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Health Food
Health food can be referred to as whole foods, macrobiotics, organic foods, or natural foods.  The USDA does not recognize any specific official definition of health food.  Whole foods consist of grains and cereals which are minimally processed and usually have their fiber, germ, and hulls intact.  Macrobiotics is a diet plan which consists primarily of whole cereals.  Organic foods are grown without fertilizers or pesticides to certain government standards.  Natural foods contain no artificial ingredients.     

Thomas Jefferson was an early proponent of health food, though he did not call it that.  His vision of America called for everyone to have a small plot on which to grow the fruits, vegetables, and grains each needed to eat.  This agrarian idea never came to fruition, because some people were not suited to the role of small farmer or they were needed for other work.  Therefore, some people grew food and used it to barter for services from others.  Health foods, as such, first became popular in the late 1800’s, promoted by Horace Greeley, John Kellogg, Sylvester Graham, and others.  Kellogg founded a company which used whole grains to make breakfast cereal, and Graham developed what we still call the Graham cracker.  Among the first health food products were blackstrap molasses and brewer’s yeast. 

In the 1920’s Sir Albert Howard, an agricultural scientist, began the organic farming movement in Great Britain.  After studying farming methods in India, he saw that the farmers there had more bountiful harvests than those in England because they used natural compost, instead of chemical fertilizers.  He brought his ideas home and became the father of the organic farming movement.  The movement soon spread to the United States.  The number of health food proponents grew in the 1950’s and 1960’s for several reasons.  The publication of Silent Spring by Rachel Carson exposed the dangers of DDT and other chemicals to the environment and became the seed which germinated into the environmental movement.  The counterculture, which developed in the 1960’s, embraced the idea of natural food and simple living.  In the last few years, health food has become almost mainstream.  Entire markets, such as Wild Oats, Whole Foods, and Akins, are profitable enterprises with growing customer bases.

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