Thursday, June 18, 2009

My history with organics

After reading Carolina Trekker's comment on yesterday's post, I thought some of you might like to know a little more about my history with organics. It starts a long time ago, when I was just a young 'un. My mother had grown up during the Great Depression (she was 40 when I was born), and she was a big proponent for the newest "food" in the grocery store. Didn't matter what it was, she'd say, "Eat that. It's good for you." Seriously, she'd say that about potato chips, frozen pizza, and canned Spaghetti-Os!

It should come as no surprise that I was sick -- a lot! By the time my first child was born when I was 24, I had started to think that maybe I was sick so much as a child because my diet was not particularly nutritious. But in my mother's defense, let me take a step back. When she grew up, you could say, "It's good for you," about everything that was edible. It was before the days of 8-syllable ingredients on food labels that were six inches long. People only ate food. There was no high-fructose corn syrup, margarine, or hydrogenated vegetable oil. And my mother had grown up on a farm, so she ate a lot of fresh, organic food.

The big buzz words after World War II became modern and scientific. And like almost all Americans, she jumped on the bandwagon and started buying margarine and using chemical pesticides in her garden. But with people like Eleanor Roosevelt trumpeting the superiority of margarine, it should be no surprise that most Americans switched to the artificial "food."

When I was pregnant with my first child, I honestly thought I was having a nutritious meal when I ate a cheeseburger and fries. I had my meat, my dairy, my starch, and my vegetables (pickles, lettuce, and potatoes). Yes, I seriously thought potato chips were a vegetable. I had the four food groups covered! What more did I need?

Luckily, after my baby was born, I went to a La Leche League meeting, and they were talking about nutrition. Someone had created a nutrition game, and the only thing I remember 21 years later was one of the questions. "Is a cheese sandwich a nutritious lunch?" Good thing I didn't get that question! A woman responded that it would be nutritious if you were talking about cheddar and whole wheat bread, but not so nutritious if it was white bread and American processed cheese. Was she speaking English? There's a difference between breads and cheeses. And that's where my nutrition education began. I started reading everything I could find on nutrition. I didn't want my children to grow up sick all the time like I had.

So, in the late 1980s, I began feeding my family homemade whole wheat bread, buying organic food, reading labels, and cooking a lot from scratch. A year later, we became vegetarians, and all three of my children were raised as vegetarians. For years, I rolled my eyes as people told me that my children were going to be anemic, weak, and sick -- as they were taking their own children to the pediatrician, getting tubes in their ears, and giving them antibiotics on a fairly regular basis. My children were never sick.

To this day, my 16-year-old has never taken antibiotics. My 18-year-old son was on antibiotics when he had an abscessed tooth, and my now 21-year-old daughter took them when she had Lyme disease at age 3. If they get a virus, they go to bed for a few hours, sometimes a day, and they're fine. My youngest had an earache once, but it was gone by morning.

If you've read Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food, it should not be a big surprise that we're so healthy. We "eat food, mostly plants, not too much."

Tomorrow, you'll get to peak inside my pantry.


Lisa @ Life with 4! said...

Good post!
I have recently switched to baking all of our bread at home and buying as much organic groceries as I can. We raise chickens for eggs and buy beef from my Dad. We are also supplied with fresh elk and venison.
And this year is my first year to have a big garden... and I'm doing it without any chemicals.
I have begun to see the importance of eating more naturally for my kids.
Still trying to get my hubby on the bandwagon though. He is a junk foodie, all the way!

Carolina Trekker said...

This morning I found a website called All-Local Farmers' Market-Local Harvest at (It will ask where your located.) It listed Natural/Organic Farmer's Markets with operating times & location (ours in Columbia, SC set up in parking lots on various Saturdays.)It included a long list of local Natural/Organic farmers who will be set up there. Also listed were Local Farms we can visit that offer U-Pick & Already-Picked.
"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." As a child of the Fifties, I have a long way to go!


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