modest three-tenths of an acre, that garden, once so nearly worthless that it wasn’t considered worth plowing. It was feeble ground because it was very old, part of “the old Wendover place,” as the countryside knows it—cleared a hundred years ago and consecutively in cultivation for forty years, robbed of its richness and left by the wayside, sick and ready to die.
Then had come the soil doctor, diagnosing its ills and prescribing the medicaments that it needed: mechanicochemical nutrients, physical care, moisture, and bacteria control. To the colloidal phosphatic base were added the elements nitrogen and potash in customary quantity—all quite orthodox. Then were added the rare and common elements not ordinarily used in fertilizers, which previous tests of the soil indicated were needed.
Peas were planted in January and harvested, followed by tobacco by the end of May, which in turn was followed by turnips and kale, with cover crops of rye and vetch, all to be plowed under to raise three more crops the next season.
Even Weeds Prove Nourishing
That was the mineralized garden in which Albert Carter Savage walked and talked that sunny Saturday morning, speaking softly, as one who walked in a temple, touching with something like a caress the “weeds” that alone remained at the end of the season, the clumps of lamb’s-quarter and the rows of hog weeds, snapping off their tops, nibbling them, and offering them to his guest, for they are food when they grow on mineralized ground, and there is healing in their leaves—just as there is nourishment and health in the tops of beets, carrots, and turnips and in green leafy vegetables, either raw or in soups or as greens, for these are, in certain cases, heavier in mineral elements and better in their combinations than the roots.
The scientist of the soil was looking into the future as he stood there in his garden envisioning a better world:
“A program of countrywide mineralization could and would create, within a generation, a new type of human being…The nation can be changed practically and easily fifty percent [sic] by a reasonable control of mineralization in fruit and vegetable sources. Actually, it can be done in one year…People can be fed to live peaceably or to fight, to think or dream, to work or sleep, to be virile or pathologic, to be physically, mentally, and spiritually developed or retarded, and to any possible degree of advance or variation, within the mechanical limits of the organism.”
That was the scientist talking, but also it was the prophet prophesying. “A scientist should be like a prophet,” he said. “He should give the people the truth. I want to be free to give. I believe I was born for this. I never was satisfied with what anybody told me or with what I knew myself.”
The man of science spoke of creation’s climax when God, having formed man of the dust of the ground, breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. Daringly, he said, “Man couldn’t be created from the dust of the ground today because the dust doesn’t contain the twenty-nine elements recognized as required before the breath of life—the air elements—can be breathed into him.”
Wishes No Profit from His Work
“Money never meant anything to me,” he explains. “I have enough sense to get out of the soil all that I need. I don’t have to use money to make a living. I want to be free to give away what I know. If I took money for it, I wouldn’t be free.”
It bothers him not at all that the university people disparage him. “The university people,” he said with a tolerant smile, “can’t do anything to me. They don’t know enough. They read books. I write them.” He is willing for them to read his new book, soon to be published, called Mankind’s Folly, and learn from it.
All these things the scientist talked about as he and the wayfarer walked away from his mineralized garden, across his mineralized fields, and came to the terraces that catch the rainfall and drain it to settling ponds, so that not a drop of it flows away. The banks were piled high with hundreds of tons of mineralized settlings that had been scraped by a bulldozer from the pond bottoms in dry season—enough, he said, to mineralize 10,000 acres.
Belatedly, for the walk had been long, the scientist and the wayfarer came to the house on its hill, where the table was spread. Over the food from the mineralized garden and farm, the scientist’s young son bowed his head and prayed that the truth might prevail and spread through all the Earth.
By F.A. Behymer, Staff Correspondent, St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Reprinted from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Saturday, November 16, 1945, by the Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research.
Reprint No. 14
Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research
Milwaukee, Wiscosnin 53201
Note: Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research is a nonprofit, public-service institution, chartered to investigate and disseminate nutritional information. The attached publication is not literature or labeling for any product, nor shall it be employed as such by anyone. In accordance with the right of freedom of the press guaranteed to the Foundation by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the attached publication is issued and distributed for informational purposes.