You Are What You Eat
When my daughter turned 12 years old we had a great pajama party with four of her best girl friends.
One of the girls, I’ll call her Amy, we didn’t know very well yet. Amy’s parents came over to personally drop her off and do the parental check-out of the situation. As older parents can sometimes be, the were a little over protective. So to help them feel more comfortable I offered to show them around the farm a bit.
I should mention that Amy is really big for her age. She is large – much larger than my daughter in both height and girth. Her parents were fairly short, but large around the waist. From their body size, their skin, and the shape they were in – it was easy to see that they ate mostly conventional food.
Feeding a Growing Body
It just tears me up to see people feeding their kids junk. Especially the really young children. How are their little bodies ever going to be healthy and grow properly? Most people just don’t realize how bad it is, or I am sure they wouldn’t choose to feed it to their children.
It has gotten so bad that the medical establishment fully expects that one third of all children born in the last decade will have juvenile diabetes.
It has gotten so bad that they are starting to screen 6th graders for heart disease.
And from what I’ve seen, the school lunch program is probably some of the worst food on the planet.
Writing Contest Entry: Homemade Baby Food from the Garden
The Art of Breaking Bad News
I usually don’t say anything to people, because the conversation is so… well… it is not uplifting. And where do you begin? The entire food supply is essentially toxic. They are eating it, and they are feeding it to their kids. How do you begin to tell people that?
But way in the back of my conscience I heard the quiet mantra that always moves me, that gets me out of bed each day, that drives me to keep working so hard…
My personal mantra, “Homegrown Food on Every Table.”
Homegrown Food on Every Table
So, what does that really mean to me?
It means that I get to experience the delightful tastes of fresh, healthy food at each meal in my home. Food that is rich in nutrition with bright, beautiful colors and striking flavor. It means that I awake with sheer delight every morning, re-discovering that my body moves freely with agility and strength. It means that my friends who haven’t seen me in years say, “You look great! You haven’t aged a bit.”
I want to share this amazing experience with everyone. And that is what “Homegrown Food on Every Table” means to me.
Giving My Guests a Gentle Nudge
So, I decided I would try to broach the subject of food with these two parents. This was going to be a tough sell. These people did not look at all like they would want to garden. They seemed uncomfortable just walking around outside. So where could I begin?
While I do have a few gardens scattered around, I’ve been working more and more towards higher energy and nutrient content through wild foods and edible landscaping. All around my yard food and medicine are growing – but much of it cannot be seen my most folks unless I point it out.
Well, one obvious thing was a flock of 87 pastured chickens we were growing. My husband and I do these big batches once or twice a year to fill up the freezer for our family. We also use them for trading with neighbors, and when our hearts call for it we give them as gifts.
I pointed out the chickens and mentioned to the parents, “Did you know that Tyson Foods is the world’s largest producer of chicken?” They didn’t know that, of course. It was just my opening, and I pushed on. “Yes, it’s a tough business with a very thin profit margin of only about three percent.”
The husband and wife looked at each other, wondering where this conversation was going.
The Perils of Industrial Chicken
I continued, “In the chicken business, the most important, biggest thing, is the weight of the birds. The total sale amount depends on the total weight.
So a common practice in the larger chicken operations is to add a tiny amount of arsenic to the chickens’ feed. It’s not enough to kill the chickens; it is just a tiny amount. But it gets into the chickens’ bodies and causes the cells to swell and retain water. And voila! The chickens weigh more. So a tiny bit of arsenic helps cut down on the cost of feed; and it turns out to be a profitable thing to do.
The thing is, though, when you eat that chicken meat, you get the arsenic in your cells. Your cells swell and retain water. It’s too bad – people choose to eat chicken because they’re trying to make healthy eating decisions, right? But by eating that chicken they will never be able to lose weight.”
Read more: Would You Eat Chicken-less Eggs
Watching Someone Else’s Awakening
The two of them stood there for a moment, thinking.
The husband turned to me and spoke slowly, as if he were still connecting the dots, “They also feed those animals growth hormones to get them to grow more quickly, and we are probably eating that too. And I’ve heard that they give them antibiotics…”
There was a bit more silence.
And then the wife chimed in enthusiastically, like music to my ears, “We have three acres of land…”
Home grown food on every table. That’s what I work on, every single day.
Marjory Wildcraft is an Expedition Leader and Bioneer Blogger with The [Grow] Network, which is an online community that recognizes the wisdom of “homegrown food on every table.” Marjory has been featured as an expert on sustainable living by National Geographic, she is a speaker at Mother Earth News fairs, and is a returning guest on Coast to Coast AM. She is an author of several books, but is best known for her “Grow Your Own Groceries” video series, which is used by more than 300,000 homesteaders, survivalists, universities, and missionary organizations around the world.