A Bad Day With A Camera

Food Security

We were out of fresh fruit today, so I hopped into my car this evening and buzzed to the local supermarket to re-up on vittles. Things have changed a lot for me over the past four decades.

Won’t be beat, No Frills, Strathmore, Alberta, 2024-03-17

My mother was a pediatric nurse who made an okay wage when I was a small child. I don’t remember us ever being short of food until the diabetes took her eyesight when I was around age ten and we wound up moving to Calgary, Alberta. You can’t work as a nurse when you’re blind, so my mom headed back to university to train as a social worker. She had to go on assistance to do this.

I came to know what food insecurity was over the years that followed. There was never enough money for food. When we did have food, it wasn’t great. I remember how we’d have a good shop at the end of the month when her cheque showed up in the mail and how the food dwindled over the month. I remember thinking that living on puffed wheat with skim milk from powder for three weeks straight was bad, but the last week where the food was gone and you were suddenly missing the puffed wheat was even worse.

Orange you glad to see me, No Frills, Strathmore, Alberta, 2024-03-17

There was also no car to hop in for grocery shopping, as blind people driving is something that is generally frowned upon. We had a hand trolley we brought groceries home in from Safeway, the only store within walking distance. It wasn’t bad in the summer, but having to pull the trolley through snow and ice in the winter at -25C was wretched.

Nanners, No Frills, Strathmore,
Alberta, 2024-03-17
The apple of your eye, No Frills, Strathmore,
Alberta, 2024-03-17

I can tell you that the groceries that came home with me in the trolley back when I was eleven or twelve didn’t contain much fruit. Or meat. Mostly just empty carbs, because that’s what we could afford. There was a lot of Kraft Dinner and elbow macaroni.

Sometimes I would be visiting a friend’s place and they would actually have bowls of fruit out for the family to snack on as desired, not carefully hoarded away like some treasure. It was a big deal to me when I managed to score an apple or an orange from that precious bounty. The contrast between my home and “normal” homes was not lost on me.

Sour grapes, No Frills, Strathmore, Alberta, 2024-03-17

I’m very grateful to be at a time in my life where my wife and I have decent jobs, vehicles, and the ability to buy fresh produce whenever we feel like it. There is no waiting for the cheque at month end. There is no pulling a trolley home in the dead of winter. We even have a large bowl of fruit in the middle of our table that we can eat from when we want to and we refill it when we want to as well. I tend to take this for granted when I should not. I’m lucky and many are not so fortunate as I am.

Pasta production, Pasta Mama, Strathmore,
Alberta, 2024-03-17
Finished product, Pasta Mama, Strathmore,
Alberta, 2024-03-17

I am also doing much better in the carb department in the here and now. Gone are the Kraft Dinners of old with their nasty powdered cheese that tasted like a chemical spill. Fresh made pasta topped with fresh-grated parmesan cheese is more my style these days.

It’s wonderful to be free of the food insecurity of my youth and it’s something I need to remember on those days when I am feeling sorry for myself over something trivial. It’s always good to be able to say, thank you for this day.

The images in this diary entry were made using my Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, which I had to wipe semolina wheat flour off of afterward.

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© 2024 Sean D. McCormick

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