Generational Food Trends: How we went from farm fresh to fast food and back again

generational-foodieFood choices – they define our generations – what can Traditionalists teach the Centennials/NeXters? Living in the present is the new “catch phrase.” It means to be mindful of your current surroundings, choices, emotions, and behaviors. It does not mean to close yourself off from the past. “Those who do not learn from history (the past) are doomed to repeat it.” – George Santayana

Normally this quote would be used to chastise a generation for going astray from past traditions or conventional wisdom. On the topic of food choices, we need to repeat the past! We are indeed repeating the past by moving towards a “fresh food” or “plant based” diet. I am from the generation which wasn’t important enough to deserve a name – Generation X (Xers) – according to the hilarious Dr. Mark Taylor, an expert in generational trends.

My generation got it wrong when it comes to food choices. Xers were taught to stay home (due to stranger danger), to take care of the family while our parents were out doing their own thing, and to heat up dinner in a microwave or eat the fast food our parents brought home after a late night of work. We saw our grandparents and great-grandparents prepare elaborate farm-fresh homemade meals. If we paid attention and were blessed to spend any length of time with the Traditionalists, we learned a lot about food.

Sadly, we bought into the hype and advertising power of fast food giants, microwave dinners, and food in boxes or on the shelf in grocery store aisles. We raised our kids with even worse food knowledge and traditions. We taught our kids that mac ‘n cheese was a meal. We put food on the table for special occasions, only. Our kids went from practice to practice, party to party, or event to event with chicken nuggets, fries, and a soda from a drive-thru window. If we were lucky, chocolate milk and apple slices replaced the fries and soda – which made us feel like better parents.

Who’s to blame for all this? Well, the Baby Boomers of course, they are to blame for everything that goes wrong in the world. No, they are not “to blame.” We all play a role in the food nightmare we have been living the past thirty plus years. Life changes, the world changes, demands change, and people do the best they can do with what they have. Blame is useless. It wastes time and energy. We go to “blaming others” to avoid dealing with our anger of having to make better and radically different food choices. Why? Because we love the junk food! We love the ease of access. Xers were taught Ronald McDonald was our friend. We loved him – not to mention our love for the Hamburglar.

Traditionalists used food they had available within their local community or from their own backyards. That’s one thing we can learn – grow our own food. They also cooked meals with finesse. Many meals took hours to prepare. Cast iron skillets, pressure cookers, and Dutch ovens were used instead of toxic laden scratch resistant mixed metal pans, microwaves, and toaster ovens. These are important lessons they taught us without realizing it (naturally).

Another lesson NeXters (and the rest of us) can learn from Traditionalists is the balance of proper nutrients and food groups. They can teach us about good fats, pickled or fermented foods, canning, no sugar added, real ingredients (nothing artificial), and homeopathic remedies for anything that ails you. We can learn from our past and fix our current food-related mistakes while living in the present.

NeXters need to know how to care for us when we are old and sick from all the junk we have ingested. Let’s raise a new generation based upon old food traditions.

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