Monday, March 11, 2013

A Real Food Childhood



Have you seen the movie "Blast from the Past?" We recently watched it with hubby and it got me thinking about my childhood back in Russia. I realized that in part, I can be thankful to the so called 'iron curtain' for eating real foods through my childhood. Why? Here is the back story...

In the age when Americans were discovering the joys of toxic processed foods such as Crisco, Spam, and Twinkies - we saw none of that in the Soviet Union. I'll be dating myself here, but I was born in 1983, so I do remember what it was like before the West infiltrated Russia with an onslaught of processed, shelf-stable 'miracle' foods. When I was about 7, Nestle flooded my childhood with the likes of Mars, Snickers, and Twix. The latter became my favorite! Thankfully the bulk of perishable foods we ate on a daily basis was still locally and mostly naturally produced foods. When we immigrated to the U.S. in 1995, we gorged on all the 'fabulous' processed food we've never seen in Russia and it took several years of reversing the damage from that kind of SAD (Standard American Diet). 

Every summer I would spend at least a month visiting my grandparents in the Ural mountains, feeding off of their generous fruit and vegetable garden that was the work of their hands. Buying still warm bread from the local bakery. Milk fresh from the cow. Foraging on wild blueberries as a little girl, while the adults were preparing hay in the fields at the end of August. No preservatives, chemicals, unpronounceable ingredients, food coloring. Growing up so close to nature, it makes me nostalgic thinking about it!

Today most children aren't so fortunate to be growing up on real, wholesome foods. So when my parents and in-laws (they are all Russian) offer my children something that I know isn't healthy, I remind them that they grew up eating real, fresh foods, why can't my children have the same? Sure, it isn't as easy to find real food today as it was in Soviet Russia, but it is something I'm willing to invest time in because it directly affect's my family's health. Is it easy? No. Is it worth it? Yes, absolutely.

I am not going to get into politics here and just for the record, I do not support socialism, but I have to say I had it pretty good in terms of nourishing foods as a child. I never tasted fake food coloring until I was probably 10, after the Soviet Union fell apart. Today my homeland is just as much intoxicated with fake foods as the United States, and not immune to chemical laden imports from China. Although Russian does ban some toxic imports from the States. It seems no matter where you go today and where you live, modern convenience foods are the norm. But there is a movement afoot, a gathering of moms, dads, kids, grandparents, young and old, rich and poor, people of all walks of life realizing that what they eat directly affects their health, mood, and quality of life.

Did you grow up on real foods or mostly processed products?


Previous posts from this series: 

Meat From a Local Farmer and My Learning Curve in the Kitchen {Cure Tooth Decay}


On Sugar and Grain Addiction... [Cure Tooth Decay]




Photo: Nyam.pl

10 comments:

  1. That is so awesome! I wish I had experiences like that as a child. I definitely grew up on the SAD. I was the oldest of 5 kids, and money was tight most of my childhood. I remember my mom making Kraft macaroni and cheese, and detesting it. In fact, in middle school I started helping with the grocery shopping, and got myself hooked on salad. Unfortunately, my parents are now reaping the consequences of their SAD, and my mom is trying hard to getting them eating more veggies, etc. I'm so glad I'm working to instill different habits and memories in my children. It's so much harder to change how you eat after decades of the SAD!

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    1. Thank you Holli for your comment! I have to always remind myself that everyone grew up eating different foods. It is really hard to change habits after eating not-so-healthy stuff for many years. It was even hard for me and I was eating processed foods for only ten years. I do wish my children would have access to what I had, countryside with fresh veggie garden where you can come and eat as you please. Maybe someday we'll have our own, but not at the moment. :)

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  2. Good article! Yes that is true, growing up i remember all this stuff, and how quickly we forgot what real food is coming to US. Just now i realize how much i need to go back in those times and bring all the home made food back to my kids and teach them what real food is!

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    1. I think as long as they know what real food is, even if they go through a junk phase they will most likely be back to the real stuff :)

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  3. Thank you for sharing your experiences. My dh is a massage therapist who works in a chiropractic office and I would say 90% of his clients are Russian immigrants. He really loves working with them as they appreciate a male massage therapist much more then the general American population. There is a lot of gender discrimination against men in his field so the Russian culture is refreshing. It's also refreshing to meet a group of people who enthusiastically congratulated us on the birth of our 7th child rather then staring at us like we were insane, lol! I will have to have dh ask his clients about their food memories in comparison to how Americans eat.
    On another note. I am 40 and never ate white bread until I had it at a friends house in 1st or 2nd grade. Kool-aid was something we had at grandma's for very special occasions, I didn't taste boxed mac and cheese or Ramen until I was in high school and we ate homemade cookies and treats most of the time. Soda was something we had a couple times a month when went out to eat after church, not something we drank at home until I was in jr. high some time. I don't think my family's diet was the norm. though.

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    1. That's interesting! Thanks for sharing :) That's wonderful that you were mostly raised on real food and your parents gave you a good idea of what real food is!

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  4. Thank you so much for this post! I'd love to get my hands on some fresh milk!

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  5. What a wonderful topic!! It seems that many kids abroad have more opportunities to eat non-processed meals, even my husband who grew up in India had the same experience as you. I grew up on a combination of wholesome foods, and some processed food. Many of my friends feasted on ready-made foods, and mom almost always cooked from scratch. Now that I have my own baby - we take food directly from our garden and make it into baby food. It doesn't get much fresher than that! I have some tips I'm happy to share if you're interested. :)

    Jesse
    Blogger @ Humbleseed.com

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    1. Thanks Jesse! Just went to your blog and read Leena's birth story, beautiful! I think a real-food childhood really sets you up for eating healthier as an adult (even if you go through a junk food stage as an adolescent). I hope when my kids grow up they will appreciate having eaten real food!

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