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Is our food culture weakening our vitality?
Have you ever stopped to really think about what you eat? Have you ever considered where your food comes from and how it was produced? Where was it grown and harvested? Is a portion of the ingredients you eat in every meal manufactured in a US plant? Have you given any thought about how what you choose to put in your cart affects your health, or the health of your children and grandchildren? The answer is probably not so much. It’s not something we’ve been encouraged to do. Our lack of attention to the food we consume has an enormous influence on our vitality and the health of the citizens of this great nation. Just look at the ballooning rates of obesity, uncontrolled high blood pressure and diabetes. As of 2018, 75% of men and 65% women are overweight in the U.S. How did we get here? How did we get to a place where our food culture rests on the principles of speed and convenience? It's a bit scary to realize what normal food behavior looks like in the states. It's normal for food "like" products to be purchased from gas stations and drive-thru windows– products our ancestors wouldn’t even recognize as food. Dozens of shifts, large and small, have led us here.
In order to understand our food culture today, we must take a look at the how the industrialization of agriculture has shaped current times. In the early 1900s, more than half of Americans were either farmers or lived in rural communities. Most U.S. farms were diversified, meaning they produced a variety of crops and animal species together on the same farm, in a symbiotic manner. Farmers were skilled in a wide range of trades and had autonomy over the management of their crops and livestock. Animals were commonly raised with access to fresh air, lush pastures, and natural sunlight. The bulk of the labor was performed by human or animals. Although conditions like these still exist, the industrialization of agriculture has radically transformed how the vast majority of food is produced in the U.S. Throughout the 20th century, agriculture endured greater change than it had since it was first introduced nearly 13,000 years ago.
We've moved away from family farms to the cities and the suburbs which has significantly impacted the way we run our households. In many cases, both parents work outside the home which leads to increasing incomes that allow us to purchase pre-packaged food rather than cooking. Most of us lead busy lives and have adopted behaviors to better handle the stress load. These behaviors have led many of us to prioritize speed and convenience over health. Big food has complied to meet our growing demands for fast, convenient and cheap food-like products. We now live in a society where vital food nutrients have been largely stripped away and/or compromised. It's unfortunate that industrialized agriculture is responsible for the de-naturing of food and livestock.
So where do you go from here? Is there a sustainable way to restore vitality while inhabiting this planet? Is the only answer to "go off the grid" and radically change your lifestyle? Well, there are other options. But they require due diligence and a commitment to elevating your food habits and lifestyle.