The past few weeks I’ve been working at Georgia Organics as part of my dietetic internship through Georgia State University. Through my internship I will have the opportunity to test out the different areas my pending career as dietician may lead me to. My new friends at Georgia Organics have been helpful in educating me about their mission. I have a new understanding and appreciation of local, organic farming and Farm to School Programs that I’ll surely take with me on my educational journey. As I was reflecting on my time, I found it important to ask myself “As a dietetic student, why are Georgia’s organic farmers important to me?”
If you ask a child, “Why are farmers important?” most likely you will get an answer, “Because they grow the food we eat.” Seems simple enough, right?
Farmers, specifically local organic farmers, are important because they produce the foods that are the healthiest form of nutrition for our bodies.
So what’s the alternative to the food farmers produce? Unfortunately we haven’t (yet) perfected the food production technologies “The Jetsons” had, where at a push of a button, a machine will spit out a nutritious home-cooked meal. On Earth, our main alternative to the fresh foods farmers produce is heavily processed, packaged foods.¹
And without farmers, what would happen to the USDA’s image of MyPlate? This food guidance system created by the USDA replaced the Food Pyramid and helps Americans make healthy food choices that include vegetables, fruits, grains, protein, and dairy. For maximum nutrition, MyPlate pushes for these food groups to be as close to their original form as possible. If everything produced by farmers went away, there wouldn’t be any food on the plate! Then what?
Dieticians need farmers, and in rapidly growing numbers, we need local, organic farmers. Markets that offer locally grown, organic food give shoppers easy access to fresh and delicious produce. Not to mention, keeping it local eliminates transport across the country (or world) before getting to the consumer, ultimately resulting in more nutritious food that is consumed at peak freshness.
Not to sound like a broken record, but let me remind you why organic farming is beneficial to a person’s health. Organic farming minimizes the use of synthetic pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics, and has been shown to produce food with higher levels of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. In a society where 7 of the top 10 causes of death are due to chronic disease, Georgia’s organic farmers champion the motto “food is medicine.”
Georgia Organics has provoked new thoughts and questions for me to consider as I work through my dietetic internship, but what I know without a doubt is dieticians have to support local, organic farming because it produces the cleanest, healthiest form of food for consumption. Our efforts would be difficult or nearly impossible to achieve without these farmers.
¹ I have to clarify here, there are different variations of processed foods. Washed and packaged spinach is considered processed. What can be harmful to our health, in large amounts, are heavily processed, packaged foods that have added sugar, salt, fat and most importantly chemicals.