“You can see that it is also a question of giving proper nourishment to the plants themselves. And that means, we must realise that plants are living things; they are not minerals, they are something alive. A plant comes to us out of the seed we put in the ground. The plant cannot flourish unless the soil itself is to some degree alive. And how do we make the soil alive? By manuring it properly. Yes, proper manuring is what will give us really good plant protein.

We must remember that for long, long ages people have known that the right manure is what comes out of the horses’ stalls, out of the cowshed and so on; the right manure is what comes off the farm itself. In recent times when everything has become materialistic, people have been saying: “Look, we can do it much more easily by finding out what substances are in the manure and then extracting them from the mineral kingdom – mineral fertilizer!”

And you can see, gentlemen, when one uses artificial mineral fertilizer, it is as if one just put minerals into the ground; then only the root becomes strong. Then we get from the plants the substance that helps to build up our bones. But we don’t get a proper protein from the plants. And the plants, our grains, have suffered from lack of protein for a long time. The lack will become greater and greater unless people return to proper manuring.

There have already been agricultural conferences in which the farmers have said: ‘Yes, the quality of grain gets worse and worse!’ And it is true. But naturally the farmers haven’t known the reason. Every older person knows that when he was a young fellow, everything that came out of the fields was really better. It’s no use thinking that one can make fertilizer simply by combining substances that are present in cow manure. One must see clearly that cow manure does not come out of a chemist’s laboratory but out of a laboratory that is far more scientific – it comes from the far, far more scientific laboratory inside the cow. And for this reason cow manure is the stuff that not only makes the roots of plants strong, but also works up powerfully into the crops and produces good, proper protein in the plants which makes us healthy and strong.

If there is nothing but the mineral fertilizer that has now become so popular, or just manufactured nitrogen, obtained from the air – well, gentlemen, your children, more particularly, your grandchildren will have very pale faces. You will no longer see a difference between their faces and their white hands. Human beings have a lively, healthy colour when farmlands are properly manured.”

R. Steiner, From Sunspots to Strawberries…Answers to Questions, Lecture 7, 2 August 1924, CW354