From Time to time we run across some interesting concepts in nutrition. One of these is one that you are going to hear a lot more about in the upcoming future. If there is anything that is going to fall into the class of new and exciting break through in human nutrition it will be this particular item. So what is that new and exciting thing? Alfalfa. The Latin name is Medicago sativa. It is known in old school circles as Lucerne. When i was a kid growing up on a farm it was always referred to as Lucerne. Then later on in time the name of Lucerne was transitioned out and replaced with the name of Alfalfa. i may be bias, but I do like the term Lucerne.
At the present time the plant is being aggressively studied from several angles for human nutrition. The plant has been studied extensively for agricultural applications in animal nutrition. Alfalfa is a legume and as such is often referred to as the "Queen of Forages" I am not sure why it isn't called the "King of Forages". Perhaps I just don't know what is better than Alfalfa for most animal nutritional needs, but it is what it is.
What they are focusing on is the Leaves and what they can contribute to human nutritional needs. Alfalfa leaf will come in on many analytical reports at 25 to 30% of protein on a dry matter basis. This is huge as to protein content. There are very few foods that come in at that high of protein. Yes, there are some and they are already being utilized. But Alfalfa shows great promise for the new plant based foods that are coming to market. However, there is one draw back to using Alfalfa Leaf extracts and that is one of the two protein factions that Alfalfa. Te one is called White Protein and it is very desirable to the digestibility, heat stability and water solubility for human use. The other is Green Protein. This is the one that gives off a very undesirable taste and smell. When they separate the two proteins, it cuts the overall protein level by half. OK, that sounds pretty simple, right? So they are working on solutions to that issue before being able to take the fractions to market. I find no undesirable aspects to Alfalfa Tea as to aroma. The only problem as to taste is, like many herbal teas, they are not really very sweet. So nothing weird here.
But for us common people on the street, we can just default back to what the old school uses of Alfalfa has been for eons of time and that is to make it into a Herbal Tea. The way to get around the the undesirable aspects of Alfalfa is to use some sweeteners or to sweeten it as you would any beverage that you prefer to sweeten. If you are OK with no sweetener, then it is no problem. You simply skip this step. From there you just proceed as you would in making most any general use Herbal Tea.
Among many of the nutritional mantras of the current period is that our soil is loosing fertility. I would say that is partially true. From what I see is in certain situations, yes there is a great deal of fertility mining. But in most situations, the key word is "Imbalance" Certain elements have been over mined by the type of crops grown while other elements aren't really touched. That leads to an imbalance. The plant, what ever plant is being grown in those situations can't live up to it's potential and the the average person sees it as a total "Lack thereof". The term of "played out" as it applies to the soil means that the key elements for the particular crop has been mined and not replenished to the point of the soil displaying the inability to produce a particular crop on an on going basis. Most of the time the solution is to revert to crop rotation or succumb to abandoning the land. All soil requires feeding and sometimes man does it and sometimes nature does it. Most crops are grown in the top 6 inches of the soil. Most all of the references to nutrient content of the soil is referring to the applied nutrients, which will usually fall within that 6 inch layer. But in some cases it is referring to what is found in the Earth's Crust. The earth's crust is between 5 miles and 43 miles thick, according to Google. The nutrient movement thing is called, Nutrient Migration. I will mention more on that later in this discussion, but the next paragraph will explain it more clearer. It applies to the soil and to the water.
One aspect to this fertility stuff in the earth's crust is according to established observable laws of nature, these nutrients, mostly minerals, will seek equilibrium by the high concentration levels of nutrients will move to the low concentration nutrient levels all by themselves. Of course it takes time as the material migrates through the soil. Even then it may not always balance out in a perfect balance like the nutrient balance does in salt water, aka; the oceans. As a side note for comparative purposes, the nutrient balance in Sea Water is almost perfect, according to nature. Any of the excesses nutrients are pushed to the lower levels, and I mean way deep levels for storage and processing. As the need manifests it's self, the needed nutrients will migrate upward to be integrated into the upper water balance. Unfortunately, fresh water does not do this process very effectively Fresh water is much like the soil, it does happen but it happens slowly and sort of unbalanced. So in reality, while we see day to day deficiencies, the earth's crust it's self, is not going to "Dry Up and Blow Away", nutrient wise, as many people will lead you to believe. We do see some real promise to bridge the gap by utilizing many of the Colloidal sourced/based nutrients for the plants to use and the Crystalized nutrients for direct human consumption. We have solutions if we would just care to use them.
One of these solutions is right at hand and that is Alfalfa. One must be selective however in selecting a source of Alfalfa that will serve the best interest of the user. As a general rule, the best Alfalfa is produced in an Alkaline soil setting. Alfalfa is tolerant of a higher pH level than most plants and thus the ability to grow very well in the higher Alkaline settings. Alfalfa grown in the lower pH areas tends to not be a very high quality product as to nutrient levels. This is part due to the acidic soil being lower in a broad spectrum of nutrients as compared to the Alkaline soils.
