My family is long-lived. There’s my great-grandmothers who lived into their 90’s, their daughters lived well into their 80’s. My mom and aunt already passed the 80s mid-point. I’ve known all of them and I know what they did to keep tapping their toes.
When the ladies in my family ate, they ate real food. Veggie gardens were in some corner of their yards producing food with blemishes and insect bites, arriving on the table misshapened. The families only ate food that was locally grown and in season, we were so ahead of the Slow Food trend … but everyone was back then. Instead of sweeping expanses of water-devouring-seldom-used-but-adds-curb-appeal lawns there were fruit trees. These trees produced avocados, apricots, figs; I have no memory of purchasing fruit in little plastic square green baskets.
Gigs and Nana baked cookies and cakes using butter. They fried chicken in the bacon fat that was stored in a can from having bacon ‘n eggs for breakfast almost every morning. (Sometimes the ‘chicken’ had four drumsticks because it really was a rabbit raised by Buster, my grandfather.) The cream used for coffee came from the thick stuff on the top of the milk bottle. Had soymilk been invented yet? These are my memories of real food.
I also remember rugs hanging in the back yard being beaten until every crumb succumbed and dropped to the ground. Instead of manually beating my carpet, I have a self-propelled vacuum cleaner; so I go to the gym to ‘work-out’ in order to keep in shape. The grand ladies in my family saw the sun rise and finished working after it set. Me, I get my aerobic fitness from running nowhere in particular . . . would they understand this? When I cook with my cast iron fry pan, I’m impressed that my relatives moved this chuck of metal from burner to burner as if it was as lightweight as stainless steel.
Although I take no pharmaceuticals, I do consume a pile of herbs and vitamins: D3 for bones because I work inside without sunshine, glucosamine to keep my joints lubed, stuff for my brain, other stuff for other things, and CoQ10 …why am I taking this one? Snake Oil was around 100 years ago, are all these pretty pills today’s snake oil? Maybe, but I’m unwilling to stop my pill popping ways.
I think family lived well given the era and resources available. I think I do, too. So, for me, the secret to living a long and healthy life is to do what I think will help and when the health advice trend changes, go with the flow . . . over a life time it means a moderate intake of everything.
As I write this story, I realized there was one other major factor in their lives . . . they lived life with a sense of purpose . . . I can do that.
photos by dhaun and shinazy
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