I remember something my dad told me about apples. He said it wasn’t a big deal if I found a worm in my apple. But finding half a worm in my apple – that’s a different story.   

He made me think.

He went on to say if anyone really does find half a worm in their apple – they could regard it as a little extra protein for the day. 

Dad was born in 1919, and one thing he did talk about from his childhood was the food Grandma made for them. I know he liked to help his mother in the kitchen, and they used a large iron griddle to make pancakes for the family of 12 children.

We have Grandma Kimpel’s recipe for home-made pancakes – and it makes me smile to think about what the count may have been – how many pancakes did Grandma Kimpel make in her life-time?

If each of her sons ate four pancakes at a sitting – and she had ten boys – that’s 40 pancakes. Most farm boys have a large appetite – and given the opportunity will eat more than 4 pancakes.  Hhhmmm – what a question to ponder. She needed to serve inexpensive meals – so pancakes were probably served fairly often.

Grandma’s oldest sons had moved out of the home by the time the youngest children were born – so let’s just go with conservative numbers and say there were 12 people in the home including adults and each person ate 3 pancakes. That’s 36 pancakes per meal. And she probably had to serve them four times a week or more. That’s 144 pancakes per week. And 52 weeks per year – that would add up to 7488 pancakes per year.

Now at any given funeral – do you suppose the number of pancakes that were made by our loved one is ever discussed?

We really should talk about how many pancakes our grandmothers made. My grandma lived to be 87 years old.

She probably had a good twenty year run of 7488 pancakes per year. That is 149,760 pancakes.  

How many of us die knowing we easily made over 150,000 pancakes in our life-time? My grandmother had helpers in the kitchen – so she couldn’t rightfully claim she was the one who actually poured the batter of all those pancakes. After all – the children needed to know how to do that. But Grandma oversaw the making of maybe a couple hundred thousand pancakes in her lifetime.

Typing about Grandma and looking at her pictures really makes me love her. She died when I was ten years old. I don’t even know what color her eyes were. I assume they were blue. I have to ask my oldest siblings and my oldest cousins things I want to know about my grandmother.

More than once, I heard my dad tell this joke about his family being so poor they had to eat their cereal with a fork so the left-over milk in the bowl could be passed on to the next kid.

My dad was one of those people who would tell a joke and then laugh at his own joke.  He was fun to be around.

The truth is Grandma did not make her children pass their cereal milk on to the next child – but knowing how poor my dad’s family was – there was an element of truth to the joke.  Someone who had grown up in a wealthy family would not have gotten any mileage out of it.

Dad and his siblings knew what real food was. They knew how to tap maple trees. They could farm, and they could garden. Dad was known for his home-grown popcorn.

Nowadays, we use the words ‘heirloom seeds,’ but I imagine the generation before us just knew them as seeds.  Like most from his generation, they were learning how to do things out of necessity. They had to work and become capable people – and they knew it.

They were probably fascinated with nature while they were growing and preserving their own food.

I knew that honey is extraordinarily good for us – but it was only recently that I came upon information about the wonders of maple syrup.

As I was reading about it, I realized I continue to be in awe of the food that is simply here on this earth for us. We have stepped so far away from the food that was given to us that we now refer to it as a ‘super-food.’

I am told that the RDA (recommended daily allowance) has not been updated since WWII – thus there are many health experts who give regard to other studies.

Here I am a grandmother and a registered nurse and most-of-the-time-reformed sugar addict figuring out that our creator put real food on this earth that is supposed to account for the majority of the food I eat.

Processed food was around when my dad was growing up. When we talk about the definition of processed food – it means there is preparation – or a ‘process’ in getting the food to the table.

There are those who say canning or freezing our own food is really a form of ‘processing.’  

But the definition given by Dr. Robert Lustig in an online video – processed food has to be mass produced – on a big scale – not something done by a cook.

Processed food is consistent from batch to batch and has specialized ingredients from specialized companies. The fiber has to be removed and there is a long shelf or freezer life.

Dr. Lustig tells us processed food has to stay ‘emulsified’ – and what happens when those emulsifiers are working inside your intestine? It actually strips off the mucous layer of the epithelial cells inside the intestine.

And then there is that car analogy – all of us know what kind of fuel must go into the vehicle we drive. If I put diesel fuel into my car instead of unleaded – the car will encounter problems.

Putting highly processed food in our mouth is do-able. Chewing it is do-able. Swallowing it is do-able.

Digesting it is not do-able. There will be problems down the road.

But because processed food tastes good, is convenient, and we’ve been consuming it nearly every day of our life – it is hard to step away from it in our diet – and most of us naturally find we have one foot still in that processed food world. So the goal is to most-of-the-time make the choice to eat ‘real food.’

I have listened to a few virologists explain that our bodies make viruses in response to the food-like processed foods we are eating, things we have inhaled, and things we have applied to our bodies. We couldn’t live without viruses.   

