Why Vegetables?

From my earliest memory as a child, my family had a garden. Both my parents were farm kids when they were growing up. My father’s family were sharecroppers and my mother’s family owned land and farmed. So whether we lived in the country or in town, we had a vegetable garden. In fact, all the families in my extended family had gardens. It was how we survived on a factory worker’s salary or a nurse’s salary. We grew what we ate, sometimes picking it in the morning and cooking it that night. Vegetables were so abundant in the summer that we had to can, freeze, pickle and jelly some of them so they wouldn’t spoil.

My father came home from his factory job in the 1960’s and ’70’s, ate supper, then went out and worked in the garden until dark. In the morning, my mother would wake me to help her pick beans or corn or okra from the garden before it got too hot in the day. I can still remember the dew on the plant leaves, the little green bugs I would flick off the leaves and the feel of the bean in the pod as I would evaluate which ones should be picked and which ones needed more time to grow. I remember five gallon buckets of tomatoes and always having cucumbers and radishes on hand for salads or edible garnishes. In the fall, we would have turnips and collards, sweet potatoes and winter squash. On fall Saturdays, we would take a bucket out to the pecan trees and pick up pecans from the ground, then go in and crack them so Mama could use them in baking all those good cakes and pies for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was a good life and I have to admit, I didn’t appreciate it. I didn’t think it was so great to have to do all that work to get something to eat. You see, we never had potato chips or Fritos or crackers other than saltines in the pantry. We didn’t snack on food in front of the TV, either. When the dinner dishes were done, the kitchen  stayed clean until the next morning.

Things have really changed. Today, in 2012, somewhere around 70% of all Americans eat in a restaurant once a week and some eat outside the home 4-5 times a week. Restaurant chefs are interested in selling food. They are not interested in our health as my mother was when she created home-cooked meals. A quick look at restaurant menus and popular TV cooking shows demonstrates how much Americans love anything that is fried, dipped in batter, stacked between two pieces of bread and slathered in mayonnaise and butter. I remember days when I would look back on what I had eaten for the day and it would be an egg and bacon sandwich with mayonnaise, a hamburger or cheeseburger and french fries for lunch and pizza or macaroni and cheese for dinner. Everyone is busy and on the go. So how can the average American get the vegetables that make us strong and good-looking and decrease the inflammation that leads to multiple health problems?

This blog is created in an effort to find the vegetables. In restaurants and at home, vegetables are the carbohydrates that should appear on our plates instead of so much bread. (That’s a subject for another page.) Hopefully, this will help people who don’t eat vegetables for various reasons. Vegetables really are flavorful and delicious when prepared with some thought and care. I will use bacon and cheese at times for flavor as I do not fear fat. I have a healthy respect for fat and use it for flavor in a balanced diet. In fact, I have found that now that I don’t eat everything as a sandwich, I eat a lot less fat. So, expect to see butter on my broccoli. It makes it taste so good!


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