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Living Green Before Living Green was Cool

Updated on April 6, 2013

Sometimes going backwards can be progressive

Copyright © G. Wasdin All rights reserved.

We lived six miles out from our very small, rural town. My mother only went into town once a week. This was a busy and special day. It was her day to go to the beauty parlor; it was not a salon. After getting her hair done, it was time to attend to the other errands such as stopping by the drug store where the druggist, we didn’t know what a pharmacist might be, would mix up a custom concoction that would be good for what ever ailed you. Sure wish I could get ahold of some of that Eupinol Dr. Bernie made. It was a sure cure for cuts and scrapes. It was pretty stinky but it worked and took the soreness out of a wound quickly. It came in a brown glass bottle that had a little glass rod applicator attached to the inside of the cap. My mom was being green through limiting her usage of gasoline by planning her shopping trips. Dr. Bernie was being green by using recyclable glass bottles.

Going Local

Then it was time to visit the IGA grocery store which was family owned with at least three generations working side by side. It featured locally grown produce among other things. One of the ‘other things’ was real mistletoe at Christmas. I know about this because my brothers would scout it out in the woods around our farm and then use a rifle to shoot it out of the trees. They would bring it home and we would package it and sell it to the grocer. We were all being green by not shipping much of the produce we used hundreds or thousands of miles, but by using what was locally available.

Putting Food By

At the grocery, my mom didn’t buy a lot of vegetables, maybe some fresh fruit and some staples such as flour, sugar, vinegar, spices and sliced bread. We didn’t need much from the grocery store as our summers were filled with putting food by for the coming year. We always had a garden and spent many hours picking butterbeans, peas of several varieties, tomatoes, bell peppers, green beans, squash, cucumbers, okra and corn. Digging potatoes was the most fun, kind of like an underground Easter egg hunt. By summer’s end the pantry shelves were groaning under the weight of canned veggies, pickles, relishes and preserves.

Canning & Freezing

There were pear, fig, and plum trees around about the farm. Pears were canned as halves or slices to be used later for salads and cobblers. Figs became rich preserves and the wild plums were combined with sugar and spices to make a tasty conserve. Pears were also ground with onion and bell pepper which was then cooked with vinegar, tumeric, sugar and spices to make pear relish which was an absolute necessity for serving with mustard, turnip or collard greens or for topping steamed cabbage. All of this bounty was put up in glass jars and processed in a boiling water bath or pressure canner to sterilize and seal the goodness in. These glass jars were used year after year, thus recycling and being green.

Butterbeans, peas, green beans, okra and corn were usually frozen. Corn was put up both on the cob and off. The creamed corn was probably the most labor intensive preparation for freezing but it was so worth it. All of these tasty delights were placed in plastic freezer containers. Plastic may not seem to follow the green theme, but these containers were used and reused for many years. Some of these containers must be forty years in service now. That’s pretty green.

Down with Styrofoam!

Our cows and hogs did a great job of recycling the vegetable and fruit husks, pods, peelings and pits. Then in turn we had home grown, antibiotic and growth hormone free beef and pork. The pork was processed at home and brought the extended family, farm hands, neighbors and friends together to share the hard work and have fun at the same time. The resulting chops, roasts, ribs and homemade sausage were packaged first in freezer paper and then wrapped in butcher paper, labeled and frozen. There were none of those plastic foam trays to clutter up the landfill. The paper wrappings were biodegradable and once again green.

A Normal Way of Life

Commercial crops grown on the farm included soybeans, cotton, field corn, peanuts, rye, wheat, sorghum and tomato plants. Some of these, once harvested, had the left over stalks or vines used as grazing or baled into hay for the cows or food for the hogs. The tomato plants were grown for commercial canneries in regions farther north where growing seasons are not long enough to start the plants from seed. The young plants would be pulled by hand and shipped by the millions wrapped in paper and peat moss bundles that were packed into wooden crates. Biodegradable packaging proved us once again green.

These are just a few of the examples of greener living that occurred just three or four decades ago. The global economy has not benefited our earth in transportation energy usage. Our use-it-once style of living is burying us in trash and we are getting lower quality food for much of human kind. Greener living used to be a normal way of life. Sometimes going backwards can be progressive.

Copyright © G. Wasdin All rights reserved.


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    • profile image

      Cindy Smith Bannister 

      10 years ago

      Kemp's Pharmacy is located at 107 S Duval St, in Claxton, GA. Phone: 912-739-2745. The druggist there still to this day mixes up Eupinol & would be happy to oblige you!

    • U Neek profile imageAUTHOR

      U Neek 

      10 years ago from Georgia, USA

      Something about that farm life, just can't lose our connection to the land, can we? Best wishes in reconnecting on your half acre. So much can be done with even a small amount of Mother Earth!

    • Broker Girl profile image

      Broker Girl 

      10 years ago from Florida

      Good ol' days for sure! My grandfather owned a dairy farm in NH for most of his life until his local dairy couldn't compete with the corporate giants any longer. My fondest memories growing up are jumping on hay bails in the barn, picking pea pods and chasing all the cats in the milking barn. My father still has a small 30 acres with a few cows, goats and a hog from time to time. It is an awesome way to reconnect to Mother Earth just by spending time on the farm. I'm looking for great ways to feel that connection on my small 1/2 acre:)

    • U Neek profile imageAUTHOR

      U Neek 

      10 years ago from Georgia, USA

      bcoop3, I guess the old days are what make me resent excercise so much. I used to get a lot of exercise just getting the chores done so now I feel like it's a waste of time and energy to move just for the sake of moving! :)

      Karen, we need to get back that use-it-up, wear-it-out philosophy that was necessity and quit bankrupting ourselves while filling up our landfills with junk. But, I guess, that would mean a whole lot of people would be out of jobs. Hmmm, it's a conundrum.

