silky chickens walking near hen house on sunny day

When I was a youngster I fantasized over the idea of homesteading and the type of sturdy entrepreneur that lifestyle would require.

Often the reality is different than the fantasy. Old Fuzzy and I had both grown up in farming backgrounds. His parents were current day farmers and I had grown up on my grandparents’ farm.

There was a generational gap between his and my experience even though they were both farm backgrounds. I have found time and time again it is easy to make broad assumptions about history even though those assumptions are not always true.

I’ve been reading a book on a newer diet and in the text, the writer says on more than one occasion: People living one hundred years ago were (generally) healthier because they used/ate the whole animal in their diet.

That’s an interesting assumption. This year is 2021 and a hundred years ago would be 1921. Here’s a list of ‘new’ foods from said year: [1921] Wonder Bread, Betty Crocker (General Mills baking mixes), Land O’Lakes (brand butter), Sanka (freeze dried decaffeinated coffee), Chuckles (fruit jelly candies), White Castle (fast-food chain), Lindy’s (NYC restaurant famous for cheesecake), Sardis (NYC restaurant of the stars), Quaker Oats quick oats

The assumption is number one, that people were healthier, and number two, that people used the entire animal in their diets. Now, I’m trying to put into perspective what history tells me, and what I can discern about what was happening historically in the time frame of 1921.

At one time people did use more of the animals they consumed. My daughter’s husband told his mother while visiting her twenty years ago, No, Jenny won’t eat that… I don’t know if it was something they were using from the entrails or the chicken feet, but he knew she wouldn’t want to take part in it.

When we butchered one of our first hogs Old Fuzzy had it ready to be cut up. He used the loader on the tractor to ‘hang the hog’, and the kids on the school bus distinctly were sure you couldn’t butcher your own meat at home any longer. During that operation, I made my own liverwurst also known as headcheese.

Through butchering things on our own and historically we know that most civilizations did use the entire animal. This is noted from sayings such as living high on the hog. This shows that the higher the person was in society the better part of the animal they ate with the lower class eating the leftover parts.

And out here in the farmlands we still do some of these things. Although I’ve never partaken of ‘mountain oysters’, I’ve heard tell of that as well as some people eat brains, pickled pigs feet, and the using of chicken feet for chicken broth.

As a child, my mother-in-law’s mother had a huge garden and even in town, they had a milk cow on a second lot. They raised the vegetables and canned their own produce. But this time was well after the 1921 time period, this was during the depression era.

After marriage, my mother-in-law lived with her in-laws for a time and learned about butchering and being a farm wife. It came in handy even after the end of WWII when her farmer husband came home from the war and they went into farming and raising their family.

So, back to 1921—this was just a little past WWI, during Prohibition, and led into the Roaring twenties. As Charles Dickens wrote in The Tale of Two Cities, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. This saying can and probably has been true with almost every day in some part of the world since Eve ate of the fruit and enticed Adam to do the same.

From the very elite wealthy to the extremely poor tenement dweller they were part and parcel of this country. From one source which I read they were touting how by 1925 the refrigeration had extended the keeping length of daily/weekly shopping. And with the advent of the telephone, a housewife could telephone the local grocer and have her weekly groceries delivered.

Assumptions—we have to be careful when we make assumptions because they are usually based on unproven ideas or faulty information. As with Tale of Two Cities, there were healthier people and not so healthy people, just not all the same diseases.

I’ve heard people say that farming practices have depleted the soil therefore our food products are not as healthy…That’s an assumption and not always true. There are people touting the benefits of ‘grass fed’ everything. There are points to be made with grass-fed, but it isn’t the end-all or best in every situation.

Psalms 84:

1 …How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Jehovah of hosts!
2 My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of Jehovah; My heart and my flesh cry out unto the living God.
3 Yea, the sparrow hath found her a house, And the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, Even thine altars, O Jehovah of hosts, My King, and my God.
4 Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: They will be still praising thee. Selah.
5 Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; In whose heart are the highways to Zion.
6 Passing through the valley of Weeping they make it a place of springs; Yea, the early rain covereth it with blessings.
7 They go from strength to strength; Every one of them appeareth before God in Zion.
8 O Jehovah God of hosts, hear my prayer; Give ear, O God of Jacob. Selah.
9 Behold, O God our shield, And look upon the face of thine anointed.
10 For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, Than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.
11 For Jehovah God is a sun and a shield: Jehovah will give grace and glory; No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.
12 O Jehovah of hosts, Blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.