Nutritional psychiatrist Felice Jacka: ‘The global food system is the leading cause of early death’.

We usually think of food as having an effect on us from the mouth down. Why study its impact on our brain?
Our gut microbiome affects virtually every aspect of health. It affects our metabolism, our blood glucose, our body weight. It affects the way genes turn on and off, and the amount of serotonin in our brain by altering the way the gut breaks down tryptophan [from protein] in our diet. It influences the stress response system. It affects the way the [energy-producing] mitochondria in our cells work, and it very profoundly influences our immune system.

So if you start to think about all of those things, all of which are very much involved in mental and brain health, and that diet is a key factor that affects the gut microbes, then you can see why we need to think about what we’re eating and what we’re not eating in relation to our mental and brain health.

And ultra-processed foods play a particularly unusual part in that?
It’s a question that science doesn’t yet have all the answers for. There is already some research that tells us that when a western junk food diet is given to young people who normally eat a fairly healthy diet for a week, we can see there are impairments in the cognitive functions of the hippocampus [an area of the brain]. We and others have shown that people who have a less healthy diet have a smaller hippocampus, and people who have a healthier diet have a larger hippocampus.

A shrunken brain is a frightening image. How scared should we be?
The hippocampus is the one area of the brain that can grow and shrink. People with, for example, severe depressive illness on average have a smaller hippocampus. But when they’re no longer depressed, their hippocampus grows again.

So the hippocampus is really important in mental health. We know that in animal studies, if they block the proteins that help to grow the hippocampus, then antidepressants don’t work. And then, of course, the hippocampus is very important for various aspects of learning and memory. It’s really important for kids at school, for example, while any of us who want to maintain our brains and not have cognitive decline as we get older, you want to do everything you can to keep your hippocampus nice and fat and healthy.

So why are ultra-processed foods impairing our brains?
We’ve just run a very interesting study where we tested the ultra-processed food v the wholefood version of a low-calorie diet, and looked at the impact on the gut microbiome. What we think is that with ultra-processed foods, even when the packet says it’s got this vitamin, or it’s got added minerals, or it’s got enough protein, your brain or your gut microbes don’t process it as food in the same way [as wholefoods]. We just need more science to show this conclusively.

Food manufacturers often claim ultra-processed foods can be healthy for their fibre and vitamins. Is that wishful thinking?
I think the big picture is really critical here. The industrialised food system is the leading cause of illness and early death around the world. And it is the leading cause of biodiversity loss. The UN food report of 2021 worked out that our global industrialised food system costs the globe roughly $20tn a year. About $11tn of that is in the impact to human health, like heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer. And about $7tn is the impact to the environment.

Therefore we should reduce consumption of ultra-processed foods where we can?
The real issue is that many people don’t necessarily have the option because it’s very often the case that ultra-processed foods are the cheapest. This is a failure of government policy, nothing short of that.

In the UK, as it is in Australia, when you go to fill up your car with petrol, you see row after row of ultra-processed foods, sugar-sweetened beverages, and every sort of chip and lolly and soft drink you could possibly imagine. Given that those foods interact really strongly with the reward systems of the brain, if you’re getting those in your face every day when you’re on the high street, at the supermarket, filling up your car with petrol, it is very difficult for individuals to make healthy choices.

You’ve also explored a connection between ultra-processed foods and neurodevelopmental disorders. What have you found?
In 2021, we looked directly at diet quality in mothers and children, and ADHD symptoms and diagnosis. And particularly, the mothers’ intake of healthy and unhealthy foods were both independently linked to children’s ADHD diagnosis.

That’s not an experiment, it’s just an observation. But it’s very concordant with animal studies and the emerging understanding that the microbes that are in mothers’ guts while the baby is growing, and the microbes that are in the guts of infants when they’re born, not only influence immune development but also brain development. Because people’s diets are so very impaired in the west, we think that that, along with antibiotic exposure and the loss of biodiversity from the food we’re eating, limits the healthy microbiome in mothers and infants. And that might be part of what’s leading to apparent increases in neurodevelopmental disorders as well as mental health problems.

