farmer iconThat's right! Farmers are the ultimate health professionals. At least some of them, that is. They may not have "patients," but they do have patience. Holding up our food system requires a lot of patience, among other remarkable traits!


The food movement is about a lot more than food, it’s really about community, and food has always been a way of forging community. Most of us eat thoughtlessly, and that is how we got into this trouble. The idea that we can take beautiful food off the land and heal it at the same time – that’s a very hopeful lesson because that is bigger than food or farming. It suggests that as long as the sun shines there is a free lunch and you can capture that energy and run it through a system and diminish the world.

–Michael Pollan

A key strategy of the IRN is "find the good and praise it." There are some pretty amazing farmers out there, who serve as exceptional role models and who are literally changing the food system "from the ground up." We will be featuring them here.

Our food system is built on top the work that farmers do. However, the future of our food system is at risk.

"According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture , the average age of the American farmer is 58.3 years old, and only 6 percent of farmers are under 35. In the next quarter century, more than one-fourth of American farmers will likely retire. More than 700,000 new farmers are going to be needed to replace them." -Forbes

Has our society lost it's fundamental connection with the soil, and the people who draw our sustenance from it? We are going to examine this question and others. What do we know?

2.2 million farms dot America's rural landscape. About 97 percent of U.S. farms are operated by families – individuals, family partnerships or family corporations. Farm and ranch families comprise just 2 percent of the U.S. population. -Farm Bureau Facts

The USDA reports on the number of farms and farmland acreage in organic production across the country. According to the 2012 Census, there were 16,525 farms classified as organic (either certified or exempt), or roughly 0.7 percent of all farms in the U.S (2,109,303) -National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

One significant change in the food system over the last few decades has the direct farm to consumer movement. As popular as farmers' markets are today, there were far fewer in the 1980s. 

Farmers' Markets in the U.S.

"The growing number of farmers’ markets could reflect increased demand for local and regional food products based on consumer perceptions of their freshness and quality, support for the local economy, environmental benefits, or other perceived attributes relative to food from traditional marketing channels."

When was the last time you got your food directly from a farmer? The direct farm to consumer movement has expanded to include "food hubs" farm to school programs, among other innovative solutions.

Food System Changes



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