Introduction to Bread Prom
by Dr. Raymond Bernard (A.B., M.N., Ph.D.)
From Bread From Stones: A New and
Rational System of Land Fertilization and Physical Regeneration
by Dr. Julius Hensel (Agricultural
Translated from the German (1894).
Dr. Julius Hensel was the greatest figure in the history of
agricultural chemistry even if his powerful enemies, members of the
octopus chemical fertilizer trust, have succeeded in suppressing his
memory, destroying his books and getting his Stone Meal fertilizer
off the market. But eventually the truth comes to the fore, and its
enemies are vanquished. Julius Hensel's pioneer work in opposing the
use of chemicals in agriculture, a half a century later, found
rebirth in the Organic Movement which has swept through the world.
But Hensel is more modern than the most modern agricultural
reformer, for he claimed, on the basis of theoretical chemical
considerations, and supported by practical tests, that his Stone
Meal can replace not only chemical fertilizers but all animal ones
It was the German agricultural chemist Liebig who first put forward
the phosphorus-potash-nitrogen theory of chemical fertilization.
This false doctrine Hensel bitterly attacked and in so doing, won
the ire of the financial interests behind the sale of chemical
fertilizers, which used agricultural authorities and university
professors to denounce poor Hensel as a charlatan and his Stone Meal
Though his fight against chemical fertilizers was a losing battle
and he died as a defeated hero, it took a generation for Hensel's
efforts to bear fruit in the modern Organic Movement, which has not
given its founder the credit due him.
The fight between Liebig, advocate [of] one-sided chemical
fertilization, and Hensel, who advocated a more balanced form of
plant nutrition, including the trace minerals which Liebig
completely overlooked, was a battle between an opportunist, who
sought to further the sales of chemical fertilizers, and a true
scientist, interested in humanity's welfare.
Though Liebig, with the Chemical Trust behind him, won the battle,
Hensel's ideas finally triumphed... several decades after his
Liebig claimed that plants require three main elements—nitrogen,
phosphorus and potash—the basis of which conception chemical
fertilizers were manufactured that supplied these elements. On the
other hand, Hensel claimed that plants need many more than these
three major elements, stressing the importance of the trace
minerals, which at that time were ignored. In place of chemical
fertilizers, supplying only three elements in an unnatural, caustic
form, Hensel recommended the bland minerals of pulverized rocks,
especially granite, a primordial rock which contains the many trace
minerals that meet all needs of plant nutrition.
Hensel first made his discovery of powdered rock fertilization when
he was a miller.
One day, while milling grain, he noticed that some
stones were mixed with it and [he] ground [them] into a meal. He
sprinkled this stone meal over the soil of his garden and was
surprised to note how the vegetables took on a new, more vigorous
growth. This led him to repeat the experiment by grinding more
stones and applying the stone meal to fruit trees. Much to his
surprise, apple trees that formerly bore wormy, imperfect fruit now
produced fine quality fruit free from worms. Also vegetables
fertilized by stone meal were free from insect pests and diseases.
It seemed to be a complete plant food, which produced fine
vegetables even in the poorest soil.
Encouraged by these results, Hensel put his "Stone Meal" on the
market, and wrote extensively on its superiority over chemical
fertilizers, while at the same time opposing the use of animal
manure, and the nitrogen theory on which it is based, claiming that
when plants are supplied with Stone Meal, plenty of water, air and
sunshine, they will grow health-fully even if the soil is poor in
nitrogen, since it was his belief that plants derive their nitrogen
through their leaves, and do not depend on the soil for this
In opposing this use of chemical fertilizer, Hensel awoke the ire of
a powerful enemy, which was resolved to liquidate him—the Chemical
Trust. Through unfair competition, Hensel's "Stone Meal" business
was destroyed and his product was taken off the market. However, the
chief object of attack was his book,
Bread From Stones, in which he
expounded his new doctrines of Liebig on which the chemical
fertilizer business was based, as well as the "Liebig meat extract."
(For Hensel advocated vegetarianism, just as he advocated natural
farming without chemicals or manure.)
Accordingly, his enemies succeeded in suppressing the
further publication of this book and in removing it from libraries,
until it became extremely rare and difficult to obtain. It is more
fortunate that a surviving copy came into the writer's possession.
Dr. Julius Hensel was not only a student of agricultural chemistry,
but also biochemistry and nutrition, and he related all these
sciences, and united them into a composite science of life, which he
labeled "Makro-biology." His theory was that the chemistry of life
is basically determined by the chemistry of the soil, and that
chemicals unbalance and pervert soil chemistry while powdered rocks
help restore normal soil mineral balance, producing foods favorable
to health and life.
His discoveries concerning the value of powdered
rocks as soil conditioners and plant foods, though rejected and
ridiculed when he first proposed them, were adopted by agricultural
science nearly a century later, when the application of powdered
limestone, rock phosphate and other rocks became standard
agricultural practice. Granite, which Hensel recommended as the most
balanced of all rocks as source of soil minerals, was first rejected
as worthless, but later appreciated and used as a soil mineralizer.
During the course of his researches, Dr. Hensel found that in the
primeval rocks, as granite, lie a potentially inexhaustible supply
of all minerals required for the feeding and regeneration of the
soil, plants, animals and man. All that is required is to reduce
them to finely a pulverized form, so that their mineral elements may
be made available to plants. Hensel wrote a book describing his
discovery of a new method of creating more perfect fruits and
vegetables, rich in all nutritional elements and immune to disease
and insect pests, with the result that it produced worm-free fruit
without the need of spraying. The foods so produced by rock-meal
fertilization were true Organic Super Foods, far superior in flavor
and value than those produced under the forcing action of manure or
Hensel was the first to put up a fight against the then-growing new
chemical fertilizer industry—a struggle that was continued in the
next century by Sir William Howard in England and J. I. Rodale in
The use of chemical fertilizers, claimed Hensel,
leads to the following evil consequences:
It poisons the soil, destroying beneficial soil
bacteria, earthworms and humus. *
It creates unhealthy, unbalanced,
mineral-deficient plants, lacking resistance to disease and
insect pests, thus leading to the spraying men-ace in an effort
to preserve these defective specimens.
