The difference between a wild plant and a domestic plant, is the same difference between a wolf’s eyes and a dog’s eyes.
Much like organic agriculture, our body works more like a synergistic ecosystem than a laboratory filled with isolates and controlled variables. A plant’s natural defense system produces phytochemicals to protect from the elements, disease and predators. Something interesting happens as it learns to defend itself; it gets stronger. Soon it develops and becomes unaffected if any of these past threats come by. Each generation from this plant also becomes stronger and healthier and less likely to fall prey to disease. Sounds eerily similar to epigenetics in humans, right? These phytochemicals are also what protect us from cancer. One well known example of this would be resveratrol, produced in grapes under great duress and getting wide attention in research circles for it’s multiple application in human disease. Now, if a plant cannot defend itself against disease and needs a constant spray of chemicals to survive, how healthy is that plant for us?
My favorite philosopher and farmer Masanobu Fukuoka paints this image:
Make your way carefully through these fields. Dragonflies and moths fly up in a flurry. Honeybees buzz from blossom to blossom. Part the leaves and you will see insects, spiders, frogs, lizards and many other small animals bustling about in the cool shade. Moles and earthworms burrow beneath the surface.
This is a balanced rice field ecosystem. Insect and plant communities maintain a stable relationship here. It is not uncommon for a plant disease to sweep through the area, leaving the crops in these fields unaffected.
And now look over at the neighbor’s field for a moment. The weeds have all been wiped out by herbicides and cultivation. The soil animals and insects have been exterminated by poison. The soil has been burned clean of organic matter and microorganisms by chemical fertilizers. In the summer you see farmers at work in the fields, wearing gas masks and long rubber gloves. These rice fields, which have been farmed continuously for over 1,500 years, have now been laid waste by the exploitive farming practices of a single generation.
New medications, excessive use of antibiotics and vaccines, and chemical therapies have not seen the health renaissance many had hoped for. Chemical companies making genetically modified crops from different species have created a wave of inedible food, superweeds and a major dependence on chemical intervention for plants to even grow. As our diet has declined, so has our health and modern medicine isn’t the savior. The cutting edge research of medicine today has more to do with the complicated understanding the human body as we delve deeper into genetics, than the chemical dominance over it. And now, we are simply discovering how exactly different plant compounds work while history has proven its worth over thousands of years of successful intervention.
As you retain a deeper understanding of how the body works, the more it becomes clear how much a part – not separate – we are from nature. We have co-evolved with plants over thousands of years, and this relationship continues to become extremely important for our health. Wild plants and fungi almost never have any element of disease, and now you know why they are superior sources of nutrition. Look at the awesomeness that is a wild plant. Look at its composition, its poise and its vibrant health. Have you ever tasted wild blackberries, oyster mushrooms or nettles growing in the Pacific Northwest? You know that taste is the indicator of health, and when the flavor explodes off the vine or tree you know your body has been supercharged.
My challenge to you is to seek out wild plants, even if it’s just nettles. Transfer the wild energy into athletic performance. Incorporate superior sources of nutrition through wild plants and organic agriculture, and pass on anything chemically grown.