We describe ourselves as a Farmarian or Farmist. We eat from farms, not factories. This, we believe, is the most essential and relevant distinction today. When people talk about “real food”, this is what they mean. When people get upset about animal welfare, they’re often talking about factory farming but don’t quite know it. When people want to say they’re Paleo, normally what they really want to say is that they don’t eat food that is engineered for and ultimately made in factories. When people say they eat gluten-free, in most cases what they should say is that they have developed an awareness of a negative reaction to factory-made food—not to gluten. When people say they avoid carbohydrates, usually we should take them to say that they have developed a way of restricting food intake—in order to provide a filter on the hyperpalatable, industrial food environment. What all of these ways of eating misrecognize, however, is that reason for their being, the very historical background for their emergence, is the industrial food system. All of these fad diets are united in two things: in being a response to industrial food, and in not recognizing this basic fact of their existence.
The original impetus behind the Farmarian concept was health. It had become apparent that health was not best served by fad diets–but by the eating of traditionally processed foods from traditional sources. Even after adjusting for longer life expectancies, humans in developed societies, especially the United States, have a rate of chronic disease far higher after the industrialization of food than before industrialization. The Farmarian concept of health, therefore, focuses not on some minute, scientifically specified phenomenon, but on the very cause of chronic disease: the industrialization of the food system.
If industrialization is the cause of the explosion of chronic disease in the modern world, then the most essential distinction today is whether one gets one’s food from farms or from factories. Given the importance of this distinction, it is astonishing that such a distinction has not previously been clearly stated. This is the distinction we, and we believe many millions of others, adhere to:
Farmarians eat from farms. Not factories.
On the other hand: The medical community emphasizes that science and rational control should characterize healthful eating; however, the Farmarian point of view finds this to be a mechanical and even neurotic idea to have on something as enjoyable and rich in meaning as food, and perhaps more importantly (and largely for the above reason), doesn’t see this as a tenable public health strategy. In a medical context, nutritional science is powerful and essential; it can also be a very beneficial tool in high-level discussions about the future of food and health. But in society at large, food culture and a holistic understanding of food, must be given precedence over the narrow and mechanical conceptions of food science. Most people, in past and future alike, will eat food–not science.
This even might seem like an obvious point. But this obvious point needs to be placed front-and-center. It is necessary therefore to engage medical professionals on their own terms, show the shortcomings of these terms, and persuade them of the broader view on this issue; and have them emphasize to a greater degree the cultural, political, and even existential dimensions of food and eating. It is one of the paradoxes, which we nonetheless hold to be true, that: When looking at food, setting considerations of health aside may be the only way to achieve health.
The Farmarian Weekly and its community was formed to hammer out these ideas–and provide a place for discussion away from the commercialization of food and food trends, away from gurus, and toward a more healthful and sustainable way of eating.
Our Facebook group can be found here: