Some of you know a little of my history. I’ve had to deal with some (minor) health issues, which pushed me the rest of the way into “health” food. While my own health issues have been minor (compared to cancer), they have affected my everyday life as one of them has been adrenal fatigue. When I first started going to a naturopath, I was so tired I had a hard time concentrating on anything, including even reading a book to my 9 month old daughter.
I’ve gotten much, much better and good food has been an important part of that. But while I have quite enough money to be able to eat healthy “poor man’s food”, I’ve still been limited in budget, time and energy, so as to not always be able to afford what would be the very best for me or my family. That can be frustrating.
But here’s where reading a little history has been helpful to develop gratefulness for how good I really have it.
In “A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove” it has been very interesting to read about the history of American women and cooking (though I don’t agree with everything the author concludes, I love the book). There were times in our history, where the poor had it a lot worse than the majority of us.
Before the industrial revolution, people didn’t waste anything, out of pure necessity. If the food they stored up didn’t last until the next harvest, they would starve. Therefore, saving up and storing food was vital to survival. It is true that there were times of crop failures and starvation, but overall, I think that things got worse for a while after the industrial revolution for the poor. It was such a huge transition, it was bound to have a rough start.
I could talk about the conditions of the houses the poor working man lived in, their hard working hours, their budget. But I think that sharing a few recipes will give you an idea of their plight.
This recipe, as quoted in the book, is from Widdifield’s New Cook Book, published in 1856 (which she advertised as “practical”).
“Pare two turnips and cut into quarters; one onion into small pieces; one carrot, sliced; a spring of parsley, chopped with a few tender leaves of celery; and one dessert-spoonful of rice. Put them into a stew kettle with three half pints of water and season with salt to taste. Place it over a slow fire and let it boil until reduced to half the quantity; then take it off and strain through a fine sieve, and serve hot with a hard biscuit or dry toast.”
A dessert spoonful of rice and two turnips with a carrot doesn’t sound so very filling or nourishing to me!
One dear women, Juliet Corson, felt the plight of the poor, and so decided to write a charitable cookbook called “Fifteen Cent Dinners for Workingmen’s Families of 6”. For this she raised money to print it and gave away copies of it. It was a huge hit, so the working poor must have found it helpful.
Here is one recipe from the book for Macaroni and Cheese, which, mind you, is supposed to feed a family of 6!
“Boil half a pound of macaroni, as above, put it into a pudding dish in layers with a quarter of a pound of cheese (cost 4 cents) grated and mixed between the layers; season it with pepper and salt to taste; put a very little butter and some bread crumbs over it, and brown it in the oven. It will make just as hearty and strengthening a meal as meat, and it will cost about 12 cents.”
Juliet Corson Fifteen Cent Dinner for Families of 6, 1877.
Wow. 8 ounces of pasta, 1/4 a pound of cheese, and a little butter and bread crumbs. My family of three wouldn’t be full on that!
Yet, I know that over in England during this same time period, the poorest working man’s family were surviving on potatoes. They would have envied America’s poor.
This was definitely a rough time in the history of both England and America. Standards of living are higher now for the poor, for sure. But I know that other nations are still starving today.
It’s a humbling thought.
So while it is easy to focus on what I wish I could afford, I know without a shadow of a doubt that I have much to be grateful for. Sure, I can’t afford everything I would like. I would like to be able to afford more meat, nicer free range chickens (I buy organic, but not free range), and a weekly allowance for nutrient dense seafood, I have been given a great gift of having more than enough to fill my belly.
While I hope this site helps encourages you to eat nourishing food, and make better food choices, if you ever feel the frustration of not being able to afford the best. I am with you! It is frustrating. But, I know without a shadow of a doubt, I have so much to be grateful for and I bet you do too.
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Really appreciated this…
Great read and good reminder to be grateful for what we do have. Thank you for posting!
Timely reminder that I needed, thank you Kimi.
Thanks for this, is was very timely!
I too wish everything could be organic or free range but you do what you got to do.
We have never sent our kids to bed hungry, God is good!
Thank you, Kimi. This puts my food budget into perspective… and even challenges me to see how I can pare back!
T. Sunshine Love
Thanks for the reminder. I get all kinds of fussy over not being able to eat as “right” as I want to, but this really does help put things in perspective. Thanks again.
This is a very inspiring post. I’ve been wanting lately, and this has helped me to think of it a different way. Thank you very much.
Such a wonderful post and so true! I experience the same frustrations (re: my chickens being fed organic corn and soy) – obviously I’d love to do better but I take comfort in knowing I’m doing the best I can 🙂
thanks so much for this post – it’s very helpful
This was very encouraging indeed. Thank you! And you’re so right…we just don’t have reason to complain.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and reminding us to be grateful for what we have. I only discovered your blog a couple of weeks ago – it is amazing! Thank you for all the work and research you are doing! I try to follow the Nourishing Traditions recipes whenever possible and it is so inspiring to see that there are other people doing this as well.
Great post. Sometimes its very easy to get too caught up in our routines, and our problems, sufferings, sacrifices, etc. Perspective is easily lost. Its good to remember that those that came before us, almost in every case, had it harder than us. Think about that. We, all of us right here right now, are having the easiest time overall since people started recording history. Really, i do not feel its an exaggeration to state it that way. Thanks for reminding us all.
THANK YOU for this post! It hit me on a couple of different levels because I too ‘suffer’ from adrenal fatigue. I just found this out last week and have been so discouraged. In trying to figure out how to eat well, I get down on myself because I can’t afford the expensive healthy food. What I you reminded me of is that my Heavenly Father knows what I need and is giving me what I have by way of money and food. To be discontented with His provision is an awful thought. I may not have much to work with, but what I have was given to me by an Omniscient provider!