Many experts can easily explain why processed food and sugary foods are the reason we suffer from aching joints, headaches, the breakdown in our vision, ringing in the ears, cysts on the ovaries and uterus, bone spurs, heart problems of all sorts, gall bladder attacks, gall stones, increased mucus, constipation, the need for joint replacement and dental work, brittle nail beds, fungal infections, auto-immune diseases, upper respiratory infections, thyroid issues, kidney stones, blood sugar issues, weight gain, the ’24 hour bug’ and nearly anything you can think of. 

If we tank up on nutrition – and it can be done – we can more easily fend off the breaking down of the body. Real food feeds the body. Processed food creates more work for our cells and eventual ‘breakdown.’

Remember that carcinogens (things that cause cancer) enter the body in three ways – through the skin, through the mouth, and through breathing.

The cell – like a factory – can only make an end-product as good as the raw materials that are coming into the factory. I am told that the wheat my dad and his family were using was a different wheat than we are using today.

His generation had a fairly good start – they were born at home which means the gut microbiome is established as a very healthy one. In fact – the house my dad was born in is still a home, and my dad very often reminded the owner – Mrs. Carr – that he was born in one of the bedrooms of that house.

So what is the definition of processed food? All of us already know that nearly anything that comes to our home in a box, bag, or bottle – is highly processed with one or many chemicals that act as preservatives to extend the shelf life of the food. Processed food can typically have inexpensive ingredients labeled as flavorings to make the food taste good. And all of us know fast food is also highly processed.

We simply need to become sleuths and read the ingredient deck before we make a food purchase.

I’ve heard it said if the food is made in a plant – it is processed. If the food grows as a plant – it is real food. However, it does get tricky when we realize there are vegetable growers using pesticides and the whole GMO thing is a topic we need to study. In addition, the cook also must know how to prepare it so that nutrition is left intact. So knowing what ‘real food’ is actually requires a little studying.

In recent months, my family became owners of several new family photos after I found envelopes of film negatives – saved by mother. I took just a few of the negatives to a photographer friend of mine, and he was able to develop the photos and forward to me by email.

And who was in the photos but Grandma Kimpel herself.  We know the pictures were taken in October of 1959 because Darrell was a baby, and Marcia was celebrating a birthday.

Grandma Kimpel and Darrell

In one of the photos – my siblings were apparently members of a parade. My oldest sister Marcia is the director of the band. Ed is a soldier. Jayne has a baton. Elaine is playing a guitar. Carolyn got stuck with an umbrella – I’m sure Mom had to find something for her to hold. And Don is the drummer.

Don’s drum is a Campfire Marshmallows tin. It would be interesting to learn how the marshmallows were made back then – it just seems we were living in such innocent times – and certainly marshmallows had to have been healthy back then.

I know the processed food industry gained a lot of ground in the mid-1960s, and I – like many others – have consumed a lot of sugar and processed food over the years. I have worked on changing my ways.

I did an online search for the Campfire marshmallow tin – and it sells for over $100 today. I’m sure the tin and many others from that era can be located in an antique mall.

And those of us who shop in antique stores know the feeling of finding one of our childhood toys has made it to the collectible status – and that feeling typically puts a smile on our face and the need to point out to others that the item on the shelf was something from our childhood.

Most of us know the most beautiful things in life are not material items – but rather moments that leave us with memories of times we spent together. So it is safe to say that photos from our childhood are material items that really do have great value to us.

I don’t think my mom intended to leave the photo negatives in their original envelopes for us to find – it just kind of happened while she was busy being the mom. But since it happened the way it happened – finding these old pictures has no doubt been great fun for the family. 

So here we are – receiving the developed photos by email for all of us to see and comment on – 60 years after the memories were made.

The Half Worm Disclaimer: 

It may be a good idea to look at your apple before you eat it and while you are eating it. The little worm in the apple doesn’t want to be eaten any more than you want to eat him. Please consider letting him go outside.

And whether you grow up to become the director, or the soldier, the baton twirler, the guitar player or the guy with the drum – somebody gets stuck holding the umbrella.

Life passes by so quickly with many lessons to learn and problems to solve. There may be times we discover we just ate half a worm. And even if we look around and realize we are the one holding the umbrella – it is a job that is very important.

We will someday look back upon today as one of the good-old-days. Life will happen, and as we are enjoying it, we will realize many wonderful memories were created kind of by accident. We were just living, and playing, and making pancakes.

Also please remember you are in charge of taking your own photos – for you do not have a mother who will be stashing away several hundred photo negatives. And you may or may not have a photographer friend who knows how to open the little time capsules that were tucked away in safe-keeping for more than six decades – or 22,082 moons ago.

Jayne, Marcia, Don, Ed holding baby Darrell, Elaine and Carolyn in 1959
Grandma Glatus Kimpel holding Darrell. Surrounding her are Elaine, Jayne, Marcia, Ed, Carolyn, and Don.
Marcia’s 11th Birthday