There’s a lot of talk on the news these days about the growing (no pun intended) problem of obesity. They say our kids eat too much and don’t exercise enough, and so do the parents.
Well, whose fault is that? They’ve made the food taste so much better and not exercising more appealing.
Back in the days when fresh vegetables were rare except during a few months of the summer, our veggies were from a can and tasted awful. No one is going to overeat canned spinach or green beans. Today, all vegetables on the planet are found at our local supermarkets, and not only salad makings and fresh, crisp, green spinach, but food for the more adventurous cook. Need some taro root and persimmons in a hurry? Hannafords has them. Want fresh cherries in January? No problem. Grapes? There’s four different varieties to choose from.
I remember when frozen orange juice came into our lives. It was hard to believe that it was the same, yucky thing we had been drinking from a can for all those years. I remember thinking, “This stuff tastes just like oranges!” Real oranges were enough of a treat those days that they were usually found in one’s Christmas stocking.
We ate differently then. I still marvel at how my mother prepared meals for the gang of nine without ever serving pasta, let alone pizza or tacos. There was no take out, no McDonald’s, no Chinese food delivered to your door along with the video of your choice.
All cold cereal was frowned upon. “Empty calories,” pronounced my mother. “Too much sugar; it will rot your teeth.” To this day I seldom eat cold cereal and prefer oatmeal, Cream o’ Wheat, Maypo and Wheatena.
Milk was plentiful and encouraged. The milkman delivered the stuff three times a week by the case and there was an all-you-can-drink policy in force at our house. Chocolate milk and gallons of cocoa were our indulgences. Soda of any kind never darkened our refrigerator.
Dinner….I look back and wonder what we were thinking? Creamed dried beef on toast, salmon wiggle on saltines, creamed fried salt pork, and liver (used to be cheap and good for you, now it’s expensive and not good for you).
Portions were small, no seconds. No desserts except on holidays. Roasts (chicken, pork, beef, lamb) on Sundays at 1 p.m.
There were occasional cookies if someone made them; you didn’t buy cookies.
Ice cream was a huge treat: vanilla, chocolate and sometimes strawberry, with strawberry considered exotic.
As far as exercise, there was plenty of it, albeit unintentional. Unless you lived miles and miles from school, you walked. And you walked home for lunch (always a peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich and plenty of milk) and then you walked back to school. And then walked home. And after supper you went out and played kickball or “red light” until the street lights went on.
You walked to the store for your mother; you walked to church; you walked everywhere.
And we were a skinny bunch of kids, but so were all our friends. I do remember however, one Halloween when my third-grade class paraded into the sixth-grade class in costume and someone immediately identified me by my “scrawny neck.” I was heartbroken and wailed to my mother, “Will I always be skinny?” And she said “no.”
What she didn’t say was that one day I would live on skim milk and celery, and go to a gym and lift weights in an attempt to weigh less than twice what I did in those days.
We didn’t have TV programs to lure us to flop on the couch with a bag of chips. We didn’t have the Food Network that entices us to cook and eat even more.
I wonder how many carbs were in a serving of creamed dried beef on toast?