February 7, 2011

Pork Fat, Sugar Sandwiches, and Blood Pudding...oh my!

How small is that grocery cart?
Lately I have been reminiscing about my childhood and all the fun I used to have playing softball in the park until dusk, buying Pixie Sticks at the concession stand at the baseball game, and always being able to count on my mother's home style cooking. I never really appreciated how great I had it. But isn't that what being a kid is all about?

I was raised on meat and potatoes and all those really interesting dishes that could only be invented by the Scottish. My dad used to drown pieces of bread in the bacon drippings, fry it up, and enjoy it with a good helping of blood pudding. My mom, with the hopes of getting my sister to eat something, would serve her a heaping plateful of fat trimmings from our pork chops....she loved it. There's nothing like a plateful of pork fat to keep a kid healthy.  Better yet, when mom wasn't around to cook dinner, my dad served us his specialty of sugar sandwiches (white bread, butter, and white sugar). .....and I didn't grow up obese. Could you imagine if we found out Sally down the road was eating pig fat for dinner now???? My God, the authorities would remove her from the home and place her in foster care...it may even hit the 5:00 news.

Remember these? I loved TV dinners.
The promise of the (whatever that
desert-like lookin thing is) was in
your face as you worked through dinner.
I never remember sugary cereals in the house (besides Corn Flakes and Rice Crispies). In fact, I used to go to my friends house and raid her stash of Fruitloops and Captain Crunch. I used to think she was sooooo lucky to have a mom who would by "junkfood" cereal. Our mom bought us carob chocolate (um..ya...carob..is that even around today?) and "Big Boy" oatmeal cookies. She would come home with a bag full of oats and instruct us to dip our bananas in them (she was pretty cutting edge, my mom).

Back then, this was seen as healthful eating. There were a few health food stores in our town but they sold the really weird food like tofu, dried fruit, and a ton of nuts and seeds (that only the hippies would eat). For a treat, our dad would take us to MacDonald's once every month (when you could feed a family of four for under $6). I can even remember the day he said I was old enough to have my first Big Mac...it was equal to graduating from high school or getting my drivers license. Our mother always cooked or prepared our breakfasts and dinners and sent us off to school with lunch. To this day I often crave a corned beef sandwich with butter and mustard on brown bread (do they even make corned beef anymore...and what is it anyway?). The good old days.

I was a child of the Brady Bunch.
To this day I still use the phrase...
"Something suddenly came up."
(Marcia Brady)
At any rate, I didn't struggle with weight or grow up to be obese. So what's so different now? Why do we have the rates of obesity we have?  Should we put the blame on fast food? Maybe we are too focus on technologies that keep us seated? Perhaps it is lack of physical activity in general? Or maybe blame those who didn't breast feed or fed their babies solid food too early.  I would hate to be a kid growing up now. It is a totally different world than it was in 1975 and, in many ways, that's sad to me.

I can't even guess how babies born now are going to experience their childhoods. Sometimes it scares me to think about it and other times I am hopeful things will change so they, too, enjoy a childhood full of fresh air and activity. One thing is for sure, we are going to have to see a large community group come together to make change and from what I see right now....everyone is too busy to think about it.

Don't try this at home....
So now I take pleasure in visit those retro-candy stores that are popping up here and there for a visit into the past. From Bottlecaps and Fizzers to Lick-a-Stick and that tube of white powder you'd stick your licorice in (the name escapes me, but the memory doesn't)...it makes me smile when I see them and I remember the good old days sitting in the grass washing down a mouthful of Pop Rocks with a can of Coke to see if our heads would explode (we were a daring bunch back then).

That's all I have today.

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