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Is Tradition Bad? Food Choices & The Past

November 5, 2013
Once a modern barn, now gone. Torn down as an old relic, times have changed.

Once a modern barn, now gone. Torn down as an old relic, times have changed.

So often we want to look back to ‘better days’. We think, or imagine, it was better back then.

I often say we combine tradition with technology. We’re not opposed to technology but using it for the sake of using it doesn’t make sense. My mom would be turning 87 today. I think back, then, quite easily today to when she was born, my Grandmother’s time.

It’s often said don’t eat anything our grandmothers wouldn’t see as food. A friend posted something on Facebook that 80% of the ‘foods’ in supermarkets today didn’t exist 100 years ago. It’s often pointed to thoughts like this to show how much worse it is today than then. Stay with me for a minute…with that in your mind!

Historically the supermarket didn’t come to be until the 1930s and 1940s. It evolved to what we have today by consumer demand. People didn’t want to go to the farmer, the milk guy, the butcher and tend the garden out front. Added to the time cooking, baking, preserving – many, many things were different 100 years ago.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADo we want to go back totally? Few do! If you figure the 3-4 hours per week tending a garden, average, it can be up to 160 hours in 10 months – even at $5 per hour that’s a considerable time investment! Granted there’s times it’s not as much, but weeding, planting, tilling, harvesting – yes it adds up and sometimes more than 3-4 hours per week!

Lest we forget, 100 years ago they didn’t eat just part of the animal. Tongue, brains, lungs, oxtails, chicken feet, lungs, heart and kidneys were all used in meals, not tossed out as pet food! Remember the Jamie Oliver series where he cuts off the good cuts then trashes the rest? My grandparents would recoil in horror – how incredibly WASTEFUL! There are meals in there!

We would not think of requiring party lines, or manual typewriters, filing cabinets and card catalogs. For that matter, most find it outdated to look at things like libraries, playgrounds and school game days. Someone might get a rope burn in tug of war or someone might get hurt falling off the monkey bars. Yep. We did. And we learned not to do it again!

It’s easy to look at *other* industries. 100 years ago we didn’t fly across country or around the world like today. Steam engines and coal were big. Much still depended on four legged horsepower and our community was defined by how far we could live and still get to town when needed. Cars didn’t need speed limits because there was a limit to how fast they’d go. Many medical treatments meant death.


Jake (border collie) with “Dusty” (polled Dorset ram).

Pets lived in the barn, not in the house, more often than not. They got scraps, trimmings from the butcher and canned dog food, which often was horsemeat. Food contamination today compared to 100 years ago – our grandparents would dream of a safe, abundant, affordable food supply with choices on many fronts.

Today we can choose tradition or modern. Organic or conventional. Heirloom or biotech. Our parents and grandparents could not imagine a private phone let alone pictures that broadcast our image and words around the world! They couldn’t imagine buying livestock online, or that people would live far away from their food source.

Much has changed. Rather than a bad thing, perhaps we should just be thankful for the increased choices. The reality of the good that has developed in the last 100 years rather than the Disneyfied sugar coated way we think we want it.

My grandparents said be careful what you wish for – you might get it. Do we really think there was no cancer, illness or suffering in those days? No one buried a child from things we can fix today?

Do we really want to go back? Tradition and technology. It’s not just a slogan – it’s a way to use what benefits us and make it better.

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