Thoughts on the evolution of the modern family and how our eating habits and health declined soon after

SPOILER ALERT! There are no recipes to tips or hacks in this post. No nugget at the end. This shall be strictly words. A rant if you will. If you choose to read anyway, thank you, I appreciate that. If you decide to close the tab, I understand, and hope to see you again on another post.

Health is like an RRSP.

You gotta buy into it. It’s best to make small, continual investments to see the gains. Start young. You can’t invest everything at the eleventh hour and think things will be ok.

In the not-so-distant past, households, could be sustained comfortably on a single income. This enabled one of the adults in the family to prepare meals for the rest. Shopping was done several times a week and with trips to the butcher shop and green grocer almost daily. You knew the butcher and he knew your name. The green grocer would let you know there were lots of squash coming in the fall as the crop was good this year. You supported one another in the community by purchasing from their shops.

Someone decided that we needed more. No, we more than needed more. We wanted it. Not wanted. Deserved. Yes, that’s it. We deserved it. We deserved more. We deserved bigger, better, faster and stronger. We devised ways to do more with less effort. We wanted a bigger tv, another car, a boat would be nice, Janey wears XYZ brand of jeans, why can’t I, primary school kids have to have the latest iPhone. We needed more money to get these things faster than our parents, so dual income houses became the norm. Meal time became a chore because both parents weren’t getting home until late afternoon/early evening and the kids were starving. We fixed this problem. We created instant food. Not instant like the Bugs Bunny cartoon with the Acme Instant Martian ~ just add 1 drop of water, kind of instant, but food you can have it ready in an instant, or fraction of the time it would have taken to prepare from scratch.

We took our double income family and decided our kid was going to be the next hockey player/football star/doctor/lawyer/dancer/singer/ultimate fighter so we scheduled every waking moment with activities and lessons. We began placing a lot of importance of what our kid was rather than how or who our kid was. This over scheduling compounded our time problems too. Modern kids are more stressed than ever trying to do all the things we have them signed up for. Some training starts early in the morning for ice time, pool time, then a day of class, lunch bag filled with everything in a colourful package and wrappers, then after school care and more training sessions until dinner. Some more practices in the evening and weekends are reserved for games, tryouts, festivals and recitals. School work was supposed to be done in there somewhere. Meals on these nights are often on the fly. It is not uncommon to see a child with take-out coffee, whipped up coffee milkshakes and energy drinks to keep them going during their day. Those poor bodies. The justification is that it is a half-fat latte or a diet pop. We now recognize and are recognized by the drive-thru employees, pizza and chinese food delivery drivers. Weird thought: we tip these folks for bringing us sub-standard food. Why?

 

More and more of our meals came wrapped in plastic or in a cardboard box. We only need add water, oil or margarine. Occasionally there would be a sectioned meal covered in foil and frozen. These icy meals allowed everyone to choose something different for dinner and all could be popped into the oven at the same time. The family could still eat together but with personal choice satisfied. Of course, each choice came with the mandatory dessert of either apple spice cake or chocolate brownie. Inevitably, in the processing/handling stages, one or two of the veg would work their way into the dessert square. This was modern cooking.

Food products now come with extended expiration dates. Food is supposed to spoil, isn’t it. It is not meant to last indefinitely on a shelf. We are meant to get what we need for a short period of time, consume it within its window of readiness and then repeat. This constant replenishing of food allows us the opportunity for different vitamins, minerals and nutrients from our next selection. Variety baby!

Is it any coincidence our health issues have increased in alarming rates in this same time period? Type II Diabetes, or Adult-Onset as it used to be coined, is now becoming common in younger children. We all know cancer stats are rising. More children are battling cancers. I believe the rates are around 1 in 7 for breast cancer. I recall back when I was in school, it was 1 n 20. Increased numbers and varieties of auto-immune diseases. Autistic Spectrum Disorders and other cognitive function challenges are pretty common. As if Alzheimer’s Disease wasn’t enough, we now have Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease. This is being labelled as Type III Diabetes. The list seems endless.

What have we done to ourselves? Is it too late? Can humans be saved?

I think so. We are drowning but someone has chucked us a rope. We need to grab it and haul our sorry carcasses out of the water. No one is jumping in to save us.

Is it difficult to read every label? Yes. Is it time consuming? Yes. Can you avoid it? Yes, you can. Buy things that do not come with labels. Shop the aisles of the grocery store. Buy vegetables that are still vegetables. Buy fruit that is actually real fruit. Not crap like blue-raspberry flavoured gummies. Choose proteins like fish, chicken, pork, red meat, and organ meats (if you are game) that are ready for your personal flavour profiles. Write out meals for the week. Buy what is on your list. Prep it. Cook on the weekend. Use crockpots, pressure cookers and batch cooking to your advantage. Get others to help in the kitchen. Teach a child how to snap asparagus. You are teaching life-skills. Talk about the ingredients while you work. Taste things raw if appropriate.

The question is, how badly do you want to feel better?

 

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