It leads to diseases among animals and men who
feed on these abnormal plants and their products.
It leads to a tremendous expense to the farmer,
because chemical fertilizers, being extremely soluble, are
quickly washed from the soil by rainfall and needs constant
replacement. (Powdered rocks, on the other hand, being less
soluble, are not so easily washed from the soil, but keep
releasing minerals to it for many years).
vegetable or animal matter that provides nutrients for plants.
The use of various pulverized rocks, [such] as granite, limestone,
rock phosphate, etc., in place of chemical fertilizers, will lead,
claimed Hensel, to permanent restoration of even poor soils to the
balanced mineral con-tent of the best virgin soils; and the rock
dust thus applied will remain year after year and not be washed away
by rains or irrigation water, as is the case with highly soluble
This will be an economic saving to the grower and
enable him to sell foods at a lower price than when he must spend
large sums on chemical fertilizers. Also, since foods thus
mineralized are healthy and immune to plant diseases and insect
pests (as Hensel experimentally demonstrated), there is no need for
the expense and dangers of spraying.*
Editor's Note: Rock phosphate from some sources contains a high
level of the toxic mineral cadmium. It's wise to purchase rock
phosphate from a supplier who's able to provide an analysis.
Foods raised by Hensel's followers, including many German gardeners
and farmers, who were enthusiastic in praise of his method, were
found to possess firmer tissue and better shipping and keeping
qualities than those raised with animal manure or chemicals. And
most important among the advantages of Hensel's agricultural
discovery is that foods grown on mineralized soil are higher both in
mineral and vitamin content and so pro-duce better health and
greater immunity to disease than those grown by the use of chemical
To kill insects by poisons applied to plants does not remove the
cause of their infestation, and poisons both the insect as well as
the human consumer of the sprayed plant. Only correct feeding of the
soil, and consequently of plants by trees, by proper methods of
fertilization, thereby keeping them well-nourished, vigorous and
free from disease, will accomplish this, for insects do not seem to
attack healthy plants. It appears that insects, like scavengers,
attack chiefly unhealthy and demineralized plants, not healthy ones.
Dr. Charles Northern has performed experiments in
which he raised two tomato plants, entwined with each other, in
different pots, one being supplied with an abundance of trace
minerals, derived from colloidal phosphate, and the other just
chemical fertilizer. The tomato plant grown with chemical fertilizer
alone was attacked by insects, while the other one given trace
minerals was not.
Hensel pointed out that animal manure and chemical fertilizers
produce a forced, unnaturally rapid growth of large-sized produce
which fail to acquire the minerals normally secured during a slower,
longer development. The result is the production of demineralized,
unbalanced plants, which are weak and unhealthy, falling prey to
disease and insect pests.
This explains why, coincident with the increased use
of chemical fertilizers, during the past century, insect pests
steadily increased. So did cancerous conditions among plants,
animals and humans, as shown by Keens, an English soil chemist, who
presents statistics to show that the increased use of chemical
fertilizers is a major cause of the greater incidence of cancer
during that last hundred years.
The modern Organic Farming movement has accepted and propagated one
of Hensel's theories—his opposition to chemical fertilizers and
recommendation of powdered rocks in their place—but has failed to
appreciate his other main doctrine—his opposition to the use of
animal excrement's as plant foods. In this respect, Hensel, though
he lived in the last century, [was] far ahead of the Organic
Movement and more modern than the most modern agricultural reformer.
Hensel had a great admirer and disciple in England, one Sampson
Morgan, who founded his "Clean Culture" doctrine on Hensel's
philosophy of soil and biological regeneration by the avoidance of
chemical or animal fertilizers. While Hensel was more of a theorist,
Morgan was a practical farmer and agricultural experimenter, who
proved the truth of Hensel's theories by winning the first prize at
all agricultural exhibits at which his super-sized, super-quality,
disease - and blight - free rock-dust fertilized fruits and vegetables
were displayed. In Sampson Morgan's Clean Culture, Morgan's views
In reality they are Hensel's doctrines transplanted
to English soil. The reading of Morgan's book will be a valuable
supplement to [the reading] of this, to give one a thorough
understanding of the subject of Natural Agriculture (i.e., a system
of soil culture definitely in advance of Organic Gardening by the
Practical experience with Hensel's
Stone Meal and his non-animal
method of soil regeneration, has proven the following:
That Stone Meal creates healthier, tastier,
more vitaminized and mineralized foods.
That Stone Meal creates immunity to insect
infestation, worms, fungi and plant diseases of all kinds.
That Stone Meal improves the keeping and
shipping quality of foods, so that they keep a long time, in
contrast to the rapid deterioration of foods given abundant
That Stone Meal helps plants to resist
drought and frost, enabling them to survive when those fed
on manure and chemicals perish.
That Stone Meal produces larger crops which
are more profitable because the farmer is saved the expense
of buying chemical fertilizers which are rapidly leached
from the soil by rainfall, whereas Stone Meal, being less
soluble, is gradually released during the course of years
and remain in the soil, being the most economical of
That foods raised with Stone Meal are better
for human health and the prevention of disease than those
grown with chemicals or animal manure.
That use of Stone Meal, in place of chemical
or animal fertilizers, helps to end the spraying menace (by
removing its cause) is proven by the fact that plants and
trees grown with Stone Meal are immune to pests and so
require no spraying.
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