Personalized Nutrition Reports

Three Sisters Nutrition

The Story of the Three Sisters


The Iroquois Indians referred to beans, corn and squash—the crops that afforded their survival—as “The Three Sisters.” 
To grow these staple foods, they utilized a technique called companion planting: to maximize yield, beans were grown vertically, using the stalks of the corn plant for support.  The beans in turn drew nitrogen from the air, fertilizing the soil the corn had depleted. Low-growing squash vines planted between the corn and beans provided ground cover, preventing the growth of weeds, keeping the soil moist, shading the shallow roots of the corn with their large leaves, and deterring would-be predators with their prickly stems.   We now refer to this system of mutual support among biological organisms as symbiosis. Native Americans believed it was made possible by a kind of magic that protected the foods as they grew and safeguarded those who ate them in turn.  Each vegetable was watched over by a guardian spirit that was a sibling to the other two.   We also know today that corn, beans, and squash, the ingredients of the Native American dish succotash, are nutritionally compatible.  Corn provides carbohydrates, and dried beans are rich in protein; the flesh of the squash contains vitamins, while its seeds yield a healthful oil.  It is such an integrated approach to eating that is the basis for the customized nutritional program we provide to you.