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FOOD FIRST - August 2015 - Kansas City

Nutrient Density is the New Organic

By Bethany Klug


Notice the explosion in farmers markets, urban agriculture, community and home gardening lately in Kansas City? Cultivate KC, formerly the Kansas City Center for Urban Agriculture, has been behind this boom and marked their 10th year in June. Hubby and I were among the earliest supporters of this wacky idea that has become an international sensation.  We weren’t about to miss Cultivate KC’s Birthday Bash on the lawn of Westport Middle School.


While there I caught up with Gibbs Road Community Farm manager, Josh Smith. Gibbs Road is Cultivate KC’s training farm. Hubby and I have belonged to their CSA for years and our membership will be passed down to our heirs. That’s how much we covet our membership! Josh and I shared our visions for the future of Cultivate KC. Surprisingly, his vision is to improve the nutrient density of the food grown at Gibbs Road. “Everyone is growing organic now, but with the laxity of the federal standards, not all organic food is nutrient dense,” says Josh.


Josh has another reason to rank nutrient density high on his list. His wife, Charlotte, manages a chronic autoimmune disease without medications. Organically grown, freshly picked food plays a key role in keeping her symptoms at bay.


Gabriel Cousen’s Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center leads the way in growing nutrient dense food. They use sustainable veganic gardening methods, including effective microorganisms—read probiotics—humic acids, products of decaying organic matter that help the soil hold onto nutrients and enzymes; seaweed extract and sea-crop ocean water concentrate for a broad spectrum of minerals, not the just sodium, phosphorus and potassium used in conventional farming; mycorrhizal fungi inoculant because fungi make up the communication system of the soil; composting for organic matter and cover crops which fix nitrogen into the soil.


If this is all gobbledygook for you, consider this: I eat far less at Tree of Life than I do at home. Why? Because I don’t need to eat as much to get the nutrients by body needs. It sends up the full signal much sooner. I suspect low food nutrient density is a key cause of the obesity epidemic in this country. What a relief to know that obesity isn’t the self control issue it’s made out to be! Nutrient density also explains why calorie counting to lose weight does not work in the long run.


Josh, to my delight, is already working to make one of my visions a reality. The winter months are so difficult with limited access to fresh produce.  Gibbs Road plans to store root vegetables and grow greens under cover all winter long. Josh says, “We can do it. In New England they farm year-round and they are much further north than we are.”


My other vision is to develop a local-regional food system. With the drought in California, it is painfully clear that growing most of the nation’s food in one area of the country is a bad idea. Besides, that, the food is at least two weeks old by the time it reaches your grocer. So much for nutrient density! It makes sense for food to be grown everywhere it is eaten for so many reasons, including nutrient density, freshness, jobs, improved access to food, and as a back-up system if any area of the country’s production falls short.


Want to taste what I’m talking about? You’ll find Gibbs Road Community Farm produce at the Brookside Farmer’s Market on West 63rd St between Wornall and Brookside Blvd, Saturday’s from 8 am - 1 pm through October 31st, and 9 am - noon through November 21st.

HealthSpan, the holistic medicine practice of Dr. Bethany Klug, is offering some excellent classes this summer to help you reduce your toxic load and add some quick, easy and delicious dishes to you weekly repertoire. Learn more at



Bethany Klug, DO created HealthSpan out of a deep wish: for everyone to experience vibrant health. We go beyond the conventional pill-for an-ill approach to educate and inspire you so you can successfully make positive steps toward greater health and wellbeing. Learn more at or 913-642-1900.

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