I wasn't raised Paleo - but I could have been.....

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)
- hamburgers
- 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!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Good thoughts!
    2538 days ago
    Excellent blog.
    2541 days ago
  • SAMI199
    2541 days ago
  • XRSIZE18
    When I was growing up we had a big ol' garden with tons of fresh fruit and veggies. We didn't have a lot but we knew the meaning of hard work and our family thrived on the love we held for each other. Great memories!
    2541 days ago
    I can totally relate!
    Great blog!
    2541 days ago
    Very good points that you've made. Makes a person think back and realize that what we ate was good and not full of "bad stuff" that is found in so much of the food now.
    2543 days ago
  • no profile photo FITKAT62
    I remember having those huge bags of puffed wheat cereal.

    2543 days ago

    Comment edited on: 5/6/2012 10:58:58 PM
    loved this blog...loved your thoughts..point well taken...

    thank you for taking the time to post this
    2544 days ago
    growing up I ate tuna fish almost every day....that was my lunch of choice.
    back then, I don't think they had the mercury issue they do now. But canned tuna has become very expensive. And I want the best option for my Omega 3s.
    I now buy canned salmon (CHICKEN OF THE SEA, and BUMBLE BEE). The can states WILD PINK SALMON...so I assume it is not the Atlantic farmed variety that is not recommended. And the price just about equal what I would pay for tuna.

    and cabbage has become my staple instead of the rice or pasta I used to have at every meal. With so many varieties ...from bok choy, savoy, napa, red...they are all so versatile. raw and cooked. and did you know they give different health benefits depending on whether they are raw or cooked?
    2544 days ago
    I know how you feel, I love some of these high price items , too. But I learned to cook with more veggies, I am lucky that we have a lot vegetable stand around here where you can pick up some of them for a good price. And at Winn DIxie they have a lot of buy one get one free sales, mostly chicken and fish. I am now spending a lot less then I used to, because I don't buy any junk or overly processed food.

    2544 days ago
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