Why Isn’t There more  Research on 
Self Select Minerals for Livestock?

     Our current scientific culture is almost totally enamored with reductionist  research.  Typical investigators try to divide everything into smaller and smaller portions and then research the tiny remaining part.  As one pundit put it, “They seek to find out more and more about less and less until they finally know everything about nothing.”  

     Another side of reductionist thinking is it allows short term, small sample evaluation of new drugs or agricultural chemicals.  This enables Big Pharma to quickly get government approval for toxic products before the appearance of the almost inevitable side-effects.  Monsanto’s originaly safety test to gain approval for  Glyphosate — two small groups of rats compared for three months — is the epitome of  reductionist research.

     I believe it is impossible to research the effect of holistic practices using reductionist thinking.  The very term “holistic” indicates the concept must be taken as a whole.   

     The mineral wheel is a simple way to illustrate the complicated  interrelationships of  holistic model,  Each mineral has a relationship with most of the others. Any change in one mineral  changes at least two others, those two each affect two more, and so on.

For example, investigating the single relationship of Calcium to Phosphorus is meaningless if the other minerals are not also considered.  A change in one element of a holistic system causes a ripple of changes in all the rest.

     The same is true in any milieu , whether it be the  health of one animal or of the entire farming operation and human community.  As Barry Commoner once stated, “Everything is related to everything else.”

     I believe the only way to assess the value  of holistic principles is common-sense observation  of the results of using those methods over a long period of time.   All one needs to do is to take a look at  the health benefits to crops, animals, humans, and the environment resulting from the practice of holistic, sustainable agriculture. 

     There are many good researchers today.  One of the best is Fred  Provenza, Ph.D. He is professor emeritus of behavioral  ecology in  the Department of Wildland Resources at Utah State University.  He is the author or co-author of  230 publications in peer reviewed journals and books. He does not specifically address the value of self select minerals, but his work gives considerable insight into the ability of animals, and humans, to self regulate their nutritional needs.  Fred’s newest book,  “Nourishment - What Animals can Teach Us About Rediscovering Our Nutritional Wisdom” ,  was recently published.  It contains the essence of his life’s work and contains much valuable information for anyone that eats food or feeds animals.