Eating real food in the ’80s

Guest writer Joyce Jordan – who raised good eaters on real food

Imagine a trip to the grocery store and there are no clamshells of arugula, no brown rice, no soy milk, no reduced fat products, no high fiber pastas, no microwavable bags of veggies, no whole wheat tortillas or English muffins, no fresh fish and no organic products at all. That’s just the tip of the iceberg (which, by the way, was generally the only kind of lettuce available).

Don’t feel like you went back to 1850, you simply returned to the early 1980s.

For those of us who wanted to venture into the world of healthier eating, we had to seek out unusual sources and create our own products. Finding whole grains in Lawrence, KS meant a trip to the Community Mercantile (known locally as the Merc). Back then it was a cramped and dark little establishment, run by creepy hippie types with debatable standards of cleanliness. If you really wanted that brown rice or whole wheat flour, you just had to get past the weirdness of the place.

Finding recipes meant searching out books like More With Less, Laurel’s Kitchen, and various Jane Brody cookbooks. These books unlocked the secrets of a world of whole grains, beans, granola, scratch cooking and new approaches to vegetables. If I wanted my children to have applesauce that didn’t contain sugar, then I needed to make it myself. If I wanted my family to eat whole grain pancakes, tortillas or English muffins, then I needed to make them. If I wanted lower sugar strawberry jam with no artificial colors, then I needed to make it. Plain nonfat yogurt necessitated the purchase of a yogurt maker.

The intrepid adventurers seemed to find each other, and we renegades banded together and shared what we were learning. Some people accused us of living in the past, but we were convinced that we were moving into the future.

The events of the last 30 years would prove us right.

Bookshelves and the internet are now filled with healthful recipes. Brown rice is sold on the same shelf as white rice – it isn’t even necessarily relegated to the “health food” section of the grocery store! Getting enough fiber is now a mainstream subject and not a topic that is discussed only in private. The Merc is now a beautiful, large, clean, well-lit grocery store where anyone can shop comfortably. Organic meats, fruit and veggies are sold everywhere.

When I see foodie friends from the 80s, we all laugh and wonder where we found the TIME to make all of those things! Most of us had small children, and several of the moms worked part time. Our conclusion is that we were so committed to what we were doing, that not doing it simply wasn’t an option.

No regrets!

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