Thomas Jefferson

Food Evolution

“The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.”
— Julia Childs

I am a longtime subscriber and occasional contributor to The Stockman Grass Farmer, a publication centered on the grazier’s life and more particularly the restoration and the proper use of our soils and grasslands. SGF’s editor, Allan Nation, writes a monthly column and has focused in recent months on the food culture of the various regions in the U.S. The many variations in how we cook and eat have been influenced by 3 basic facts: climate, geography, and ethnicity. However, ethnicity was in many ways tied to only one ethnic group in the South/Southwest, the native American “Indian”, from whom we inherited our knowledge of corn and its many by-products: cornbread, grits, hominy, roasted corn on the cob and, later, tortillas. Cornbread was a staple in the South because its climate was too warm and moist to grow wheat for flour. To the extent that Southerners knew bread, its wheat was an import from the North. Thomas Jefferson was a robust miller of wheat but didn’t grow it, though trying many times.

Now you know why catfish is always fried in cornmeal, not flour

My Food Heritage (make it yours too)

Some of you have heard this before, but I am of the belief that it should be repeated often because it says so much about the importance of Real Food in our lives. My maternal grandparents were dairy and vegetable farmers in South Louisiana. Paw Paw delivered fresh milk, cream and butter to his customers every morning but his last duty each morning before leaving was to wake Mammy with a large glass of Jersey cream (the richest cream in the world). That was her daily breakfast, and probably his though I never asked him. The rest of the meal-day consisted of yard eggs, grass-fed beef, free range pork and chicken and lots of vegetables. Fruits consisted of melons, pears and figs. Fair View Dairy was organic before it was cool. The family of 7 was sustained almost entirely from the farm.

Mind you, these were people who were born in the late 1800's when the average life span was about 48 years. Mammy died with all of her faculties at age 94. Paw Paw was not so lucky, living only until age 89.

By the way, were they fat? No. Nor were they skinny. They were of perfect weights. As an interesting aside, Mammy was no farmer herself - that was left to Paw Paw and the 2 sons. She and the 3 daughters were politicos and social organizers. Started the first soup kitchen in the Depression and built the first Catholic Church in Westlake on land she convinced a Methodist friend to donate. So it wasn’t manual farm labor that kept her and her daughters trim, fit and pretty. It was just the good food.

Go back a century earlier. Thomas Jefferson ate the same way. He lived well into his 80's and was still composing letters when he died. Look at the French. Heaviest consumers of fats and oils in the western world, but great believers in fresh unadulterated food and diversity on each plate. They live a lot longer than we Americans.

What’s the second point here? Stop omitting things from your diet and start today by adding them!

What more do you need to know about food?