Some researchers have criticised the term ultra-processed food as being ill-defined, overly broad and unfit for purpose. Should we reconsider the term?
Food must be the most complex exposure in the world. It comes in so many forms, has so many links to culture and emotional health, and it fulfils so many different roles. So it’s inevitable there’s going to be some fuzzy borders and some misclassifications.

But what I also know is what industry does, absolutely knowingly, is to jump in and make people confused. With cigarettes, it has never been categorically shown through a randomised controlled trial that smoking causes lung cancer. How could you randomly assign people to either smoke or not and follow them for 40 years? But we know from convergent evidence – from animal studies, from epidemiology – that if people stop smoking, their risk goes down.

What the tobacco industry had done for a long time was to confuse people by saying correlation doesn’t equal causation. Now, they do exactly the same thing with food. Think of the billions of dollars that are generated in profits through the industrialised food system every year, and the power of those industries to get people, including scientists, to muddy the waters. A lot, I think, of the conversation around the Nova classification [which groups food according to their level of processing] and if it’s fit for purpose is actually coming from industry.


Quoted From The Atlantic Monthly

The podcaster Chris van Tulleken has strong opinions about soft bread and candy that never decays.

Chris van Tulleken refuses to tell me what to have for breakfast. “Everyone thinks that I have a strong opinion about what they should eat,” he tells me, as I hesitate between the eggs benedict and the full English. “And I have almost no opinion.”
Now, this isn’t quite true. When I tell him later that I’ve decided that the occasional full-sugar cola is probably better than multiple diet sodas every day, he replies: “Enjoy the phosphoric acid leaching the minerals out of your bones.” Which sounds a little judgmental, if I’m honest. (Soft drinks have been linked to bone fractures, but their manufacturers dispute that there is a causal relationship.) There’s a very good reason that van Tulleken refuses to dictate my breakfast order: He has just published a book identifying ultra-processed food, or UPF, as a great evil in our diets, and has therefore signed up for a lifetime of being portrayed as a joyless, middle-class puritan who wants us to live on mung beans and kombucha. As part of the research for Ultra-processed People, he ate a UPF-heavy diet for a month—a stunt reminiscent of Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me, and one open to the same criticism about replacing science with showmanship. “By the fourth week, it had started to have very noticeable physical effects, forcing me to loosen my belt by two notches,” he writes. “In just a few weeks, I felt like I’d aged ten years. I was aching, exhausted, miserable and angry.”
Public-health campaigns against “junk food”—a shorthand for foods with high fat, sugar, and salt content—are well established and formed one of Michelle Obama’s priorities as first lady. Van Tulleken’s case against UPF is different. The problem isn’t the food’s nutritional profile, per se, but the industrial processes to which it has been subjected, and the artificial chemicals used to improve its flavor and shelf life. He argues that we should be more wary of a diet soda than a cookie baked from scratch at home, because UPF is stuffed full of chemicals that disrupt our body’s ability to regulate appetite and digestion. He cites a 2019 research study, led by Kevin D. Hall, which gave participants either an ultra-processed or unprocessed diet and found that the former group ate more calories. Rather than “food,” van Tulleken thinks UPF is better described as an “addictive edible substance.” If that’s true, it’s bad news for most Americans: UPF makes up 57 percent of the U.S. diet.

Van Tulleken is an infectious-diseases doctor. He is also a twin, and until last year his brother Xand was more than 30 pounds heavier than he was (the pair had the biggest weight discrepancy in the King’s College twin study). Then the brothers made a podcast about ultra-processed food, which Chris already believed was bad, but to which Xand was still addicted. Chris discovered during that process that Xand’s other problem was him. “For Xand to set about losing weight on his own would have been to lose a decade-long argument with me,” Chris told me when I interviewed the twins two years ago.

