Putting Food on the Table

Gone are the days when most people have kitchen gardens from which they can harvest seasonal fruits and vegetables for their daily meals.  I got to thinking recently about the many other possibilities that now exist here in Madison, and presumably in many places, for getting food on the table.  Meals on Wheels, probably the earliest and only food delivery service to people in their homes, is now one of an amazing variety of other services and businesses, many that bring food to the neighborhood or front door.

Probably pizza delivery was one of the first options for home delivery, its arrival signaled by the sound of the doorbell.  Since those early days, many other restaurants deliver meals as well.  In the newspaper last week was an article about two young entrepreneurs who are starting a meal delivery business for a whole list of restaurants — well beyond the pizza delivery model.

Grocery stores now have large deli sections filled with fully prepared salads and pasta dishes and twice baked potatoes, all ready to put on the table.  In addition, there are hot entrees ready to go — rotisserie chickens, pizza slices, sesame chicken, macaroni and cheese, meat loaf, etc.  Some of the large grocery stores also offer a service by “personal shoppers;” these shoppers are employees whose job it is to do the grocery shopping for people who can no longer get to the store themselves. These customers submit lists of what they need and the shoppers gather all the items into carts, bag them up and send the groceries to the people’s homes in a van.

If not to the front door, then foods may be brought to the neighborhood, such as the farmers’ markets that are wildly popular — at least in the Midwestern part of the United States.  We have a huge farmers’ market here during spring, summer and fall, all around the capitol square on every Saturday morning.  And there are smaller neighborhood Farmers’ Markets as well on other days of the week.

This past summer, somebody organized a weekly Food Carts night in our neighborhood park, just two blocks away from our house — another alternative to cooking the evening meal.

Recently, friends of mine told me about a “fresh ingredients and recipe delivery service” called the Blue Apron.  They have signed on for 3 recipes a week.  The Blue Apron has videos on line that offer instruction in the preparation of the recipes and the  recipes are never repeated in the same year.  The Blue Apron website declares that it “delivers everything you need to cook incredible meals at home.”

And now I’ve discovered that my son and daughter-in-law have signed on to a non-profit agency– Community Supported Agriculture —  that supports local farms by pairing up households with specific farms.  The farm owners deliver bags of fresh vegetables and fruit, and sometimes eggs, cheese or  herbs, to a household station for pickup weekly or biweekly during the growing season.  I have seen signs for CSA at pick-up points around the city.

All of this awareness of food and meal sources has led me to think about the time spent as rehabilitation occupational therapists, working with patients to help them function in an adapted kitchen — to enable them to prepare, cook and serve meals when they are discharged home.  Such a focus in therapy remains valued and needed, but information about other ways to go about getting a meal on the table can also be helpful and an eye-opener.  At the very least, we as occupational therapists need to be well informed about what all the options are in our home territory. We want to be able to appropriately provide information and guidance on the best way for each person with whom we work to put food on the table when he or she goes back home to resume life in the community.

A Beaded Collar as Autobiography**

John Lean, mustered into the military service of the United States on the 30th of August, 1862 (Civil War).

  • Treated for a wound at Fort Worth, Virginia, October 23-27, 1863.
  • Treated at Battery Rogers next Alexandria, Virginia several times during the period January 1864 and October 1864.

John Lean, mustered out of the military service of the United States on the 26th of June, 1865.  

John Lean was Ed’s great grandfather.  He was born on Bradford Farm,1839, in Blisland, Cornwall, on the edge of Bodmin Moor.  We have visited Blisland and the farm a number of times. John came to the United States as a 9-year-old in June 1848 via Quebec on the vessel Clio.

We have in our possession the beaded collar he made during those wartime hospital stays — for his bride-to-be, Hannah Hooper Burton.  John and Hannah were married on November 13, 1866.






A very early example of occupational therapy!   











**Title borrowed from an article in a recent New York Times Magazine, written by Alice Gregory, titled “Objects as Autobiography.”

Walking the Mall

There’s a phenomenon in this country of people using shopping malls to get their daily exercise.  They don’t shop, they simply walk the full indoor perimeter of the mall — around and around.  I don’t know if this is done for exercise in other places in the world or not.

The first time I walked the Westgate mall, some years ago, I was sure it would feel really weird.  Going around and around inside the mall?  Wouldn’t that be totally boring and even a little embarrassing?  But winter in Wisconsin makes it difficult to walk outside — the freezing temperatures and the snow and ice are all hazards.  The mall would offer me an opportunity to continue my walks year-round in a safe place.

So one day I did it.  I drove out to Westgate mall, put on my walking shoes and gave it a try.  I remember coming home that day and telling Ed, “That wasn’t so bad.”  In point of fact, the whole time spent there was full of people and things to observe and time for thinking while I walked.

images (2)Early in my mall walking, I took my pedometer along to measure the distances.  One full circuit around the mall turned out to be about a half a mile. So I decided to walk all the way around four times, giving me a total of two miles every time I went.

When I started having significant pain in my left knee a couple years ago, I was forced to give up the walking — both inside and outside.  Now, however, since my knee replacement last Spring, I have been trying to gradually resume my walking, and, just a couple weeks ago, I went back to the mall for the first time.  It felt so good to be there — getting back to that regular routine in my everyday life was surprisingly comforting.  It was fun once again to look in the windows of the shops, to see a few familiar walkers and others who were new to me, to glance into the Nails ‘U Love at the customers getting their manicures, to see the people eating pizza at the tables in Rocky Rococo’s Pizza place, to glance at the books for sale at the Madison Public Library outlet.

To me, being once again in this mall walking routine means that I have recovered from my knee surgery and made further progress toward “getting back to normal.” Returning to a once regular daily routine after injury or disability strongly represents a return to health in our minds.  Everyday occupations are what we use as markers of our progress and well-being — around the house, around the neighborhood, and around other familiar spaces in our lives, including the malls of our world.