Back in the 70’s when the ‘powers that be’ started telling us all to eat low fat, no animal fat and artificial sweeteners, I ignored it. Then in the 80’s the pressure got stronger to adopt these non-foods and I ignored it again. I fed my children animal fat, did not use hydrogenated vegetable oil or margarine or the artificial sweetener of the week. We grew or raised most of it ourselves and though we still can’t raise our meat, we can choose where we buy it.
Mother didn’t use canned ‘cream of’ soups to make casseroles of unknown contents and neither do I. I make my own cream soup. Although I have been known to make a casserole or two for friends we mostly abstain from them.
We grow green beans, squash, tomatoes, eggplant, cucumber, okra, onions and lots of herbs, apples, peaches and melons. Those are the vegetables and fruit we eat the most of. If I buy vegetables or fruit I buy organic and locally grown. I home-can, freeze and dry what we grow and what I buy in large quantities. One of my favorite things to dry is tomatoes because they are so versatile.
Sometimes we pick native pecans and walnuts from trees in the woods. After we shell them I freeze them or dry them. We also do a lot of wild crafting. We gather wild plants and weeds and dry them, store and label them and use them in teas and medicines.
Did I mention that we don’t live in the country any more? We live in a sub-urban area with a very small yard. The back yard is about 150′ x 75′. We have two gardens and several raised beds. the plan is to make more raised beds this Fall. We have apple trees and berries. Even though we’re in the suburbs we are still able to eat naturally and organically and grow a lot of our food.
Another thing I do is to make everything from scratch. I make crackers (though I do buy them occasionally) bread, rolls, flat bread, yogurt and kefir. the only thing I didn’t learn to do as a young person at home was kefir. We drank kefir when my oldest children were small but I bought it. So learning to make it was wonderful!
They say odors are the number one memory jogger. They are for me. As a child I remember these fragrances emanating from the kitchen: yeast bread, stews, green beans cooking, vinegar where we were canning pickles, tomatoes being canned, fried chicken and baking cakes.
When I smell yeast bread rising and baking I think of Grandma in the kitchen beating the fire out of the dough with a rolling pin and slipping the dough through her forefinger and thumb to make rolls, head down, concentrating. When I cook green beans I think of my Mother and how she cooked green beans all day long and seasoned them with a piece of ham. And when I smell fried chicken I think of Sunday dinner and being so hungry after Church I didn’t know if I could stand it or not. I sure do hope my children have good memories attached to the fragrance of cooking. I don’t particularly want them to think of microwave popcorn when they think of me in the future.
This is simply how country folks have always eaten and how we eat now, even though we don’t live in the country any more. I turns out that the old ways of eating were really the most healthy. Do your research if you don’t believe me. Here is a good place to start, The Weston A. Price Foundation.
If you know your family’s eating habits aren’t the best, and you know you should make some changes, I encourage you to start small. Start by replacing your artificial fats and oils and stop making casseroles that are filled with artificial food like canned this and that. Prepare and eat simple, healthy food. Make some memories for your children with healthy, delicious food.