Food me once…
Shame on who?
My mother loved food. She also could not cook.
Raised on microwaved chicken, industrial blocks of government cheese, and generics when they were still obviously wrapped in black and white cardboard, fresh veggies from the garden were quite possibly the only flavor in my childhood palate. Those fresh flavors still take me back to my single digits, weeding and watering my grandparents’ and my mother’s garden, sneaking peas and tomatoes, and wondering why we weren’t allowed to have dressing on our salads.
Food me twice…
Shame on… me?
I was lucky to have been raised in a family who gardened and canned before it was cool. It’s second nature to me to plant a vegetable seed and watch it grow. Farmers’ markets make perfect sense to my food budget. Little did I know how unusual it was, now that every urban professional with a little spare time wants to be like me. Thankfully, even though my parents were poor (and cooking-challenged), I was fed fresh, decent, real, food.
That’s not easy to do anymore. Convenience is key when families manage two work schedules, school and daycare, cub scouts and dance lessons, with enough time to toss food at the kids in the backseat and hope for the best. No matter… there’s nothing that could harm me in that prewrapped meal, is there?
Yeah, right. Thankfully, I came to the conclusion that I needed to learn a *lot* more about what I was putting into my children’s bodies early on. Between an article about the prevalence of soy in our diets (when my toddler was drinking soymilk exclusively), reading Fast Food Nation and swearing off fast food because I was completely freaked out by downer cows in the food supply (as you all should be too), and becoming a Michael Pollan groupie, my eating habits changed ASAP. Our family has evolved to supporting local farmers wherever possible, eating “happy” cows, chicken, and pigs, and buying more vegetables than one knows what to do with through our CSA. Our little corner of the world has access to an abundant local foodshed, so it’s easier for us than it is for many people, but we’ve found that if you make learning about what goes into your food a priority, you can’t un-learn it.
Now my desire to feed my family ingredients I can actually pronounce has intersected with my professional training and experience. Throw urban planning, community development, and passion about local non-processed foods into a blender, and out comes strong interest in urban community gardening, food security, public health issues, childhood obesity, and other related issues. It’s a regular topic of conversation with friends, family, and coworkers.