I can’t tell you how much I needed to read this post. My husband works on commission and lately his paychecks have been about half what they had been. I have really been struggling with our food budget. But this post really put it into perspective for me. God has provided all my family’s needs. We have never had to experience true hunger. My garden is producing a bounty and I am always able to put a nutritious meal on the table. This post was the nudge I needed to be grateful for all we do have. Thank you!
Your posts always inspire me. We on the same page. It has long been my own goal to practice the art of appreciation. The wise understand that what you focus on grows! Thank you for the lovely reminder and fascinating bit of history.
Wonderful post! I’m going to order that book — it looks wonderful.
This post is a great reminder that we need to be grateful for what we have. And I appreciate your Pennywise Platter carnival which helps us all find ways to eat healthier on a budget. So important, especially during these times.
A blessing for one’s food, receiving food with gratitude, and mindful eating are all very nourishing – and satisfying, too. The Brahma Kumaris taught me this – as a nutritionist, no less! There were no classes on how to eat with thanks. Love is very filling, so I try to pour that into all I make.
We North Americans tend to pay very little time and attention to “what we are about to receive” – to look at it, smell it, anticipate it, taste it, feel it, enjoy it, savour it, experience it, remember it, notice how it makes the body feel…
Complete digestion is truly satiating and completely nourishing, down to the very cells of our existence! Thank you for the history lesson, Kimi.
Thank you Kimi :-). You are an encouragement to us.
I really enjoyed reading your post. Thanks for the reminder to be thankful for even just simple abundance. What a nice way to start the day.
Cara @ Health Home and Happiness
What a lovely spirit you have, I love this post.
Thank you, I always respect the proverbial “kick in the butt” to remind me that I have so much and that the universe responds best to our appreciation.
I also would love to hear more about what you have done to bring back adrenal balance to your body. I think that there are many of us who push ourselves to do more and be more and in the process we end up with weakened adrenals, so any specific thoughts would be encouraging to read.
In my reading I run across occasional recipes for things we throw away without thinking. Watermelon Pickles using the rind of the watermelon leaps to mind. I am indeed thankful for our prosperity!
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns,
and yet your heavenly father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable then they? Matthew 6:26
Thank you for this reminder!
A friend just sent this blog to me and i am so enjoying it. i have to eat very “clean” also because i have Addisons disease. This is a complete failure of my adreanals. Anything i eat that is processed etc. and i break out in horrible hives. It was very dipilitating before i got diagnosed and on meds. i can relate to having little ones and not feeling good. Thank you for all the encouragment on healthy foods, we are a family of soon to be 11 and it is hard to eat simply and healthy but still sty on a budget so i enjoy your blog very much. Pleas keep writing great articles, i am blessed…cristy
I was just reading that you have addison disease. Have you ever heard of that when the Indian’s had trouble with their adreanel glands,
they would just eat the adreanel glands raw. Dr. Ron and Standard Process sell disscated glandulars. I personally have celiac disease + allergy to dairy, nightshades, all grains ( rice + corn ) , soy, chicken, and turkey. I am very sensitive to chemicals as well as no canned foods. I only use 100% coconut oil soap for bathing. I have found by elimnating all these foods and cosmetics + adding cod liver oil and glandulars, I am healing and feel much better. I pray you will find a chiropractor who does muscle testing to find your culprits that are attacking your system and add cod liver oil, the glandulars, and remove all cosmetics and use only coconut oil and soap on your skin. You will feel better!!! I believe in leaving no stone unturned. Especially when you have other’s depending on you not to give up! Jane Austin died of addison disease. Isn’t it something some of the movies they have made out of her books her charactors are eating or harvesting potatoes. Nightshades are over looked to often when people are having troubles with adreanals, kidneys, and leaky gut syndrome. I pray this info is helpful!
One more thought! People often never suspect their teeth maybe causing them their troubles. Do you have ant root canals? I had three.
They all became infected. Have you had your wisdom teeth pulled? I personally was never going to heal unless I had my root canals pulled. The dentist who did my wisdom teeth surgary never cleaned the roots out correctly and that added to toxins into my system. When I had all root canals removed and my wisdom teeth area recleaned properly my energy level was better!
Thank you so much- I also found it very encouraging to read this post. Since discovering NT, I have often reflected that we are really the first generation of people who are able to study our foods on a scientific basis to decide what is healthiest, and then purchase what we like from round the country – or world if need be! This helps me not to become too neurotic about having the right brand of something, or having something in the house that’s not 100% kosher!
Beautiful post! It got me wondering about what portion of our annual income currently gets devoted to food costs in the USA? After a bit of Googling, the answer surprised me. Among other things, I found the following article online (source at bottom of excerpt). It states that in the UK, 22% of annual income is currently devoted to food costs while the US spends only 10%. According to the census bureau, the 2007 average income in the US is approx. $50,000. This means that if we were to purchase food at the UK rate of 22% of annual income, on average we’d spend $11,000 per year or $917 per month on food.
Here’s the article:
The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas reports that in 1919 the average American had to work 158 minutes to buy a three-pound chicken; nowadays, 15 minutes gets you the bird. Americans spend less than 6% of their after-tax income on groceries, a figure so low they can afford to spend another 4% eating out.
U.S. consumers spend roughly 10 percent of their income on food compared with 22 percent in the United Kingdom, 26 percent in Japan, 28 percent in South Africa and 51 percent in India. (2007)
The Japanese spend 16% of disposable income on food, and the Germans 17%. People in India still spend nearly half of their disposable income on food (1996 USDA). Daniel Akst ‘Cheap Eats’ Wilson Quarterly, Summer 2003.
Meghan (Making Love In The Kitchen)
Delightful! I came to the realization through my own health struggles. If only it didn’t take something bad for us to recognize the bliss in simplicity.
I love the historical posts!