Monday, October 17, 2011

Understanding Obesity...

Obesity is a growing problem facing America today. According to the CDC, 33% of all adults and 17% of all children are obese. In Georgia, that rate is 29% for both groups together. The statistic that stands out the most, 1 in 3 lower income pre-schoolers are obese under 5. These children could have problems like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and the social disorders of being obese as a child.

Why? Why is there such a big problem? It starts with our food sources. Today in America, our top soils are depleted; large factory farms only feed plants macro minerals (calcium, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, some of which are petroleum based) and a cocktail of pesticide chemicals to grow our fruits and vegetables. Our animals eat grain, which are Genetically Modified, and grown with the aforementioned chemicals as well. Where is the nutrition in this picture? Nowhere. Then what’s the purpose of growing all of this food? Strictly volume to feed the masses.

So now we understand that most of the conventionally grown fruits and veggies we eat are nutritionally depleted, what else is the problem? Over eating. Yeah, that’s too simple an answer. How about over eating foods that have no or very little nutrition. Ok, that is the other part of the problem. When we eat....let’s say a chicken tender salad, what can the body use from that?

Iceberg lettuce - Not much nutrition, mostly water and sprayed with pesticide to prevent insect infestation.

Shredded Carrots - better, but again, grown in depleted soil with three - four minerals. Usually shredded in a processing plant and washed with chlorine based water solution to prevent bacteria and mold. Yum...

Pre-cut Bell Peppers - see carrots...

Chicken Tenders or Nuggets - Chicken parts formed to make a tender or nugget, or let’s give it the benefit of the doubt, real chicken breast strips, breaded and fried with partially hydrogenated oils (more than likely). Where does the chicken come from? A confinement factory with between 30,000-100,000 other chickens. They breathe in ammonia, fecal particles and bedding dust. The fecal particles perforate the mucus membrane opening the door wide open for infection. But wait, antibiotics to the rescue. Of course, just for safe measure. The skin and fat of the chicken absorb and store these contaminates and antibiotics which in turn get passed on to you. So, that chicken is getting a little tougher to swallow.

Salad Dressing - You choose, I'll guess the basic ingredients - High Fructose Corn Syrup, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, xanthan gum, sodium benzoate and other words I can't pronounce. I might be off on one or two, but I'll bet most of these are in a bottle that isn't natural or organic.

This healthy salad is not so much anymore. What is the body using to strengthen its immune system and fight disease, build muscle, keep the mind sharp and fight aging? Very little.

When we eat foods like the salad above, we tend to over eat or stay hungry. The reason is the body hasn't received adequate nutrition, thus the desire to eat more which causes excess storage of fat around the stomach, hips and arms.

Lastly, exercise, though I can't see anyone being motivated after eating a meal like that. In the age of adults and kids alike fighting for control of the all-powerful video game controller, the only thing being exercised is the thumb. Just being active outside is a step in the right direction.
What can you do to change?

• Source locally grown meats, fruits and veggies, organic or naturally grown if you can find it. Why local? Keeps money in the local economy. Shipping food across country uses fuel, as we've all heard, but more important to your health is the nutrition these foods lose because of time spent on a truck or sitting on a shelf. The average is somewhere around 20-30% per day. If it takes 3 days to get here from California, sits on a self for another 2-3 days and then in your refrigerator for another day or two - it has very little left to give.

• Eating “just harvested” veggies can do a world of good for your body, especially if grown in good soil without the use of pesticides. A healthier plant produces a healthier food which makes a healthy body.

• Teach your kids when they’re young the importance of eating good food and it will stick (sometimes with constant encouragement).

• Grow a garden. You’ll get exercise and healthy food to boot!

As for us, we face many tough food decisions just like many of you. There are days where a Mexican restaurant or grocery store's baked/fried chicken will have to do because we have nothing left. It happens. Just too tired to prepare a wholesome meal from all of the wonderful veggies we grow.  But I will tell you, the guilt weighs on us because we know better. My advice is to make a conscience effort to do the best you can. Knowing is half the battle, implementation and follow through are the toughest.


  1. Intriguing! I struggle with excess weight and this gives me a new perspective in fighting my urge to over eat. You never think of that aspect of obesity. Low food nutrition = over eating. I guess it's like starving the body even though we live in a "food utopia". Just empty calories with baggage!

    Thank you for caring. Keep up the great work.

    Dr. Jane

  2. I was under the impression that somehow every day you find the time to prepare a full-blown meal all from your farm foods. I try and I try and I am not always successful. It makes me love you more just knowing that sometimes, you stop and pick up food too! I allow myself two restaurant meals per month and know which days will make the treat most welcome. The rest of the days aren't always easy, but I would rather serve whole grain pasta with (store bought) organic sauce that goes from pantry to table in about 15 minutes than run to the burrito place or (gasp) chik-fil-a. My general daily goal is to eat as many organic fruits and vegetables that I can choke down. If you keep striving for that goal, the rest of the "stuff" aka junk food gets decreased - you just don't have room in your stomach for anything else. Another often surprising fact is that if I don't buy junk food, guess what? I don't eat it and neither do my kids. Even if kids have been living their whole lives on junk food, if it suddenly disappears, they adapt. I find that cold turkey is probably the best way with kids. There is the inevitable food strike for a few days (my nephew was on strike for a month, yes, a month), but eventually starvation wins out and they will tolerate something healthy and soon begin to like the taste and texture. For adults, often baby steps lead to long term changes instead of a sudden huge change and then a crash and burn. For example, buy 1 less junk food item per week and/or add in one organic fruit per day and then build from there. If you do nothing else, remove EVERYTHING in your house that contains partially hydrongenated fat. Consider it poisonous. I won't even donate food with partially hydrogenated fats.

  3. I just found your farm and blog today and have to say THANK YOU for all you are doing for the community. As a holistic health coach, I am beyond thrilled to learn that you are educating the community as you care for them. I'm so touched by your work. Your article hit the nail on the head!! Thanks for addressing this topic so well. I hope to see you at the farm soon. :)

  4. Michelle- I'm so proud of your donation item screening! That's awesome! I am a firm believer that we should donate the very best we can, especially since because of pricing, the healthiest of foods are often out of reach for people who are getting the donations.

  5. Thank you Katie for the kind words. We'll see you soon.

  6. I thought I came up with the over-eating theory myself. It just makes sense that our bodies are going to cry out for more when we aren't taking in all the nutrition we need. The more we eat (industrialized foods) the hungrier we are. I'm new to this game, just switched my family to raw milk, pastured poultry and eggs and replaced all the fats in my house with olive oil, coconut oil and butter. I'm glad I found your blog, I'll be coming back often for gardening advice.

  7. Thanks Leanne. Glad to hear all of the good changes you've made to eat healthier.