They market their food-like products under the false banner of "healthy options," which in reality, these products are far from it.
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Artificial vitamins, colors and flavors, mixed with cornstarches, refined sugars, soy oils and hydrolyzed protein does not make for good nutrition.
Everytime a new piece of research is published about a particular nutrient's possible benefit, the food manufacturers practically trip all over themselves to add it to their products — in whatever amount they decide you need.
Our food is being broken down, reduced to its individual components and reassembled into a completely new food-like product.
The worst part? That we as a culture are accepting these products as legitimate, supportive food items.
But we can get real food, grown here in Washington County. You just have to know where to look.
I recently visited Windmill Meadow Farms here in Hagerstown, and met the fourth-generation owners, Jacob and Mary Horst, upon the suggestion of my client, Hagerstown City Councilwoman Ashley Haywood.
I've wanted to start buying milk, meat and eggs from pastured, grass-fed animals, and according to the brochure Ashley gave me, this farm had it all.
When I arrived at the farm, Mary led me into the house where I was met by her husband, Jacob.
After I received a friendly and firm handshake, I told Jacob what I was looking for, and he began to describe how they raise their animals with — no grain, antibiotic or growth hormones.
He also explained how they manage their soil to produce the best possible grass for their animals to eat at peak season.
When he opened the refrigerator and asked me "would you like to see our products?" — a proud smile formed on his face as he presented me with what he had available to me.
I got connected.
Before I took the time to actively pursue a relationship with one of our area's farms, I didn't have a very big stake in the food chain.
I went to the grocery store, bought my food, cooked it and ate it. Rinse, repeat.
I gained a new appreciation for food when — I met my food at the source.
And when I walked away with my milk, eggs, bacon, beef and cheese, I was eager to get home and eat.
I was happy to have done my small part to directly support one of our local farming families, as well as bring home food to my family I know is healthy and nutritious.
When was the last time — you were excited about a grocery store trip? When was the last time you felt connected to the process?
If we can as a culture learn to get more directly involved in our local food economy, the food manufacturers won't have the power over us that they do.
We won't have fake food pimped out to us and be made to believe that it is whole and nourishing. Most importantly, we enable our local growers to continue to produce "real" food.
Get connected. Commit to getting at least one part of your grocery needs from a local farmer, and you'll gain a new appreciation for your food— and do your part in the process.
Chad Smith is a Hagerstown personal trainer, and co-owner of Home Team Fitness LLC. Visit his website, www.hometeamfitness.net, or find him on Facebook www.facebook.com/hometeamfitness.