food shopping

Ruth Mary Hallock (1876-1945) American Illustrator
illustration by Ruth Mary Hallock

Food – the kind of food we eat and the amount of money we spend on it are hotly debated topics. Because of Tim’s heart disease I’ve been on a quest to find a “diet” that will help his body cope with his compromised state of health. In 2012 we tried a vegan diet and he wound up in the hospital twice that year. In 2013 we switched to a grain-free diet and he has not been hospitalized at all, in spite of being under tremendous stress coping with his brother while he was living with us.

But I’m not writing this to promote any particular way of eating, in fact, my stance is very non-judgmental because I suspect different bodies may need different foods to thrive and avoid disease. One of the most difficult things for me about having Tim’s brother with us for eight and a half months was not that his own diet seemed so unhealthy, but that he never let up on criticizing me for “wasting” so much money on our groceries. I let him cook and eat what he wanted without comment and so wished he would have done the same for me.

I spent a lot of time fuming in my room, meditating, slowly acknowledging my anger and frustration, letting it go, examining with curiosity my beliefs about food.

There is a show on public television I watch all the time called Nature. Because I believe that nature is a great teacher, one day it occurred to me while watching an episode that the chief concern and activity of most animals, who definitely live in the moment, is that of locating and eating food. This thought helped me to see that it is perfectly natural to spend so much time and effort cooking and feeding us well.

The Atlantic, 5 April 2012

This is our story today: It is a story about how spending on food and clothing went from half the family budget in 1900 to less than a fifth in 2000.
~ Derek Thompson
(The Atlantic, April 5, 2012)

It is sobering to see that back in 1900 we considered it normal to spend over 40% of our budget on food! Today the average family spends only 10-15% of its budget on food. And most people complain bitterly about the price of food. We spend more money on fancy “starter castles” and less on nourishing food. Animals will leave their homes and travel to find the food they need to sustain themselves, but we humans demand that our food be delivered to us over great distances and at minimal cost. It seems so lopsided!

So we will continue along our current food path, scouting around for grass-fed beef and wild game, avoiding grains. Paying without questioning higher prices for local and/or organic produce. Knowing that no one has the final answers about food, but feeling much more settled about our choices.

Arbor Day

illustration by Ruth Mary Hallock
illustration by Ruth Mary Hallock

In April of 1966, the three third grade classes in my elementary school took part in the celebration of Arbor Day. Storrs Grammar School no longer exists, but the building is now called the Audrey P. Beck Municipal Building, serving as the town hall for Mansfield, Connecticut. On the corner of the property, near the junction of South Eagleville Rd. and Storrs Rd., stand three trees which were planted by me and my classmates. A solemn and serious child, this made a big impression on me. Each class had filled a glass jar with notes to the future from each child in the class, and each class planted its glass full of notes deep under the ground with the roots of its tree.

Every time I drive by these three trees, which is every time I go to visit my dad, I think of that day and wonder if those jars will ever be unearthed… Why are certain things remembered so vividly and others so soon forgotten?

Arbor Day as a holiday was created by a man named J. Sterling Morton and was first celebrated on April 10, 1872. It was estimated that a million trees were planted for the occasion, nationwide. I wonder if Earth Day, which got started in 1970, has eclipsed interest in this much older holiday. Certainly we can’t have too many reminders about honoring the lives of our dear friends, the trees.

The Arbor Day Foundation has an interesting history, click here. And suggestions for marking the day, click here.

And here is a wonderful tree post by my friend Kathy: Ditto what the Lorax said.

Happy Arbor Day!