During the period after I left Quaker, while I was spending lonely hours doing research in the solitude of my basement, I began to give some serious thought to the twists and turns my career had taken so far. It was at this point that some things became clear to me. All the times I was ignored while I was involved in the food industry, attempting to sell my protein process and trying to promote nutritional foods, seemed to be frustrating setbacks. But while I was in the thick of things, I couldn't see the major forces at work, and I assumed that eventually I would be able to overcome corporate inertia and that someone would see the merits of my idea. In the reflective clarity of my unemployment, however, I realized that there was no receptive audience in the food industry, and there never would be.
I understood that all my experiences with food, from gathering eggs on my father's farm to growing microbes in my basement, were unified by a basic realization: It isn't a shortage of food that causes mass starvation, nor too much food that causes mass obesity. Our problems belong not to food itself, as I had assumed all those years, but to the attitudes people have about food, and how those attitudes are influenced and manipulated.
I recalled how my friends' fetish for huge "farm" meals and lots of sweets brought them weight problems and hypoglycemia, and how snacking in the American tradition had caused appearance and health problems for my friends. I remembered the South American peoples who loved Western junk foods so much that they spent what little money they had on it and were starving because of it. My mind broiled again with the fresher memories of the Food Giants themselves, and how they were running the food industry as if they were running the automobile or oil industries, caring about nutrition only as a public-relations gimmick, if at all.
And I saw at last that good, whole foods and healthful eating habits had been available to everyone all the time. It was only our own misconceptions about food, fueled by the opportunistic propaganda of the food monsters we were foolish enough to believe, that led us to think of food as sweet-tasting stuff that has no effect at all on our health, our emotions, or our view of ourselves and one another.
We had allowed the Food Giants to take edible and nutritious plants and animals that our species has thrived upon for millennia, and turn them into weapons of financial conquest. Every time an African infant succumbs to world hunger or an American working man surrenders to a heart attack, the Food Giants have claimed another victim. And it is nothing but the naivete, the total lack of food consciousness of the world's people that keeps this sword of death, disfigurement and disease in the hands of the Food Giants.
We could not, I knew, wait for the food companies to change, nor for the government to fight the battle. The people of the world will not get wise enough to stop consuming junk food until they learn what food is supposed to do for the mind and body. Nowadays people are letting agribusiness behemoths abuse their minds and bodies. Only when we get the control of our food supply back in the people's hands will the starving be fed. But the only power, the only weapon that can subdue the Food Giants is the truth. If I really want to help, I told myself, I'd better start spreading the truth.
I got my chance soon enough. One of the radio stations in Manitowoc, WOMT, airs an excellent morning talk show called "Be My Guest." One morning, while I was brooding over my experiences with the Food Giants, I decided to call in and vent my spleen. Once I got on the air, I began to regale the host, Ron Zimmerman, and the radio audience about the merits of buying healthful snacks like fruit and nuts instead of junk foods. I explained that not only are these natural snacks more healthful, but they are actually cheaper than candy and more satisfying, too. I was really half expecting to be chuckled at, but Ron actually seemed interested, and while he played a commercial over the air he asked me who I was and what I did for a living. I explained that I was a currently out-of-work biochemist who specializes in nutrition. Then, quite to my surprise, he asked me if I would like to be on the program as a guest some morning. I gave him an enthusiastic "yes."
I prepared for the show by digging up all of the health and nutrition ideas I had garnered over the months of casual study I had put in while unemployed. I wanted to be prepared, because I really didn't think anybody was going to call in, and I figured I'd have to do plenty of talking to fill up the half hour. Fortunately, and again to my surprise, that wasn't the case at all; I was on the air a very short while before the phone lines were full, and they stayed that way till we went off the air. The questions I fielded put my knowledge of food to the test, too. People seemed fascinated with the ideas I was expounding, and they wanted to know more. What are the merits of this diet compared to that one? What are the effects of additives in food? How much sugar is too much, and what's the difference between different kinds of sweeteners? What about vitamin supplements? What advice could I give to diabetics, heart patients, ulcer sufferers, and others on restricted diets? The questions were varied and seemingly endless. But before I knew it, the half hour was over.
