Posted by: Angela | May 25, 2007

Pondering childhood and food

If you are at all interested in the ideas of food and how we procure our food, you have heard the myriad conversations, books, interviews, etc. on the subject of eating locally. Barbara Kingsolver (if you have not read The Poisonwood Bible, go read it now, then read this post), has written Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. I haven’t read the book yet, just heard the NPR interview. Another book on the subject is Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon. Again haven’t read it yet but here is the NPR interview.  Okay I am sure you are wondering where this is all leading…well I was setting the stage to reveal…

My parents were revolutionary people. By the measures of these books and much discussion today, they were globally conscious as they raised us out in the country. And here all this time, I was under the mistaken impression that they were simply cheap and wanted to make our lives miserable. I had the childhood that many families that you can read about on the blogosphere are trying to create for their kids.

My mother did not have a garden out of anything more than that’s how she was raised, that’s how it is done on a farm, and it saves a boatload of money. She wasn’t trying to reduce the world’s oil consumption or slow global warming. No, just trying to keep food on the table.

Whenever I read or hear about families doing what I grew up doing deliberately, my first thought is always “do you know how much work it is”. Because you are going to spend an inordinately large amount of time thinking about food, preparing food, and thwarting your child’s reading time with snipping green beans. But then that child grows up and discovers she really hates canned green beans from the store. So she will only eat fresh or frozen if she absolutely has to. We were so spoiled and we whined about it all summer, every summer.

Our meat largely came from our place or other family members. We ate so much venison (a deer license is cheap source of meat) that I just can’t eat it now for the most part.  Beef from our cows, pork from our hogs, and fish from the Platte River. There are people willing to pay money for this childhood of mine.  I swore out vow upon vow I would not work this hard for food when I grew up.

I will have to admit I am still often astounded at the determination of people to have this life. I now see the value and the gift in it. I want a big garden and hope to begin preserving some foods. But honestly, I don’t know if I want my childhood back.

Those are thoughts for another time. Right now I will leave you with the magical thoughts of my all natural, wholesome, full of sunshine childhood out in the country in Nebraska.



  1. good to see you blogging again 🙂 Well, I must confess, I am definitely not trying to create that gardening mentality for my daughter. 🙂 The poor thing will have minimal cooking skills passed down from me, however what I do make, I invite her in to help, so I guess that is something positive!

  2. Welcome back. I miss your blog when you do those breaks. Although I totally understand. I like the idea of eating locally, am toying with organic food (which is horribly expensive for the most part). Quite a few of the people I’ve met recently are into all-natural organic stuff. Growing up on an island where very little grows, actually instilled a sense of the mystic about farming. Earlier today I was answering the question “Mommy how do you make tomatoes look like they’re supposed to?” (I was softening sun dried tomatoes.) It got me to thinking that I should probably grow some tomatos or something as a family project….

  3. I just found a friend who moved to Wisconsin recently. We lived in Chicago, in the city and often joked about what “city people” we are (or were.) So funny that now I live on the backroads of Tennessee and she lives on a goat farm in Wisconsin doing JUST what you describe in terms of feeding her family. I’m actually going to try to buy organic meat from her if she can ship it at this point!

    We’ve been eating organic and/or local for a few years now and yes, it’s pricey but I see it as an investment…in our health and the economic health of the community and the world at large. One day I’ll get that garden put in…when I stop spending so much time online! LOL

  4. Thank you for this post! I am actually from what I describe as a small town plopped in the middle of corn fields and pig farms. Your post reminded me of all the good old days when life was simple. I too got tired of snipping green beans, shucking corn, hulling strawberries and canning everything in site. It is funny to think that my brother and I used to say “Steak again!” We are lucky now if we have steak once a month! Great post!

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