If you've met me you know, I love to continue to learn new things. Sometimes it is a hobby that I like to take to the next level like knitting or crocheting. Other times it is something related to an advocacy effort I am involved in. Most of the time, I spend my energy learning about our food and how it impacts our health, so that I can practice new skills and turn around and teach what I know here on the farm. Here's the thing. So much about learning new skills at my age, involves unlearning.
Raised in a generation where fast food was on every corner and a trip to the golden arches for a weekend meal out was on the regular, it is sobering to realize how that potentially could have impacted my health over my lifetime. Now, before I go any further, I need to give a disclaimer. Our family was the typical suburban family growing up. Since fast food was on every corner, it was a fun trip out to play on the playground and grab a quick meal. However, my brother and I were very fortunate that our mom LOVES to cook and she has skills! Her food could beat out Martha any day if you ask me. This means that although we did visit fast food restaurants growing up, our diets were comprised mostly of wholesome, balanced, flavorful, and beautiful meals. Eating great at home with our family as well as eating fast food were both just normal aspects of growing up.
It wasn't until I was an adult, with a child of my own, that I realized how the fast food industry choices were impacting how I parented and how I took care of myself. I, too, saw that fast food as an option was perfectly fine on a regular basis until one day, it occurred to me to look into the quality and nutritional content of that food. What a wake up call! I couldn't imagine continuing to see fast food as an acceptable option for feeding myself or my growing family, even on an irregular basis. I knew I had to unlearn a few things about how I viewed food.
Habits are hard to break. How society views food is a societal bad habit that potentially impacts every single person, from the farmer who commits to growing and raising food for the community, to the adult who buys the food to feed their family, to the restaurant owner who holds wholesale accounts with food distributors, to the policy makers who determine what is actually even deemed food to begin with, to the chemical companies inventing products that are potentially unsafe to be anywhere near our food, to adults who vote with their dollars to buy the food as well as actually vote or not in elections, to educators who determine how and what to teach about food to the next generation, and to the children who will learn all of the habits being modeled for them by society as a whole. Take a moment, if you will, to break down each part of this scenario. Do you feel there is room for improvement anywhere? Is there any area you feel you could pivot a bit and help create a paradigm shift in thinking in order to model healthy choices for the next generation?
For many of us, there is so much to unlearn in order to make room for new information. Making a choice to clean out the old files in our brains in order to allow room for healthy new habits to be stored could be a game changer. Not only for ourselves, but our families, our community, and generations to come. Of course, I relate so much to the food industry because it is my livelihood, but what if we even extended this concept to each part of our lives. It seems more prudent now than ever to remain open-minded, willing to listen to each other, and work together as a community to find common ground and share life together in a peaceful way.
I can't think of a better way to begin brainstorming and sharing, unlearning and learning again, than to share a meal, visit a farm, and talk, really talk, about moving forward together. Let's create a healthy, sustainable way of life around healthy food choices that involves growing and/or supporting the growth of nutrient-dense food for all. This is a lofty goal, and one that is way too big for just a handful of people to tackle. One thing I have learned is that folks want to be involved, but they just don't know how to get involved. Learn more about my goals in this article written beginning on page 5 for the In Practice Journal from Holistic Management International below. Then, register for an event here this fall and lets start brainstorming and working together to unlearn and relearn new habits as we develop ways to model regenerative practices for the next generation.