Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Product of Their Times

Yes, yes, yes, this blog has been collecting dust for months. Sorry if you sneeze! No promises that it'll get any better, but who knows?

I was on a forum the other day and there was a discussion of products our mothers bought (or prepared) when we were children that we now despise. I remember my mom used to buy imitation chocolate chips for her cookies. Not only that, but she would double the cookie recipe without doubling the chips! Not just one crime, but two; especially to unwavering chocolate lovers like me. I don't know that they even make those chips anymore or perhaps that my eyes refuse to register them on the shelf.

That wasn't the only bizarre food choice in our household when I was growing up. When my mom was expecting my little sister, she craved sardine sandwiches with mustard. Guess what we had for lunch a lot? A whole lot.
Sometime in the late 70s or early 80s (I think) was when generic foods came into existence. There was a warehouse store that was totally foreign to me. You bought these enormous boxes of food, but all the packaging looked the same; either white or yellow with a checkmark and plain black font. Duh, all the food tasted the same too; like crusty sock fungus or remarkably like the cardboard boxes they were packaged in. I know several store brand foods are quite alright now, but back then, it was social death to have a friend glimpse into your cabinets to see a flash of plain boxed puffed rice insta-dinner.
Now, if I go further back a generation as it related to me, I remember the meals my grandparents made and their attitudes towards food. My maternal grandparents had a large garden each year (and still do though they are both well seasoned in years) and canned many, many vegetables, fruits, jams & jellies. Prize winning cans in fact. My mom has groused on more than one occasion that Nana cooked the vegetables to mush (true a lot of times), but at least Nana knew where they were grown, what they were grown with and what they were grown without. Though her cinnamon squash will go down in infamy (because it most certainly did not go down my gullet), Nana and Papa approached food in the same way they were raised with food.
Surely they've all grown. Nana now buys store bought pies and several convenience foods. My parents are once again growing much of their own food and have farm fresh eggs from their motley crew of chickens.

What am I a product of? Pretty much an unhealthy amalgam of what was first taught to me in school as the 4 food groups. Now it's the food pyramid. And a lot of the food on the shelves in the grocery come with ingredients lists that are longer than the ingredients list on my eye shadow. Now that's freaky. And I can't pronounce the ingredients either.
We've swung back and forth between low-fat/no-fat, sugar free, high fiber, no carbs, good carbs, omega-3s, whatchapeas, etc to the point where frankly I think most of us are more confused than not about healthy eating.
The author Michael Pollan tells us it might help if we shop the aisles of our local grocery and only buy things our great-grandmother would recognize. That would pretty much cut out all the interior aisles. Not to go label crazy, but if my Great Grandma Rae wouldn't buy it, then I should think about leaving it on the shelf myself.

As Richard Dreyfuss tells Bill Murray in "What About Bob", baby steps. What are my baby steps right now?
Today I picked fresh peppers, cherry tomatoes, my first 'big' tomato (a Cherokee Purple), burgundy okra, basil and Italian flatleaf parsley. I also dug up all the sweet onions.

Oh, and I fed these little girls watermelon rinds which they gobbled right up. Should be weeks though before they are off 'scholarship' and start earning their keep by laying eggs.
The first girl is LaVerne (we have a Shirley too). She's a Silkie bantam which means she's like a miniature poodle prissy poodle chicken. The second girl is Cream Puff who has a lovely feather pattern of a red head cascading into silvery blue tail feathers. She's an Araucana (or Easter Egger), so she'll lay blue or green eggs.