Helen Lewis: ‘The revelation was that I was the problem’
So he won’t tell me what to have for breakfast. But he will tell me that the English muffin in front of me—pillowy soft, when it arrives, and pure white—looks ultra-processed. UPF is typically defined as anything with one or more ingredients that you wouldn’t tend to find in a home kitchen: stabilizers, modified starches, industrial sweeteners, glycerine, xanthan gum. (A more comprehensive classification system, the NOVA scale, has been developed by Brazilian researchers.) These industrial additives keep food fresh for longer, making supply chains work, and tend to be cheaper than the natural ingredients they replace. They allow food companies to make a profit, and consumers to spend less of their disposable income on food: In the U.S., that figure was 10.3 percent in 2021, down from 16 percent in the 1960s. Ultra-processed People begins with a scene in which van Tulleken gives his 3-year-old daughter, Lyra, a tub of ice cream in a park. When she runs off to play, he realizes that the snack isn’t melting into liquid; it has instead become “tepid gelatinous foam.”
The culprit is xanthan gum, a substance made from the slime that bacteria excrete to cling to surfaces.

Before reading van Tulleken’s work, I felt pretty confident that junk food was bad. That didn’t stop me from eating it, however. Learning about UPF is a different experience—you begin to realize that some of this stuff is barely food at all. I had a revelation at a railway-station snack shop the day before meeting van Tulleken, when I looked at shelves of candy bars that filled my entire field of vision. Suddenly, I thought: Hang on, this chocolate can survive at room temperature. For a year. He told me he had previously experienced a similar moment of unease, which led him to think: “How would a normal human try and figure out what they should eat in this station?”

Van Tulleken argues that the food industry has been engaged in a long-term campaign to sell us more of its products, with well-funded laboratories taking branded snacks and ready meals and fine-tuning them like a Formula 1 engine. It’s not a coincidence that you open a packet of Pringles and find out that, in the words of the brand’s former slogan, “once you pop you can’t stop.” Each chip has been engineered into an identical saddle shape the size of a child’s fist. (On the podcast, Chris made Xand add water to the crisps and eat spoonfuls of the resulting slop, which forced his twin to confront the real product underneath the magic.) Even when it appears to be low-calorie, UPF drives overeating, he argues, because it interacts with our body in a different way than, say, a whole apple does. The recommended serving size of Pringles is 13 chips. Yeah, right.

At some point, my eggs benedict arrive, and I start eating—noting that, as someone with braces, I’m quite grateful that most bread is gummably squishy. “The reason you need braces is, of course, the same reason I did,” van Tulleken says. “Our jaws and our facial bones didn’t develop, because we just ate mushy food.” Wait, I say—the incels were right about “mewing”? (A brief pause as I explain the popular internet practice of building jaw strength to appear more masculine.) Van Tulleken looks concerned, as if I am already mentally bracketing him with sweaty, alarming people who make YouTube videos about GigaChads. “I’m not a clean-eating freak,” he says. “And I don’t want to give everyone a neurosis. It’s not all about the additives; I don’t want to ban stuff. I think that transnational food corporations are predatory, but they’re not evil by design. They’re just hemmed in by late capitalism.”

Because of his work as a doctor, van Tulleken has a horror of becoming known as a “posh white guy” handing out diet advice to people who can afford to drop $8 on a sourdough loaf. One of his clinics is for migrants, many of whom live in hostels, and, he says, “they’re all constipated; it’s quite often one of the main problems that they have.” He advised one man to eat an apple whenever he could, for the fiber, and was reminded that the British government gives asylum seekers in full-board accommodation only £8 ($10) a week for any extra food or other essential items. Further up the income scale, many people still struggle to find nearby shops that sell fresh fruit and vegetables. Van Tulleken says that whereas Britain has food swamps—“There is real food in the swamp; you just have to wade through it and get it,” he tells me—some parts of America have true food deserts, where the only thing available is UPF.
Read: Food swamps are the new food deserts

Van Tulleken won’t be drawn on his own political beliefs. But he is aware that he needs to speak the language of the right to make his case, because the libertarian emphasis on personal responsibility has ended up providing cover for the food industry. “What I would like is people to have freedom of choice,” he says. “At the moment, we have a nanny state governed by unelected corporations the size of Venezuela”—the handful of confectionary giants responsible for the candy bars filling the shop on the railway platform I visited. “Why can’t you buy a banana on that platform?” he asks. And there’s another reason not to lay down commands about good and bad foods: “People hate it.” He hopes that reading his book is a little like the experience of mainlining cigarettes through Allen Carr’s The Easy Way to Stop Smoking. By the end, you’ve disgusted yourself. You want to quit.

