BANGOR, Maine — Next week, more than 100 people — mostly farmers but also scientists, government specialists, food service professionals, educators and people who eat — will arrive in Bangor to learn about soil during the Soils Quality Conference Nov. 14-16, titled “How Farmers Farm Determines How the Rest of the World Lives.” The conference is being put on by Heart of Maine Resource Conservation & Development Inc. of Madison.
Participants are coming from North Dakota and Newfoundland and places in between, but mostly from Maine, and they’re spending $225 (plus all of the travel and accommodation expenses) to listen to one man deliver three intense days’ worth of scientific data on what is going on in agricultural soil (in Maine and around the world), how what is going on in the soil effects the food that is produced from it, and how the quality of that food affects our health.
Arden Andersen is a practicing physician and an internationally recognized expert on soil and the people who attend his presentations are a rather elite group; in an age when popular attention to food focuses on ballot initiatives to label genetically modified ingredients in it, or on debates on the relative value of conventional versus organic versions of it, the folks who will be gathering in Bangor next week are light years ahead of the curve and zeroed-in on a far more important issue: how to put nutritional value back in it.
Andersen connects the dots between the agricultural abuse of soil, the depletion of minerals and biological life in it, the overuse of industrial chemicals on it and the alarming rise of a range of human illnesses including infertility and autism. His seminars teach farmers how to repair the soil so that plants once again carry the vitamins and minerals necessary to sustain life. In the process, the consequences of his soils management protocols include: increased yields and longer shelf life of healthier plants, reduced pesticide use (organic and conventional), reduced erosion as organic matter in the soils increases, cleaner rivers as agricultural run-off is reduced and cleaner air as soils’ carbon carrying capacity increases.
He has written several books for farmers on the subject. His most recent publication, “Food Plague,” is a heavily researched compendium of studies from around the world that back up his hypothesis and his observations from his medical practice: industrial agriculture is killing us slowly, insidiously and surely.
Days one and two of the presentation, to be held at the Bangor Motor Inn on Hogan Road, focus on soil and how farmers can turn this situation around; day three, to be held at the Cross Center in conjunction with the Maine Harvest Festival, develops an appreciation for the role that agriculture plays in all aspects of human and planetary health.
Full details of the program, Andersen’s bio and online registration for the event are at www.heartofmaine.org. For more information, please call Heart of Maine at 696-3332.