In March, I wrote an article, “Free Range Kids,” which talked about how my children are being raised in an environment relatively different than most young children in the United States. They work in the garden, collect eggs, feed pigs, milk goats, ride horses, go swimming in ponds, and explore the ranch. They come home sweaty and have dirty fingernails by the end of the day.
Despite all the dirt and allergens they are exposed to, they are very healthy children. They are rarely ill. We have been fortunate to only see the doctor for well-check ups or for the occasional injury. I cannot remember the last time any of them were on an antibiotic or prescription medicine.
Then in July, I read an article entitled, “Farm Life Grows Healthy Kids,” by John Maday for Drovers Cattle Network. Scientists actually studied the differences in health between children raised in the city and those on farms. The findings are fascinating. Farm kids are healthier overall. Researchers think that this is due in part to city kids living in an overly sanitary environment.
Mr. Maday writes, ” Farm kids on the other hand, grow up with regular exposure to dust, pollen, animals, manure and perhaps, raw milk. Thus the farm environment encourages development of a more robust immune system compared with hygienic city life.” However, the researchers do not know for sure the reason that farm children are healthier because there are too many factors that attribute to good health.
Maday goes on to conclude, “Maybe it is early exposure to pathogens and allergens, maybe it’s good farm cooking, or maybe it’s due to honest hard work in the great outdoors. In any case, farmers and ranchers who have always believed they are raising their kids in a healthy environment now have more evidence they’re right.”
I think that fresh air, adequate sunshine, good water, and healthy foods play a big role in one’s health. Farm and ranch life is a good environment, in which to raise children. I knew that already, but it is nice to read it in print with scientific research supporting the findings. Maybe the next time I see a mother chasing her toddler around the park with hand sanitizer, I will encourage her to let her child get his/her hands dirty. What do you think? I’d love to hear your opinion.