From the records it appears that alfalfa has always been with us. No doubt it existed on the earth’s surface long before man put in his appearance.
History tells us that it first came to light in Asia and the early progenitors of mankind knew its value and capabilities at that time. In fact, the Bible tells us that it was the ‘grass’ that brought back Nebuchadnezzar’s sanity. Now that’s a good recommendation right from the start.
However, I want to be sure that alfalfa will be used in your household so I ask you to listen a little longer. It is all for your benefit, so hang on …. you won’t be sorry that you did.
The Persians carried alfalfa into Greece with the invasion by Xerxes back in 400 B.C. and no doubt Alexander carried it along with him on his marches into Asia. The Romans used it in 146 B.C. Pliny and other Roman authors sang its praises in no uncertain terms. Today in Italy it is still an important forage grass …. a carry-over from the Roman times.
It is believed that the Roman soldiers brought it into Spain and France and from there it appears to have made its way across the Mediterranean into Africa where it apparently received its present name. Alfalfa is an Arabic name meaning ‘good fodder.’ which is no exaggeration. In fact, it is still considered to be the best fodder.
Here in the new world alfalfa made its appearance in California somewhere around 1853 and apparently was brought from Spain by Cortez. However, it is claimed by some that it was brought from Chili to California. Records reveal that it was known in some parts of the United States as early as 1793, for a man by the name of Spurrier mentioned alfalfa in a book dedicated to Thomas Jefferson. He told how it should be cultivated and how the crops of valuable hay could be cut annually. He called it lucerne.
Here are some of the names that alfalfa has been known by throughout the centuries: Lucerne; French Clover, in part; Mexican Clover, in part; Lucerne Clover; Lucerne Medicago; Alfalfa Clover; Chilian Clover; Brazilian Clover; Syrian Clover; Sainfoin, erroneously; Spanish Trefoil; Purple Medick; Manured Medick; Cultivated Medicago; Medick. Persian, Isfist; Greek, Medicai; Latin, Medica, Herba Medica; Italian, Herba Spagna; Spanish, Melga or Meilga, also (from Arabic), Alfafa, Alfasafat; French, La Lucerne; German, Lucerne, Common Fodder, Snail Clover, Blue Snail Clover, Branching Clover, Stem Clover, Monthly Clover, Horned Clover, in part, Perennial Clover, Blue Perennial Clover, Burgundy Clover, Welsh Clover, Sicilian Clover.
Its correct botanical name is Medicago sativa and in the dictionary it is described as being a perennial leguminous forage plant with deeply penetrating roots. It grows from one to four feet high and bears small divided and trifoliate leaves, small purplish clover-like flowers and spiral seed pods. The flowers do not form a head as in red clover, but hang in long loose clusters called racemes. These are scattered along the plant’s stems and branches.
Leguminous means “resembling or consisting of peas or other legumes.” The leguminous family is made up of dicotyledonous plants of the order Rosales. The plant roots form nodules which contain nitrogen-fixing bacteria, thus adding nitrogen from the air to the soil surrounding the plant. Some common legumes or pulses are beans, peas, lentils, mung beans, soy beans, snap beans, chick peas and alfalfa.
It is claimed there are some fields of alfalfa in France that have produced continuously for well over a century and some in Mexico, for over 200 years. The life span of alfalfa in the U.S. ranges from 10 to 25 years, but there is one field in New York that has been mown successfully for over 60 years. Under favorable conditions we could almost call alfalfa ‘everlasting’.
It would appear that the root system of this plant is the ‘root’ of its success. There are many stories to verify its depth of penetration into the soil but I will cite just one. In Nevada it was reported by Charles W. Irish, Chief of irrigation Inquiry, U.S. Department of Agriculture, that alfalfa roots were found penetrating through crevices in the roof of a tunnel 129 feet below the surface of an alfalfa field.
Another important thing about alfalfa is that it makes rapid growth and has a slender taproot with many branches tending downwards, yet with considerable lateral growth. As the taproot is piercing the earth, it is also sending out new fibrous roots, while the upper ones are decaying and leaving humus and providing innumerable openings for air, rain and fertilizing elements from the surface soil. The mechanical effect of this root growth and decay in the soil constitutes one of the greatest virtues of the plant, and by its roots alfalfa becomes self-acting …. by far the most efficient, deep reaching subsoiler and renovator known to agriculture.
In a speech back in 1904, in St. Louis, Professor W. J. Spillman agrostologist of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said. “Alfalfa is the oldest plant known to man: it is the most valuable forage ever discovered.”
C. E. Burgess, former professor of animal husbandry at Michigan State College of Agriculture, claims, “Alfalfa is one of nature’s rarest gifts to man.”
On good land in the North Central States an acre of soybeans may yield 700 pounds of protein. Alfalfa however, harvested or grazed from a similar acre, may readily contain 1,200 to 1.400 pounds of protein.
Now just how much of this protein can be properly digested and absorbed is something nobody knows. However, it is my feeling that the human anatomy will not waste or fail to absorb any protein that is ingested in its natural form.
Alfalfa is not generally included among food crops for man but 1 say alfalfa is a food for man …. and a superior food at that. Just because we have regarded alfalfa as cattle feed for centuries doesn’t mean it is not good for man, too. I say that if alfalfa is given a chance to prove itself, it will be found to be as well suited for man as for animals. My investigations into this crop force me to conclude that man has blindly ignored alfalfa due to his ignorance and because, in general, he prefers to feed the alfalfa to the animals and then eat the animals.
Alfalfa is available in health food stores in many forms — powder, seeds, sprouts, tablets, green leaves and stems. I consider the green leaves and sterns to be the best. You can even grow alfalfa in your own garden. In fact, I’d suggest you allot a fair share of your garden space for an alfalfa patch.
The merit of alfalfa has been clearly established but getting supplies of the grass for juicing during the winter months poses a serious problem for those seeking supplies anywhere but in the tropical or semi-tropical regions. However, you can sprout alfalfa seeds readily and thus derive the full benefits of Alfalfa. Many people use alfalfa as a herb for making tea and claim great benefits from its use. No wonder they call alfalfa the ‘wonder plant’ or the ‘miracle herb.’
From Rodale’s, “The Complete Book of Food and Nutrition,” we learn that alfalfa is known as a most reliable source of Vitamin E. Further, it is extremely rich in Vitamin K, equaling kale, carrot tops and spinach. Bear in mind that Vitamin K prevents and clears up high blood pressure.
The protein content of alfalfa is among the highest of all plants: namely, 18.9%. Milk only contains 3.3%; wheat, 13.8%; eggs, 13.1%; and beef. 16.5%. Alfalfa also contains good quantities of calcium, phosphorus and iron.
If you have a problem getting alfalfa for juicing, I suggest you buy a pound or so of the dried alfalfa herb (you can get it from any good feed store or health food store at most reasonable prices) and add a teaspoonful or two to your juice. Use it, I urge you. It is like liquid sunshine, plus!
Benefits of Alfalfa: Organically grown alfalfa raises healthy, strong animals and it will raise strong, healthy and long-lived human beings. Wake up, mankind, and make use of one of the best foods that the Lord has given you. You have already slept too long — arise, my friends — a new day is dawning!