And it was out of heightened concern for elevated rates of childhood obesity that the Navajo Nation passed the Healthy Diné Nation Act in 2014, enforcing sales taxes on all unhealthy or “minimal-to-no-nutritional-value” foods and eliminating those for water, fresh fruit and vegetables, and nuts. To date, the Navajo Nation is the first and only location in the United States with a tax on unhealthy foods—although an increasing number of U.S. municipalities have a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.
The couple jokes that Spirit Farm began with “selfish intent,” but it’s clear that the farm is anything but selfish—formed out of a commitment to heal the land and its people. Before the farm, James and Joyce worked as health insurance brokers and both felt deeply unwell. Their work had them traveling nonstop; they struggled with hypertension, high blood pressure, arthritis, type 2 diabetes. As James describes, they were “colonized” and lacked spiritual connectivity to the land.