Saturday, October 28, 2017

What Grandma Ate is What I Eat

At the Food and Nutrition Centennial, several presentations covered links to healthy eating patterns then and now.  I really enjoyed John Coupland's presentations where he discussed social and technological causes on changes in our diet. I'm fortunate to interview my Mother, now in her 10th decade, about her meals as a child.

As a young child, Mom's Dad had a dairy, where milk was homogenized and bottled.  When she only 3, he opened a grocery store. There was no school lunch, so the kids walked home to eat the mid day meal, then walked back to school.  Many times she ate lunch at her Grandmother's house, which was closer to school. 

Breakfast was oatmeal with milk. Lunch was often a soup with vegetables or potato soup, prepared by Grandad Mullan.  There were always Saltine crackers. Grandad Mullan had a big garden and canned many vegetables and fruit.  After his death, when they sold the house, there was a whole cellar full of these home canned treasures.  Mom enjoyed the pickled beets and canned pears. 

Mom's mother cooked a full meal with meat and vegetables.  The store had 2 ice boxes.  Ice was delivered twice a week to keep the meat fresh.  McIntyres Bakery was just across the street.  The bread was at first purchased as whole unsliced loaves until the innovation of a machine that sliced the bread.  Every Sunday, Grandma served chicken with 3 kinds of potatoes-sweet, white and potato salad. As the Depression ended, Grandma sold the store.  They never went hungry and never let any one else go hungry.  The neighbors needed help with food and they were there.  In later years, the family found carbide cans of bills that were owed by people that could never pay.

The lunch and dinner traditions continued when I was a child.  Though we ate school lunch during the week, we were served mostly vegetable meals with perhaps a little meat on off days.  I recall big pots of cabbage and potatoes, with a can of corned beef on top.  We ate beans and ham, homemade chicken noodle soup, and vegetable soup.  In summers, we ate fried squash and tomatoes.

Mom always served a full dinner,  The table was set and we enjoyed a meat, often grilled, and accompanying vegetables.   Sunday meals were shared with my Grandparents, who lived next store.  My Grandfather had a big garden and a root cellar with potatoes. Grandma taught me how to make potato salad, with a cooked dressing. Grandma had an addition built onto their house with a kitchen for canning. For my girl scout cooking badge, Mom taught me how to make meatloaf.  These days my brother makes my Mom a full plate of homemade foods.

When we stayed at the lake during the summer, my sister and I fished, catching small perch and sunfish that Grandma and Mom cleaned and fed us several a day.  Breakfast at the lake was fresh caught fried fish.  I had a special green plate that was all mine.

Even though I sometimes ate too many packaged cookies between meals, I always ate a good My Plate kind of meal.  I loved the melons and tomatoes that were available in the summer.    

We are real people who eat real food.  I'm fortunate, like my Grandmother, to have farm friends who raise and process the fresh meat I eat today. I buy sustainable frozen seafood at the grocery store.  I also purchase many vegetables from the farmers market.

My link to a healthy meal pattern also influenced my career and hobbies.  I'm fortunate to have this exposure.  

A prayer said at the dinner table when Mom was a child:

"A little head, a little heart
Bowed down in simple prayer
Thank the Lord for food and drink
And loving daily care."      


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