The 4H Pledge. This Week is Our County's 4H fair. -- UPDATE --

I was in 4H when I was a kid, and now my children are in it. It’s always fun to go to the fair soon after the judges place the infamous ribbons on the projects to see what award they received; the suspense and excitement is sort of like Christmas in July. For rural kids especially, the county fair is one of the highlights of summer.

When I was a kid, I didn’t really notice the food vendors at the fair. Cotton candy, salt water taffy, hotdogs, and snow-cones were just a part of the package. No big deal.

Now, as a bonafide nutritarian, a person who has eaten nutrient-dense foods for a year, lost close to a hundred pounds, and got my health and life back in the process, the children’s projects didn’t catch my attention as much as the many obese bellies that literally saturated the landscape. It was shocking.

As I entered the food pavilion area, one of the main attractions of the fair, the shock factor increased. I sat down on one of the picnic tables, strategically placed in the middle of over twenty, food vendor booths: cheesy-spiral-fried spuds, double cheese sirloin burgers, elephant ears, funnel cakes, cotton candy, snow-cones, lemon shake-ups, cream filled pumpkin rolls, ice-cream cones, gooey pastries, fountain drinks, foot long corn dogs, and salt water taffy, just to name a few.

It was at that moment, the 4H pledge, the one recited at every club meeting by the youth of America, came to mind:

I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service and my health to better living, for my club, my community, my country, and my world.

Junk food is literally killing us. As a nation, we are in crisis. We must all band together to fight this creeping destruction of America. Unwise food choices are not only destroying our health and economy, but also our values, our dignity, and our environment.

Fast forward to five years from now…hard working farmers and 4H clubs band together to help save the lives of the American heartland. There are fresh produce stands sprinkled all throughout the nation’s county fairs that say, “Let’s save America. Get fit and healthy. Reject junk food. Support local farmers.” These stands would sell cherries, melons, ice cones made with local fruits, nourishing bean soups, little sacks of nuts and seeds, and locally grown greens made into fresh salads with a delicious, cinnamon-cashew-apple dressing drizzled on top.

Maybe we can enlist the 4H leaders and youth of this nation to help with the rescue efforts. After all, it’s their pledge.

May we all pledge clear minds and healthy bodies to better living for our community, our country, and our world!

UPDATE: Dr. Fuhrman wrote a follow up to this: Not Only At The 4H Fair But Everywhere

Image credit: jcroach

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Comments (20) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Colleen - August 3, 2009 6:35 AM

Having never been in 4H, I had never heard this pledge before. It is amazing how we can do and say things for tradition's sake and never have it register why we do them. I'm guessing the treats at the fair began when everyone ate healthy at home, and a trip to the fair was something special and outside the routine. Now we are saturated with those foods everywhere we turn and don't even think twice about them being not treats but meals! We have fairs in our town nearly every weekend during the summer and I don't believe I have ever seen a healthy food stand. I wonder what it would take to get the promoters to allow such a thing?

Jeane - August 3, 2009 8:35 AM

How about the recipe for cinnamon cashew apple dressing?
Thanks

Barbara - August 3, 2009 8:53 AM

Hi Emily,

I had the same experience at an event I was at this weekend ("Laura Ingalls Wilder days" in Depere, Wisconsin). I was struck by not just the obesity of so many people but by how unhealthy most people looked. I am not judgmental by nature. I stumbled on this healthy eating thing by accident. Until then I had no idea how much what you eat affects your health. So I don't look down on people who are unhealthy. I'm just struck by what a tragedy this is. We are the richest country in the world and we are letting a powerful corrupt food industry and government mislead our society into thinking what you eat doesn't matter and that drugs will cure everything.

Thanks for your post. I hope we can start spreading the word that people can take control of their healthy and reap immense happiness as a result.

Stephanie J - August 3, 2009 8:55 AM

What does this tel me about health? What is a "nutritarian"? What is the point of this?

I made a comment last week on Emilys other post and this will be my last remark on this blog. I will not be reading as much anymore.

Posts like this come off as babble.I don't get it. What information is buried in here? Nothing. It is so convoluted.

