We had a recent talk and book recommendation by Michaël Merle on the topic of nutrition, hosted by the “Parenting through Anthroposophy: Bringing spiritual knowledge into the home” Group. It was well attended, with many questions from the floor. This summary by Telana Simpson may prove a useful introduction to this topic.
Anthroposophy sees the human as in their own separate category from the animals, plants and mineral kingdoms. We have a self consciousness unique to us, and we work beyond just instincts.
The first whole, complete food we receive as humans is our mother’s milk which has all we need in terms of nutrition. It changes in composition based on the child’s age. As our digestives system grows, so the nutrients in the milk decreases as we are now able to get them from other more solid foods.
As adults, Steiner’s suggests that we need carbohydrates, protein, fats, salts and minerals for a healthy body. He strongly supported a plant based diet, but did not say that we should not eat meat – rather just have it in moderation. Meat is harder to digest, and too much of it would impact our consciousness, making us more materialistic and “earthed”. A diet that is more plant based has the benefits of helping us to feel lighter, and the threefoldedness of plants (i.e. roots; stems and leaves; and fruits and flowers) helps us get the right amounts of the most needed salts. For example, stems and leaves like spinach are high in nitrogen, while seeds and nuts are high in potassium.
For us to get these nutrients from our food, our food has to get them from the soil. So the start of a healthy diet, is to have healthy soil rich in minerals so that the vegetables growing in it are as nutritious as can be (hence why biodynamic farming methods are so useful). Each plant provides us with one aspect that is nutritious, and thus a variety in our diet is recommended.
Steiner had some suggestions for children, which include not to over feed them, or to overload them with carbohydrates. What children need more than carbohydrates and proteins is healthy fats. It was suggested that we should eat less potatoes as we age, as the more we eat them, the less clearly we can think – they dull our consciousness.
When we eat and extract nutrients, we are not doing this alone. We have the help of our gut microbiome, and each of us has our own unique composition of these microbes. Therefore we extract different nutrients from the same food, based on the composition of our personal gut biome. These microbes also help us fight infections, decrease depression and suppress hunger. They are essential for our health, and thus we should look after them and feed them well. They prefer plants over meat, and really enjoy the more bitter tasting foods, like dark chocolate and coffee (yayy!), and colourful foods such as berries, which contain polyphenols.
In terms of cooking, Steiner recommended to undercook rather than over cook vegetables, and eat biodynamic (or at least organic) food that is fresh, as much as possible.
Michaël recommended the following book as a comprehensive and thorough resource around food and nutrition, with delicious recipes. It is the “Biodynamic Food & Cookbook” by Wendy Cook, and it is available to take out of our library.
About the Book
“Biodynamics is about respect for nature, sustainability, and spiritual ecology. But most of all it is about flavorful, nutritious, enjoyable food! The Biodynamic Food & Cookbook is a rich book of information, beautifully illustrated and packed with delicious and healthy recipes.
The biodynamic movement is supported by top chefs, master winemakers, and numerous celebrities—Prince Charles introduced biodynamic methods at his Gloucestershire farm. Nonetheless, biodynamic agriculture had a humble beginning in 1924, with a small group of farmers and gardeners gathered to hear Rudolf Steiner give a series of lectures on revitalizing agriculture. It was a time of growing interest in industrial farming and mass production, and Steiner spoke of the need to preserve and nurture the qualitative aspects of food. He outlined an agricultural method based on a holistic perception of nature.
Illustrated with hundreds of color photographs, The Biodynamic Food & Cookbook explains the principles behind biodynamic methods and places it in the context of food and cooking through the ages. Wendy Cook, author of the bestselling Foodwise, takes us on a journey through the four seasons with more than 150 delicious recipes based on many years of working with biodynamic nutrition. She considers the ethics of food, the foundation of a balanced diet, and conjures up the color and vibrancy of Mallorca, which has contributed so much to her personal approach. Included are supplementary sections on breads, sauces, salads, desserts, drinks, and much more.
The Biodynamic Food & Cookbook will find a permanent place in every healthy kitchen.”