My mother informed me

today that organic carrots taste better than non-organic ones. I find this amusing because I have been talking to her about organic food since…about 1996.

When I was growing up, my mother made everything “from scratch.” Before I was 13 years old, I didn’t know that people made things in other ways, really. I had no idea you could get mashed potatoes from a box, for instance. We rarely ate cookies or cake, although there was almost always ice cream (thanks, dad). My mom fed us relatively low salt, low fat fare mostly made from whole foods. She grew up on a farm where her father taught her to give thanks to the animals they needed to butcher and where treats were sweetened with honey. Her family grew nearly everything they ate – organically.

The one area she let us go crazy was breakfast cereal. I believe now that this happened because she did not grow up eating breakfast cereal. She certainly never tasted ours. It seems unlikely that she discussed cereal with her American friends, either. I mean, I can imagine women in the 60’s talking about the price of beef, or where to get good chicken, but I can’t see them talking about breakfast cereal, “You don’t let your kids eat Apple Jacks, do you?”

So she let us pick our favorites. My favorite – you guessed it – Apple Jacks. But we had all the best ones, Cap’n Crunch, Fruity Pebbles, Lucky Charms (they’re magically delicious!), Fruit Loops (just follow your nose!), Cookie Crisp, Corn Pops (originally known as Sugar Pops, Honeycomb, Honey Smacks (originally known as Sugar Smacks – I sense a theme here), and some others, less frequently, like BooBerry…

I never even saw a Cheerio till I was 11 or 12 and started babysitting. But I digress. My point is that we ate pretty healthy foods when I was growing up (apart from the cereal).

Then, at some point, my mother decided that she didn’t want to cook anymore. There are a multitude of factors that converged around this time, divorce and working in a school kitchen are at least partially responsible, I’m sure. And my mom started buying convenience foods, boxed and packaged. By this time, I was out of the house.

When I came back for a brief stay in my mother’s house, my family (my parents re-married) was going out to eat for maybe 60% of their meals. My sister still lived at home and my mom continued to consider my sister’s meals. My sister didn’t cook much (at all) and my mother didn’t want to cook – so my mom bought all kinds of prepackaged food. Hamburgers and Jimmy Dean sausage biscuits, frozen meals and sides, lots of great stuff from QVC, you get the picture.

By this time, I was a pretty strict vegetarian and mostly ate whole foods I prepared myself. My mother had a tough time buying this as the only vegetables I would voluntarily eat as a kid were green beans and corn. But the hardest part for me was all the eating out. No matter how healthy I tried to be, the salt and fat did me in every time.

Ten more years have passed since then, and I am still mostly a vegetarian. I have kind of moved back and forth on the continuum of actual vegetarianism, but I never went all the way back to red meat (which I never really liked in the first place). But my food habits are not just about meat or no meat. I have become something of a food snob. I do not want to eat processed food, too much gluten, high fructose corn syrup or dairy. I like to make my food “from scratch” and I get my veggies from a local farm through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).

Or maybe I didn’t become a food snob – maybe I was raised one. And as for my mom…it looks like she is coming full circle.


2 responses to this post.

  1. It’s nice to hear that your mom has come full circle. I grew up with a grandmother who grew everything and made it all from scratch. Now she’s elderly and really can’t do the work but there’s not a good service to provide her with good honest food and she often opts for the convenience stuff. Love my CSA too.


    • I think the thing for my mom has really had a lot to do with convenience too. I am glad that she is making some changes, anyway. I think I will be posting pics from my CSA here this year.


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