Before the Industrial Revolution the majority of families lived on farms and produced their own foods. They had their own cows, goats, sheep, pigs and chicken. They grew their own vegetable gardens. They had orchards. There was no such thing as waste on an organic family farm. Food scraps went to the pigs and the manure from the animals went to fertilize the fields, garden and orchard. Granted they grew cash crops to help support the family, but they sustained their families with food grown on their own land.
As the world began to modernize and there came a need for the heads of households to work in industry outside the home the family farm began to die. Farmers began focusing on the cash crop if they could even farm anymore at all. Food had to be purchased more and more often. Then as women entered the workforce they had less time to cook homemade meals from scratch. Thus they started relying more and more on processed foods with flavor enhancers, preservatives and artificial ingredients. People started to forget what REAL food tasted like.
Enter the fast food chains with McDonald’s at the helm. Don’t get me wrong I eat at McDonald’s on occasion, but I don’t feel that it is the best way to feed a family in a healthy manner. Adding layers of convenience makes people complacent. When people, especially in this economy, are working extra hard to make ends meet even working more than one job time is precious. What suffers then is our health because rarely will people give up excess television, soda pop, cigarettes and junk food when time and money are in short supply. So we become complacent, sedentary, and fat with no idea where our food comes from or what is being done to it.
Our family buys it’s fair share of processed foods and junky items, but it is minimal in comparison to many people we run into at the grocery store. You’ll see our cart topped up with fresh veggies and fruits and their frozen counterparts, whole grain bread, multi-grain cereal and crackers, eggs and milk, cheese and yogurt. Rarely do we purchase pop or cakes and cookies. Sadly too often we see the mom with four scruffy looking kids buying the fattiest ground beef, bologna, processed cheese, white bread, pop and chips with not one vegetable in sight. Sure that stuff will fill your belly, but what is it doing to the rest of your body.
My DH is lactose intolerant. We believe in part that it is because of the immense amount of processing that is done to cow’s milk before it is brought to market. Because of modern dairy farming practices it would be very foolish to drink a glass of milk directly from the dairy farmers holding tank without having been pasteurized. Modernization in some part makes the process lax or lazy because there is always some antibiotic or treatment that can be done to overcome the problem.
This explains the issue with eggs that the nation recently faced. Instead of people being willing to take control of their food source they leave it in the hands of the mega farmers. Did you know that eggs come out of the chicken with a built in protection called bloom? Eggs are porous and will over time dry out. This also means that they will readily absorb liquids that come in contact with them. The bloom is a liquid secreted by the hen as the egg is laid that seals the pores and prevents it from becoming contaminated. If the egg stays in the nest the bloom will slowly dry and eventually start to flake off. In an egg processing facility the eggs are immediately washed clean of the bloom and SOME of these facilities will re-coat them with an edible mineral oil that acts as an artificial bloom.
Now, if the eggs were laid by hens in your own back yard and you were diligent about gathering them there would be little chance for any chicken poop to get stuck to the shell. This would lessen the need for washing them immediately as they are gathered allowing the bloom to stay in place until you are ready to use the egg. Wouldn’t that be better?
There are many people that do think this is a better solution. This is evidenced by the growing number of “urban farmer’s” that have cropped up over the years. Urban chicken coops, chicken arks, and chicken tractors have become increasingly popular. A small family really only needs 2 or 3 egg laying hens in their back yard to provide enough eggs for themselves. With a fenced in back yard or a chicken tractor the hens can eat in a fresh part of the lawn and fertilize it at the same time. Their habit of scratching will work their poop into the grass so you aren’t left with piles of poop to pick up.
Goats are even growing in popularity. Like chickens they fertilize where they eat. As browsers they will eat weeds and plants that we and other animals stay away from including wild blackberry bushes and poison ivy. A doe that has kidded could be used for milk also. Seen as a pet with a purpose they can trim your trees, cut your grass, pull weeds, fertilize and when need be provide a delicious family meal.
Other commonly eaten foods have come under scrutiny for the increased use of antibiotics, growth hormones and excess grain consumption. Like beef and pork these practices leave the meat big, poorly marbled and flavorless. Not to mention we are unsure what the residual growth hormone in the meat is doing to our bodies. A growing number of farmers are moving more to a practice of all organic farming. Pasture fed cattle and hogs provides us with incredible flavorful cuts of meat and delicious truly organic milk.
As more of the population becomes aware of how our food is produced I believe they will become more willing to move towards more organic, natural and fresh sources and preparations of food. Our “fast” food industry needs to accommodate this trend in the way they buy and prepare food and do business as a whole. This trend will also affect the huge retail chains like Wal-Mart and Kroger because people will not be satisfied with bland, over processed junk anymore.