Miss boller, you should ask yourself, before writing - why should someone care about this article?Becuase as it is now, its boring and provides no valuable info

Steve - August 3, 2009 9:09 AM

Stephanie, "nutritarian" is the term coined by Dr Fuhrman to summarize his style of eating.

Steve

Lois - August 3, 2009 9:55 AM

I attended a soccer tournament to watch my grandkids play this past weekend. The vendors offered kettle corn, icees, hot dogs, chips and candy. What ever happened to cut up oranges at soccer games? Most parents now bring gatorade and some packaged, processed "treat" to share. When there's no time to go home between games, fast food restaurants are frequented. This is routine for many parents who also stop to pick up dinners during the week after soccer practice (or some similar activity). I understand the plight of the working parent, but there is a responsibility to teach our children the importance of good nutrition. My hope is that we wake up as a nation and realize that we have one body and one life. Let's make the most of it!

Michael - August 3, 2009 10:05 AM

I'm sorry, but what is the difference between this article or the articles about bananas, CSA's or canned chicken? If you don't like the article, don't read it. I don't understand such frustration over a blog.

Lynne (Horsecrazy) - August 3, 2009 10:18 AM

Excellent writing Emily. I know we have discussed this issue of "Fair Food" on Dr. Fuhrman's site, but it is great to get this message out to other folks. The 4H pledge is great and should give many something to think about. It really would be wonderful if someday we could get healthy foods at fairs and festivals!

We had lunch at a PF Chang's the other day. Like many places, they have plenty of unhealthy items on their menu. However, they are more than willing to cook to order. I found it intersting that there wasn't one overweight staff member from greeters to cooks. On the other hand more than half of the patrons were overweight to obese and filling themselves with fried and heavily sauced foods. Very sad.

Goddess - August 3, 2009 10:22 AM

Emily,

Brilliant post!! I had also never heard the 4-H pledge, even though growing up in Iowa and Wyoming, I knew plenty of 4-H kids. The spirit of the pledge is very powerful.

I love the idea of healthy food stands. I have noticed that even our local "farmer's market" does not have very many healthy food stand options. I love the idea of brainstorming ways to bring healthier food to the masses. You are on the right track and encouraging the rest of us to "think globally - act locally".

Thanks for the inspiration and motivation. It will help me stay on the nutritarian track this week - and make me think twice before giving in to my kids' pleas for "goodies". Even better, it will make me rethink what a "goodie" actually is....

Love (and gratitude for another thought-provoking post),

Goddess

Manda - August 3, 2009 11:10 AM

4H always makes me sad - thinking about kids raising animals only to have them sold to be butchered.

Anyone else see the article on chocolate covered bacon on a stick? It's the new rage at the Wisconsin state fair. There's an MI on a stick for ya.

Emily Boller - August 3, 2009 11:47 AM

Yes, we live in a culture that promotes high fat, low nutrient, processed foods as standard diet fare; not a special, once-in-a-great-while treat.

It really is time for all of us to wake-up, and seriously evaluate our own contributions to the American nutrition and health crisis, for it's the little toddlers of today that may never know what green beans, brocolli, or carrots are.

I continue to invite your stimulating dialogue: comments, questions, struggles, concerns, and will write future posts to respond to them.

Jeanne - I'll post that cinnamon/cashew/apple dressing recipe.

Stephanie - I'll succintly explain the nutritarian lifestyle.

Community interaction will benefit all of us in this exciting journey of getting our health back, and staying healthy!

"When sailors have to move a heavy load or raise an anchor, they all sing together to keep them up and give them vim."
-Vincent Van Gogh (excerpt taken from "Scribbling in the Sand" by Michael Card, p. 110)

Emily Boller

Debbie Finkel - August 3, 2009 1:05 PM

I have to agree with Stephanie J. I like this blog a lot. Been reading for about a year. And I can see why so many people don't like the new author. Nothing against Emily Boller, but her writing is choppy and hard to read, I don't like the content (too flowery and self-absorbed), and seems to appeal only to people in Dr. Fuhrman's (who I like a lot) members center. This will eventually exclude other readers. Its a shame.

With heart and love.