Also another factor is the rate of growth. In the area where I live many farmers make their livelihood by growing Alfalfa and shipping it to areas where high quality Alfalfa is hard to grow. Although Alfalfa is considered a C-3 type of plant, which in this setting is referring to rate of growth in high heat settings. As a general rule, a C-3 plant will go into dormancy when the soil temperatures reach a certain level. The C-4 plant will continue to grow in much higher soil temperatures. When the soil temperature drops to a certain point then the C-3 plant will come out of dormancy and start to regrow. The C-4 plants will eventually go into that dormancy if the heat goes in the direction of much higher heat than the C-3 dormancy point. So what this means is that Alfalfa will act like a C-4 plant in ares where it is relatively hot. But under these conditions the quality of the plant is very low,as in extremely low. Overall the higher quality Alfalfa is produced in higher Alkaline soils, higher elevations where crop cycles are low and the rate of growth is slow as well. Alfalfa plant roots go very deep. By doing this they are able to access nutrients/minerals from very deep within the earth's crust, as far as deep relates to the depth of nutrient sourcing. By many accounts, it is claimed that 12 feet deep is not uncommon. Of course it takes a number of years for that length of a root to develop. This is one aspect to the reason why Alfalfa can be a very nutrient dense plant it draws from a much deeper profile that has a tendency to not having been nutrient mined on a large scale way. Plus the whole idea of Nutrient Migration and the Alfalfa root is first in line, so to speak to take advantage of that migration pattern. Alfalfa also has the ability to fixate Nitrogen through the root system as the plant participates in the Photosynthesis process.
Over the years I have made Alfalfa Tea and consumed it. I really enjoy it. So with the whole idea of me doing my discussions on the Brain Support and in developing the Blends to go along with the program I keep running across Alfalfa as being high or about the right ratios for many nutrients that I am trying to work with, within these formulations. Of course these are oil blends and I haven't found an Alfalfa essential or fixed oil, I figure the next best thing is to make suggest it as a supplement to the program. Although most of these studies being done are looking at the leaf only, I feel like it would be best to just grind up the whole stem and leaf. The stem will contain a lot of Silica, so why throw that away? I have already discussed obtaining a good amount of Alfalfa that is really food grade stuff. So that will happen down the road, hopefully by summer and will go out in the Essential Oils Unleashed program or though other sources. Another aspect to this plant is that sprouting seeds are widely used as a food source. These sprouted Alfalfa seeds are a powerhouse of nutrition. As a side note, an average of 600 pounds of Alfalfa Seed are produced per acre by seed producers. Over 1000 pounds have been reported and down in the 100 pound is not uncommon either. So with that a person can appreciate the cost of Alfalfa Seed for sprouting purposes and the actual cost of sprouted alfalfa seeds in the produce dept at the supermarkets. Usually, based on the way Alfalfa seed is produced, it is produced from older plants, so that root system will be deeper, so therefore stronger, more nutrient dense seed.
Alfalfa hay is also an excellent source composting material. The plant contains a whole long list of nutrients that normal composting material does not contain. Many farmers will plow under an old crop of Alfalfa to be used as green manure. So it does work very well for these purposes as well.
Some other related crops that can be used as food, are the various clovers. I want to do a discussion on these sometime down the road. One of the motivations for this whole idea is that these foods are really the answer to a lot of our health problems. These is no way of getting around that. In fact, I told Leiann the other day that that I had made a decision all on my very own, (do you like that?), to focus intensely on seed production. Not necessarily garden seeds but in eatable seeds for sprouting. I am convinced that this is the key to the future for nutritional purposes. A person can do so much with these things. This will also be extended to grains as well. I know, I know the Gluten thing.. In my opinion, yes, there are people with real and actual problems along this line, but the biggest problem is with Herbicide applications to the grain that is what is actually causing the problems along those lines for the vast majority of people out there. . I have written articles after articles about what many people can do with gardening. I know there are some people out there that are top of the line gardening people. From those, we all can learn from them. But for people at certain points in their life and in certain settings, the small scale gardening can be a god send for them. Seed production and use of those seeds can be a very effective and rewarding practice for those people.
Over the years I have "threatened" myself with distilling some Alfalfa and see if any essential oil shows up. But I get busy and forget to do it at the right time. So maybe this year. I half way think it might go the way of an absolute. But only doing it will tell the story. I hope you can appreciate this plant for what it is and know that it is a powerhouse of nutrition. You will be hearing more and more of this plant in food circles, so maybe you will try it and like it.
End of Discussion. KK