Super Foods on a farm in 1940 – not what you normally have

SUPER FOODS

by

Dorothy Graham Gast

In the 1940s in Romulus, Alabama we didn’t worry about “superfoods”. We nibbled anything that looked interesting and avoided those that were forced upon us as being good for us.

In early spring we robbed Daddy’s clump of asparagus and dared each other to eat. He couldn’t understand why he couldn’t find enough for an elegant meal.

ASPARAGUS

Asparagus_officinalis_001

Then we were warned not to eat raw field peas and string beans because raw stuff would “make us sick”. The rain washed fruits and vegetables had no toxic poisons on them. We simply couldn’t afford chemical pesticides.

FIELD PEAS

peas2

Our four siblings were free to explore the 80 acres of the farm we shared with the Graham grandparents after chores were done and canning complete. Often visiting cousins shared our exploration in the woods, orchards, and fields along the wet weather creeks.

Dewberries

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We ate wild dewberries and blackberries straight from the vine along the terraces between planted crops, and sucked the sour juice from BB sized wild cherries from the trees along our drive. We hunted yellow and red wild plums and started eating  them while still green, carefully eating on the sides with no worm holes. Surviving ripe fruit might make it into jelly.

June Apples were about 2 inches in diameter and ripened long before the large hard horse apples that made great pies. The Granny Smiths, crab apples, and the wild quince were there for the taking as we prodded to school through Grandpa’s orchard.

June Apple

june apple

The other children from the school raided the orchard with abandon. Muscatine’s, Scuppernongs, and fox grapes were free for the taking but the cultivated grapes were for Grandma’s curb market sales.

We climbed to the top of the hen house to pick persimmons and laugh at each other’s grimace when the fruit was too tart.  We might eat Maypops or citrons found in the fields of ripening cotton.

We knew to avoid the poke berries from the poisonous plant whose leaves were boiled and drained several times  before serving as an alternate to turnip greens or spinach.

Poke Berry

pokeberry

We chewed on sour weed  and ribbon cane and sucked the nectar from honeysuckle blooms. The more daring smoked rabbit tobacco until nauseated or discovered by adults. We raided bee’s nests to chew on honeycomb and were justifiably punished by the persistent creatures.

Honeycombhoneycomb-bee-hexagon

We never dared sampling mushrooms since the Word Book and our parents cautioned so fiercely against them but we ate chinkapins and walnuts finding the challenges worth the taste. Acorns were too bitter for our taste, but crabapples and pawpaws were fair game.

PawPawpawpawaug21

 

Every summer dinner contained the basic garden bounty. Field peas- crowders, purple hull, lady peas, or butter peas- were served with corn sliced off the cob and poured into bacon grease until it sizzled and thickened into the consistency of pudding. Green beans, butterbeans, and yellow squash were an hour from their vines.

Yellow Squash

yellow_squash

There would be fried okra and boiled okra for the toothless. Skillets of cornbread were flipped onto waiting plates beside dishes of huge sliced tomatoes, green onions, cucumbers, and red radishes all fresh from the garden. Anything ripe was cooked for the table and meats simply flavored boiled foods. Chicken, pork, and beef were for Sunday or company.

 

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RIBBON OF LOVE: 2nd edition – A Novel of Colonial America (Tapestry of Love Book 1): Book 1 in Tapestry of Love Series


By (author): Donna R Causey

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About Dorothy Graham Gast

Dorothy Gast lives in Romulus, Alabama on the Graham family farm. She taught in Tuscaloosa County Schools for nearly 30 years.
She has a ”Mine, yours, and Ours” family. She has volunteered in numerous organizations after her husband’s eight year struggle with Alzheimers’ ended.
She helped organize a volunteer fire department after she was 60 and served as board secretary and nationally certified firefighter after extensive training.
Her attempts to get the community reading failed, but she contributed books to the new Sipsey Valley high school from the library in her home friends helped her establish.

She is known locally by the silhouettes she cuts free hand of children. She began to write nostalgia stories after a grandson asked her to write down the stories often told at family events.

One Response to Super Foods on a farm in 1940 – not what you normally have

  1. Jean says:

    Dorothy, love your stories

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