The Book - Bart Beck

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About Bart Beck

THE FOOD WE EAT

Things change so gradually that we, sometimes, do not notice that changes have been made. One example of this is the food that we eat and the way that it is grown, marketed, preserved and prepared. There were, and still are, many different methods of preserving fruit and vegetables, all of which are effective but do not fully take the place of fresh produce.

It was in the 1930's that Electric Refrigeration first came into the average family home. Prior to that time the only means of keeping food and produce was to put it into an ice box, and the efficiency of one of those was limited.

The Home Freezer followed the refrigerator, but even before that, there were Cold Storage Plants where a person could rent a locker and their food would be quick frozen and placed in their locker, or drawer.

It was impossible to buy fresh vegetables in the markets during the winter time, in fact, the only time that we had a particular fresh fruit or vegetable was when it was in season, in our area. Once they were "put up" they were not opened until winter. The only time that we could have Strawberry Shortcake was in early June and we didn't get Corn on the Cob until August.

The methods of preserving food were so numerous that I will not attempt to describe any of them, here. Suffice to say, all of them were effective and they provided a much needed link in the food chain of the human race. There were, however, some weak links in that chain.

I am not a chemist or a nutritionist, so I do not know just what took place during the preservation of the vegetables, but some of the vital nutrients were lost in the process. I distinctly remember an occasion, when I was twelve or thirteen years old, that I became very weak and I ached, all over.

At that time, a Doctor was not consulted at the first signs of discomfort, rather, the patient would be generously rubbed with Sloan's Liniment, wrapped in Mustard Plasters and put to bed. If they were still alive, the next morning, the poltice was renewed and a fresh application of liniment would be applied. That is, if the Mother could find a place that was not already blistered from previous applications. This problem that I experienced took place in the early spring. My condition continued to deteriorate until I could no longer stand, and the bones in my legs became soft. In fact, I could press on my shin bone, and my thumb would leave a deep depression that would gradually go away. My parents finally concluded that the home remedies were not going to do the job, so they called Doctor Dean.

Doctors, at that time, made house calls. The Doctor's diagnoses was that I had Rickets, caused by the lack of sufficient green vegetables in my diet. I remember that, all during my illness, I had a frantic craving for raw cabbage, but there was none to be had.

How long has it been since you have seen a family, in the spring, along the roadside, gathering dandelions? When I was a kid it seemed like everyone gathered dandelions, watercress, cowslips, mustard and any other kind of green vegetable matter that could be, safely, eaten, cooked or raw. This scrounging was not being done because the people were poor or hungry, it was done because that was the only way that they could get the vitamins and minerals that their bodies craved and needed, Nutrients that had not been available to them for several months, during the winter.

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