Thursday, 4 October 2018

Why were our parents and grandparents healthier?

Growing Communities’ Farmers’ Market, north-east London The UK’s only 100 per cent organic farmers’ market is held weekly at St Paul’s Church, Stoke Newington, north-east London. All farmers are either organic or bio-dynamic and come from within 100 miles of Hackney. They bring in products such as greenhouse salad leaves, aubergines and peppers, organically farmed trout, lamb and chicken. Every Saturday, growingcommunities.org/market

Read more at: https://inews.co.uk/inews-lifestyle/travel/best-farmers-markets-uk/
Growing Communities’ Farmers’ Market, north-east London The UK’s only 100 per cent organic farmers’ market is held weekly at St Paul’s Church, Stoke Newington, north-east London. All farmers are either organic or bio-dynamic and come from within 100 miles of Hackney. They bring in products such as greenhouse salad leaves, aubergines and peppers, organically farmed trout, lamb and chicken. Every Saturday, growingcommunities.org/market

Read more at: https://inews.co.uk/inews-lifestyle/travel/best-farmers-markets-u
Unspoilt,undeveloped, the "green and pleasant farm land" of my childhood
There is a certain romantic lure of nostalgia these days,particularly where food is concerned.In the Great Britain of the 1950´s rationing created a postwar generation that was very well-nourished,but also completely resourceful.In the words of the writer Michael Pollan“Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognise as food".
 As a British expat I often find myself taking a defensive stand against certain criticisms of
that nations gastronomy.There was more to British eating than anyone who had not grown up there could possibly understand.The best British cooking,historically speaking,has been served not in restaurants, but in family homes where once dutiful mothers, not today´s egotistical masterchefs, took charge of the stove.As Jane Grigson puts it in one of her luminous books on British food,"our classical tradition has been domestic,with the domestic virtues of quiet enjoyment and generosity." And it may well be that I belong to the last generation of Britons to have proved this, putting it to the test it in another nation´s gastronomic culture.
Its true I was sent away to boarding school and traumatised as a child, as many of my compatriots must have been, by school meals and their malicious determination to remove all possible pleasure from the act of eating.I always remained unamused by the notion of suet puddings.Bread and butter pudding left me ready to retch at the refectory table.The stodge and slop we were presented with was pretty revolting.I have to say my schooldays were a rather dreary procession of spam fritters,tapioca and queen of puddings.
The less said about the meanness, the sensual poverty of British institutional catering,the better.In all its grim faced reality, that word"catering" is to me one of the ugliest in the English language,and has no precise equivalent in any other,as far as I know.
But there were good memories too.I recall accompanying my mum to buy cheeses from the shop that sold nothing but cheese, butter, bacon and pickles. The cheese was cut with a knife and wrapped in greaseproof brown paper."This is a cheese shop,there is nothing for vegans here."
What I remember best, however,was the solid, savoury repertoire of my mother´s home cooking.Joints of roast meat,with their various home made tracklements.Steak and kidney pudding and pie,two applications of the same ingredients producing dramatically different results.Cottage pie, meatloaf,fish pies.Sometimes we were treated to pheasant  if someone carelessly ran one over in the road or my father popped a pigeon with his rifle ( yes I know, less said the better).Turnips and swede were often found rolling in the road having fallen from a farm trailer.Vegetables were from the garden, leeks, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, courgettes, spinach and new potatoes boiled and glistening with a little butter and chopped fresh mint and curly parsley.My father would bring in heads of lettuce for our lunch or to be interleaved between two slices of brown bread with salt and pepper for a most delicious and oh so frugal sandwich.Gooseberry fool, rhubarb crumble and an endless parade of sweet puddings, rice, summer pudding.My mother, for her sins, rustled up the occasional anglicized curry with sultanas and chopped boiled egg.This was about as far as our palates would allow us for the moment, but the horizon of the exotic was not too far away.Spaghetti bolognese,paella ,coq au vin,it would not be long before we would be wanting more.There appeared to be no restaurants in those days,or at least that was what it seemed to one little whipper snapper,who´s first visit to a restaurant was when he was 12 years old.
On a number of issues – particularly food waste, but also obesity, nutrition, cost, pleasure even – there is much to admire in how our grandparents ate. In an era of limited choice and tight budgets, they made a virtue of the necessity to cook with whatever fresh ingredients were available. My parents cooked almost ‘sustainably’, and cooked every day for themselves, one of life’s best skills, and they never threw leftovers away. To that extent, I follow in their footsteps of being frugal and thrifty.
 I remember my grandmother´s kitchen; you went into her fridge, everything was covered with a saucer, she threw nothing away … we’re a bit lazy in that respect these days but we should take note, she lived to the grand old age of 98.She did not have a mobile phone."What is cholesterol? "she would say.
The so called United Kingdom appears to have lost home economics in a lot of schools.School lunch boxes are under scrutiny,which is a good thing.Banning them is perhaps a little draconian but the responsibilty for its contents should lie at the beginning of the day with a responsible parent.
Our sanitized world does not allow the immune system of the young to fully mature.For babies, breast milk was valued and it was always in season. I believe that breast feeding (which my Grandma always did) helped to build up their immune systems,and at the same time if you introduce something into the diet at an early age, then you’re less likely to become allergic to it.
Nowadays children can be hard pressed to identify the name of certain vegetables that are put before them.I remember having an encounter with a check out girl in a well known English supermarket whose brand shall not be named about what a courgette was.She sat behind the till waving this courgette in the air as she rang for a supervisor. "what you call dis  vegetable?"(great example of customer training skills and modern day literacy).
 Nothing more reassuring than home grown potatoes
For my parents generation,buying processed food was not an option.They didn’t eat GMOs, food additives, stabilizers and thickeners.Food was not yet treated with additives, antibiotics and hormones to help preserve shelf life and pad the pockets of food producers at the expense of the consumer’s health.There was no such thing as bag salads let alone leaves that had been washed in chlorine and then put in a bag  filled with a gas that keeps them fresh for longer. Apparently this also removes most nutrients from the lettuce. If truth be known the lettuce itself adds this gas to the package.
"Nose to tail" People ate the whole animal, which included mineral-rich bone broths and organ meats.Animal bones were saved or bought to make broths and soups, and organ meats always had a special place at the dinner table. These foods were valued for their medicinal properties, and never went to waste.Nowadays people don’t have the time to shop let alone the time to cook. Can someone explain to me at this point why boil in the bag fish is a "convenience" food.It takes longer to cook than a piece of fresh fish bought from the market which has double the nutrients. Everyone says England is a more unhealthy nation than ever, and yet not many are doing anything about it.
 In the 1950’s food came from farms and small markets, and because food preservatives were not widely used yet, food was fresh. Because of the lack of processed food, diets were nutrient dense, allowing people to get the nutrition they needed from their food.Today people aren’t taught how to shop.Our grandparents did not fall victim to fad diets, food marketing, calorie counting, and other detrimental dieting habits that are popular today (in part because the marketing infrastructure didn’t exist yet).Talk of cholesterol levels was yet to come and considered stuff and nonsense by that generation.
Because of this blindness to the truth, they had a healthy metabolism, and ate according to their body’s needs and cravings.They cooked food at home, using traditional preparation methods from scratch.Eating out was a rare luxury.Back in the 1950s rabbit meat was as common for dinner as chicken is today. It is the meat, not veganism, that got many people and their children through the lean times of the Depression.Lucky for our grandparents, these habits actually increased their health.
 Growing communities the Uk´s only 100% organic farmers market which  supports small, sustainable farms almost all from within 60 miles of London.
 The mobile butcher,baker and greengrocer used to pass by our house once a week with their very own grown produce.If you were lucky enough to live in the country, growers had stalls by the road selling fresh farm eggs and inviting you to pick your own strawberries and other fruit from their fields and orchards.My father grew prolific Jerusalem artichokes and sold them to local green grocers.I Was very encouraged when researching this post to discover that the farm shop in the remote Essex village where I grew up is still thriving.

