Growing up on a farm taught me to save food

Although I have never been a finicky eater, I grew up skinny. Skin­ny as a rail, they used to call everyone in our family. You could see our rib bones pressing against our skin.

We ate all we could get as children, but having more people at the table than chairs never let us overindulge. We had food straight from the fields, but not enough to get comfortable with.

That is why we didn’t waste food. For instance, I remember the summer night when it was 9 or 10 p.m. before we finished hauling hay. Our mother had a big supper waiting for us. We were sweaty, scratched from the hay, ready to eat and go to bed.

Directly across from me at the table was my older brother Vernon. He and I got into a fight (maybe he took the last pork chop) and in angry response, I flipped a spoonful of hot, mashed potatoes at him. None of us wore shirts because of the heat, and the steaming spuds plopped against his chest. He jumped up in pain and chased me out the door.

For some reason, my parents took his side. (They never tried to understand me.) I don’t think I was punished so much for burning my brother as for wasting a mouthful of potatoes. On a farm, food is sacred.

It’s funny how childhood experiences affect us as adults, isn’t it? I never wasted food again. Today, although my wife doesn’t like second-run meals, I take leftovers to work the next day, or for several days.

My office meals are often a combination of several nights’ leftovers, something known by co-workers as “Glynn-dins.” They’re not always appealing (the leftovers, not my co-workers), but they’re always delicious.

Another leftover from the farm table is that I haven’t drunk cow’s milk in years. We would milk our Jer­sey and take the bucket directly to the table. No homogenization or pasteurization. It’s a wonder illnesses didn’t kill us, and I equated drinking warm milk with biting into a pet puppy.

Moreover, when our milk cow got into wild onions, it gave the milk another unpleasant taste I didn’t need. I could avoid that, but not the tainted meat from our beef cattle when they chewed those onions.

By the way, happy birthday today, Brother Tim. Why aren’t you fat?

MOORE WORDS: Downton Abbey ended last night, and along with it, the “dowager countess” played by the delightful Maggie Smith.

The thing is, I have never known exactly what a dowager is.

It always sounded like something unpleasant to me. Dowager reminds me of “dowdy” and the like: dingy, drab, frumpy, shabby, bedraggled; and of “tawdry,” along with its synonyms: gaudy, showy, cheap, sleazy, chintzy.

Actually, I found out, a dowager is a widow who gets a “dower” (dowry) from her late husband’s estate. It also can refer to an elderly woman of stately dignity (imagine Maggie Smith).

I love losing my ignorance a word at a time.

Reach Glynn Moore at glynn.moore@augustachronicle.com.

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