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This Is A Painful Learning Process

, , , , , | Related | December 22, 2020

I grew up on a small homestead in Delaware that consisted of a house on a two-acre lot on the outskirts of a small town. We had a HUGE organic garden, chickens, dairy goats, and a large berry patch.

This happens in the mid-1990s. When I am ten, an elderly family friend and her husband decide to move to the area to retire after living in the suburbs of Long Island for most of their entire adult lives. We all call them aunt and uncle. They really don’t understand my parents’ lifestyle; my mom homeschools my sister and me and we eat fresh and home-processed foods as much as possible. We have a pretty typical life and are allowed junk food but it is usually homemade.

My aunt thinks that scratch-made foods aren’t as healthy as foods that come from the store due to some weird thing that her mother taught her during World War Two.

This is what happens the first Christmas that they celebrate with us. My mom decides to make homemade honey wheat bread from scratch and my “aunt” doesn’t like it.

Aunt: “I brought bread for the meal!”

She holds up two bags of Wonder Bread that are WELL past their sell-by date.

Aunt: “The church was giving these out for free!”

Mom: “I made four loaves of honey wheat bread from scratch. I ground the wheat myself and the honey came from an Amish lady that [Dad] did some work for.”

Aunt: “Why are you feeding us that garbage?! My mother taught me that the best foods are highly processed because they add vitamins to the food, and processed foods are cheaper than scratch-made foods! You are harming [Sister]’s and [My Name]’s development by not feeding them Wonder Bread!”

Mom: “Don’t you realize that the junk you brought is not only full of preservatives and chemicals, but it is well past the sell-by date? I won’t feed that to my kids!”

Aunt: “I am going to throw away your bread because Wonder Bread is better for them!”

She grabs all four loaves and tries to throw them in the garbage can.

I am watching this and, for some reason, I grab a wooden spoon at this point. I slap her hand with the wooden spoon as she tries to drop the bread into the garbage can.

Me: “No, [Aunt]! You are not going to throw away bread that my mom and I worked really hard on! This is good bread! We all hate Wonder Bread!”

My aunt stops in shock and the whole room goes silent. My mom looks like she is going to either murder me or hug me. I’m not sure if I am going to get punished or if my mom is going to thank me for intervening. 

Aunt: “I’m just trying to protect you kids from bad food! Your mother keeps feeding you foods that don’t have any vitamins in them because the food is too fresh! My mother always taught me that you should only use processed foods because they add vitamins to them. You can’t get vitamins in fresh food!”

I’m shocked that a ten-year-old knows more than a sixty-year-old. 

Me: “[Aunt], do you realize that food loses nutrients when it is processed and that fresh foods are almost always better than processed due to the high nutrient levels that naturally occur in most foods? They have to add vitamins because the manufacturing process depletes the natural nutrients in the raw ingredients! I learned that in science this year!”

I grab my science textbook from the living room and open it to the section on food science.

Me: “See, [Aunt]? Fresh food is better than processed!”

She starts to stammer.

Aunt: “Well, I never learned that! They didn’t teach that in the 1940s when I was in school! I left school when I was fourteen, so how was I supposed to know that science changed?”

She ended up dropping the subject. She actually ate several slices of the homemade bread and it looked like she liked it. She never repeated that stunt again!