The Good Old Days

Very often I receive media post feedback that contains messages of despair as people lament the loss of ‘the way things used to be.’  There are a good many folks, it seems, who spend days with a damp eye as they reminisce about a time when food was real and people had integrity.  Woah, if only we could bring those realities back right now.

Today pseudo food dominates the marketplace, and it’s evident that the counterfeit calories are a recent reality conjured up by no-good modern businessmen who forced falsity into the lives of unsuspecting citizens.  I bet, if we check, we can blame Millenials.  Nothing like the mess we have today existed before they came along.

Yes, I’m being a touch sarcastic, and it’s not to be rude; a chuckle about our collective mindset is refreshing once in a while.

What I like to ponder is this: exactly when were these ‘Good Old Days’?  And who, specifically, caused the mess we’re in today?  Let’s unpack this lunchbox.

For the sake of being succinct, let’s eliminate Millenials and Generation Z from our discussion; we already know they’re hopeless and the good times were before they were born.

We find ourselves in the 70s and early 80s, a fondly remembered era that certainly didn’t have anything to do with today’s industrial food giants and the overall horrendous health of the population.  Or did it?  I remember reading about a clothing manufacturer that, in the midst of 80s fitness mania, decided to examine the actual point-of-sale trends taking place as people bought clothes.  It turns out that size ‘large’ and ‘extra large’ were rapidly outselling the neon pink Speedos that overwhelmed media content.  Despite what we think about the wild and wonderful eighties, people were already getting bigger, which implies that food was getting worse and overall activity levels were following a similar trajectory.  In short: the 80s are out of our quest for better times.

This is likely because of the food trends in the 70s.  According to, not only were instant meals like Hamburger Helper and dehydrated on-the-spot lunches coming out of the woodwork, this decade featured the influx of sweets that were geared directly towards children.  Let’s be clear about something: rehydrated meals were increasing in popularity because people were buying them, not because they were being forced to consume them.  And petrified beef in a cardboard box, I guarantee you, didn’t come from Farmer Pete’s herd of grassfed cattle just outside of town.  Food buying trends in the seventies favored industrial food and large-scale farming, so we’ll check this decade off the list, too.

Which brings us to the sixties.  Certainly we’re getting far enough away from right now that the food situation was near faultless and things were better.  Well…let’s think.  Imagine food and the sixties: what pops into your head?  TV Dinners.  I was born in 1987 and even I know about TV dinners, because everyone who grew up in the sixties still today reminisces about how big a deal it was to eat your TV dinner while watching Andy Griffith.  And the heat-n-eat craze of the sixties was sparked a decade before, in 1954 when the first TV Dinner was introduced. 

So this is the generation that started the downhill spiral into fake food!  How dare they embrace such horrific dining habits!  We caught them!  Well, wait; imagine all those youthful Boomers munching happily on their rethermalized sweet corn kernels in front of the tube.  Did little Danny throw out his mother’s made-from-scratch meal and stop by the A&P on his walk home from baseball for frozen turkey instead?  Unlikely.  Mom and dad bought the meal and served it to unsuspecting Danny!

Dang it!!  It was them, the Silent Generation who tossed out the mixer and happily bought cheap, easy food!  Why, we otta…nothing.

This discussion could go backwards through the ages.  What we did then got us to where we are now.  There was no defining, collective calamity that suddenly made everyone evil and launched mega-food to the top of the heap.  I have news: everyone living today contributed to this situation.

We all tend to carry the context of our youth through the rest of our lives.  Of course we remember fondly the past; I think for the most part we weren’t aware of the bad stuff that was happening at the time.  What kid in 1961 would’ve stopped and thought: ‘You know, if I eat this easy meal it will further a trend towards artificial ingredients and consolidation of farms that will culminate on April 9, 2019 in an online shouting match as people try and assign blame for the conditions experienced regularly.’?  Not one.

Every generation remembers some really good life experiences. I tire, though, of the past being wielded as a weapon against today. We can’t solve a problem until we have one and understand what caused it. From our perch at the point of time, we can look back and trace the trends that got us here, better empowering us to fix them tomorrow. We have understanding and drive and some extraordinary communication tools to pull it all together, so look around and appreciate all that potential. Because, you know what? Someday, the ‘Good Old Days’ will be today. We might as well enjoy it while we’re here, mess and all.