Food Dialogues Blog

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What I Wish I Knew About Food Earlier

The study of nutrition and health has evolved rapidly in recent years. This evolution brought an explosion of choices for consumers. Food and farming used to look very different than they do now. Organic, conventional, GMO, non-GMO, high fiber, low sugar, locally grown, natural, whole and unprocessed are central marketing words you see on the hundreds of the labels on the food varieties available.

It’s a privilege to have the choices and the information to make wise decisions at the grocery store. However, there a few things I wish I had known earlier. In my early days of raising a family, I wanted to do what was best for their health. I believed the fearful messages about how food was grown and the harmful ingredients, preservatives and chemicals in our food. It sounded so concerning; I felt I had to analyze what we were putting into our bodies. It was exhausting! I know better now my children have grown and I have more time to study better quality research. I decided to share a list of the things that I learned and wouldn’t have spent so much time worrying about if I had known before.

I used to frequent a health food store in our small town in Northern Michigan. They sold milk in glass bottles and “natural” food products that claimed to be unprocessed and chemical-free. It seems funny to me now, knowing that everything you put in your mouth is made of chemicals. “Chemical Free” is a misnomer and a marketing gimmick. I spent boatloads of money on these products because I wanted to do what was best for my family and avoid feeling mom guilt. While these foods are still good, healthy choices, I realized it is not necessary to spend a small fortune to eat nutritious foods that are safe for my family to eat.

This brings me to my next point:

Moms experience tremendous mental, economic and social pressure to provide safe, quality food for their family. It is referred to as “mom guilt.” Fear-based marketing tries to convince people they must go the natural route, make food from scratch, avoid anything processed and never feed your kids non-organic foods. In hindsight, I wish I would have done a bit of reading on why this was necessary to have a healthy family. What I discovered is that it is not. In case you would like to read a bit more on the subject, I included a few reliable references. You can find some here, here and here.

I wish I had gone directly to the source of food — farmers. Farmers are directly involved with how and when pesticides, fungicides and herbicides are applied to crops, and farming method decisions (like organic vs conventional, and GMO vs non-GMO.) They are the most knowledgeable about how food is grown and raised.

There are many websites to provide information about farming practices that will scare you and convince you we’re all being poisoned. Now that I have gotten my hands on accurate information (here, here, here and here), visited a few farms and talked directly to crop farmers, I can attest to the fact that much of the fear-based literature is untrue. Farmers raise their families on their farms, eat their own crops and do their best to preserve the land that sustains their livelihood.

To read more from Kim, please visit NutritionPro Consulting.

Kim Melton is part of U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance’s Digital Voices Council. All opinions expressed are the writer’s own. Funded by one or more checkoff programs.