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Thread: Extreme Poverty Foods and Meals

  1. #1
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    Extreme Poverty Foods and Meals

    Was talking with a group of friends recently about foods they, friends, or family had eaten during times of extreme poverty--healthy items and not so healthy ones.

    Here are some of the experiences:

    In a family with a number of kids and a very low paying job: There would be weeks where the meals consisted of white bread with mayo, with koolaid or water to drink.

    Wild spring greens such as poke weed (cooked properly to deal with toxicity issues), or dandelions.

    Rice soup: Water, rice (not rinsed in order to preserve the added vitamins), salt and pepper.

    Hot water in a mug—nice in winter for the warmth.

    Poor man’s French Toast: Fried bread—bread fried in oil/fat. Plain or with applesauce.

    Beans on Toast. Usually with some sort of flavored canned beans.

    And there was a group effort that was somewhat more nutritious. It was a pizza potluck done Stone Soup style done by a group of friends who were all in very low paying jobs. The hosting house made the pizza dough from sourdough starter, sale flour (.89 for 5 pound bag—10 pizza doughs per bag), salt, water, and some on sale oil. Each guest brought one cup of a topping (tomato sauce, cheese, onions, peppers, ground beef, pepperoni, mushrooms, etc.). The pizza doughs were baked about ¾ of the way and cut into slices before the guests came. Each guest topped their slices as desired and they were then baked until done. Tea and water to drink.

    What meals like this have you come across?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Bastelmutti's Avatar
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    Well, the two I have heard from my family come from the post-WWII period: raw potatoes and lard with sugar for a treat. I am fortunate not to ever have experienced anything like that.

    I like the pizza story.

    Do you know the Depression Cooking with Clara series on YouTube? She presents Depression-era recipes and stories. Very interesting.

  3. #3
    Senior Member cdttmm's Avatar
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    I have a friend who was so poor during college that he used to eat ketchup or Ragu sandwiches -- literally ketchup or Ragu pasta sauce on bread.

    A family friend always talks about gathering mushrooms to eat when he was young because they were poor so foraging for food was a way to have a meal. He would go out with his brothers and sisters (6 kids in the family) and collect mushrooms. To test whether they were poisonous they would feed part of a mushroom to the youngest of the siblings. If he got sick, the rest of them didn't eat the mushrooms. Apparently the youngest child almost died on several occasions from eating poisonous mushrooms -- scary!!!

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    Senior Member Gardenarian's Avatar
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    I used to eat a lot of popcorn in college. And pasta, of course.
    "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” -- Gandalf

  5. #5
    Senior Member reader99's Avatar
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    When I was a kid and stayed over at my Aunt and Uncle's, supper would often be corn meal mush or corn fritters. At the time I thought it was a treat. As an adult I realize it was a filling inexpensive meal for their family of six plus guest.

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    Senior Member treehugger's Avatar
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    Rice and beans; beans and rice.

    Kara

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    Senior Member Maxamillion's Avatar
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    When I was a young kid, my grandma would take me to the park to help her collect walnuts or to a field where we'd pick a couple of paper bags full of spinach. I remember waking up in the middle of the night once in horrible pain because the hunger was so bad.

    As a teenager, we ate lots of ramen noodles and spaghetti. To this day, I can't look at either without getting nauseous.

  8. #8
    Senior Member razz's Avatar
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    When I was going to university, I was so poor that while I could pay my tuition and room at a boarding house, I ate oatmeal for breakfast and one hotdog for supper and that was it. I lost so much weight that the program supervisor called me in and got the facts on my situation. Magically, some funds were found through an anonymous donor for me to stay at a residence for the next semester with the most wonderful food; they opened up a large closet and placed a bed and chest of drawers for my use. Needless to say, I donate to student support and the local Salvation Army each year.

    Once you have experienced poverty and lack of food, nothing else seems that important somehow.

  9. #9
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    Some of the things are just shockingly bad in terms of nutrition. Beans and rice and rice and beans has nutrients at least (especially if it's brown rice). And the Irish people did subsist on mostly potatoes for a long time, right? It's the refined carbs and things like ketchup on bread that are shockingly bad, that food didn't even exist a few hundred years ago (not in that form anyway).
    If you want something to get done, ask a busy person. If you want them to have a nervous breakdown that is.

  10. #10
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    Raw shelled peanuts (roasted in the oven, still in the shells--these were bought in a ten # bag, so fairly cheap) and an apple. Same meal for breakfast and dinner. Hot tea for lunch (w/ sugar in it, if available.)

    Navy bean soup made of water, dried beans, salt or soy sauce from the fast food packets left in the lunch room.

    Fried potates made with potatoes, oil, salt and pepper if available.

    I've been hungry, but never in danger of starving.
    author of A Holy Errand

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