Sunday, May 06, 2012
In communicating with another Spark friend, he made some comments that got me thinking about how my mom ran our household and my childhood "diet" (what we ate). That led to thoughts of how people say it's "too expensive to eat healthy" and I started thinking about how I was raised and if it "would have been possible" for my parents to have raised us Paleo if they had known/wanted to...
Ever see the movie Coal Miners Daughter or hear the story of how Dolly Parton grew up? I wasn't raised in those exact circumstances, but my father was. I am the granddaughter of coal miners on both sides of the family tree, and my father went to trade school and mom never worked outside the home. So raising two kids on daddy's salary was a challenge for the folks - but as Dolly said: we never knew we were poor, so we were raised in a very happy home with a lot of love and everything we needed.
Mom was no gourmet chef - but instead had a few favorites that recurred on the menu on a regular basis - many of which became my personal comfort foods:
Breakfast was usually cereal with milk - that the kids would pick!
Lunches were lunch meat, tuna salad, egg salad, grilled cheese, or PBJ sandwiches on the most "wonderful", soft white bread! - with canned soup or some form of chips.
- spaghetti and meatballs or meat sauce,
- macaroni and cheese w/ fish sticks
- roast w veggies (carrots and potatoes)
- pan "swiss steak" w gravy, mashed potatoes and canned veggie (green beans or corn)
- hot dogs
- fried chicken, shake and bake, or pork chops w potatoes or instant stuffing and canned veggie
- occasionally crab cakes or lemon roast fish filet w salad (see below)
So, as a family of four and now realizing there was not a lot of cash, what else did we have working in our favor?
- We had a vegetable garden every year and several dwarf fruit trees in the backyard. That meant tons of fresh veggies were available.
- For what we didn't grow, we'd buy at the local farm stands or sometimes we would go to a local U-Pick farm (strawberries and blueberries every year when they were in season, some years cherries or apples), and the fruit would be frozen, or made into jams and jellies. Mom did some canning of veggies, but I think she found the freezer to just be easier!)
- We went fishing and crabbing as a family several times a year and would have the relatives over for steamed crabs!
- Daddy went out fishing on a charter boat a few times a year when certain fish were 'running'.
- Daddy went hunting for deer each year - and we ate venison or a 50/50 mix of ground venison and beef (though we didn't actually realize that at the time!)
- Many years we'd go in on a calf or piglet with an uncle that would arrange for the animal to be slaughtered in the fall and we'd have half a butchered animal in the big garage freezer.
So while there were indeed tons of grains, sugar, and dairy in the diet, I believe given the creativity of my folks in how they accessed produce/products, we COULD have had a beautifully Paleo diet that was tasty and healthy even within a very limited budget.
First thought - I love Chilean sea bass now, but Tilapia is really good too and half the price, and there's nothing wrong with canned tuna - not my favorite, but still meets dietary needs, very affordable. Eggs are also a great source of inexpensive high quality protein.
Second thought - change up the garden to reduce high glycemic index veggies and starches.
Third thought - more salads. Ditch the grains. Given the above referenced change in what was planted, that could have increased cabbage and other greens.
Moral of the story: sometimes we need to think outside of not only the fast food box - but maybe outside of the 'grocery store' too....
And... Thanks Mom and Dad!