Ron told me that, judging by the number of phone calls we had received, I was one of the most popular guests who had ever appeared on the program and he asked me if I would like to come back again. Sure, I told him; after all, I didn't have anything else to do! More importantly, I began to see another door open for me as if by magic, I had had no idea that I would be so well received; in fact, I wasn't too used to having anybody listen at all to what I had to say about nutrition. But now it seemed so obvious to me that I wondered why I hadn't thought of going directly to the people long before. If the poisoners couldn't be made to change their ways by the light of reason, then their poisoned victims could at least be warned about the dangers lurking behind the brightly-colored labels on the supermarket shelves. After having my do-good hopes nearly dashed in my struggle with the Food Giants, the experience of being so well-received, in a small town, bolstered my dreams and made me eager to carry on the fight.
Over the next few months I was on the "Be My Guest" show several more times, and each time the response was equally flattering. I did my best to give the listeners the best information I could, and I took advantage of every opportunity to warn them about the hazards of eating the typical American diet. But, as well as I tried to prepare myself, there was always one group of questions I just couldn't answer: Where do you get whole-wheat bread with no preservatives? What store carries nuts that haven't been roasted in oil? Alas, Manitowoc is a small town, and there was no natural-food store for nearly 50 miles in any direction. The people who listened to the show were enthusiastic about the advice I was giving them, but there was just no way they could buy many of the foods I was suggesting they eat.
Ron was commiserating with me on this subject one day. 'You know, Paul," he said, "you should open your own store here. I could do your promotion for you. With the response you've been getting on my show, I'll bet you could make a go of it."
I was hesitant at first. After all, I had only one $10,000 treasury bond and that wasn't even mature yet; that's not much capital with which to start a business. Besides that, I didn't have the least bit of experience or training in business management or bookkeeping. In short, I wasn't quite as certain about my eventual success as Ron seemed to be. But the idea of starting a health-food store, especially in an area that was so cut off from supplies of wholesome food and nutrition consciousness, held a definite attraction for me. My aim had always been to help people eat better; but now I began to see that I didn't have to go to Asia or South America to find malnourished people. We may not be wasting away to skin-covered bones like the starvation victims I saw in Colombia, but our symptoms of malnutrition were obesity, diabetes, anemia, heart disease and a host of the other afflictions of the so-called "developed" nations. Perhaps I couldn't feed the world, but I could make a start by trying to help my own neighbors avoid our "affluent starvation." I decided I might as well give it a go.
My first problem was getting the cash to buy an inventory of merchandise. I had the bond as collateral, but several of the banks I asked for loans quite frankly didn't think I could make it. The downtown of our city, where I had found a storefront location, was suffering from the usual ailments of the small-city downtown area, and in the early 1970s health foods were looked on as part of a back-to-nature fad that would soon end. One bank told me that I had chosen a poor location. It was right down the street from their new bank! It took a bit of concerted looking before I was able to find a loan officer who was receptive enough to give me a chance at it.
When the store, which I eventually called Natural Market, opened on May 2, 1975, the shelves looked pretty empty. But even with our admittedly limited selection of cheeses and nuts, we managed to turn a profit the first day. We sold $85 worth of merchandise, and our markup was 20%. Because I and my family were the only employees, we managed to net a whole $13, which I thought was terrific. Actually, the store was well received from the beginning, and even though the profits may have been no great shakes in comparison to other establishments, it did provide us with an income as well as a source of food.
Best of all, I was calling the shots, and the only products we carried in the store were ones which I had checked out and which I believed were the most healthful and the best quality available. Many times I went right to the producers to make sure that we were getting the freshest and most natural products. Though I knew a lot more about the nutritional value of foods than about salesmanship and marketing techniques, I tried my hand at those aspects, too. If the people who came into the store were unfamiliar with the somewhat exotic dried fruits and nuts, I was quick to hand out samples to show them how good natural foods tasted and to demonstrate that they were a delicious alternative to junk foods. At the same time, I'd try to convince them to eat more natural foods and less processed stuff.
Before long, regular customers would come in with requests for products they had heard about or had seen in health-food stores in other cities. We'd visit these places ourselves to learn more about their operations and to get tips on where to buy the kinds of items we wanted to carry in our store. The store grew by evolving to meet the needs of the people of the area who wanted to buy nutritional foods that the local grocery stores didn't have or refused to stock. Obviously, people wouldn't come to us with requests for the garbage they sold in the supermarkets, so we didn't have to turn anybody away.