His nemesis on that front is Christopher Snowdon, the head of lifestyle economics at the Institute for Economic Affairs, a London-based free-market think tank, who has had great fun mocking van Tulleken’s experiment—in which he ate UPF for a month, and then cut it out completely for the next. How addictive can UPF be if you can give it up like that? Snowdon asks, calling UPF “the latest bogeyman in diet quackery.” He argues that “the answer is obviously to not consume too many calories regardless of what kind of food you eat.”
Some nutrition experts also caution against demonizing UPF. “I think it’s unlikely it’s addictive,” Clare Thornton-Wood, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association, told me. “But the behaviors might be addictive—if a family always has chicken nuggets for dinner, children are conditioned to eat the food they grow up with.” In an ideal world, we would all eat less UPF, but “in the world we live in, it will form part of your diet.” She had packed a cereal bar in her bag that morning, she told me, knowing that she would be out all day.

Come on, then, I say to van Tulleken. How are you going to deal with the accusation that you’re a smug do-gooder trying to crush people’s enjoyment of their breakfast? “You have to not care,” he says. “Second, I’m not calling for a ban. I don’t accept [that] this food brings joy, but that’s up to you.” He has personally gone cold (unprocessed, presumably free-range) turkey on UPF, as has Xand. Their mother is delighted, as the kind of person who makes her own baked beans from scratch. He notes the bemused face I make at the idea of anyone doing this.

However, he does have some practical proposals. First, that every doctor should be obliged to declare outside income from food companies to their professional regulator—and the same norm should be enforced on academics writing research papers on nutrition. Second, the traffic-light labeling system that some countries use to identify junk food could be revised to make UPF more obvious to consumers. Marketing UPF to children could be restricted, as it is in Chile. No more cute cartoon characters on cereal boxes and adverts on teatime television. In the United States, such efforts would likely have to be either voluntary, enacted at the state level, or enforced by platforms such as YouTube Kids or Disney. (The Federal Trade Commission proposed nationwide voluntary restrictions on advertising junk food to children under 17 in 2011 but weakened these following industry pressure.)
Read: More than half of what Americans eat is ‘ultra-processed’

Finally, those who can cook food from scratch, and spend more of their disposable income on high-quality ingredients, should do so. I tell him this last one sounds about as appealing as the antidotes to climate change that involve … well, flying less, quitting fast fashion, and having a colder home. He reluctantly agrees, noting that he is also braced to be called a misogynist by critics claiming that “I hate women because I want to make food less convenient.”

The example that gives him hope is the tobacco industry. After the links between smoking and lung cancer were discovered and publicized, health authorities in the U.S. and Europe curtailed tobacco sponsorship of sports events, instituted warnings on cigarette packs, and took a harder line on sales to minors. But that also came with a cultural shift, as more public spaces became “smoke free,” making tobacco easier to avoid. Twenty years ago, the restaurant in which van Tulleken and I ate our eggs benedict would have been full of other people’s smoke.
Looking back, I say, I don’t know why I put up with being forced into an unhealthy environment. Perhaps one day that’s how we will feel about convenience stores and supermarkets filled with food that isn’t really food.

Helen Lewis is a staff writer at The Atlantic.

The Biggest Ideas in Farming Today Are Also the Oldest

Georgia cattle raiser Will Harris left behind the destructive techniques of modern agriculture, charting a new path forward for the livestock industry.

“Earth’s soil can sequester vast amounts of carbon — I’ve known this for years. But it wasn’t until I stood at the boundary between two farms in southern Georgia recently that I appreciated the enormous potential of that fact…”

Will Harris
Fourth-generation cattleman

Read the whole story…

Reverse Climate Change with Real Food

“We have to recognize the way we are living, eating and consuming energy are all having an impact on the planet—and increasingly it is reacting.”
Fareed Zacaria 2020 *

Industrialized food shapes us today, and alters our world tomorrow. As we struggle to find  obscure paths back to real food, our planet will follow, calming itself, and us, as we reinvent an only recently lost ancient, food-centric life

Healthier, happier and stronger, we may discover that our new nutrient dense meals have become a miraculous, affordable healing force.

