QueenBee, Did You Have Real Food as a Kid?
One of our younger readers asked me about real food. It got me to thinking that we have generations of children who may never have experienced real food or the lifestyle that flows from committing to eat real food. That’s why I connected with John Wright, owner of Bee Wild, and we decided as a team to talk about real food and how raw, wild-crafted honey is a part of a real food nutritional program. This education is geared toward the children who may never have eaten a real food diet.
Yes, We Did Have Real Food –
This is Why
When kids ask me whether I had real food as a kid, I smile because so many good memories come up of family time in the garden, picking vegetables and fruits on the farm, and going to the specialty stores (butcher, baker, grocer, and so on). But, let’s get serious about the question, “QueenBee, did you have real food as a kid?” The answer to that question is, “Yes,” but we didn’t call it real food in those days. It was just food. Everyone who ate had real food, because in the early 1950s, there wasn’t much processed, factory-canned, or frozen food. In fact, some towns didn’t even have supermarkets. So, everyone grew some of their own food, canned for the winter months, shared and traded surplus with their neighbors, and visited local farms and farmer’s markets to purchase what we didn’t grow as a community.
What Was Growing Real Food Like?
As soon as we felt the last frost had passed, we would go out into our garden in the utility easement behind our folks’ property. Our Dad would do the heavy shoveling, but everyone did soil preparation. We broke up the soil until it was loose for a depth of 18-24″, worked compost from our compost pile into the soil, added ground minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and so on. We then mulched the soil with shredded newspaper, leaves, and straw (when it was available). We also tended the asparagus and rhubarb mounds, making sure that there was plenty of room for the crowns to sprout stems and leaves.
We would plant cold crops in a cold frame, we made of recycled windows and lumber, in February. We had peas, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and various lettuces in the cold frame where the environment was warmer than the garden. We would begin to transplant the plants to the garden in early March when the soil was warmer. We interplanted plants that “liked” each other and onion sets and radishes for pest control. We used dish soap and vinegar and water spray for any early bugs. This was our first crop of the growing season.
When the cold frame was empty of plants from our first crop, we started tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, corn, eggplant, and whatever summer crops we wanted. Around about the time the second rotation of plants in the cold frame were developing good roots, stems, and leaves, we would be picking, eating, sharing, and processing our early crops.
What we ate was what was available. So, if lettuces, greens, asparagus, and onions were available, they would be part of what we ate. Staples such as rice, barley, flour, sugar, etc. came from the Piggly Wiggly and Jewel, our first supermarkets. We bought meat from the butcher, until the supermarkets built butcher shops in the store. My mother was an excellent cook and baker, so we had an extensive menu.
When what we had as surplus became apparent, we would share our veggies and fruits with our neighbors. They would often share veggies we didn’t grow with us. Everyone canned some of the surplus for the winter. My Mom had a huge canning pot with a lid and rack. It was navy blue, speckled with white. I can remember putting the bottles of prepared veggies in the hot water bath, taking them out to cool after the process was complete. We stored these jars in the back of the hall closet which was dark and cool.
By the time we had done our first round of canning, the summer vegetables were ready for planting. We reprepared and remulched the soil and transplanted the veggies from the cold frame into the garden. We often planted herbs and marigolds directly into the garden at that point. They were very good insect repellants. When the cold frame was empty, we then planted our third crop – winter squashes, cabbages, greens, lettuces, broccoli, cauliflower, and so on. These were plants that could weather the first frosts.
So, we followed the seasons and the weather and planted what worked in our area of the country. We also took the spent plants and chopped them into pieces for the compost heap. We put our coffee grounds and loose tea, egg shells, vegetable peels, and any other organic matter in the compost heap. We recycled plastic, newspaper, wood and used these materials for mulch, fences, weed control, raised beds. We saved seeds from the plants we grew. They weren’t hybrids; there were only heirloom plants. We shared seeds with family and neighbors.
Real Food – Local, Seasonal, Organic
The Baby Boomers may be the last generation of urban Americans that predominantly ate real food – local, seasonal, organic food grown by our family – as a lifestyle not as a choice. It was a way of life for us; something that our grandparents taught our parents. We naturally learned what our parents shared. After all, our grandparents, and their parents, and generations before them had grown some of their own food and eaten locally produced food. We were “organic” and “recycled” before those words were trendy. Most of our families didn’t have access to commercial fertilizers and pesticides, most of which didn’t exist in the early 1950s anyway. Too, we never threw anything away that could be reused. When the next door neighbor’s girls outgrew their clothes, my sister and I were thrilled to have them. With the pieces my Mom sewed for us, we always had something wonderful to wear. Our first bicycles were recycled from neighborhood children who outgrew them. Our Dad refinished and repainted them. They looked better than new.
To me, this is the American Way. Immigrant families migrating to the United States to have better opportunities for their children. What worked from the old country – the local, seasonal, organic, recycling lifestyle came with them. The mineral rich soil, before Corporate Agri-Farming, producing delicious health-promoting vegetables and fruits, was a blessing.
I am in awe of the people who are choosing to go back to America’s roots. They are supporting local farmers by buying seasonal, organic fruits and vegetables and creating delicious, nutritious food for their families. They are conscious of the environment and recycle. I feel so very glad to see the real food lifestyle return to these people. This gracious way of living promotes wellness and creates family and community bonds that are unbreakable.