One of the keys to the early success of Natural Market was our snack mixes, although they were invented almost by accident. A customer would come in and ask us to mix, say, a quarter-pound each of raisins, sunflower seeds and sesame sticks. We'd gladly do this for people, and sometimes we'd save a little of the mix to try out ourselves. We found to our surprise that mixing these seeds, nuts and fruits produced a synergistic effect; the ingredients together tasted much better than they did by themselves. And since all the ingredients were nutritional, mixing them was a form of "product differentiation" that would be as good for our customers' bodies as it was for our sales figures. We decided to make these mixtures up on our own and package them. We took ideas from the tastes of our customers, and developed the product for nutritional balance and palatability. We checked out the mineral and vitamin content of the various foods, and adjusted the amounts of ingredients to derive the maximum nutritional value. I felt a sly satisfaction that I was using some of the marketing techniques I had learned at Quaker and combining them with my knowledge of nutrition to make foods that tasted great but were still nutritionally sound.
An example of this was one of our first products, "Sunshine Snack Mix," which contained golden raisins, almonds, and roasted and raw sunflower seeds. We knew that raw seeds were more nutritional than roasted seeds, so we put in just enough of the roasted sunflower seeds to give the mix flavor but used mostly the raw seeds for nutrition. Whenever I hear people munching on one our our snack mixes, I imagine it's the sound of the Quaker executives eating their words about nutrition and sales quotas.
These snack mixtures were becoming so popular that people were asking us if we could distribute the snacks to area supermarkets so folks wouldn't have to drive so far to get them. We started distributing packages to other stores in the area, and we seen found that many people who were not at all food-conscious were buying our snacks over junk foods simply because they preferred the taste. I also got word from our customers that these fruit, nut and seed concoctions were becoming standard at parties and gatherings. Because of their satisfying flavor and nutrition, the snacks lasted longer at parties and brought more compliments than the usual chips and dip. Before long, a majority of the nuts and seeds I ordered went into mixtures, and it appeared that our first experimentation with "product differentiation" was successful. I was quite gratified, to say the least. While I was working for the Food Giants, I had garnered a pretty negative view of people's ability to change their own eating habits. Now I was sneaking people in the back door of good eating habits with these healthful, tasty snacks, and I didn't have to starve myself to do it.
As smoothly as our operation seemed to be going, we did run into a major snag; there weren't any good breads available. Most "health" breads that are nationally marketed are little more than white bread with a little molasses and bran added for a rustic color. When I could find a supplier of whole-grain breads at all, the source was inevitably too far away to make selling the bread feasible, let alone profitable. As insoluble as the problem seemed, I couldn't bring myself to let it go. I felt bad, because I realized that bread is the most important part of anyone's diet. With its nearly complete balance of vitamins, complex carbohydrates, fiber and calories, good bread is the staff of life, and a person cannot be adequately fed without it. Yet there were absolutely no alternatives in our area to the soft, white garbage that passed for bread on the supermarket shelves. We also knew that we needed a large variety of breads. People didn't want to eat the same thing day after day, no matter how nutritious it was. I was vexed. Again, the path seemed to clear itself. In 1976 Manitowoc's small wholesale bakery came up for sale. I was not in a very good position financially, and I certainly had not reached the Easy-Street level of prosperity most small-business-men insist on attaining before they expand their operations. But the temptation to make good, wholesome bread products the way I knew they ought to be made proved very strong indeed. Although I didn't have any more capital than I had the last time I made a financial venture, I did have a lot more collateral to work with, and my credit rating had improved significantly. I decided I would take my chances and buy the place.
At the time I took over operations the bakery was turning out five hundred loaves of bread a day, most of it white bread, and was one of the biggest suppliers of sweet rolls for the city. The first thing I did after taking the place over was to stop the production of sweet rolls altogether and radically change the recipe for white bread. I would have liked to have cut out our production of white bread entirely, but because it was paying the bills I figured it would be impossible to stay in business if I did. So I took the standard white bread recipe that the bakery had been using for years and made some substantial changes in it: high-protein gluten flour replaced the standard bleached stuff; I used soy oil instead of lard; oat flour was added and the amount of sugar cut. Every time we made one of these changes, we came up with a better tasting, more satisfying bread. And every time we made a better bread, our sales decreased. With the improved nutritional value of the product, there was just no way we could get the people to eat more instead of less. Though I was accomplishing my goal of getting people to eat better, it was costing me business, and I knew even without business training that if I didn't expand my marketing area soon I'd lose my shirt.
