Wally Richards – gardening for wellbeing

It has been a couple of weeks now since I  returned home to after spending three weeks travelling around islands in the Philippines.

As a retired nurseryman it was incredible to see so many different tropical plants growing wild and cultured in landscapes – plants that we struggle to keep alive as house plants – growing profusely even when potted into old paint tins.

The Philippines is a third world country and it was a definite “culture shock” and a reminder about how lucky we are here in New Zealand.

I met people that were employed grossing NZD60 for a 6 day working week (less after tax). With the relatively low cost of living, these are the luckier people. With a population of over 100 million people living on more than 7000 islands, it is a interesting place to visit.

While I was travelling I read a book called The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell. The book was recommended to me by a reader and I would like to recommend the same to all of you. From the website, we have the following information about this fascinating book.

The science is clear. The results are unmistakable. Change your diet and dramatically reduce the risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

Respected nutrition and health researcher, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, reveals the truth behind special interest groups, government entities and scientists that have taken Americans down a deadly path.  Even today, as the low-carb craze sweeps the nation, two-thirds of adults are still obese and children are being diagnosed with Type II diabetes, typically an “adult” disease, at an alarming rate. If we’re eating healthier, why are Americans stricken with heart disease as much as we were 30 years ago?

Drawing on the project findings in rural China, but going far beyond those findings, The China Study details the connection between nutrition and heart disease, diabetes and cancer. The report also examines the source of nutritional confusion produced by powerful lobbies, government entities, and opportunistic scientists.

The New York Times has recognized the study (China-Oxford-Cornell Diet and Health Project) as the “Grand Prix of Epidemiology” and the “most comprehensive large study ever undertaken of the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease.”

“After a long career in research and policy-making, I have decided to step ‘out of the system’.  I have decided to disclose why Americans are so confused,” said Dr. Campbell. “As a taxpayer who foots the bill for research and health policy in America, you deserve to know that many of the common notions you have been told about food, health and disease are wrong.  “I propose to do nothing less than redefine what we think of as good nutrition. You need to know the truth about food, and why eating the right way can save your life.”

Early in his career as a researcher with MIT and Virginia Tech, Dr. Campbell worked to promote better health by eating more meat, milk and eggs – high quality animal protein.  He later was a researcher on a project in the Philippines working with malnourished children. The project became an investigation for Dr. Campbell, as to why so many Filipino children were being diagnosed with liver cancer, predominately an adult disease. The primary goal of the project was to ensure that the children were getting as much protein as possible.

“In this project, however, I uncovered a dark secret. Children who ate the highest protein diets were the ones most likely to get liver cancer…”. He began to review other reports from around the world that reflected the findings of his research in the Philippines.  Although it was “heretical to say that protein wasn’t healthy,”  he started an in-depth study into the role of nutrition, especially protein, in the cause of cancer.

The research project culminated in a 20-year partnership of Cornell University, Oxford University, and the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine, a survey of diseases and lifestyle factors in rural China and Taiwan. More commonly known as the China Study, “this project eventually produced more than 8000 statistically significant associations between various dietary factors and disease.”

The findings?

  • People who ate the most animal-based foods got the most chronic disease.
  • People who ate the most plant-based foods were the healthiest and tended to avoid chronic disease.

In The China Study, Dr. Campbell details the connection between nutrition and heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, and also its ability to reduce or reverse the risk or effects of these deadly illnesses.

The China Study is not a diet book.  Consumers are bombarded with conflicting messages regarding health and nutrition; the market is flooded with popular titles like The Atkins Diet and The South Beach Diet. The China Study cuts through the haze of misinformation and delivers an insightful message to anyone living with cancer, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and those concerned with the effects of aging. Additionally, he challenges the validity of these low-carb fad diets and issues a startling warning to their followers.

In the book it shows how a fruit/vegetable/nut/grain diet will greatly reduce the possibility of many major health problems and even reverse some conditions.  Protein from vegetables etc with their high fibre content clean out our bodies as opposed to filling us up with problems.

Health problems can be greatly reduced in your own vegetable garden, by growing as much fruit and vegetables as possible, using natural gardening methods to ensure optimum nutritional goodness.

A saying that I have is “Healthy Soil, Healthy Plants, Healthy You” and that is very true and most important to your well being. The China Study is available from book shops or online from Amazon at a better price. (Try your local Library also).

After reading  the book you can put more effort into growing more of your own food which will not only improve your health but also your budget.  Gardening is definitely the way to go.


Please note that the above is Wally Richards’ personal opinion and is not necessarily the opinions of the editors of

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