My parents were born in 1916. Back then allergies were just
something you handled, as my mom would say: “Toughen up and just get over it.” Peanuts were everywhere, and milk was given out with school lunches.
Fresh Foods were local foods. I remember accompanying mom into the produce section and being thrilled that she wanted to know if I had any preference for a dinner vegetable. After thinking for a moment, I said – Squash! She gave me a very disapproving look and told that it was not the correct season for squash. We could only get that late summer or early fall, like when the pumpkins were available. I was a little confused and disappointed that squash was not on the menu.
Americans, in general, weighed less. Again, relying on my faulty memory, looking at television and media and even sports, people were smaller. They were not bulked up with muscles, and someone that was fifty pounds overweight was rare.
I’m not sure the cause – perhaps the chemicals in our foods, plastics leaking into our bodies, or foods just being raised out of season – not only are people bigger but we seem to be sicker. Now when I invite people for dinner, there always seems to be something that I need to avoid during the cooking process.
We are fortunate that we have several sources for fresh fruits and veggies. A farmer’s market is a great source for local produce. Whether organic or not, you will be better off eating foods that have just been picked and brought to market. If you don’t have a local marketplace, you can take a drive and go directly to the farms. Many have small roadside stands where you can purchase food that was picked today. Be sure to bring a cooler so you can get your produce home safely.
Do you like challenges? If you do, consider learning about old-fashioned food preservation. There are many ways to safely store these fresh items, including canning, dehydrating, and flash freezing.
My parents loved peaches. When fresh peach season arrived, they would go directly to the growers and buy fifty or sixty pounds of peaches. Fresh peaches are full of juice and explode their flavors into your mouth. Once the peaches came home, my parents would peel, cut, and can them. It took an entire day. In the winter they would open a jar of peaches and it made you think of summer.
In late summer we would pick buckets of wild blackberries and these would be made into jam. Strawberries would turn into preserves. Cucumbers were stuffed into jars and became pickles. Green beans were standing tall in their jars ready to make a delicious side dish.
My father would take raw meat and turn it into delicious jerky. I don’t go to such lengths, but I do use a Food Saver so that the foods that I freeze will have the best shelf life.
Lastly, think about your travels – where you are going and what’s available. My parents took a trip to Idaho in their camper. When they came home, I knew something was up as my father was all giggles. When I asked him if there was something unusual about this trip, he replied that he and my mom had been hunting. Hunting? My mother would never go hunting.
Then he opened the door to the camper and potatoes began pouring out. Hundreds of pounds of potatoes. While in Idaho they met a farmer who told them about growing potatoes. He used machines to pick the potatoes. But if the potatoes were too big or too small then they didn’t get picked up. My parents were able to go through the field grabbing the leftover potatoes, paying almost nothing for them.
Foods that are picked halfway around the world and shipped green to you so that you can eat them out of season are not as tasty as carefully preserved fresh foods. Take the fresh food challenge. You’ll be surprised and delighted with your efforts.