And there were other problems. As soon as I dropped the sweet rolls from our product line, I became the talk of the town, in negativity. Some people were behaving as though the end of the world had come because they couldn't get their favorite sugar-bombs to go with the morning coffee. It seemed ridiculous to me; after all, there were 15 other stores in town where they could get sweet rolls, so it wasn't as though I was depriving them of their addiction. Unfortunately, some of the bakery's long-time customers became so miffed that they stopped buying our bread as an act of defiance. One of the loan officers at the bank where I borrowed called me personally to suggest that my refusal to make sweet rolls, which he had learned about while trying to order them in a restaurant, was going to ruin my business. I didn't need a clearer demonstration of how a regular diet of sugary junk adversely affects people's behavior; I was answering the angry calls of sweet-roll junkies for weeks! So often was I accosted for my attitude that at one point I was actually hesitant to walk down the street for fear of having to field impromptu derision.
Perhaps I could have avoided this problem by shutting down the bakery and firing the old employees, who also seemed put out by the new recipes and techniques I was trying to effect. But I foolishly assumed that I could gradually reform the bakery from a poison factory into "natural ovens." The resistance I got, from customers as well as employees, was much greater than I had anticipated and could perhaps have been avoided had I started from scratch. I still believed that if I could just hold on long enough I could eventually get things going my way but it was also evident to me that I would have to expand my marketing area or face serious financial problems.
It was difficult in the midst of all these business and financial details to concentrate on meeting the primary goal I had set for myself — to produce a truly high-nutrition bread. I knew that, no matter how improved our white bread recipe had become, white flour is just no nutritional match for whole wheat. But at the same time there was a dearth of knowledge about how to bake whole-wheat bread on a mass-production scale, and all the home remedies we tried to scale up just didn't work out. The conventional wisdom of the baking industry was that whole wheat was a very difficult ingredient to work with, and that it made the bread dough so heavy that the stuff wouldn't rise properly. Most of the manuals I used said that it was impossible to make bread with any more than 50% whole wheat; they suggested about 10%. We decided to go for the maximum, so we came up with a recipe that used 5% more whole wheat than the book said was possible. It turned out fine. It became the mainstay of our bread production, and I began to take the conventional baking wisdom with a grain of salt.
Encouraged by our success with the "heavy" dough, we began using it for other things too —steak buns, for instance. It seemed that the bolder we became in stretching the boundaries of baking knowledge, the greater our successes were. Finally, one of my head bakers, a health-food enthusiast who distrusted the nay-saying of the manuals, convinced me to try a 100% whole wheat bread. I worked with him on the recipe, which was basically the 55% recipe without any white flour at all, and we were soon expectantly putting our first batch in the ovens. What came out, to my surprise and relief, were the fluffiest, best looking loaves of whole-grain bread I had ever seen. The bread was so nice that I decided to go right ahead and start producing it.
But my initial enthusiasm was soon quashed. All of the next several batches rose nice and high in the pan, and shriveled as soon as they hit the heat of the oven. What emerged from the process was an inch-thick slab of crushed grain that bore almost no resemblance to the beautiful loaves of that triumphant first batch. It appeared that the conventional wisdom was proving more veritable than I had wanted to give it credit for, and that I might have to give up the notion of making the best bread conceivable. But a little experimentation solved the problem. We discovered that the dough did a considerable amount of rising while it was in the oven; if you put the stuff in the oven while the loaves were as big as you'd use for regular bread, the bread would be too weak to withstand the heat of baking, while if you put it in a bit small, your result was those big brown loaves we came up with the first night. That problem solved, we became one of the Midwest's only sources of 100% whole-wheat bread that also had no preservatives and used honey instead of sugar. Within just a few months after taking over the bakery, I was on my way to fulfilling my dreams.
