Walter Goldstein, Ph.D., Research Director
Michael Fields Agricultural Institute
After an invitation from Susan Davis of Capital Missions, I asked the
research Director of the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute to guest a
column for us about our food in this world today. Here is what he had to
Michael Fields Agricultural Institute in East Troy, Wisconsin has
everything to do with the importance of good food, not only at this moment, but also from
a big picture perspective for humanity in general, there are actually
few more important issues than good food. Just try not eating someday. We need food to enable us to have the will
forces we need to do and unfold our lives, even to think straight, and
to stay healthy. Good food is probably the backbone and key to a healthy
future development for all of us and for our civilization.
However, since the 1950's we have adopted industrial agriculture with
the unspoken mindset of "bigger and cheaper is better." Food became a
lowest common denominator; the single goal became to produce it as
cheaply and efficiently as possible. Meat is meat; a carrot is a
carrot; an egg is an egg, irrespective of how they are raised.
This way of thinking may have some benefits but also some unwanted
Industrial agriculture considers it efficient to support simple,
exploitive crop rotations like corn and soybeans, and to separate the
production of animals from the land. The result is a decrease in the
amounts of young, high quality organic matter that are fed back to our
soils. Thereby the life and quality of the soil are reduced. The soils
lose their crumbly structure and they erode. Because the soils also
become tight and compacted, roots become unhealthy and there are
epidemics of root disease. Industrial farming considers it efficient to
use chemical fertilizers and pesticides to maintain crop yields under
these conditions; but these inputs become pollutants and begin to kill
our ponds, rivers, and oceans as well as to contaminate our drinking
There has been a reduction in the nutritional quality and taste of our
vegetables, fruit, and grains since the middle of the last century.
Crops have been bred mainly to produce large yields under chemical inputs. Taste and nutritional value were neglected and they decreased.
Animals have been kept under factory conditions that do not allow them
to lead lives with normal behavior. They have also been bred for fast
growth sometimes to the point that they are living monstrosities. For
example: a male turkey would crush a turkey hen if he mated with her
because he is too heavy. He has been bred to have too much breast meat.
Besides he would have a heart attack because his heart is too small to
support such excitement. Therefore, all modern turkey hens have to be
artificially inseminated. Our animals are also fed unnatural diets that
leave them subclinically ill. They are routinely fed antibiotics to
ensure maximum gain and just to keep them alive. They also have lost
basic instincts. Hens and ducks no longer know how to hatch out eggs,
lambs and calves lose the instinct to suckle, cows even lose the
instinct to graze and browse.
We eat all that. Is it a surprise that there has been an increase in
degenerative diseases for us humans, including cancer, diabetes, heart
problems, obesity, autoimmune diseases and a reduction in fertility?
Much of this has been linked to a diet that includes synthetic foods and
animal products and crops that are raised unnaturally.
Finally I might add that there has been a decrease in the number of
farmers but an increase in the average age of those that are left.
Increasingly, there is a future in conventional farming, but only for a
few. Farmers perceive agriculture as a cannibalistic machine that ends
up consuming them. They become cynical in the belief that consumers
only want the cheapest food, not caring about quality and the real price
These problems face all of us. We cannot really run away from them. At
Michael Fields Agricultural Institute we are striving to realize a truer image of what modern farming should be and to help make creative
We have a hands-on program that takes a group of young people each year
and helps them to learn the skills of farming and to grow organic
vegetables. We also have a professional organic vegetable workshop that
helps farmers to improve their methods.
Through our research and outreach we are helping farmers to manage
soils, crops, and animals in an integrated, healthy way. Towards this
ends we are doing research on organic matter management with 36 farmers
in three states. This research involves test-plots done with farmers in
their fields. Also we have formed partnerships with scientists in the
University of Wisconsin, the University of Illinois, Iowa State
University and the US Dept. of Agriculture to do research at our long-term trials on our county farm on how healthy farming works. We
find an apt and growing audience of farmers that need and use the advice
that comes from this research.
In addition, we have been breeding corn for quality as well as yield.
Our goal is to release varieties of corn so that farmers can keep and
reuse their own seed. This gives them the quality they want for feeding
their animals and frees them from depending on seed from a few large
Finally, we are fostering real connections between farmers and
consumers. We do this by running a community supported, subscription
produce program with our students and also through our Urban Rural day.
This urban rural day will occur this year November 8-9th and you are
welcome to attend. We bring consumers together with farmers, fostering
good nutrition and healthy farming. Good food only can come about when
people like you find a way to connect with farmers and people like us,
and the circle is connected.
Now, I say-we are what we eat. Hair analysis proves that. We really need to
consider this especially in the formative years. Children are ingesting so
many chemicals that really may hurt them. You may call or visit the website
for Michael Fields Agricultural Institute to plan a visit or find out about
their informational programs or days to visit.
For comments, contact: Karon Gibson RN at AmericaNurse.com or call