A conversation with Mary Purdy, eco dietician and nutrition and sustainability advisor for Big Bold Health, about the flour business, what it has to do with our gut health, the cousin of buckwheat and much more.
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This episode is part of the Nutrient Density in Food series!
This series is supported by the A Team Foundation, who support food and land projects that are ecologically, economically and socially conscious. They contribute to the wider movement that envisions a future where real food is produced by enlightened agriculture and access to it is equal. The A Team are looking to make more investments and grants in the space of bionutrients. You can find out more on ateamfoundation.org.
A supplement company took a step into the flour business. What does one of the leading eco dieticians working with this company think about the space? And why did she move into it? Get ready to learn a lot about the cousin of buckwheat and so much more!
WHY A COUSIN OF BUCKWHEAT IS FUNDAMENTAL FOR GUT HEALTH
It’s not about eating more vegetables, but about changing the whole system so that the servings that you’re getting of those foods, are actually rich in those nutrients that your body needs. Otherwise, we’re in big trouble from a health perspective.
”I wrote a book on the microbiome, and all the foods that are supportive to the microbiome and the foods that are detrimental to the microbiome, and as I dove into the research, I started understanding the connection between the diversity of food, the nutrient density of food, and the way that food is grown in soil and takes on the microorganisms of the soil microorganisms, and that we in turn, are eating those microorganisms from plants, and that the plants that are grown in soil that is healthy are going to have a direct impact on our current gut microbiome.” – Mary Purdy
”The microbiome in general is a huge part of our immune system and how our immune system functions. And so Big Bold Health is this food is medicine wellness platform and product company that really connects the dots between human immunity, plant immunity, and planet immunity. And so, this notion that when we grow food in a way that supports planetary health and immune function that supports the immunity of the plant. And we know the immunity of the plant is central to the soil microbiome. Or I should say, the soil microbiome is central to the immunity of the plant. And then when that interchange between the mycorrhizal network in the soil and the plant with that beautiful relationship, that concert that occurs underground, that produces a healthier plant, and then when we consume those plants, our immune systems are also benefited by that.” – Mary Purdy
HIMALAYAN TARTARY BUCKWHEAT IS SO INTERESTING AS AN INGREDIENT AND A CROP
Mary talks about the importance of getting more people to understand the way that regenerative agriculture produces an incredible superfood, the Himalayan Tartary buckwheat, in a way that supports the land, but also creates a product that can have profound implications for people’s health.
”Specifically, immune function, which we know these days is something that we struggle with. So, supporting immune function with this flour has been one of the ways to be part of the world of wellness, as well as the world of regenerative agriculture.” – Mary Purdy
”Jeffrey, somehow created a connection with a farm in upstate New York, that actually started growing Himalayan Tartary buckwheat, which is similar to buckwheat, but actually is a different species. So, it’s somewhat different in terms of its nutrient density. And it’s been grown traditionally in areas of China where the weather conditions have been quite stark, very cold, soil that’s not that well cared for or that’s dry. And yet this Himalayan Tartary buckwheat has thrived. And so, this farmer in upstate New York started to grow it. And Jeffrey thought, ‘gosh, this is really interesting’, he was growing it using regenerative agriculture.” – Mary Purdy
”Jeffrey started learning a little bit more about that, and realise that the nutrient density of this crop, which is known as a fruit seed, this Himalayan Tartary buckwheat was incredibly rich and more nutrient dense actually than your typical buckwheat in these polyphenols, these phytochemicals, these protective plant compounds that plants produce in conjunction with that mycorrhizal network in the soil, and thought, well, this is an amazing way to bring back this ancient crop.” – Mary Purdy
WHY A SUPPLEMENT COMPANY LAUNCHED A BAKING FLOUR
Mary asks, how do we send this message to individuals to help them to make decisions that support people and the planet and their own personal health?
”The mill was selling it to local chefs and local, maybe, bakeries in the town, but perhaps it wasn’t happening on the kind of scale that it is now where there’s more than just one farmer or one farm, there’s now a number of farms in upstate New York that are growing this and I think Jeffrey wanted to take it and bring it to a larger audience. And so, part of the company has been about marketing the flour and really extolling all the benefits and also turning it not into just flour, but to take the isolated compounds from the buckwheat things called Rutin, and all these other wonderful polyphenol compounds that are found in and end turning into supplements as well.” – Mary Purdy
”Having been a dietician, behaviour change… how do we help people understand that supporting this kind of agriculture, that supporting their health with a product that really has benefits for their immune function? How do we tell that message in a way that’s inviting? Because it’s expensive, very often eating healthy is expensive. Now we pay for food that’s cheap in other ways, and that’s a whole other podcast. But you know, how do we convince, how do we tell the sustainability story but also the immune function story, the beneficial compounds story makes it a delightful way of looking at this superfood.” – Mary Purdy
OTHER POINTS DISCUSSED
Koen and Mary also talked about:
- The power of nature to heal people
- How do we change the system of farming
- Glyphosate’s effects on the soil
An award-winning integrative eco-dietitian and nutrition educator with a Master’s Degree from Bastyr University, where Mary is currently adjunct faculty. She was in clinical practice for 13+ years using a personalized medicine and functional nutrition approach before transitioning into sustainable food systems and their intersection with climate change and human health. She teaches and lectures for numerous universities and professional educational platforms including the Culinary Institute of America and the UK’s Future Food Movement, and presents regularly at national and state conferences on both nutrition and sustainability. She serves as the nutrition and sustainability adviser for Big Bold Health led by Dr. Jeffrey Bland, and is the Director or Education for the Planetary Health Collective. Additionally, she hosts the podcasts “The Nutrition Show” and “The Good Clean Nutrition Podcast” and authored the books “Serving the Broccoli Gods” and “The Microbiome Diet Reset.” Mary is a sought-after speaker, consultant and community builder working with organizations to create a more sustainable, just and resilient food system.
- Big Bold Health
- 2023 International Year of the Millets
- Himalayan Tartary Buckwheat story
- Zach Bush on why all health issues come back to how we treat the soil
- Victor Friedberg, 30m available for food moonshots
- Nutrient Density in Food series
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The above references an opinion and is for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.