From this point on there was no stopping our innovations, and the majority of them turned out to be successful products. After I had amended our white-bread recipe with the addition of sesame seeds, I began toying with the notion of having whole raw seeds suspended in whole-grain bread. Again, those supposdly in the know were of the opinion that such a dough just wouldn't rise sufficiently. But a test batch using sesame, millet and sunflower seeds suspended in a whole-wheat-and-oat-flour dough turned out exceptionally well; I think my first bite of that bread gave me the greatest high I've ever experienced. I did have a little trouble figuring out what to call the stuff, though. My original name of Bird Seed Bread made my customers inquire if such an expensive loaf of bread was really meant to be fed to the birds! So we changed the name to Sunny Millet Bread, and it's been one of our most popular products ever since, even though now we add ginseng to it and call it Executive Fitness Bread.
Since then I've experimented with many recipes. Some, like our Superman Cookies with bran and high-protein flour, have become favorites of my customers; some, like our bagels and pumpernickel, just never turned out well enough to market. But even with our increasing line of products, there just weren't enough food-conscious people in Manitowoc to make my operation profitable. I was elated that I was finally able to make products that I believed in and knew were good for people. Now all I had to do was find some way to turn out these products without going broke in the process.
I decided to try to get my bread into Kohl's Food Stores, a large and well-received chain of grocery stores in Wisconsin. I started by inquiring at the Kohl's store in Appleton, and had to wait two months for an appointment just to show the managers what my products were like. Realizing that I had better not blow this opportunity, I spent a great deal of time and effort on my sales pitch. When the day finally arrived for my trip to Kohl's headquarters in Milwaukee, I walked into the manager's office and set my various bags and packages on the table in front of him. Before I could even open my mouth to tell him why they should carry my products, he said, 'We'll take 'em."
After my experiences of setback and disappointment in the food industry, this receptivity to natural foods came as quite a shock. But on reflection, I could see what was happening in the food chain; people were beginning to ask their retailers for wholesome foods, and the store manager had nowhere to turn. The Food Giants offered him nothing but the same over processed junk, and he had to turn away some of his most vocal customers. We proved to be a godsend to many area supermarkets, and their only concern was that we stay in business. The Kohl's manager warned me not to be overcautious about prices; he had seen other well-meaning natural bakers fold because they were afraid to raise prices to cover costs. People were willing, he told me, to pay a higher price for better bread, and the important thing was not to succumb to debt. The overhead expenses involved in making good bread and distributing it on even a regional basis are enormous, much larger than the cost of peddling white, preservative-laden imitations of bread. Natural baking, though it is the only moral way, is not an easy business to stay in, let alone prosper.
The Kohl's people gave us very strict rules for maintaining quality control and good service to their stores. These were the toughest adjustments I ever had to make; my experiences in the research world had accustomed me to taking my time at things and setting my own hours, and owning my own business hadn't broken me of that habit. But in the baking business, the trucks have to be loaded and on the road before dawn so all the stores that carry our breads have a fresh shipment when they open their doors. Add to this the fact that much of the equipment I had acquired was very old and frequently broke down, and one can see the stress we were under to meet our expanded production requirements and keep our quality and service to the stores up to par.
Due to poor bookkeeping practices, I had no idea how much money I was losing in the course of this rapid expansion, so we kept plodding on. At one point, the bakery had lost $30,000, which should have thrown a scare into me; but since I didn't know about it at the time it didn't frighten me out of going ahead with my plans. The loss just meant that some of our suppliers would have to wait a little longer to get paid.
We continued to put all of our income back into the operation so that we could expand our product line and service as many people as possible. I feel we have succeeded with this expansion, and we continue to add a new product to our shelves almost every month. This has been made possible in part by the fact that in recent years there have been many more nutritionally sound products available than ever before. Before the early 1970s, there was a negligible amount of health foods available to retailers, but a veritable explosion of new products has occurred since. The quality of these products is improving as well. Health foods got a bad name in the early years of the natural foods movement through its association with fanatics whose concoctions were barely palatable. Today, however, the increasing interest in healthful victuals has generated a cornucopia of delicious foods for which you don't have to "develop" a taste.
My business grew along with the natural foods industry in the '70s. By 1980 the bakery had gone from a minor supplier of a few stores in Manitowoc to the only major provider of truly natural breads for more than 150 stores in Wisconsin and Northern Illinois. This growth would have been impossible if not for the dedication of my customers, who drove for miles in the early days to buy my products, who badgered supermarket managers all over two states into carrying Natural Ovens breads, who have stuck by us even when our pioneering experimentation adversely affected the quality of a few loaves, and most importantly, who spread the word. I have also been aided greatly by the attention I've received from the area news media. I could just as easily have been dismissed by them as a huckster; yet they seemed to sense that there was a story behind my operations, and they showed themselves to be perceptive of my goals and convictions.
