My food history # 2. Mid 1960s – first nutrition lessons.

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Campbelltown Primary School NSW. Photo by Leonie Elizabeth 15 June 2015.

I learned a lot about food and nutrition from my mother. She had a lasting influence on me. There was basic advice all mothers give of “eat your veggies”. However, my Mum went further, explaining we needed different coloured vegetables especially green and yellow/orange vegetables. She told me in order to grow we needed meat as it had protein. Meat was much revered. My mother explained if meat was unavailable, eggs, milk or cheese could be used as an occasional substitute meal. I remember clearly her emphasis was ‘occasional’. I was given the impression that dairy foods and eggs were adequate in protein, but these were considered inferior to meat, which was best eaten at each meal.

In Grade 6, my teacher taught us about the five food groups which at the time were bread and cereals, fruit and vegetables, milk and dairy, meat and alternatives, and fats. Fat was considered important for delivery of fat soluble vitamins. I also learned about vitamins and minerals obtained from foods in each group, and again about protein. I discussed what I learned with my mother. The teacher had explained about vegetarians who did not eat meat and instead had eggs, dairy foods, beans and lentils. (There was no mention of vegans.) My mother explained she used lentils in her soups. Lentils could be a meat substitute, when meat was unavailable and during the war my grandmother used lentils often. I got the impression my mother thought it an inferior source of protein.

My mother told me about deficiency diseases, scurvy that sailors used to get because of lack of Vitamin C, and rickets (‘soft bones’) from lack of Vitamin D. She told me Vitamin C was in oranges and Vitamin D was in butter and sardines. When my mother was a child she was given cod liver oil to get for its vitamin D. My mother knew of a girl who had rickets. Her stories about people getting a ‘disease’ from not eating properly was quite scary for me as a child. So I did pay attention to eating the food my mother provided.

My mother and grandmother told me about food shortages and rationing during the second world war (1). I was grateful we did not have food shortages as they did then.

At the time I learned about vitamins, when about ten years old, I noticed some listed on the label of the chocolate flavour we used for milk drinks. Then I noticed the chocolate flavour my grandmother used had more vitamins than the one we used. I asked my mother if we could try it. It did not taste as good (it probably had less sugar in it!) and we soon went back to the original brand. This was my first experience of being sucked into advertorials on packet food. The label implied the food-product gave you energy. For a few years I truly did believe that the vitamins in those products (which were added to milk) had some magic energy benefit because of the added vitamins. My mother didn’t mind us having the sweet chocolate flavouring as she considered it important we drank the milk and the flavouring enticed us to do so.

It wasn’t the only thing that enticed us to buy certain foods. There were collectables in the cereal packets. With four children in the family, it was tough competition to see who could get the toy or card at the bottom of the packet to add to our collections.

As mentioned in my previous post on my childhood diet, most food was either home grown or at least home made, with vegetables grown in the garden, hens for eggs in the backyard, and a daily delivery of milk and bread. There was a small grocery store for purchasing of butter, sugar, flour and cleaning products.In the 1960s, the small grocery stores disappeared and supermarkets began to open, although these were quite small to begin with. The supermarkets meant that convenience foods could be bought such as packet cake mixes and ready-prepared foods in cans and jars.

In 1963 our family purchased its first television. We began to become influenced by the American way of life, and by TV advertisements.

Times were changing. So were our food environments.

This is a series of posts on my food history from my childhood up until 2013.

This is a series of posts on my food history from my childhood up until 2013.
My food history # 1 – My childhood diet – Late 1950s, early 1960s
My food history # 2 – Mid 1960s – First nutrition lessons
My food history # 3 – Late 1960s – Times are a-changing
My food history # 4 – Critical moments – my father
My food history # 5 – Fit 1970s – fibre – fruit – free of sugar
My food history # 6 – 1980s – Critical moments – a health scare – hypertension
My food history # 7 (part 1) – 1980s – Food Sensitivities – shattered ideals of healthy food
My food history # 7 (part 2) – 1980s – Food sensitivities – proving the culprit foods
My food history # 7 (part 3) – 1980s – Food sensitivities – hypertension & biogenic amines
My food history # 8 – The 1980s Healthy Eating Pyramid
My food history # 9 – The 1990s Nutrition studies – low GI – lipoproteins
My food history # 10 – 1990s combining ‘friendly’ with ‘healthy’ – a bland yet healthy diet
My food history # 11 – The 2000s – slow ticking time bombs
My food history # 12 – Critical events and life catastrophes


Disclaimer: Nothing in this article or on this website should be taken as medical or dietary advice. Anyone reading any information provided within should seek advice from their own medical practitioner for any issue, disease, illness or health-related problem they may have. Always seek your own advice from a medical practitioner or dietitian before changing your own diet.



(1) Food rationing in Australia occurred from 1942 to 1950 for tea (July 1942- July 1950), sugar (August 1942 to July 1947), butter (June 1943 to June 1950) and meat (January 1944 to June 1948). Australian Bureau of Statistics.



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