Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Challenging the Way We Think

As part of our journey to a simple and eco friendly life, I have needed to challenge the way I think about most things. There are so many things we do in life that are just accepted as the way things are and I don't think these things are particularly good for us.

As an example, I spoke to someone the other day when I was making spaghetti bolognaise for dinner and they asked me what jar of sauce I use. When I told her that I make it from scratch she seemed surprised as if the idea to make it from scratch never occurred to her. This person is a fantastic cook and 20 years ago she would have only made bolognaise from scratch. Perhaps it is advertising and marketing that has drummed into us that the only way to make certain meals is to use a base product from the supermarket shelves.

I don't mean to single out this one conversation (or meal for that matter). There are a lot of other foods and products that people assume the only way to get them is to buy them ready made - breakfast cereal, custard, snack foods, pasta and bread (including ready made bread mixes) are just some from a very long list.

I can understand why people use ready made ingredients and there are days I resort to them too, but I think it is much healthier for ourselves and the budget if ingredients are as close to their original state as possible.

It also makes it easier to control what I am feeding my family. Try to find a jar of minced garlic or ginger that doesn't have sugar added to it (or preservatives for that matter). All I need is garlic, so why do I buy a product that has sugar and preservatives added to it? Why is it that I am finding it so hard to source a local supply of real garlic? I hate to use a cliche but it seems the corporations or perhaps we should call them the powers that be have successfully drummed into us that the minced garlic in a jar is the only garlic we should use.

So, what do we do about it? Well, whatever we do it is going to be hard. I am finding choices are limited unless I am prepared to drive all over Sydney (which defeats the whole not driving thing - another post eh?). I am trying to question everything I do and ask myself why I am reaching for that particular product and if there is an alternative that is better for my family, the environment and my budget. If you think about all the things we do in a day that are automatic, that is a lot of habits that need to be questioned and more than likely broken.

And habits can be hard to break. Especially habits that have ingrained into us for years. I don't think I will ever be able to sit back and assume I don't have to question things and neither should you. Even if you decide to continue down the path you are on, at least you have made that decision for yourself.

So, why not open your kitchen cupboard and pick up a jar and read the list of ingredients. If you picked up a can of peaches for example, are the ingredients just peaches and peach juice? Are you happy to be eating all the other ingredients? I know I'm not.


Kelly said...

I AGREE! When I got married and had to think about feeding us healthy foods (college doesn't count) I initially used what my mom used- frozen bags of vegetables. I don't think I ate a bean that didn't come from a can. It was exciting to actually eat a "real" vegetable. I read somewhere that all you really need to shop at the grocery (American anyway) is the outerloop - the meats, vegetables/fruits, and dairy. I do detour down the baking aisle because my current store doesn't have the bins of grains like it did in Seattle, but I think "whole food" or now the new buzz word "clean eating" is the way to go. I think we've been told it's more convenient, but I can't stand those plastic containers of melon that are precut when I can get something in season, cheaper, and in 20 minutes have more to enjoy. Time to get back to real food. Everyone should read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - really makes you think - although I don't want to slaughter meat at this point. Keep blogging- loving it. Kelly

Alison said...

I'm most definitely not happy to be eating all the 'other' ingredients listed on packets, and I make an effort to cook as much as possible from scratch. Things slip through though. Reading In Defense of Food last year really inspired me to keep to the outside of the supermarket (meat, dairy and fruit/veges).

Emma @ the Berry Patch said...

Kelly, I haven't heard of the phrase 'clean eating'. I will google it - it sounds appropriate.

Alison, once you take notice, the extra ingredients are in everything. I just keep trying my best to avoid them - sometimes they slip through here too.

I haven't read either book but will keep an eye out at my library and second hand book stores.


angela said...

I have had the same experience myself. When I tell people I make my own bread they ask what brand my bread maker is. When I tell them I don't own one they look shocked.
They don't even realise you can make bread without one. When I tell them its therapeutic they just shake their heads,
they don't know what they're missing.

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