I have been preparing for my upcoming talk at the Celebration of Food Festival at the Lynnwood Convention Center this Sunday, May 19th. My topic is Healing through Nutrition. I will probably tackle this subject from a soil health perspective—something akin to healthy soil, healthy food, and healthy people. In the 1900s, America’s health ranking as nation was #1. Americans were the healthiest, but by 2007 we had moved from the top to the bottom, ranking 95th in overall health. What has changed in those 100 years? The way we farm!
For centuries we have had food primarily raised “organically.” People ate more locally, had more diversity in their diets, raised their own food and got plenty of exercise in the process. (I can only imagine how successful a CrossFit gym would have been during the early 1900s.) Americans also ate a lot less processed foods and consumed a lot less animal proteins.
Back then, New Jersey was called the Garden State for a reason. When the country was run by true animal power—everything from police to fire to transportation—every sector of society generated animal waste and it all had to be carted out of the city. And guess where NYC’s animal waste went? New Jersey. Copious amounts of barnyard waste were plowed into those farm fields to grow more fruits and vegetables. A beautiful picture of a symbiotic relationship between cities and farms, where the farms fed the cities and cities, in turn, fed the soil.
After WWII, agriculture moved away from barnyard wastes to chemical solutions. Initially, the chemicals were used more like a supplement and they worked reasonably well, but that was because the farmland was heavily fortified with nutrients from the “organic” farming practices of earlier generations. But as time marched on, the ease of chemical usage enticed many farmers to leave the time-tested practices of building soil health. And eventually our national treasure, the soil, became depleted and disease and insect pressure on our crops dramatically increased. Of course, the chemical mongers developed stronger killers to wipe out the new problems that their chemicals helped to create.
As our national health continued its decline, our nation embraced Genetic Engineering (GE) or Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO). So, having moved from organic farming to spraying our crops with synthetic herbicides, fungicides and pesticides, we are now actually inserting the pesticide or herbicide into the genes of our food. Now, a farmer can spray his crops with an all-purpose indiscriminate herbicide like RoundupTM and kill everything but the crop or insert a pesticide into the plant itself, so that when a corn borer or Monarch butterfly starts to nibble, it will die, saving the crop, so that you and I can nibble it later. YUCK!
Klesick Family Farm, along with many other farms across the nation and around the world, has decided to grow real food from soils that are nutrient-rich—working with nature, not against it. But we can’t do it without “eaters,” so thank you for saying “yes” to real food.