Nichols: Our Failing Food System is Failing Our Health

by | Dec 29, 2023 | Opinion

As I sat down to talk with holistic health expert Sonia Gomez on my podcast, I hoped to have an enlightening discussion on the state of the American food system and the impacts it is having on our health. What I discovered was shocking – our modern industrialized food production is actively harming us.

You may be wondering how our food could be dangerous. After all, we have a massive system dedicated to feeding the country. But therein lies the problem – it has become more about efficiency and profits than nutrition and quality.

Let’s start with the chemicals. The herbicides, pesticides, and synthetic fertilizers used in conventional agriculture are extremely toxic. Just ask Sonia – at 17 she suffered debilitating neurological damage after exposure to these chemicals commonly used on crops. Or take my own dad’s story. He struggled with a supposed gluten “allergy” for years before realizing he was actually reacting to the chemicals sprayed on the crops surrounding his family farm.

These poisons don’t just harm those working directly with them either. They make their way into our water and soil, contaminating ecosystems for miles. And of course, they end up on the very plants and animals we eat. Is it any wonder autoimmune diseases and food sensitivities are skyrocketing?

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Beyond chemicals, our industrial food system promotes unhealthy farming practices focused exclusively on yields with no consideration for nutrition or sustainability. Produce varieties are chosen based on shelf life and transportability rather than nutrient density. Animals are kept in horrific factory farm conditions, pumped full of antibiotics and fed unnatural grain-based diets. These practices create nutritionally void, inflammation-promoting food.

So, we have a system overflowing with low-quality, chemically-laden, nutrient-deficient food. Yet diet-related diseases are rampant. Over 70% of Americans are overweight. Heart disease remains the #1 killer. Cancer rates continue to climb. And we just accept this as normal?

Our government continues catering to big agricultural corporations, keeping families dependent on chemical-based food production. And the medical system merely manages symptoms, never addressing the root cause. It’s a recipe for disaster.

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But everyday citizens can fight back. The solution lies in reconnecting with real food grown locally and sustainably. Through farmers markets, CSAs, and even converting our own backyards, we can tap into clean, nutrient-dense food. Homesteading teaches self-reliance, empowering families to take control of their health. And as Sonia explained, it also builds community, giving purpose and bringing people together.

Will this system overhaul happen overnight? Of course not. But we don’t need massive top-down changes to start making an impact. I believe meaningful change starts from the ground up — literally. Every small home garden, every local pastured chicken farmer supported moves us towards a healthier, more ethical food system.

And that connection with the source of our food, an appreciation of the tremendous resources it takes to sustain us, changes our consciousness. We naturally become more thoughtful consumers and engaged citizens.

I don’t want to just complain about problems with no solutions. I want to give people hope and practical ways to take action. I know the average family is just struggling to put dinner on the table right now, let alone worrying about the ethics of our national food production. But we can all take small steps to learn more about health risks, support local food producers when possible, and grow some fresh herbs or lettuce on our balcony.

This isn’t about politics or forcing some unrealistic lifestyle on people. It’s about equipping families with knowledge and resources so they can make the best choices for their health. It’s about building resilient communities, not just rugged individualism. And it’s about restoring our connection to nature and what it takes to feed ourselves.

I believe we all have a role to play in transforming this broken system, whether through our purchases, our gardens, or our voices calling for change. The solution will look different for each person based on their unique circumstances. But we all have power – power to heal our bodies, power to change minds, and power to shape the world we leave for future generations.

Brian Nichols is host of The Brian Nichols Show at the We Are Libertarians Network. You can follow Brian on X at @bnicholsliberty.

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