Appalachian Thursday – Sustainable Eating

My great-grandmother was on the sustainable eating bandwagon before it was even a thing. Of course, she called it “surviving.” She mostly ate what the family grew, foraged, or hunted. They took what they needed with a little extra to “lay by.” Sustainable. Not to mention practical.

Just before Christmas I was listening to the radio on my way home from work and heard some chefs suggesting simple side dishes that would suit any holiday meal. One of the recipes featured green beans. The chef commented that her kids had gotten into sustainable eating and interpreted that as eating a plant-based diet.

Okay, fine.

She then went on to describe a recipe for haricot verts (those skinny, French beans) in a delicious sounding dressing. But I REALLY have to take issue with her discussing this dish and sustainable eating in the same conversation. She mentioned that you can get haricot verts pre-packaged in the produce section.

So. It seems she was suggesting that it’s more sustainable to eat pre-washed green beans that come in a plastic package than to eat meat. I checked one of those bags in my own produce section. It came from Guatemala by way of Florida. I think my great-grandmother would wonder what she meant by “sustainable.”

I’m not trying to give anyone who prefers a plant-based diet a hard time. But I do think if you want to eat sustainably, you have to look deeper. My suggestion is to do what Grandma Jane did. Eat food produced in your neighborhood (or at least your state). Eat it when it’s in season (FYI strawberries don’t grow in January unless there’s a greenhouse operation nearby). And don’t assume there’s an easy answer.

So how about you–how did your great-grandparents eat?

Published by Sarah Loudin Thomas

Author, wife, child of God.

6 thoughts on “Appalachian Thursday – Sustainable Eating

  1. Maybe you have to grow up in the country to understand “sustainable” eating. I grew up on a farm and we definitely knew about growing our own food. We had a garden and my mother “put up” plenty of those green beans and tomatoes in canning jars. She canned pears from trees on our farm and froze applesauce, corn and more. We had barrels of potatoes in the cellar that we dug at the end of the growing season. Then Dad butchered hogs and worked up the meat, including grinding sausage, cooking lard, and smoking the hams and sides of bacon. He also killed and worked up a beef for the freezer. Then mom always raised chickens each year. She kept the pullets to lay eggs that we ate and also took to the store to exchange for flour, sugar and other things we couldn’t raise on our own. She killed the roosters and we had fried chicken. I had plenty of chance to help with all that and with finding walnut and hickory nut trees in the fall to gather a few nuts. A hickory nut pie is pretty good.

    Fun post, Sarah. I think maybe I should do a post on that sustainable eating experience I’ve had on my blog. 🙂

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