There’s two things about home cooked food which differs greatly from store bought. For one thing, it takes time to make. Cookies, for instance, take about 10 minutes to prepare (30 if you have a 4 year old and 3 year old “helping”) and about 10 minutes to bake each tray. Compare that with the 3 seconds it takes you to pick out a box of cookies at the store and toss it into your cart and you’ve got a major time differential. Considering how much time goes into baking 20-30 cookies as opposed to the scant amount of time involved in purchasing them, chances are you’re going to be more reserved about the amount you mindlessly stuff into your mouth. True, we frequently eat cookies in my family, but we don’t gorge ourselves on cookies. We appreciate the effort that goes into making them and therefore we appreciate savoring them in small amounts daily.
The other thing about slow food which won’t make you fat is that we use good quality ingredients. I know not everyone can afford this, and it’s not like we get everything organic. But as far as staples like flour and sugar go, purchasing good quality stuff in bulk 25 lb. and 50 lb. bags helps save considerable amounts of cash. By using whole foods and minimally processed, additive free foods, we free our taste buds from the enslavement of additive-rich, gorge yourself inducing crap that is added to the processed supermarket slop. The food scientists know exactly which modified, engineered crap to put into their “food” to make you want to eat more and more and more of it. Even if you are so full you feel like you are going to puke. That’s just not food.
When I first got married, we bought cheaper ingredients. Most of our food was purchased from the warehouse store Sam’s Club, which is very affordable but very, well, crappy. Even we bought a jar of Maranath Organic Peanut Butter and the stuff ended up having hydrogentated oil. Ewww. But the thing is, when I was cooking with crappier stuff, the results were more consistent. Not just flavor but texture and color as well. For instance, peanut butter cookies made with cheap flour and hydrogentated peanut butter yielded perfect looking cookies 100% of the time. Now when I bake using all natural stuff, the results have more variation (especially in cookie spread).
Real food can take getting used to. Recently while in Barnes & Noble (I talk about the place as if I worked there…even though I spent as much time there as the employees, I never got paid) I was talkig with a girl about whipped cream. She never had the real stuff, only Reddi-whip. She asked me what it tasted like and I didn’t really have much of an answer other than “airy cream.” This girl said she was afraid to try real whipped cream because she was so used to the manufactured kind. Afraid! Of Real Food!
I grew up in Central New Jersey, fifteen minutes from Rutgers University, which has a big food science program. In high school A.P. Bio I remember my teacher encouraging us to go into food science by speaking about the amazing world of fruit esters and freeze dried coffee. We were all t.v. dinner eating junk food freaks so it was kind of interesting to find out how they got that banana Mamba to taste so banana-y. None of us thought to question the validity of whether or not this stuff was actually food.
But now there is an entire local, natural, whole foods movement going on. Lots of people are concerned about what they eat, where it was from and how it was grown. My only disappointment is that vegetarianism has taken a seat in the back of the cool and trendy bus to local food. People seem to have had a change in consciousness, thinking that if the cow was killed locally, that is a good thing. Gotta get me some of that locally killed meat! But this new trend towards being an omnivorous locavore is short sighted. Vegetarianism is not just about eating a sustainable, human and earth friendly diet. Vegetarianism is also about compassion and humility. It is about not feeling your life is superior to another living entity’s mortal existence. It is about not causing pain to another being so that you may feel some sensual satisfaction of your tongue.
But here I go again, getting off topic.
So to summarize: Home cooked meals from raw ingredients are cheaper to make than assembling processed crap. It takes more time but you will appreciate the effort more. And your senses won’t be overstimulated by a synthetic batallion of taste agressors.
Basically, slow food won’t make you fat.