The correlation between diet and disease is undeniable. Where else would the obesity epidemic come from? Where else would the rise in diabetes and increase in cardiovascular diseases and many digestive disorders come from? How long will the focus be on synthetic chemical pharmaceuticals that treat one specific aspect as the solution to these problems instead of a holistic long-term fix for such a complex organism as the human body and what ails it? Why does society consider it normal for people to be drug users, have coronary artery bypass surgery, even open-heart surgery, stomach stapling, gluten/lactose intolerance, daily insulin injections, kidney dialysis, food allergies, routine colonoscopies, but think of those of us that shop the farmers market and eat kale salads as weirdos?
The ads that inundate us during a football game on television, espousing the benefits of some miracle drug, use more of their airtime warning us of all the potential side effects — some even warning users to not stop taking them even if they are having unintended consequences — than they do describing the benefits. When ‘users’ routinely take numerous drugs, the matrix of complications is even more compounded.
While good fats are demonized, sugar, fake sugar (high fructose corn syrup), and fake fake sugar (pink, yellow, and blue packets — whatever they are) are seen as normal. The politics behind this misinformation is criminal, much like the actions of the tobacco industry. Then, there are the thousands of food additives, processing aids, and food technologies that produce products never seen in nature, which are all now endemic in processed foods and considered normal or mainstream. On top of this, pesticide use on produce, some which is systemic through the irrigation water, is legal and considered normal. This dangerous practice is even required for commercial produce distribution, and yet organic farmers are the oddballs. There is much more work to be done in assessing the impact of genetic manipulation of our food supply and the effect on human health, but GMOs are highly problematic. You can learn more about the topic on our Elmwood Stock Farm website. At the end of the day, the ingestion of toxins in our food supply is up, as is the rate of cancer. Coincidence? I think not.
The evidence emerging out of the human microbiome project and the relationship between gut health and immune health should be the focus of nutritional research. In organic farming, the robustness and diversity of the microbes in the soil not only supply the crops the nutrients they need to grow, but stimulate a robust and diverse plant biome for them to thrive. Any reasonable person would conclude that healthy soil equals healthy plants equals healthy humans. Sure it is complicated, but what we see in nature indicates that we are what we eat.
We at Elmwood Stock Farm, along with several other organic farms in central Kentucky, are part of a pilot project where employers provide vouchers for their staff to join a CSA, which provides a weekly delivery of organic vegetables throughout the growing season as a wellness benefit. The preliminary results show that employees who consistently consume fruits and veggies over an extended period of time spend less on pharmaceuticals and make fewer trips to see a medical professional than those that do not. Does that not make food medicine?
Whole foods contain hundreds, if not thousands, of nutrients necessary at the cellular level. How many research studies must be conducted about the benefits of consuming fruits and vegetables on a regular basis before physicians insist patients do so? If someone is stricken with an injury or insidious disease, wouldn’t we want their body to be strong and well-nourished in order to help fight? Wouldn’t we all rather spend time in our kitchen, preparing and consuming tasty foods instead of sitting in a waiting room full of other sick people before heading off to the drug store? We can no longer assume that a multivitamin or synthetic pill is a suitable replacement for consuming whole foods. Let’s focus on the Farm-U-See, and make the Pharm-A-Cy a thing of the past.
Mac Stone, his wife, Ann Bell Stone, and extended family operate Elmwood Stock Farm in Scott County, Kentucky. Mac was the executive director of marketing for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, administering the Kentucky Proud program among many others. He is former chair of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Standards Board. His focus is on farming and marketing organic foods for the family and working with nonprofit agriculture and food organizations. Mac can be reached at 859.621.0756.