Brookelynne Farm is a family owned and run business by John Carr and Son. Established in 1953,the year after I was born John's father Jack took on the council lease of a 45 acre farm. Since then it has been family owned and has expanded to 150 acres, with John now owning the freehold. Brookelynne Farm relies on traditional farming methods such as crop rotation and manure, in place of irrigation.All animals are fed on crops grown by the farm and all vegetables are grown using manure produced by the animals.What I found even more reassuring was the fact that Brookelynne Farm Shop supplies local schools, restaurants, pubs, village shops and residential homes with high quality fresh produce.My mother used to make and supply home made cream for the Carr family to sell by the roadside with their strawberries during the season.
My father had plum and greengage trees in the garden.He kept my mother supplied with most of the produce she needed, courgettes,rhubarb,gooseberries,raspberries and tomatoes in his greenhouse,and my mother used to make her own elderflower cordial,gathered from a tree in our garden.
The sad reality of all this is that today's ingredients have been transformed by a century of hybridization, mechanization, and standardization to meet the demands of an industrialized, cost-minimizing food system.
Traditional stone-ground cornmeal was replaced by hybridized corn, picked unripe, air-dried, and bashed to powder by steel roller mills, forcing cooks to add sugar when baking to simulate its former sweetness. Tomatoes are bred to be as indestructible as racket balls, and they're picked green, shipped to supermarkets across the country, and get a good zap of ethylene gas so they arrive perfectly round, bright red, and flavourless. Heirloom breeds of pigs, with meat so red it's almost purple and marbled with thick layers of fat, have given way to lean, factory-raised engineered breeds to pass as white meat.I remember the days when a tweet was the sound a bird made.
Growing Communities’ Farmers’ Market, north-east London The UK’s only 100 per cent organic farmers’ market is held weekly at St Paul’s Church, Stoke Newington, north-east London. All farmers are either organic or bio-dynamic and come from within 100 miles of Hackney. They bring in products such as greenhouse salad leaves, aubergines and peppers, organically farmed trout, lamb and chicken. Every Saturday, growingcommunities.org/market

Read more at: https://inews.co.uk/inews-lifestyle/travel/best-farmers-markets-uk/

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