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Olwen Anderson's Blog

Life without cling wrap

Saturday, July 07, 2018

It’s one of the really big questions of life you might ponder while stretching plastic wrap over a freshly cut piece of pumpkin: what did we do with pumpkin pieces before cling wrap appeared on supermarket shelves in the early 1960s?

Turns out someone else has been thinking the same, with a recent reality television show examining how we used to live over each of the past sixty decades. A particularly interesting series because it seems we were somehow better nourished and less unwell as a population in the middle of last century. According to the Australian Institute of Health & Welfare’s latest report, half of us are now living with a chronic health condition. What was different then with how we managed our nutrition?

All it took was a sneak peek at the show’s trailer to supply the answers: there were two big differences in the way food was managed. One was the refrigerator: much smaller than modern models, less efficient, and the available freezer space was the size of a shoebox. As a result perishable food had to be purchased almost daily from the butcher and greengrocer; no need for cling wrap then. Plus, vegetables were often grown in the back yard, to pick fresh for the pot.

Keep in mind that fresh food begins to lose its water soluble vitamins and life force as soon as it is picked. The fresher the food that’s on your plate, the higher its nutrient content. So the way people shopped for and stored food back then automatically supplied more nutrients than what you could spear on your fork today.  Maybe that’s one reason they were healthier.

Of course we can’t go back to grocery shopping every day or so. Modern life isn’t like that for most of us, and fewer of us work in full time home management. But there are a couple of ways you can help ensure that your meal contains more nutrients. One is to utilise your local farmers market, where the awesomely fresh produce has often been picked only the day before.

Another is to grow your own vegetables and fruit. This isn’t as difficult or time consuming as you’d think. Even if you have a small courtyard or patio there are miniature gardening systems available that could supply your daily salad. Maybe, through small changes in how you manage food, you’ll never need to buy cling wrap again.

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Olwen Anderson @olwenanderson


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