et food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food,” said Hippocrates nearly 2,400 years ago. Throughout human history, food has been on our minds. In fact, in many parts of the world, a person’s day still largely consists of gathering food or collecting drinkable water. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 58 percent of the US workforce were classified as farmers in 1860.
Today, that figure is less than 3 percent—primarily because our farms have generally shifted to largescale operations. The modern farmer often raises crops on fields spanning thousands of acres, with cattle herds numbering in the thousands and poultry barns larger than football fields. Technology has allowed farmers to increase yields and feed more mouths with a smaller labor force. Such advancements might lead you to conclude that all is well with our food supply.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. The farming techniques used today, which have changed dramatically over the last 50 years, often strip the soil of needed minerals. Ask any person who lives near or drives past a factory-style poultry farm, and they will tell you the smell can be overwhelming. (Not that the smell of manure on a family farm is any sweeter—it’s just less potent.) Pesticides are another big issue facing these large farms. These chemicals successfully kill weeds and insects, but farmers pay little attention to what the toxins do when they are absorbed into the crops.
How have all these changes affected the food supply and our environment? Many experts claim that health issues such as autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit disorder, autoimmune conditions, and Alzheimer’s disease (to name a few) are a direct result of the types of foods we consume. Yet many claim that mass-produced food is cheaper and better for you—but is it really?
We should refocus our values on health and well-being and return to the age when farming promoted not only healthy eating, but also community values. Farmers’ markets, county and state fairs, and cook-offs have a long tradition of allowing farmers and producers to display their successes. Our own Minnesota State Fair still includes 4-H contests where youth can display their farming accomplishments. And the participants at these events are generally family or hobby farmers who value their relationships with the foods they produce.
We hope you find this special issue on the importance of clean eating informative and helpful as you continue to experiment with new home-cooked creations. If you try one of our recipes, post a photo of your final product on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #CleanEatingNS. We will be selecting winners to receive a special sample package of delicious, healthy food.
Thanks for your support!