One afternoon in the early 1970’s, my mom took me to an old building in downtown Petoskey, Michigan to visit her new foray into weird food for the family.
I cannot recall which building it was anymore but I recall climbing a whole lot of scary wooden stairs and walking down old hallways and finding a place filled with the smell of honey, bee pollen, grains and wonderful warm spices.
The place was called The Grain Train Food Co-op and my mom was determined her family would have a nice storage of wheat, honey and dried fruits to fill our hunger needs.
She bought a few of these little containers called Dannon yogurt and she filled a small paper bag with dried pineapple rings as a treat on the way home.
We were quite skeptical about this yogurt but we enjoyed the fruit on the bottom a lot. The pineapple rings and dates have also weathered the test of time and find their way into my own pantry, as you can see from the photo above.
Mom bought like a half a ton of hard winter wheat that the co-op ordered for her and she taught herself and others how to bake with it. One month she had us, as a family, eat mainly from wheat, honey, salt, oil and powdered milk. I’m sure there were a lot of complaints that month she had to endure.
Mom taught community classes on using gluten and about healthy and “fun” ways to eat it.
Today some of her children cannot eat wheat or gluten, so we are learning to do as she did and teach ourselves about new things to eat such as, “Forbidden Rice” and “Hemp Hearts”.
I love to head into Whole Foods and fill the cart with nice healthy foodstuffs but I miss climbing those stairs into a backroom with my Mom and feeling like I stepped back into Laura Ingalls Wilder’s day, for a moment or two.
When we visit Petoskey in the summer we always stop by the Grain Train store but it isn’t the same as those first years high up in an old building with those nice spicy smells.