Debbie Finkel

Josef - August 3, 2009 1:57 PM

I understand I'm full well capable of skipping over articles that I deem irrelevant or dislike after the first paragraph but these self absorded recollections are serving as a travesty to a blog that is otherwise focused, informative and objective.

Elijah Lynn - August 3, 2009 5:38 PM

Good stuff Emily. Your writing triggered some thoughts on the subject and inspired me to post some words as well.

It is socially acceptable to be unhealthy. It is cool. It is just being part of the pack. It is not socially acceptable to go against the pack, eating habits & lifestyle changes included.

Some of my relatives and acquaintances all give me a hard time because I am not fat like them. They will say with great concern, "You are getting very thin, are you ok?". I am at a perfectly healthy weight and by them suggesting me to eat more to "put meat on my bones" they are just repeating falsehoods that comfort them. It is impossible to put more meat on ones bones by eating more, the only way to put more meat on ones bones is to exercise AND eat more. Just eating more without the exercise only leads to one outcome, "putting more fat on my meat".

Now, is it socially acceptable for me to go up to someone and say "You are getting fat are you ok?"? Of course not, they would be very offended even though they clearly have more health risks than I do.

When we stand out from the pack we get criticized and put down. This is why it is important to really surround yourself with the best peer group you can. Tony Robbins always says "you are only as good as your peer group" or something to that effect.

If you hang around heroin addicts there is a good chance you will become one. Just like hanging out with Saddies (SAD Eaters) you will most likely adopt the same habits as they do and if you try to strive to do better many will do their best to bring you down to their level in order to make themselves feel better about their own bad habits. It is a comforting thing. Humans don't like change, they like constants.

The nutritarian revolution is just beginning!

Greg - August 3, 2009 6:48 PM

Did this post make anyone else hungry for junk food? Did you really have to make us stare at a picture of cotton candy? I read this blog for support not to inspire cravings.

I love where you were trying to go with this post, but honestly between the enticing picture and all the talk of the fair you brought back my childhood and made me hungry to go to the fair.

Emily Boller - August 3, 2009 7:48 PM

Yes, Elijah!

The change of one person is a transformation.

The change of many is a revolution!

We need a nutrition/health revolution! We need changed minds through correct information concerning nutrition that lead to excellent health.

Then, and only then, will our bodies change.

Then, and only then, will our children get a jump start on quality nutrition that will lead them into a lifetime of excellent health.

Say no to drugs.

Say no to drinking and driving.

Say no to texting and driving.

Say no to junk food.

If we, as a nation, don't wake up to the seriousness of the malnutrition crisis that we are currently in, and change, the bus hut sign in front of Cincinnati Children's Hospital may come true, "Are we feeding our children to death? This may be the first generation of kids not to outlive their parents."

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." -Gandhi

You are not alone in the journey to excellent health.

Let's all stick together, get healthy together, and change the current plight of this nation!

Bring on the nutritarian revolution!

Emily Boller

Colleen - August 3, 2009 9:49 PM

Greg makes a great point about how easy it is for triggers to set our thoughts off in a direction we really don't want to follow. We are a generation conditioned to crave junk simply by seeing a drawing of cotton candy! That is the beauty of eating nutrient-dense food. We can be rid of the cravings for all that stuff simply by eating well to begin with. I think that is the direction Emily is pointing us to--connecting our children's memories to healthy, nutrient-rich foods in the same way we've been conditioned to salivate at a drawing on a computer screen. I don't know about you, but that is motivation for me!

Manda - August 4, 2009 3:38 PM

Ditto, Debbie Finkel!! You've hit the nail on the head.

aunt cia - August 4, 2009 4:41 PM

Good job Emily for encouragement to treat our bodies to good health. It's too bad that we've been conditioned to crave cotton candy when we see a pic of it but the more we set our minds to nutrional eating, the stronger we become against giving in to those cravings. It's that way with alot of things in life. The more you "walk in the way" the stronger you are and the more habitually you do it. Keep writing. I like your style and the info you give us is that it can be done and good health is attainable!

Ginny Achstetter - August 5, 2009 2:05 PM

That is so gross. I can't believe it!!!!!! Can you imagine ever eating something like that! Only on a reality show.

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