In 1980,1 published the first edition of this book. I sent a copy to Roy Leonard of WGN Radio in Chicago. He liked the book and had me on his program. He loved my story and really pushed the book. In three weeks' time, I had sold 6,000 copies. The cash saved the bakery, and Roy really let people in Chicago know about Natural Ovens. By 1992, we were serving 1,100 stores in Northern Illinois, Southern Minnesota and nearly all the major cities of Wisconsin.
My philosophy in starting the bakery was to make only nutritional foods and make a living at it. In this respect, I have been successful. My first years weren't profitable enough to get my picture on the cover of Fortune, but my main interest has never been fame or the profit motive. I have demonstrated, to the chagrin of many doubters, that you don't have to sell people junk food to survive in the food business. I have always looked on my business enterprises as another experiment, not too unlike the ones I performed in the laboratories of the Food Giants. The difference is that not only was this experiment successful, but it's actually doing good in making thousands of people healthier and providing jobs for hundreds more.
The story of my decade-long struggle against the Food Giants and their perfidious handiwork has two endings. One of them is happy: I have been able to make a living in the food business in such a way that I'm doing good for others while I'm doing good for myself. I hope my experience will serve as an example that the insane system of food production and distribution in this country is not the only viable way to make a profit, and that personal commitment to promoting healthful food and raising food consciousness can lead to success and fulfillment.
Although my own business ventures have proved to be almost more than one can handle, I take every opportunity to speak at gatherings and conventions and on TV and radio, to give aid and counsel to those who wish to join me in the fight against the corporate poison-mongers who control our food supply. I sincerely believe that a small core of diligent workers committed to the cause of winning back the right to healthful, nourishing food can make a tremendous difference.
But there is a sad, tragic ending to this story as well. Hunger is still needlessly killing tens of thousands of infants throughout the Third World each year. While I once thought that making protein out of chemical wastes could solve this massive problem, I now know that such measures would be a waste of time. What these victims need is not more food, but better food. They need rice, wheat and flax that have not been denuded and destroyed by processing, mother's milk instead of processed formula, and an organized program of nutrition education instead of a million and one Coca-Cola signs.
Medard Gabel and the World Game Laboratory point out in their excellent book, "Ho-Ping: Food for Everyone," that there is more than enough food produced in the world to adequately feed every mouth. They go so far as to make the claim that, if the best current knowledge were employed, enough food to feed the four billion people in the world could be grown in the southern half of Sudan! It is only the western bias, the idea spread throughout the world that one must eat white grain, red meat and drink soda pop to be "civilized," that is responsible for the suffering of the millions of starving people in the world.
It is a myth that there is not enough to go around and that there is no way the Earth can support its exploding population. The truth is that most of the world's food resources are controlled by a handful of greedy people, who deny others the right to grow food for themselves, but try to sell them western-produced junk instead. Gabel and the WGL estimate that if all the arable land on Earth were used properly and sown with foods for human consumption, the Earth could support 60 billion people — almost 15 times our current population! But it is true that there is no way we can feed the world population on Whoppers and Chees-Wiz, let alone nourish it. And whipping up a chemical protein stew is an unnecessary dodge. Until we stop looking at foods as products to be processed, and start acknowledging around the world that whole foods and good nutrition are the real solutions to hunger, we will continue to have the blood of the starving millions on our hands.
And, of course, no one has been more hurt by the western food bias that we westerners ourselves. We must remember that the Food Giants started doing their evil voodoo on us Americans. If we hadn't bought the idea that eating steak is a sign of class, if we didn't believe that Coke "adds life," if we refused to buy the line that processed sugar is energy food, that Pepsi brings eternal youth, then the Food Giants would never have tried to put over those same lies on the rest of the world. It's too late to do anything about that, and we can only hope the rest of the Earth's people won't be as gullible as we were.