Watch for Farmers Kitchen’s monthly e-books, with simple seasonal recipes, tapping Into local and ancient food wisdom; bringing year round, super fresh, nutrient dense foods to your table. (Complimentary upon monthly renewal for Premium Subscribers!) Look for the first e-book around mid November.

Today’s industrialized “food system” is responsible for 1/3 of climate change, depending, as it does, upon fuel intensive transportation systems, vast refrigeration and manufacturing processes. Big Ag’s machines create heavily compacted soil, now rendered unable to sequester carbon. And factory made food necessitates toxic chemicals to disguise lack  of freshness and nutrients.

Save the world with real food? What a delicious idea!

*United Nations  Climate Report 2020
Cited by Fareed Zacaria
“Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history.” 75% of all land has been “severely altered” by human actions, as have 66% of the world’s marine environments. Ecosystems are collapsing, and biodiversity is disappearing. As many as 1 million plant and animal species (of 8 million total) are threatened with extinction, some within a few decades.”
*From Fareed Zacaria’s new book “10 Lessons for a Post Pandemic World”
Copyright (c) 2020 by Fareed Zakaria. Published by W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.

Food for Difficult Times

We all know the right thing to bring to a funeral. A “covered dish; ” placed on the table, brightens many dark days. Since ancient times humans have buffered losses and hardships with food.

Jose Andres knows this. When tragedy, fear and loss strike in the form of earthquakes or hurricanes, the world renowned chef and his mobile food minions are among the first to arrive. They set up field kitchens.

Should we take our best covered dishes to long tables where people whose hearts are broken gather to protest injustice? Food helps humans survive heartbreak with their humanity intact. It provides the irreplaceable element of community support.

Imagine offering generous quantities of good or great food to first responders, families, and victims of illness in a pandemic. Would we see fewer deaths from Covid if we ate as well as people in a food centric culture? The United States, the wealthiest country in the history of the world,  has suffered far more COVID damage than any other country on earth.

◦The US has deliberately “saved” both time and money by skimping, since the 1950’s, on food quality, freshness, and access for all. (Think TV dinners, preservatives, food deserts, and Sci Fi faux food GMOs.) Huge collateral damage costs now loom. We may not have enough protective nutrients to buffer a blunder of such historic proportions.

Processed food belongs with polyester in the dustbin of history. File it away as another dreary “tech fail.” Can we cook our way out?

Put Down That Veggie Burger…

These farmers say their cows can solve the climate crisis

Reitz, South Africa (CNN) Danie Slabbert points toward the cattle that brought his farm back to life. Down the slope ahead of him, 500 black Drakensberger and mottled Nguni cows graze cheek by jowl. The Free State farmer gestures with his giant shepherd’s crook. Climate change may doom 1 in 3 species of plants and animals in the next 50 years Climate change may doom 1 in 3 species of plants and animals in the next 50 years “If cattle are part of nature, like they are now, then my cows are keeping the system alive,” he says. “How could you think that meat is the problem?” Calls for plant-based diets to save the planet from the climate crisis are growing louder. But there is another, quieter, revolution reshaping the agricultural world. Farmers like Slabbert and their supporters say that what people eat is not as important as how they farm. They believe cattle and cropland could help save the planet… Read More

Vote With Your Fork… Dr. Mark Hyman

Climate Friendly Local Food, for the Future of the Planet-the best holiday gift to our families and community! We love Dr. Hyman’s  take on this topic. Watch his brilliant synopsis here…..

Choosing to eat as our predecessors ate, we can vastly improve our health and turn our darkening future bright again. How do people achieve that in the modern world? It’s simple.

Real Food  turns our face  back about 70 years, to a time when people routinely got up before the sun and often worked deep into the night to make sure good food was on the table three times  every day.

Traditional cultures used efficiencies of scale (the big pot and the big spoon) to feed wonderful meals to large groups. My favorite example is the 40-50 people trooping in to the long food  laden tables in the cookhouse on my family’s ranch in the 1940’s in Nevada.. Today we see José Andres of Spain rushing into disaster areas with armies of chefs, not military MREs (meals ready to eat). He knows.

