Sunday, February 5, 2012

Thinking About Grandpa

This time of year, I start to get nostalgic about my grandfather. He was born in 1930, of a flinty, resourceful generation of Depression era children. When he was a grade schooler, it was routine for him to return from school and head out with a gun in a hunt to shoot that evening's supper.

When my mom was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, a lot of food came from friends and family's farms - indeed my great-grandpa's nearby farm still yielded a good amount of fresh milk and eggs that my grandpa and mom would pick up when visiting.

Source: Flickr Creative Commons
Library of Congress
In my grandpa's eyes, breakfast cereal didn't constitute "breakfast" - that status was reserved for bacon and eggs, while breakfast cereal was usually relegated to the category of "snack". Even in his 70s, his fridge's supermarket fare was routinely supplemented with venison, turtle, and fish his friends and associates had hunted down.

Beside his time spent repairing things in his garage, gardening was his major hobby. It was at my grandpa's house that I'd survey his vast supply of canned produce and hear about less mainstream vegetables like kohlrabi. My grandpa's one indulgence was full fat vanilla ice cream, often topped with fresh or canned fruit from his garden.

My grandfather wasn't the paragon of healthy habits - indeed, he smoked cigarettes throughout his life and drank more than his share of alcohol as well. He died in his mid-70s of cancer in early February a few years ago, living much longer than we'd have predicted, owing to a handful of major health scares in the decade leading up to his death. Many of us marveled that he lived so long, but now I'm inclined to wonder if it wasn't his diet that was rich in animal proteins and fats and a huge variety of homegrown produce that kept him with us for much longer than he would have been otherwise.

Now I find myself trying to slowly cultivate the whole foods wisdom that was so hard-won by his generation, and I'm wondering what my grandfather would be thinking of the modern traditional foods renaissance.


  1. It's fascinating to think about the knowledge lost in just a couple of generations in regards to food. My mom was able to benefit from growing up on a farm, but has little desire to return to that way of life (or eating) for some reason.

    I am regularly thankful I have the internet as a resource on more traditional gardening and food processing, because I don't have any grandparents left to pass the knowledge on to me, if they even knew it.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this part of you. It really touched my heart to read it. :)


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