I just received word of the passing of Charles Walters, Editor Emeritus of Acres USA, from kidney failure. I had just finished his Minerals for the Genetic Code, and had been considering doing a review. This appreciation will become that review, even though it is considered bad form to speak ill of the dead. But it’s possible to acknowledge Walters’ importance while still pointing out real problems in his work.
For one thing, Walters couldn’t write as well as some people claim. His style managed to be both baroque and folksy at the same time, filled with words like “bespeaks” , and contrived and anthropomorphic verbs. Occasionally one will find non-sentences that appear to be transcriptions from notes, as this one from Minerals... ” Calcium functions in the body, solidity of the body, essential to fetal growth during pregnancy, found in cartilage, fluids and tissue and body alkalinity.” He would often assume knowledge of a reader that one could not reasonably expect, including undefined acronyms. And he had a positive aversion to citation. Minerals doesn’t even have a bibliography, let alone footnotes, and when these are absent from bold claims of governmental or agribusiness malfeasance, it makes Walters sound like a crank.
This connects to my other major complaint about Walters: his advocacy of neo-mercantilist agriculture policy. I’ve been a regular reader of Acres for about 4 years now, and I’ve still not figured out exactly what he thought should be done. He supported agricultural tariffs and parity adjustment,opposed free trade, and apparently thought there was a role for positive government intervention. But he recognized negative government interventions (though not the largest: fiat money manipulation). How could government, owned by whom it is owned by, ever be relied on to fix the problem? At the same time, his advocacy of consumption of locally produced food was a call to action for those of us (perhaps most of his readership) who think that the only ag policy the US should have is the aggregate of consumers’ food preferences.
All that aside, Acres has been and is an essential resource of eco-agriculture and food politics, which would not exist without Walters. Nor would the work of William Albrecht be as well known, and the work of those following in Albrecht’s footsteps would not exist. His shoes will be hard to fill at Acres, especially considering how much of the journal was still written by him. He was a leader. I regret that I never got to meet the man; I’ve always wanted to go to the annual Acres USA conference, but coming at the end of the semester and at the Christmas build-up, it’s never been convenient for me to do so.
Now on to Minerals:
This is “An exposition and analysis of the Dr. Olree standard genetic periodic chart & the physical, chemical & biological connection”. Dr. Richard Olree is a chiropractor who has been working on a kind of unified theory of natural health involving trace minerals and subatomic particles, DNA, chiropractic, acupuncture meridians and the I Ching. The basic concept is this: certain minerals are required by certain genes, but are replaceable by certain other minerals, with ill effect. When minerals balances are off, health degrades as the body uses the wrong mineral. Some minerals are necessary for the uptake of others. Some minerals can help protect against radiation and other mutagens.
The first part of the book rambles a bit, with information on fluoridation and GMOs, which are connected to but not a part of what Olree is doing. Some of this material is a history of Olree’s predecessors and influences. The 2nd part examines each of the 64 positions in detail. For some, there is little information. Others are more extensive. The I Ching connection is really not explored, possibly because Walters does not understand it. For example, selenium is #50 (Ting ; the Cauldron. “Fire burns over wood. The superior man tends the fire and secures the success of the offering.”) Selenium is an anti-inflammatory, and is essential in sugar metabolism, so it might “tend the fire” in that sense. But Walters doesn’t discuss it at all.
The 3rd part (and 1/3 the book) is the most useful. It is a guide to sourcing trace elements from herbs and foods, with biological and common names, part used, and parts per million of the element. If government has its way, we won’t be abe to buy supplements, and this may help us with mineral balance.
I’m still on the fence about most of Olree, but I think he’s on to something (though he may be mixing it with things with no rational scientific connection), and I wish he would write a book himself, with footnotes. I’ll be poking into this periodically, to see what else I can glean.