Heedless agricultural practices are destroying the top soil that took millenia to build. That's never in the marketing, but that is the facts.
(Sorry for the long drawn out story ahead...)
After my mother passed away a few years ago, I became part owner (along with my siblings) in the family farm. It's by no means a small farm, but also not a factory farm since it's family owned. There's more acreage than my father was ever able to operate all by himself, and more than my brother can operate on his own, so we do have a sharecropper who farms a portion of the acreage. My dad grew up on a farm that grew a little of everything, but when he acquired the current farm, it was already declared by the USDA as a grain farm, and as the new owner, Dad was then listed as purely a grain farmer, a designation that my siblings and I also have. It's not that you can't grow vegetables, fruit, or livestock, but you can only grow enough for your own use - if you SELL any of the unlisted products, then you're subject to penalties that will be far higher than anything you'd earn by selling your unlisted products illegally.
Our sharecropper has significantly improved the land that he's farming. My dad (and also my brother) had tried growing wheat a couple times a few decades ago, and because of poor production decided that the land just wasn't good for growing wheat, and went back to just growing corn and soybeans. Our sharecropper on the other hand has planted carefully chosen cover crops that have improved the soil immensely - he planted wheat on a couple of our fields for the first time this year, and the crop was so good that he was able to sell the harvest for seed, as opposed to just selling it as grain. As one of his cover crops this year, he planted a field of radishes. They will not be harvested - It seems that they draw nutrients from the soil, but die off over the winter, rot in the ground, and that process provides more nutrients and much improvement to the soil.
Another tactic that helps improve the soil is not plowing the harvest stubble under immediately after harvest. If you wait until spring the remaining root structure has helped hold the soil in place through the winter months and spring rains, and then if you disc up the top few inches (rather than use a plow which digs deeper into the soil), it loosens the soil for planting.
Our corn and soybean crops are sold to local grain elevators that own chicken farms. (and if our sharecropper hadn't been able to sell the wheat to a seed company, that would have also been sold to one of the chicken companies) One of those companies is a nationally advertised chicken brand, another has a chicken contract with Aldi (many times when I've been at Aldi and they're refilling the fresh chicken display, I see the name of that company on the crates they're unloading) The third is a smaller, local chicken producer.
They're not organically fed chickens (because our crops are not organic - that's another story in and of itself), but I feel good knowing that the corn and soybeans we produce are ultimately going to feed chicken that is sold as fresh meat, rather than being funneled into any part of the ultra-processed food industry.
It may seem strange, but many Youtube videos about the current processed food crisis (I recommend Evil Food Supply) has given me a look at the convenience-food lifestyle. And how seductive it must be for younger people who don't know the meals they eat three times a day are substantially not food.
I see them crying about their uncontrollable appetite and how it is starting to scare them and how depressed they are. Yet, transitioning to real food seems so daunting, because I can see how it looks that way. I've learned zero junk food because the consequences of me giving in are so immediate and distressing. I had to hang in there for the good feedback, which turned into a more compelling motivator the longer I listen.
So many kids in younger generations were brought up on convenience foods, and it wasn't just the kind that you could make the exact same thing at home (for instance frozen lasagne), or stopping at McD's for burgers and fries. After working 8 hours (plus overtime) and a long commute to and from work, plus chauffeuring the kids to various outside activities, there just weren't enough hours left in the day for a lot of moms to go home and cook a meal from scratch, and often not enough time left to put together a minimal effort meal (such as: brown a pound of ground beef, add jar of spaghetti sauce, while pasta boils in a pot of water)
So a tremendous number of these kids honestly don't know how to cook at all. To them, food comes frozen in a box or bag, ready to nuke and eat. If it comes in a can, it needs to have a pop-top tab on it, because they often don't know what a can opener looks like or how to use it. Cooking is as foreign to them as a teen trying to figure out how to use an old rotary phone that's attached to the wall. No wonder it's so daunting to them - they have no basis in their lives to even know how to begin, much less pull together an entire meal.
The youngest ones may grow up not even knowing what food looks
like, since they're so often being handed a squeeze tube to suck on that contains mostly fruit puree with a little vegetable puree added.
Will they even be able to figure out what fresh meat and vegetables are? Or will they just look like indecipherable things that the grocery store displays around the edges?