Can I make you think for a moment? If you pondered your family’s eating habits and figured out the one prepared item that is used in your household, what would it be?
I asked a similar question on Facebook the other day and got a variety of answers: ketchup, salsa, ranch dressing, Miracle Whip*, barbecue sauce, bread, spicy mustard…
Now, think about the trash and plastic you could eliminate from the waste stream, the chemicals (in many cases) you could remove from your family’s diet, and the trips to the store you could avoid if you made that one item at home. What if instead of depending on Heinz and Kraft and Pace to fulfill your family’s desire for that must-have item, you made it yourself? Of course, you’ll likely need the help of a farmer or two for some of the ingredients necessary to make your version, but removing that whole step of manufacturing your favorite prepared item is better for the environment and very likely better for your health. It gives you the opportunity to choose organic or sustainably farmed items. And it teaches the younger generation that food, real food, doesn’t have to come with a label.
I’ve already converted to making my own grainy mustard, ketchup, hamburger relish, salsa, and barbecue sauce. My eldest son has started baking our sandwich bread. We’ve still got a long way to go toward eliminating all prepared foods, but it’s a start. And I can tell you that it has been a painless conversion. In most cases, all you need to do is commit to a half an hour or so of cooking. In the case of ketchup, it will take longer, but that’s because it needs to cook down. There’s not much active work going on during that stage. And that half-hour in the kitchen will generally net you way more of your favorite condiment than what you’d get at the store – for less money.
*I’m not a fan myself, but I found this recipe for homemade Miracle Whip. Even that can be created in your kitchen!
Photo: Flickr user sylvar.