    • Karen Banes profile image

      Karen Banes 

      10 years ago from Canada

      Love this theme. People always talk about 'going green' as if it's a fad. In fact, we've been living a green life for most of human history out of necessity and common sense. It's consumerism that's the fad (I just wish it would start to wane!).

    • bcoop3 profile image


      10 years ago

      I remember those days as well! I am doing my best to go back to simpler times, when the food was good, chores were our exercise, and you slept well because you were tired. Thanks for sharing!

    • U Neek profile imageAUTHOR

      U Neek 

      10 years ago from Georgia, USA

      Thanks, Money Glitch. I am honored to have been nominated for HubNuggets and I appreciate you compliments.

    • Money Glitch profile image

      Money Glitch 

      10 years ago from Texas

      I like your beginning statement, of "going backwards can be progressive." This is definitely true when one talks about going green. I was raised on a farm growing up and my parents purchased very little from the grocery store; and I agree things were definitely greener then. :) Congrats on being selected to this week's HubNuggets Wannabe nominees. Good luck to ya!

    • U Neek profile imageAUTHOR

      U Neek 

      10 years ago from Georgia, USA

      Thank you, Deborah. I was so surprised to be nominated. It is so affirming as I've wanted to write for a long time but didn't think my efforts were anything anyone would want to read. I love Hub Pages and encouraging authors like yourself who keep me trying!

    • Deborah Demander profile image

      Deborah Demander Reno 

      10 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      This is a great hub, full of truth. Everyone with their roots firmly in the earth has much in common.

      Congratulations on the nomination.


    • profile image

      U Neek 

      10 years ago

      Hi dags the drover,

      Thank you for your kind comments. Isn't it amazing how alike we can be even on opposite sides of the world?!

      Our farm was only about 1000 acres and in the early fifties my grandparents hosted an exchange student from New Zealand with whom our family stays in touch even today. It's not quite Australia but close! Farm families seem to have a lot in common no matter their location.

      Thanks for reading me and now I have to check out some of your hubs.

    • dags the drover profile image

      dags the drover 

      10 years ago from still lost in Western Australia

      HI U Neek,

      Funny that.... I live half a globe away and I hear what your putting down. My growing up experience in many ways mirrors your own, except that I grew up on a two and half thousand acre merino sheep, wheat and cattle farm,in the Central West, New South Walse, Australia. Great writing, well done and looking forward to more.

    • U Neek profile imageAUTHOR

      U Neek 

      10 years ago from Georgia, USA

      Thank you, Pamela99. I think this hub struck a chord with many, both for the reminiscing and the green theme. Now if I could just figure out how to get that simpler life style back! I fear that I have become much too soft and lazy though.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      10 years ago from Sunny Florida

      I really like this hub. It reminds me of my life years ago when life was simpler and it didn't seem we had so much to be stressed about. I love the theme of living green before it was cool.

    • profile image

      Cathie Powell 

      10 years ago

      looking forward to chapter two. I know you have more to share.

    • U Neek profile imageAUTHOR

      U Neek 

      10 years ago from Georgia, USA

      NamVetRich, your compliments encourage my heart so much. I have long wanted to write about my and my families' life experiencs to preserve the times that made us who we are. Being able to share on Hub Pages and receive support from so many accomplished writers is humbling. Watch out! Y'all may have created a monster! LOL Thank YOU!

    • NamVetRich profile image


      10 years ago from Springfield Oregon

      You brought to life days gone by, and what wonderful times they were. We have come so far so fast that we forget those precious times, very well written, will be reading more of your Hubs, Bravo!!!!!

    • profile image

      penny wood 

      10 years ago

      the good old days ,enjoyed reading it very much

    • profile image

      cyclist connie 

      10 years ago

      Very good article U NEEK, all of this sounded rather familiar. Proud of you, as always.

    • profile image

      groovy gardener 

      10 years ago

      This is such a good article. Since I grew up in the small rural town in your home county, I can attest to the absolute truth of your claims. I am trying to get back to the older ways, and your article adds to my desire. Great job!

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 

      10 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      YES, YES, YES! Congratulations for your Hubnugget Nomination. I'm jumping with joy for you as I recognize the truth in your hub. Too much progress can be detrimental too esp if we forget to honor the earth and nature itself. :)

      This way to vote:

    • U Neek profile imageAUTHOR

      U Neek 

      10 years ago from Georgia, USA

      Thank you, Green Lotus. I am so honored to have been nominated. Maybe we should share living backwards stories!

    • Green Lotus profile image


      10 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      From one Green Georgia girl to another...Great Hub. Congratulations on your Hubnugget Nomination and welcome. (I like Living Backwards too :)

    • U Neek profile imageAUTHOR

      U Neek 

      10 years ago from Georgia, USA

      Katiem2, I am really liking you! Thanks so much for affirming this hub so lavishly. You can tell I really enjoy reminiscing and you may regret encouraging me to write "hub after hub." LOL Blessings and peace to you, my new found hubbing friend.

    • katiem2 profile image

      Katie McMurray 

      10 years ago from Westerville

      This is an awesome article and I love this theme, Living green before green was cool is a great subject. I can see you writing hub after hub on this subject. I look forward to it, rated it up and calling this a must read. Thanks and Peace :)


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