Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Products

At dinner last Friday, my granddaughter's friend looked at a little box of treats and I thought I heard her say, "I don't eat anything with a barcode." What she really said was, "All I see is a barcode." But it got all of us thinking. Is there anyone around now who eschews food with a barcode?
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I think of our Amish neighbors as self-sustaining, but really? They buy lots of things at retail outlets, and they also have their own retail outlet. While they don't use a scanner to check you out, the products they stock to resell either come packaged with barcodes printed on the label, or they use ingredients (flour, sugar, yeast) from barcoded packages to make their donuts and bread and pies.

I used to be friends with a homesteading couple who purchased very little food, but they still couldn't raise sugar or coffee, olives (for oil) or enough lemons to drink lemonade all summer. They bought bread flour and salad dressing mix, Country Time Lemonade in a big tub, along with spices, chocolate, yeast and other baking ingredients.

They probably come closest to eating nothing with a barcode than anyone I've ever known. They make their own bread, pasta, cheese (cottage, mozzarella, cheddar), butter and yogurt, and of course they grow and preserve vegetables and fruit. They raise chickens for eggs and meat, and kill a deer or two every fall.

They're well-nourished, in other words, but it takes a lot of work. My pantry is paltry compared to theirs, which is filled with hundreds of jars of homegrown produce.

All that said, I still try to limit my consumption of processed foods. I buy crackers and pasta, because it's easier, although I certainly have the time, skills and equipment to make them. You need vinegar and sugar  to preserve cucumbers, and lots more sugar to preserve fruit. I'm not raising pigs, and therefore not rendering lard, so I have to buy that (or shortening) if I want to make a pie now and then.

I'm only getting onions and celery from the garden now, so I'll be stocking up on carrots, greens (and I could totally be harvesting greens if I'd gotten my act together in August and planted seeds then), potatoes and the like.

I've turned myself into a perimeter shopper. Oh, I wander up and down the grocery aisles, because you never know what you might find, but most of my food purchases are stocked around the edge of the store. That's where you'll find the fresh stuff. It may have a barcode, but it's less processed than anything that comes in a box.

How about you? Is it important to you to serve homemade food to your family (or yourself)? Do you have the time and energy to do as much as you'd like? I certainly don't! When a recipe calls for an ingredient that you could make (frozen pizza dough, prepared pie crust), do you make it instead?

I've been called a food snob, and I apologize in advance if that's how I'm coming across. That innocent remark at the dinner table really did make me think about my food philosophy. How about you?


5 comments:

  1. Well, you know how I eat - very little that comes from a box or can. But I'm not trying to homestead, so I don't worry about things like killing my own deer or making my own vinegar :) My philosophy is more that I buy food items that contain one ingredient. I don't eat flour, sugar, or yeast, so that automatically precludes the vast majority of packaged foods anyway.

    I do get tired of cooking all the time, but I've also learned to be very efficient and to come up with some easy/quick alternatives for those times when I feel like I will scream if I spend one more minute in the kitchen.

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  2. I used to think I'd never get tired of cooking, and it's not really the cooking I get tired of, it's the thinking up what to cook. I have dozens of cookbooks and, with the internet, hundreds of thousands of recipes available, but I still get stuck on "what's for dinner?"

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  3. "what's for dinner" is one of the most difficult questions of the day. and it happens almost everyday...

    (my mother avoided this since we adhered to a pretty strict menu for most of my childhood. If it was Tuesday you knew what you were getting...perhaps you didn't know what *kind* of chicken, but it was always chicken)

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  4. Eating like this is how I lost 30 lbs earlier this year. I was able to sustain it for a few months and then ... a "treat" here and a "treat" there led me back down the path to processed foods.

    Although I'm sustaining the loss, I know that if I want to make actual progress further towards my goals, I need to get back with the "eat fresh" program, but...oh wait - is that a tiny Butterfinger I hear calling my name? Gotta go! ;-)

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  5. P.S. You're not a food snob - you're a food purist! And I am totally not offended by your thinking in this area - just envious of your ability to put it into action!

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