Sitting around the table with my in-laws this week, we struck up an interesting conversation. The topic of the conversation was for the benefit of my children, particularly the youngest son. It started like this:
" Poppy, when you were a kid, what did you do if your mum was cooking tea and it was still twenty minutes from being ready and you were staaaarving?"
"nothing.... you just had to wait" he replied.
"So, you didn't go and get a few biscuits out of the cupboard or eat an apple or grab a small packet of chips ?" We asked as youngest son's eyes began to get wider.
Pop told us all about the ways things were. You always ate everything on your plate because that was it! If the meal was cooking.... you waited. It was as simple as that. The meals were simple but adequate. They ate the same things all the time, there was no need for anything gourmet or new.
When I think about the 'old way' of eating there are a couple of things that always come to mind. Firstly, how the food was supposedly 'bad for you', - all that butter, bacon and dripping and yet only a very small proportion of the population was overweight. Secondly, the rhythm of eating - breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and supper. It sure seems to be a lot of eating!
What strikes me about the way we eat today is that we are NEVER hungry. I see mothers with prams pull out all sorts of weird and wonderful things - it seems that kids can't go anywhere without having an emergency box of barbecue shapes in their backpacks or a six pack of juice poppers because the label says they are good for us.
Is it my imagination or are we just grazing all day long ? Is food too readily available for us ? Has food become a pacifier to young children and is it to comfort rather than to nourish ?
It always seems strange to me that people ate traditional ways for such a long period of time, yet since food companies have been telling us how to eat more 'healthy' we are the unhealthiest we have ever been! Sure, we may be living longer, but we pop a lot of pills and have lots of replacement surgery in order to carry on.
Ockham's Razor ( a radio programme on ABC) featured a programme called Fructose recently. It was an extract from the book Sweet Poison by David Gillespie. You can find it here.
I was particularly interested in the way he looked back at how food intake and health changed in a relatively short period of time.
It was not that long ago that there were no gym memberships, no diet magazines and no meal replacement programmes. I think you will enjoy the glance backwards.
As far as our family goes, I want to talk more to my kids about the ways things were. I want to be more rhythmic in our eating patterns and stop for meals and morning/afternoon tea and enjoy the ritual of those events as well as the food intake. I may even bring back dessert! - home made of course!!!