Two recent articles, one with the title above in the Atlantic and another from Modern Farmer (Why Many Farmers Eat Like Crap) have us wondering: “What’s your daily diet, and while you’re raising all this great food for others to eat, are you eating your share of it?”
The articles point out that, like many busy, hard-working people in the U.S., farmers have so much to do that they often don’t have time to stop and prepare a great meal, even though they have access to great ingredients. Interviewed farmers said that planting and harvest seasons can mean 12 to 16 hour days so if they take time to cook, it usually comes out of the time they would have spent sleeping. Those selling their products via CSAs or at farmers markets may end up snacking on junk food as they drive from home to distribution points, simply because they have no time to stop and eat. One farmer noted that summer is the most unhealthy time for his family, as they survive on pizza.
The Modern Farmer article pointed out that farmer’s who are still eating well are the families where one member’s “job” is to supply meals. These families look more like historic farm families where men spent the day working in the fields and pastures while women and children took on the tasks of tending gardens, preparing meals and canning and storing foods for the winter. For a great read and a good look at the labor involved check out “Little Heathens: Hard Times and Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression” by Mildred Armstrong Kalish. It seems that almost every spare minute was spent prepping meals because there were no convenience foods at all. She gave me a much greater appreciation for the cans of tomatoes in my own pantry that are just waiting to be turned into a stew or chili.
Spending less time cooking and eating doesn’t seem to make us thinner though. As this LiveScience graphic shows, Americans tend to have more weight problems than people from other countries who tend to spend more time cooking and eating.
So what’s a person to do? How can we be more like On Pasture author Sandy Miller whose Facebook posts show the delicious meals she’s about to eat prepared from ingredients from her farm and other stands at the farmers market? For those folks encouraging the “slow food” movement doesn’t it mean we’re all going to have to slow down and quit packing so much into every single day? How many of us are willing or able to do that? How do we make ends meet without making it so the ends of our belts don’t touch anymore?
If you’ve got solutions, or even additional issues to add to this problem, share them with your fellow On Pasture readers. Maybe we can all slow down and get healthy together.
Oh – and here’s some inspiration from Sandy. Not only did she cook all this herself, but she also took the Gourmet-magazine-worthy photos!
It is hard to make good quality meals a priority but if one doesn’t then the health declines. I find that it doesn’t take much more time to fix a quick meal than the fast food and it keeps me going that much longer.
Meal planning for a week or a month with the understanding that life happens and have some quick ready to go meals.
Do the prep beforehand. A friend of mine just did a bunch of freezer meals where she cut up and froze meals in bags that she could then just thaw and put in her crockpot and voila there would be dinner.
Kathy, I really liked your article on food farmers eat. This is why I value so much my wife’s role in our family. Raising, preserving and preparing good food is every bit as important as raising crops and livestock and an outside job to pay the taxes, medical bills, and other adornments of life as we know it. Period.
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