4 Tips on Healthy Farming and 4 Tips on Healthy “Choosing”
Updated: Sep 22, 2022
Last year, I watched a documentary on healthy eating, focusing on sugar
consumption. There was an interesting fact that I still remember, and I would like
to begin my blog with that short story.
In 1969, the death of President Eisenhower shocked the United States. Scientists from all over the world came together, trying to understand what caused the president’s death. They divided into two camps, one held that excess fat consumption caused overweight, which led to heart attacks. The other group argued that sugar was the cause. At that time, the
theory of fat stood out and became publicly accepted as the cause of Eisenhower’s death. From then on, fat was and still is publicly regarded as a “demon” in diets.
In fact, let's perform a simple experiment: Go ahead and grab any processed food--a bag of chips, a bottle of coke, or a bag of biscuits. Look at the nutrient table. You find that most of the products try to minimise the fat content. But the food needs to taste good still, right? That’s when people start to add sugar into the products, to make good flavours even with low fat. As a result, a lot of the products seem to have a low-fat content, usually overlooked sugar content is often high. This is especially true in China. If you ever visit China, go into the
store and take a look at the snacks and beverages. You would find that 99% of the
product have a 0% fat content, but a 3-10% carbohydrate content [from sugar]
(Nutrient tables on different kinds of snacks)
Ironically, it was later discovered that the primary cause of overweight,
diabetes, and heart attacks was not fat but sugar. It is sad that when people
develop a certain mindset, it is extremely hard to change that. Despite the
scientific proof that sugar is generally more harmful than fat in a diet, most
people still believed in the older theory, that fat is bad.
I was quite shocked after I watched this documentary. Out of pure
curiosity, I started digging deeper into healthy eating and healthy consumer
choices. But before that, everything about eating comes down to one thing:
agriculture. People tend to think that sustainable agriculture is just a cliché. Frankly, I had
the same thoughts before I dug deeper into healthy agriculture. However, there
are lots of things about sustainable farming that are in fact quite interesting. I
would like to share 4 of them:
1) “Change is the only constant” (Crop rotation)
Crop rotation is one of the most effective ways of sustainable agriculture. By
regularly planting different crops, farmers can significantly lower the chance that
they might spoil the soil: if you grow only one type of crop consecutively for a few
decades, that crop will always be sucking out the same nutrients from the soil.
Eventually, the balance will be broken, the soil will become barren, and your food
will end up tasteless and unhealthy.
2) “Take a rest” (Cover crop)
Many farmers would plant crops in their fields all the time and never leave the
ground barren. However, this can cause many problems. The planting of cover
crops can reach an outcome similar to that of crop rotation. They can ensure that
the ground does not become barren while also enhancing the quality of the soil
and its nutrients.
3) “Nature is the best solution” (Biodynamic farming)
It seems obvious that the philosophy of anthroposophy (using natural means to
optimise mental and physical wellbeing) should be applied when it comes to
directly nature-related subjects, such as agriculture. However, it may be surprising
that this is in fact extremely hard to realise.
Biodynamic farming involves many coordinated efforts from different plants and
animals. It focuses on areas such as decomposing (involving bacteria and worms),
animal manure, cover cropping, and crop rotations. Overall, biodynamic farming
is a giant step towards sustainable and self-fulfilling farming. More specifically,
one of the biggest threats to our health—the use of chemicals—may be resolved
through biodynamic farming.
4) “The essential component of life” (Water management)
Water is the most crucial component of life. A clever and well-planned irrigation
system is extremely important to increasing the productivity of farms. For
instance, there have also been small-scale experiments around the world, where
scientists try to pump water from groundwater reservoirs and directly inject the
clean water into the soil through a series of underground pipelines. This almost
eliminates the odds of evaporation and contamination, which enhances the
efficiency and quality of the products.
(Underground irrigation system in Turkey)
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On the other hand, only demand creates supply. No matter how much the
farmers work towards sustainable agriculture, it is still up to you, the consumers,
to create the demand. I have also summarised 4 ways you can make a healthier
consumer choice, for the sake of supporting healthy farming, thus for the sake of
healthier food and your health:
1) Making the journey of your food short
Fruits and vegetables travel an average of 1,500 miles before reaching our dining
tables. The nutrients and freshness can be heavily compromised during this
process. Instead of buying expensive food from far away, why not enjoy your
fresh local food?
2) Supporting local farms is supporting your health
Imagine, a total of 80 billion people around the world all love milk from New
Zealand. How do you think farms this popular are going to meet their demands?
In a sustainable, healthy manner that is good for your health? Or in an
industrialised, low-quality manner that compromises your health?
It is always helpful to think of that when you make your decisions. Support a local
farm, so you can shorten the journey of your food, and contribute your part to
the development of healthy farming.
3) Cheap does not equal good
In modern society, industrialised processed foods are extremely cheap, while
healthy organic foods are relatively more expensive. It is helpful to remember
that when food is extremely tasty or cheap, there is no guarantee that it is
4) Live not for the sake of a healthy diet, but for the sake of a mentally and
physically healthy life
This is the last and perhaps the most important thing. This blog is not a rule book
for you to follow. It is a recommendation based on my research and personal
experiences. The most important thing about life is not how long you live it. In
fact, it is not even about how healthy you live it. It is about how you choose to live
it, and whether you like it.
It is important to live a healthy life only when you feel like it.