Local Food, Local Health:
What Makes a Healthy Body and Mind?

Doug Flack, Ph.D.

This talk will introduce listeners to the fundamental basic foods that are required for the development and maintenance of a truly healthy body and mind. A foods/ history/ human health timeline of about 212 years in Vermont and for millennia in the world shows critical changes. The final crescendos of the 19th century industrial food inventions and the post WWII farming/ food processing/ food system in which we are imbedded are highlighted. The long list of degenerative diseases we now experience in growing epidemic proportions has greatly shortened our disease free health span, limited the lifespan and intrudes even more frequently into childhood and earlier. To head this off, we need a new Vermonters feeding Vermonters farm culture/ food system/ diet. We feed our children junk. They are suffering horribly and they have no choice. We adults have many choices. We simply need the education, information, and then the will to take the actions that will feed them and our selves properly. My purpose is to begin the conversation towards designs for our VT farm- food future.

At the heart of this are our extensive present and future solar collecting pastures yielding nutrient dense, mineral rich live foods from dairy and beef cows, whey/ pasture fed pigs, sheep, goats, geese, ducks, chickens, and more. Also important will be fields of appropriate grains and vegetables, and orchards of local fruits, berries and nuts. These foods will often be preserved by various forms of fermentation, which both eliminate sugars and anti-nutrients and increase nutrient value and add needed live bacteria, enzymes and vitamins. In short, Vermont will become a permaculture landscape feeding Vermonters.

It is particularly critical that we get such foods into our schools, colleges, universities and other institutions. Vermont’s farm-scape and economy could rapidly transform as Vermonters shift form being consumers of stuff and processed industrial foods, to advocates and users of nutrient dense foods. Income wasted on stuff and bad food and also money leaving Vermont will shift to paying Vermont farmers, ending the cheap food system that has driven farmers out of farming, and squeezed the remainder into economy of scale modes which increase neglect of the true purpose farming, which is to nourish all life and grow healthy people for a healthy society. Education is the transformative tool.

Today’s rapidly developing digital, diverse communications and information systems tied with traditional modes should be harnessed for this urgent good. What remains for this vision to replace our current dysfunctional and degenerative ways is for masses of ordinary people to collect their wills and act to literally force change. This can only happen from the bottom up. We are the soil and the life from which to renew Vermont and elsewhere. This is what occupy means and where it can begin. I love the metaphor of the thousand acre mushroom digesting the old forest and field structures underground, invisibly, and suddenly after a summer rain, sending up fruiting bodies, often brightly colored or elegantly shaped, our new healthy society; and of the fungal mycorhizzal world, ever invisible in healthy forests and field soils, connecting all living microorganisms and plants, yielding new minerals and exchanging nutrients and water, building soils, sequestering carbon, in short, an incredible, high speed multipurpose, world scale biological internet for life, wholesome life, the only known force in the universe that reverses dissipation (entropy), gathering energy and matter into this glorious, evolving blue and green, living earth.

Here is a partial list of degenerative diseases that do not occur or are rare in whole cultures on traditional diets, also free of industrial refined products:

Crooked teeth and wisdom tooth impactions
Tooth decay and tooth loss
Heart disease and hypertension
Diabetes and widespread obesity
Adrenal insufficiency, chronic fatigue
Digestive disorders, appendicitis
Neurological diseases, such as MS, Parkinsons, Alzheimers, and other auto-immune disorders and the ADHD to Autism spectrum
Depression and mental illness
Birthing difficulties and breastfeeding difficulties, and infertility
Carpel tunnel and repetitive motion disorders