Living through history. Our changing food environments. 1950s – 1970s.

 

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While I was growing up and in the years as a young adult, as my own family mainly consumed home-prepared foods, garden-grown vegetables and eggs from our back-yard hens; swirling all around me were economic improvements and major shifts in social norms, a prelude to the storm that was to become a complete restructure of our food environments within a generation.

Working and walking

In my parents youth, in the 1930s and 1940s, times were tough with the depression, World War 2, and food rationing. The 1950s through to the 1970s were decades of relative improved prosperity. My father worked full-time. Initially he rode a bicycle to work. In the 1950s only 10% of families had cars. (2) Gradually we became a one-car and in the 1960s a two-car family. My mother was a homemaker, as the majority of women were in the 1950s. There were no modern appliances. Housework took many hours with washing, ironing, sweeping, cleaning, and chopping wood. The evening meal was cooked over many hours. In the 1950s, women averaged 77 hours per week housework. (2) As children we walked to and from school, except on rainy days when we caught the bus. After school we rode bikes around the neighbourhood or played in the back yard. Continue reading “Living through history. Our changing food environments. 1950s – 1970s.”

My food history # 4 – critical moments – my father

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Oils and fats

There are some defining moments in my life that have become etched so vividly in my memory that I can feel the events exactly as if I was still there. Where I was. The time of day. The clothes I had on. The colour of the wallpaper in the hallway. The shakiness in my mother’s voice. Such was the night my father had his heart attack and was rushed to hospital by ambulance. The slow-motion event was replayed four years later after his stroke. That time my father did not come home. It was January 1974. My father was 49 years old. I was one month shy of my twentieth birthday. Continue reading “My food history # 4 – critical moments – my father”

My food history # 3. Late 1960s – times are a-changing.

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In 1966 it was my first year at high school. The biggest difference for me, in regards to food, was that snack foods could be purchased from the school canteen: confectionery, chocolates, chips, crisps, nuts, pies, and sausage rolls. In primary school only sandwiches and fruit were available, except once a week on Mondays. Needless to say, I revelled in this new-found freedom of being able to purchase lollies. Every. Single. Day. Continue reading “My food history # 3. Late 1960s – times are a-changing.”

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. Continue reading “My food history # 2. Mid 1960s – first nutrition lessons.”

My food history # 1. The 1950s and 1960s – my childhood diet

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Late 1950s and early 1960s- my Childhood Diet

As a young child my family had a red-meat-centred diet.

We ate meat every day except Friday. We usually had two courses for evening meals, either soup and main course or main course and dessert. My mother served the food out and we needed to finish our main course in order to get dessert. Soups were home-made by my mother over many hours. Main course was lamb chops or sausages deep fried in beef dripping, or beef stews. We had three vegetables every night for dinner of potatoes plus an orange/yellow/red vegetable and a green vegetable. After school we would help with the preparation by shelling of the peas, and the peeling and chopping of vegetables. It was a routine afternoon activity. For desserts we had home-made sweetened milk-based puddings such as blancmange, custard, rice pudding, tapioca, or sago. These were often accompanied with jelly or stewed fruit. Sometimes we simply had jelly and custard. Continue reading “My food history # 1. The 1950s and 1960s – my childhood diet”