My cooking choices are often inspired by the items in the market. I prefer to cook items fresh and in season. I try to buy local when available and hope to encourage others to do so as well. This supports sustainability of our local communities.
I love, farm to table. It is amusing when you think that, farm to table is a social movement, now. How far away from common sense have we gone? The answer is, scary far. The secret is out folks, food grows on farms. What?
We are all so busy in our day-to-day with work, family, managing households, religious activities and social commitments, that we seek convenience. We have become convenience-addicts. I am as guilty as anyone. The convenience-addiction, will seep over into all facets of your life, if you let it.
In the grocery store, the convenience addiction can even be lethal. Every one is familiar with the dreaded recalls. You may buy all sorts of re-packaged food items for your “convenience”. Some of the items you may recognize. Factory packaged, sliced cheese and salami. Factory packaged, sliced apple with dip. Factory packaged, sandwiches. Factory packaged, pb & j.
Factory packaged, boiled eggs. What? Boiled eggs are quick and easy. If we as a group, think that we are too busy to boil eggs. I think we have a convenience-addiction. Big Business saw our soft underbelly and has gone “overboard” in my opinion.
Why should we pump the brakes on this? Here are only a few pros and cons:
- re-packaged food is more expensive benefit: savings
- re-packaged food disposable packaging (mostly plastic) creates extra trash and harms environment benefit: reduction in wastes to landfill
- re-packaged food has preservatives and chemicals benefit: cut unknown effects preservatives and chemicals have on health and allergies
- unknown history of origin of food (where, who, how, when) benefit: Local farms will communicate about history of food and safety practices
- re-packaged food doesn’t taste as good Benefit: Improved flavor & quality
- re-packaged food not as nutritious as fresh Benefit: Improved Nutrition
- re-packaged food may contain high amounts of sodium, fat or sugar Benefit: Improved Overall Health and reduction in weight
- re-packaged food may contain foreign matter Benefit: No foreign matter
Warning: Link above for foreign matter report will make you pause when buying any processed foods.
I am not saying that we all should drop all processed foods or that we are bad if we use them. I am not even saying that I will cut all processed foods. I think it would be wise to have more of our foods prepared fresh from the source with smaller amounts of processed or convenience items.
As in all things, moderation is important. We need balance in our food choices.
If your family reduced their processed food consumption by only 10%, what would the impact be? Could you increase the reduction over time?
The monetary savings is easier to quantify than the other items listed. The USDA August 2016 Cost of Food Report stated that the average family of 4 (see reports for details) on a moderate budget spent $12,589.20 annually on groceries. This report assumes all meals and snacks will be at home.
Would your family benefit from an extra savings? What other impact would it make for your family?
Awareness is key with any addiction. My weakness is chips of any shape, size or flavor. It’s a daily struggle.
Think about ways that you may cut your processed food consumption and what the fresh alternative could be. When timing allows, grow a small garden in your yard or container pots. Make a field trip to a local farm or CSA to take part in their offerings. Choose farmers markets that offer locally farmed produce.