by Gabe Brown, Soil Health Academy Instructor
So here we are, in a situation that most of us have never been in: spending the majority of our time “in lockdown.” We are used to the frantic pace that is life. While the kids eat a quick breakfast of processed cereal, we make sure they have money for a school lunch where ketchup is considered a vegetable and then off to school they rush.
We head to work, meetings and then a business lunch at a “chain” restaurant, race to another meeting, then off to take one of the kids to soccer practice and then on to watch the other play baseball. When both are done, we head home, swinging by their favorite fast food restaurant to grab some chicken nuggets and fries because it’s much “easier” than cooking a meal at home. All too often this is a “normal” day.
In fact, it has become so normal that the average American eats out nearly six times per week! Most often, this is without their family at our side. Where has this lifestyle taken us? Unfortunately, not in the right direction, as it has many negative ramifications.
1) We are now relying on someone else to decide where our food is sourced. We are asking that chicken nugget and fries supply our gut microbes with the nutrients they need so, in turn, they can provide our bodies with the nutrients we need. Do we not want to know what is in that “nugget?” Was the chicken fed antibiotics? Was it allowed to eat a variety of greens and insects, or was it confined in a building? Were the potatoes that those french fries were made from grown in healthy soil? Were they sprayed with herbicides, pesticides and fungicides? Chances are, the answer to all three questions is yes. In fact, the average potato crop is sprayed 5 to 7 times!
2) But what are we to do? Because we eat out so much, we no longer know how to cut up a chicken. And cook it? No way! The only chicken we can cook is a microwaved TV dinner.
3) Perhaps the biggest negative of our fast-paced lifestyle is how little time we spend “gathered round” the kitchen table—a time to give thanks, a time to talk with each other, to listen to each other, to enjoy our family.
I remember growing up in the 1960’s: Every evening, seven days a week, at 5:30 sharp, the whole family came together at the kitchen table. Mom would have a home-cooked supper prepared. Even though I grew up in town, we knew where the food came from. The roast beef was from my uncle’s ranch. The potatoes, carrots, beets and cucumbers were from our garden. The same garden that I helped tend. Mom knew how to prepare it all, she had done it hundreds of times before. She taught us how to do so.
This food not only sustained us, it gave us health. To my knowledge, not once, did I, or any of my three brothers ever need an antibiotic or prescription of any kind. We were healthy because our food was our medicine. It provided the nutrients needed to feed our gut microbiome, which then fed us. Today, an astounding 69% of children are given antibiotics before the age of two!
After we all gave thanks and the six of us had a delicious helping on our plates, Dad would ask us, one at a time, how our day was. What did we learn in school? Was it fun? Were we having any difficulties with a subject? Each of us would answer, the others listening. We laughed together, we were concerned for each other. We were close to each other.
I remember my friends telling me that their families did the same thing. So why has this changed and what has that change led to? Take a look at these startling facts from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
● Genetics, including the impact of one’s environment on gene expression, account for about 40% to 60% of a person’s risk of addiction.
● Environmental factors that may increase a person’s risk of addiction include a chaotic home environment.
● Currently, in the USA, 42-45% of marriages end in divorce.
These statistics should serve as a wake-up call to all of us. We need to realize that WHAT we eat and HOW we eat impacts our lives AND our children’s lives as long as we live.
This pandemic gives all of us the perfect opportunity to reverse these trends. Why don’t we, as Allen said in his previous blog, take our health into our own hands? Seek out and source your food from a local farmer and rancher who uses regenerative practices. Grow a garden. Have your children help and teach them how to prepare the healthy, nutrient dense food you grow. Pray together and eat together as a family every day, at home. Grow close as a family.
It is time to “gather ‘round.”