I was born at the tale end of the infamous Baby Boom. This picture was taken on the day that I was brought home from the hospital. My parents were of “The Greatest Generation”; a term coined by journalist, Tom Brokaw, to describe the generation who were children during the Great Depression and teens/young adults during World War II. This generation of youth learned the value of sacrifice, hard work and commitment. I remember my mom saying how much she loved the first weeks of spring as a child to be able to go out and pick dandelion greens for supper, because fresh food sources were so scarce after the long winter months. A few years later she mourned the death of her brother, a young soldier fighting in Europe, as she herself helped with the war effort by growing a Victory Garden. Women all across America grew lush vegetable gardens; supplying over 40% of the nation’s food, on top of carefully rationing additional food supplies.1
Fast forward three decades.
- Teen girls traded growing and preparing food for after school activities.
- A magical applicance called a 'microwave' was introduced.
- At the touch of a button food could be instantly heated.
- Pre-packaged and processed meals flourished.
- These young women eventually married and started families of their own.
- They met friends at McDonald’s Play Land for their toddlers' play dates.
- Happy Meals replaced green beans and carrots.
- Carbonated drinks replaced glasses of cool water.
- Coupon clipping for artificially flavored, processed food replaced working in the garden.
Fast forward another decade; the Happy Meal toddlers became teens.
- Soccer and dance practices replaced the family dinner hour.
- Traditional, sit down meals became a thing of the past.
- No longer was anyone home at the same time.
- Big Macs 'supersized' replaced Happy Meals.
- Dad nuked cold spaghetti in the microwave and watched the evening news . . . alone.
- Thankfully, Death by Chocolate ice-cream was in the freezer.
When I was a kid, ice cream cones were rare commodities reserved only for very special occasions. However, when I became a mother, the 99 cent cones at McDonald’s were routine lifesavers. Sure, freshly cleaned grapes would have been a better choice, but the drive thru was more convenient to a busy soccer mom. Unfortunately, I raised most of my kids in the fast lane on waffles, processed cereals, pizzas, chicken nuggets, mac n’cheese, pot roasts, “homemade" beef n’ noodles, and plenty of chips, sweets, and junk food in-between.
I recently asked my 21-year-old son, who now freely chooses high nutrient foods over the junk he was raised on, what has influenced his healthy choices the most. His reply was seeing the impact that nutrition has made on his mother’s life, and the healthy example now set at home.
Last year I wrote a post titled, “Moms, we have the most influence.”
I still believe it.
image credits: Emily Boller's family archives