But what we can do is turn our own lives around. We can stop accepting ulcers, heart attacks and cancer as the price for living in a modern society. We can give up the idea that pushbutton technology and assembly-line techniques are the best way to handle the harvest of the earth. We can get off the hyperglycemia — hypoglycemia roller coaster we ride after mealtime before we ride it to our deaths. We can demand whole foods instead of adulterated ones, real foods instead of chemical mimicry. We can vote with our dollars by buying foods for nutrition instead of convenience, taste instead of sex appeal, satisfaction rather than celebrity endorsement. And we can fight to make sure that the government we elect and the industries we support will inform us and work for us instead of deceiving and abusing us. The example we set will undoubtedly revolutionize the eating habits of the entire world.
We must place our emphasis, both at home and abroad, not on just feeding people but on nourishing them. The primary reason for this, as I've mentioned earlier, is that all the denuded white rice and bleached white flour in the world won't nourish the undernourished. But we also waste most of our cropland by growing food for processing and profit. One of the best examples of this is right here in the United States, where it is well-known that our agricultural yields-per-acre are among the highest in the world. But according to USDA figures, our diet of meat and processed food has brought us to the point where we require two-and-one-half acres of land to feed each person for a year. This may not seem like an outrageous amount of land at first, but what do you suppose would happen if we stopped using grain to fatten animals (an inefficient source of protein), if we stopped throwing away the most nutritious elements of our grains and vegetables, if we stopped wasting land on potatoes for Pringles and corn for Sugar Pops?
In a speech I made before the Capon Springs Public Policy Conference in 1977, I outlined the hypothetical results of just such as efficient food management program:
Suppose we take one acre of land and raise mixed species of edible plants using bio-intensive ("scatter") agricultural techniques. We would devote most of the land to such crops as sunflowers, rice, soybeans, wheat, corn, flax and a few fruits and vegetables. We could plant nut trees on any land not suitable for cultivation. Suppose, too, that about a dozen farmers got together and kept pigs and chickens, feeding them on kitchen waste, to produce animal-grade protein to supplement the diet.
Such an arrangement would produce 2,500 pounds of food per acre yearly. Assuming an average protein content of 20%, one acre would yield about 500 pounds of protein a year. In other words, this one acre of land would provide enough protein each year for 10 people. If you make the same calculations for calories, you'll find that 6.25 people can live on the calories from this single acre. Simply put, instead of wasting two-and-one-half acres of land to feed one person for a year, an agricultural program based on sound nutrition could feed a person on one-seventh of an acre!
Now, this is only a theoretical approach, and it doesn't take into account the pitfalls of weather and pests that can have a devastating effect on farming. You may disagree with my figures, as did several people at the Capon Springs conference. But even if I'm off in my calculations by 200% (which I doubt), you can see that a sane food program could feed five times the number of people we feed today. And we could feed them a nutritional, healthful diet. I can think of no better argument for doing away with the Food Giants and taking food matters into our own hands.
Fortunately, the movement to achieve this revolution in the food industry is already under way. What started in the 1950s and 1960s as a cult has grown to become an increasing throng of aware customers who are demanding a reprieve from the onslaught of nutritionless junk and overprocessed foods. Runaway medical costs are overwhelming everyone. It's clear that this group of aware consumers is now large enough to influence corporate marketing decisions; all the major cereal companies were quick to get on the granola bandwagon in the mid-'70s and the words "100 % Natural" or "No Preservatives Added" have become as ubiquitous on labels and boxes as "New and Improved!" have been. It is true that many of these claims are just more advertising flim-flam, but the fact that the Food Giants now feel the pressure to cater to the interests of food-conscious consumers shows that important progress already has been made. Perhaps, as consumers continue to grow in their awareness of the importance of food and the folly of the way we handle it, companies will be forced to cease selling food on its imagined convenience or social acceptability and instead market products on the basis of nutritional value.
Before this revolution can reach its culmination, however, there are many people who have to be reached with the truth about the Food Giants. I hope that, through this book, they will be able to learn from my experiences, and will join me in spreading the word about nutrition. In the second half of this book, I present the technical aspects of the Can't Eat Just One Syndrome, how junk foods affect the body, what foods the body really needs. I even include a section on the 'Ten Easy Steps to Better Health" that will help you to eat right and spend less money (and time!) on food. It is my sincere wish that, armed with the truth, you will join the ranks of those committed to fighting the Food Giants and working for a healthier, happier world tomorrow.