My family has been fortunate. Though certainly there have been hard times, hunger is not something with which we are familiar.
Although many of my ancestors had occupations beyond farming, I am sure that most of them were actively involved in putting food on the dinner table. They likely raised chickens, or perhaps hogs, to provide meat, and surely had gardens in which they grew vegetables to supplement the family diet.
In his homestead documents, Ransom Spurlock, my 2nd great grandfather, stated that he had cultivated cotton, corn, and potatoes on his land. Cotton was his cash crop and would have provided the means to buy food that was not raised on the farm. Corn and potatoes would have been staples. He didn't mention raising cattle, poultry or other animals that would provide meat. Perhaps he bartered with neighbors, exchanging corn and potatoes for other foods.
Most of my more recent ancestors were tradesmen so likely visited the local butcher for meat. They may have grown their own vegetables, but would have purchased flour, sugar and other items from the local grocer.
My parents came of age during the depression. I think some of the meals my mother prepared (think creamed tuna on toast) had their genesis in hard times. My mother raised chickens and rabbits for food. (I remember being horrified when I realized I had just eaten one of our bunnies!)
Not many family recipes have been handed down, but I love to make my mom's macaroni and cheese (baked, not creamy). Most of us relish lemon meringue pie (tart, not sweet). Holiday celebrations are full of food-related memories from sitting around the table making fruit salad to the right way to devour a chocolate-covered cherry!
While my family may not always have an abundance, we believe in helping those who have less than we do. At the holidays, my son and his family take plates of food out to the homeless in our community, and we always participate in local food drives. My desire is that someday there will be no hunger, but until that day comes, I hope that we are always able to help those in need.
© 2011 Denise Spurlock