News in Virginia is full of the norovirus outbreak at the University of Virginia. It's a nasty deal: quick onset of vomiting, diarrhea, fever, chills. Kind of like flu on steroids.
The University issued a communique to students about how to avoid contracting the nasty sickness. One of the bullet points is to "eat well balanced meals to ensure a healthy immune system."
That leads me to ask: how can you have a balanced meal from food grown in imbalanced soil? And how can you have a balanced meal from meat and poultry grown in conditions that assault their very nature?
Balance starts out in the soil and on the farm. The nutritional differences between food grown in different contexts is profound and well documented. From conjugated linoleic acid to omega 3s to riboflavin, vitamins A, D, and E, well grown food is often multiples of times more nutritious than its industrial counterpart.
Unfortunately, UVA like most other institutions would rather spend money on seats for the football stadium than decent food for their students. Growing pressure among students is changing the climate, but very, very slowly. The speed with which measures to get new facilities for the football team pass compared with the speed to get non-factory meat into the dining hall is amazing. One is lightning; the other molasses in January.
That dieticians sit in their offices pontificating balanced meals without connecting the dot to the source speaks to the overriding problem of our culture: we know more and more about less and less. The world inside our silos creates a myopia and inability to connect obvious dots. Eclecticism is gone. Narrow thinking is in.
Only high energy can impart high energy. When food is grown on the lowest energy level possible in order to be as cheap as possible, nobody can increase its level of efficacy; not even an edict from the UVA medical office. So let's quit kidding around, talking like we know something, administrators. For the sake of your students, start connecting the soil to the micro-biome. That seems like an intellectually honest thing to do.
The dining services staff is desperately trying to find a dollar here or there to upgrade its food quality. In full disclosure, our farm is actually working on an initiative to get some pastured GMO-free pork into one of the dining halls. That would be monumental, and a huge step in the right direction. But the budget constraints and assumptions from the higher ups on the dining services folks is enormous. I wonder if the football coaches feel the same "we don't have money for that" spirit from the higher ups?
What would you tell the students?