Wherein I Explain the Crunchy Leanings

(side note: Crunchy Leanings might make a good band name.)

I was raised by an amazingly health-minded mother, especially considering that I was a child of the 80’s and thus a child of the processed food revolution. To be fair, my father is pretty healthy too but might not be as health minded if he weren’t married to my mother (cough cough*Cheetos and scotch* cough cough). When other kids had Fruit Roll-Ups, my sister and I had fruit leather, though not the fancified newfangled plastic-wrapped kind. Ours was of the “fruit homegrown by pioneers and then beaten into submission and transported in bricks” variety. When other kids had white, fluffy bread, we had flat wheat bread. Our peanut butter was all-natural, the kind that freaked me out because it had a layer of oil floating on top that had to be mixed in each time it was used. There was nary a juice box in sight. So, basically, we were the healthy kids with the weird food. Nowadays this is all the norm, but when we were little, we were definitely the odd ones out.

HOWEVER. I have clear memories of only being allowed to bring my lunch to school on Fridays or on special occasions, like a field trip to the Community Coffee plant (true story – what, eight year olds don’t drink coffee where you live?). And my beef with this system, mother, should you ever read this, is: how on earth could you have thought that what was given to us at school was remotely as healthy as what you fed us at home? Let me rack my brain for a short list of the delicious fare that was the school cafeteria menu in New Orleans, Louisiana circa 1985.

  • Sloppy Joes (I am SURE that the ground cat horse dog beef that was in those was organic)
  • tater tots
  • “ribs” – I can’t quite explain these but anyone who went to public school knows of what I speak
  • Filet O’Fish

I feel certain that my mom wouldn’t have EVER served any of these at home. And up until now, I was a little resentful of having to wait in the line to get these delicacies day after day for about 9 years of my life.

But now? I get it. Because packing a lunch for my kid when we’re all trying to get out the door fully clothed, coffee-d and fed is a royal pain in the neck. And I do give my kid wheat bread and fruit leather… but she also gets a juice box.


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