Thursday, 3 July 2008

Let's Puke Well: how Adelle Davis helped a rose bush grow

I mentioned in an earlier post that my parents, some time in the late Sixties, got their hands on a copy of Adelle Davis's Let's Get Well. This book was nothing short of revolutionary in those days, when healthy eating meant having a bit of grated carrot or bottled beetroot once a week, and health food, whole food and organic food hadn't yet been invented. The parents read the book from cover to cover, and were converted. The creamy, mashed-potato-topped fish pies vanished off the menu, and so did the bangers and mash, the bacon and eggs, the crumpets with whipped cream and syrup, and all the other heavenly home-cooked delights. Cornflakes were replaced by All Bran Flakes (Old Brown Flakes, I used to call them), and packets of linseeds and sunflower seeds appeared on the shelves of the pantry.

My mom started to bake her own wholewheat bread, using stone-ground flour. (It was delicious and cakey when hot out of the the oven, with lashings of farm butter, but by the next morning it had solidified to a solid brick. Undaunted, my mom hacked off slices, buttered and marmited them, and put them into our lunch boxes. Mom, sorry to tell you this, but we couldn't eat those sandwiches. We tried swopping them for the fluffy government-loaf peanut butter sandwiches that other girls brought to school, but there were no takers. We put them in the Poor Box - it was a convent school - and the Poor Box threw them back at us).

Very soon after that, my parents got their hands on another of Adelle Davis's books, Let's Have Healthy Children. My sisters and I were presented, at breakfast, with a glass of what my father christened 'Bull Juice'. This elixir, he promised, would make us strong, healthy, fit, hale, hearty and pink-cheeked. Downing a glass of it every morning was compulsory from now on.

I have no idea what this foul concoction (the forerunner of the smoothie) contained but, believe me, it was vile. Wheatgerm, I think, a banana or two, Brewer's Yeast, and possibly cod liver oil or the skin secretions of a sewer-dwelling rat. It was pale brown, thick, slightly foamy and - most yetchy of all - it was warm. It left a frothy moustache on your upper lip.

So we each took a few polite sips (while holding our noses and making ostentatious gagging noises), waited until the parents were out of the room, and tipped the Bull Juice out of the dining-room window, which overlooked three handsome rose bushes.

When spring came, the rose was the size of a sequoia tree. I gave a secret laugh when my mom said, with a wink, 'I just can't understand why this red rose bush is so much bigger than all the others, and why there are brown streaks all over the wall outside the dining room.'

I am interested to read that Adelle Davis was discredited and criticised in certain scientific and medical communities during her life, but that recent studies have vindicated her, and she is now considered a pioneer of the health food movement. (More here, from Wikipedia).

Whatever the case, I have had the most excellent health all my life (which I haven't deserved, considering my hedonistic ways), and I think it has something to do with the Bull Juice.

Does anyone remember this concoction?
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Anonymous said...

I suggest you buy the book and look it up. It's quite nutritious and can be varied to suit individual tastes.
Too bad you had issues with your folks. Most of us do until it's too late.

Juno said...

Jeez, Anon, who put a wasp up your backside?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting your memories. They very much mirror mine. My Adelle Davis-inspired mother made "milkshakes" that tasted horrible and soy flour birthday cakes. Some of it stuck though, and I still have a bottle of wheatgerm in my fridge to use on yogurt.

Anonymous said...

Pep-Up I think. (It's been awhile since I read her stuff.) Lots of nutrition in there, as the rose bushes can testify. I was not raised on the stuff, unfortunately. I came late to the Adelle Davis party back in the 80s and 90s while in my teens. My parents were different from yours. My dad dissed my precious Adelle Davis books, calling them "pulp paper-backs." Sad.

Jane-Anne said...

Hey Anon. Thanks for the comments. She certainly was head of her time, Adele Davies, yucky milkshakes notwithstanding.

Beth from the Bronx said...

Thanks for this. Lots of laughs. My mom certainly was a convert. the smell of Brewers Yeast still makes me gag. I remember her stuffing a turkey with Brewers Yeast, wheat germ and cauliflower. Even the dog wouldn't eat it. Maybe it was healthy but I suppose that eating directly out of the dump could be healthy too. It would be "organic". Thankfully our neighbors were good cooks and I could "eat out" much of the time. Nobody ever wanted to eat at my house

Sue said...

Adele Davis's Liver & Apple nearly ruined my marriage!! by now a family joke!

Sue said...

Adele Davis's Liver & Apple nearly ruined my marriage!! by now a family joke!