What the Heck is ProFood Anyway?

Guest Blogger: Orren Fox is 12 years old and lives in NoBo (North of Boston). He goes to school where there is a greenhouse and a bee hive! Orren has 24 chickens and four ducks (three Call Ducks and one beautiful Mandarin). He is really interested in farming and the ethical treatment of animals. Orren would love to change the way egg layers and meat birds are raised. He says he has a lot to learn. He blogs and tweets about these issues.

Every Kitchen Table is a proud supporter of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Fridays.

ProFood is two words smushed together. They were smushed together by people who were trying to get across a new idea. That idea was trying to get people to think about the food we eat in a different way. Right now there is a lot of “food” in the supermarket, but not much of it is PROfood.

So, what is ProFood?

“Pro” means you are “FOR” something. For example, I am pro ethical eating. That means I support it. I believe in raising animals in a way that is humane and respectful. I’m a humane-itarian. To be ProFood means you are FOR food. That sounds funny, but what I mean is that you think about food, you care about food and you will make an effort for good food. I am also Pro chocolate and Pro Red Sox.

Also, “Pro” means professional, to be a pro at something you are the best. I am really into Pro Sports and the people who participate at the Pro level are PROfessional. They have spent a lot of time working at their sport to the point where they are the best. I’d like to be a Pro Basketball player and play for the Celtics.

To me ProFood is both of these ideas. ProFood is the very best food and ProFood is a way of thinking and acting that is “For Food”: it supports and respects the farmer who grows it, the person who picks it, the land it is grown on, the person who cooks it and the people who eat it.

Right now it doesn’t seem as if America is very ProFood.

People don’t really think about food, we expect it to taste good, be available all the time, be convenient, be safe to eat and I guess not cost too much. People don’t value good food. It seems as if people are always trying to find the cheapest food, not the best food. I think people might care more about the quality of the gas they put into their car than they do about what ingredients they put into their body. I don’t think most people would say they are ProFood.

If America were ProFood we wouldn’t accept food with dangerous ingredients in it. Unfortunately there are chemicals in our food that aren’t good for us kids. My mom just finished a book called The Unhealthy Truth by Robyn O’Brien, and she told me about the problem with artificial colors and artificial growth hormones. Think about it. We are kids and are still growing, think what happens when we drink milk or eat meat where the cow has been given artificial growth hormones. What do you think it does to kids’ bodies? I’m sure someone would tell me “Oh don’t worry about it, it won’t get into your body.” I don’t believe that. It just doesn’t make sense. If you feed it to the cow, and I drink the milk or eat the meat, you’re feeding it to me. I don’t want it. I’ll grow on my own.

Why do I think someone will tell me not to worry about it?

I think because everyone expects that the food we eat won’t be bad for them. We expect all food to be safe and maybe even good for us. Did you see the article on the front of the New York Times on October 4, 2009? Woah. A girl named Stephanie was paralyzed from eating meat that was considered safe. Why would a company make something that is so dangerous? Think about all the chemicals in some candy. It isn’t good for us. I imagine it is hard work to make everything safe all the time, but it seems as if this should be the top priority of a food producing company.

How can we make America or even just your own home or school ProFood?

  • Choose pesticide free, hormone free, and artificial color free foods
  • Drink water instead of high fructose corn syrup sweetened drinks
  • Eat fresh foods like an apple or sliced red pepper rather than foods that never rot.
  • Ask where your food comes from and how it was raised
  • Plant some seeds in the spring in a little pot and if you grow too much share it with a neighbor
  • Respect the farmer, rancher, farm workers, animals (they are farm workers too) and the planet. (Some of these ideas come from Food, Inc.)

I hope in the future we might see more small growers, farmers, bakers, cheesemakers, in our neighborhoods.  Obviously not everything we eat can come from right down the street, but if there were more, we would know how the food was raised and we would be able to support our neighbors. Having little farms throughout neighborhoods would really help people be ProFood. You can even do it in cities, just look at Will Allen and Novella Carpenter ( I’m reading her book now called Farm City) This obviously won’t solve everything but it is a start. I think at some point the big companies need to think in a way that is more ProFood than promoney. I’m sure people will say I’m naive. They are right. I have a lot to learn. But, hey it’s a start.

Right now we have about five new small organic farms that have popped up in our area, so we can go by and pick up fruits and vegetables that were picked that day. These farms are also canning some of their crops so they will be available through the winter. One local farmer, Matt, showed me how he has invented a drop ceiling for his greenhouse, so when it begins to get cold he can continue to grow greens without having to heat the entire greenhouse. He is doing this so the cost of the greens are not too expensive.

I am doing what I can to help my friends to be ProFood – I am hoping to start a Farm Club at school! Right now I’m struggling a bit, trying to figure out what subjects to cover. Someone on Twitter suggested start with soil. I think that is a good idea.

12 responses to “What the Heck is ProFood Anyway?

  1. Orren, You are an inspiration to me and to so many of us. Cannot wait to support you in all endeavors. I think a TV show is ON ORDER!

    You rock!

  2. Great article Orren! I found you through @jambutter on Twitter & am now following you too.

    Thanks for being part of the next generation of sustainability activists. Impressive words and work!

  3. Orren, for 12years old you rock!!!! I look forward to hearing you speak at local venues on sustainable living!

  4. Great job Orren– keep up all your good work! My nine year old thinks you’re awesome, by the way!

  5. We like to describe Ecological Foods as “beyond organics” because there are many ways the food industry can change, beyond just moving to a buy local and “eat organic” movements.

    In other words if food companies would shift their corporate culture, it would be even more important than simply supporting sustainable agriCULTURE. What more food companies need to do is learn to follow the triple bottom line–by producing foods which are good for the planet, good for people and profitable to produce.

    That is what the Ecological Food Manufacturers Association has been formed to accomplish. The founder’s recent blog at http://www.forkinbasics.blogspot.com is an informative essay explaining what a New and Improved Food Industry could look like.


  6. Good article Orren. I’m subscribed to your blog and always enjoy reading your posts and seeing the pictures that are posted to it.

    Keep up the good work!

  7. Orren,
    You should check out the non-profit where I work, The Food Project, Inc.

    With sites is Boston, Lincoln and on the North Shore, we hire teens who work on issues of food access, sustainable agriculture, and real food.

    I believe that you would be a terrific match with our organization!

  8. Great essay, Orren! I love the idea of ProFood. I’m ProFood too. How much better it would be for each of us and the planet if all human beings were ProFood, too.

  9. Having just started reading Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle”, I was really pleased to read your words too. As I read in one essay “never eat anything you’ve seen advertised” – seems like good advice!

  10. Orren,
    Wow! You give us hope for the future of our world. I hope and pray that there are lots more young people out there as determined and focused as you are!
    If you are ever interested in visiting a farm in Wisconsin, email me. We’d love to have you and your family come see ours! My husband retired from dairy farming 9 years ago, and now breeds cattle and raises fruit and vegetables for market.

  11. You give the future a taste of hope.

  12. Pingback: Interview with Orren - Happy Chickens Lay Healthy Eggs |

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