Farmers Kitchen draws on old world models,  cooking big batches for many and offering fresh good food, free of factory chemicals and planet burning food miles. As we embrace the “social capital” imbedded  in our local food community, it begins to make sense and things can get better. Civilization began with food and it could end there ..

Watch for our local meal kits, bringing us all together at the same metaphoric table

“Unless we recognize the overall failures of our current systems, we most probably don’t stand a chance.” Greta Thurnberg.


Farmers Kitchen Online Grocery
Ordering Just Got Easier!

Look for lots of Thanksgiving sides and special Holiday Offerings on the Grocery list this week. Holiday updates will be posted Monday morning. We think Climate Friendly Local Food For the Future makes the best holiday gift for our families and our community .

We’re offering something new along with groceries. Look for the beginning of Make it Easy, Make it Real meal kit offerings, comprised of fresh, local and artisanal items from our groceries list. A subscription to this new service starts at $200 per month in the month of December (with patronage refunds for committed subscribers) and includes a deeply supportive process, with recipes, videos and podcasts to help you Cook at Home, nestled into a  community supported food system, in time that you actually have!

Check it out here and let us know how you like it.

Climate change stress begins with growing and making bad, chemical laden food and driving or flying it around the country, and around the world…because, why?… Because we can? Not anymore.

The nasty chemical BPA  lines every can of food you open, as well as many of the “soft” packages in the grocery store. BPA in our food can lead to hormonal disfunction, cancer and even Parkinson’s disease. Factory food hazards include  lack of nutrients and soil depletion.

Sealed plastic bags with salad greens and other faux fresh foods? They have a preservative gas inside. Your avocados other produce coming though commercial portals has been gassed with chemicals.

Our locally grown and carefully foraged food will help you avoid cans, chemicals and carbon. And we hope you will also become healthy and wealthy, as a result of having been so wise!

The items listed on our groceries site ( produce, baked goods, condiments, etc.) come and go, so we will update the list daily. There will always be something new and wonderful, and also something that is gone and may be with us again next year or next week.

“We must reimagine our relationship with nature,” said naturalist Paul Rosolie, referencing fires in the rainforest. Choosing to eat clean “small” food here at home surely reimagines the very essence of our relationship with nature. We just might put out some big fires of our own in the process.

Why Real Food?

Why Real Food?
It’s our ancient, and now endangered, support system. Real Food provides both enrichment and protection for the inner and outer environments that humans rely on to survive and thrive.

Real Food faces peril as corporate and tech based interests come to dominate our civic, business and private environments

Real Food, 1940’s Style, once flourished planet-wide, encompassing  plant based medicine as well as fresh locally grown food. Even preserved  food was artisan made at home without chemicals or solvents and degreasers.

Everyone knew chicken soup could heal the body and that children, as well as grownups, needed  fresh fruits and vegetables. Mint tea healed digestive problems and oven warmed onions clapped onto an earache could heal an infection. Asparagus was synonymous with a spring detox and a plant poultice could heal a sprained ankle.

Following World War II, the planet came to be dominated by large economic interests, relying  on cheap fossil fuel delivery systems, financial complexity and “living better through chemistry.” These forces continue to endanger both our outer and inner environments.

Corporate food manufacturing, a big economic player in the 21st century, pollutes our atmosphere and our bodies with alien compounds that threaten, in aggregate, to destroy the very essence of human civilization and wellbeing.

Climate change, driven in great part by our massive global food distribution system, undermines farming and human life itself.

When this system collapses, we will desperately need local food and simple human scale distribution systems. Will they exist? Only if we create and sustain them now.

Farmers Kitchen Groceries brings you an opportunity to reach out  and touch real, artisan made good food. Our model? That most ancient of food systems, where a few forage and cook for many.

New Early Pickup Option!

Dinner Pickup as early as 12 Noon!

Order by 12 noon the day before and your meal will be ready to go by noon the next day!

Helpful for everything from pre picnic and summer outing pickups to summer afternoon heat avoidance. (And parking downtown is much better early in the day.) One obvious option is to order a summer meal and enjoy it for lunch! Or, parents of young children can choose to combine dinner pickups with children’s activity pickups in the afternoon.

We will offer this service beginning Tues June 4th (0rder before noon on Monday!) We’ll look for your feedback as we proceed!