Good food doesn't come in a box

Tim Hoven and Tim Axe say a diet of processed foods can be a path to poor health.


Tim Hoven and Tim Axe say a diet of processed foods can be a path to poor health.

May 4, 2015

Don't eat anything that comes out of a box. That's one recommendation organic farmers Tim Hoven and Tim Axe made at the Development and Peace regional retreat and assembly 2015.

"It's okay to treat yourself once in a while," Hoven says. "But it's meat and vegetables and then a bit of fruit on the side. That's all we need; that was all the human body was really designed to eat."

Axe laid the blame for the rise in childhood obesity and other childhood diseases partially on processed food. When we eat processed food "we disconnect ourselves from God and the very soil and sustenance we are made of."

Hoven, a father of eight, runs a small family farm near Red Deer. Axe and his wife run a small farm in Clandonald. Both are organic beef producers.

Speaking to about 40 Development & Peace delegates from across Alberta at Red Deer's St. Mary's Church April 25, they called on people to support local producers.

The farmers said people who live in the city get the idea that it doesn't matter what they do to their bodies, that they can buy a box of heavily processed food and still be fine.

Those people, they said, have forgotten the reality that our bodies are 100 per cent dependent on the soil and the environment.

"I'm sure we all know people who have been stricken with cancer," Hoven said. "Why are cancer rates increasing so much? Why is obesity increasing so much? Why is autism increasing so much?

"There has to be a reason for that. And I believe part of this has to do with the food that we are eating.

"People have become addicted to sugar," Hoven said. "If you keep abusing your body for 50 years with a high sugar diet it's going to hurt you. Our bodies weren't meant for that."


Axe said when we disconnect ourselves from the soil we lose our sense of humility. "When we lose our sense of humility, we don't need God any longer."

He recommended getting back to the soil by visiting organic farms and buying from local producers. He serves about 100 families between Edmonton and Calgary.

For decades there has been a major global effort to eliminate small family farms, he said.

"From 1978 to 2000, Stats Canada found that between Alberta and Saskatchewan alone 40 per cent of the family farms had disappeared. That's almost half. They were bought out corporately or globally so that land is no longer available," Axe lamented.


The two Catholic farmers challenged Development and Peace members to go to their nearest farmers' market this summer and spend $30 every week buying food from local producers.

"When you go to the markets you have to talk to the producers," Hoven said. "I'm going to ask you not to support people who are reselling fruit from B.C. or California or Mexico. Buy from the people with dirt underneath their fingernails."

Few producers are left in the farmers' markets nowadays. "There are less and less every year."


"The market lifestyle is exceedingly difficult but if we as a community don't support the farmers who are doing this, there won't be any of us," Hoven warned. "So buy some vegetables, a couple of packages of ground beef and you are good. And you can change a family's history by doing that."

When a woman from central Edmonton told Hoven that people in her community could never afford to buy food in a farmers' market, Hoven said the reason food is so cheap in the grocery stores is because it's subsidized.

"There are different forms of subsidizing food. Part of it is not paying your labourers a fair wage. How many farms in California bring in illegal workers and pay them next to nothing?"