NEW! Google Custom Search


Whatever happened to "Real" food???

a1wang's picture

I just got back from a visit with the in laws. A moderate sized town in the Midwest. It always amazes me how brainwashed people have become into thinking that modern=better=chemicals. E.g. "fresh" or "clean"-smelling means lots of artifical fragrances (detergents, cleaners, fresheners) instead of fresh flowers or grass. But what I have the hardest time with is the artificial food. I bought some home-made cupcakes--yes they were kind of pricey, compared to the local Krogers, but made with real butter and eggs and with handpiped buttercream--and people were amazed. They would rather buy a big, cheap cake made with shortening, lots of chemical leaveners and preservatives. I felt bad because this new bakery is struggling to get started but I don't know how the baker will get customers to buy her quality product!

there is something seriously wrong when people forget what real food tastes like. I think it is a false economy to buy over-processed food. the cheap upfront price hides the true cost to our environment and our bodies.

Wolvie's picture

(post #45303, reply #1 of 130)

no arguments from me - your commentary is spot on. (sad to say)

 No mans error becomes his own Law; nor obliges him to persist in it

THOMAS HOBBES, Leviathan, part 2, p. 237 (1950).


MadMom's picture

(post #45303, reply #2 of 130)

The sad fact is that most people don't read the nutritional labels, and precious few bother to read the ingredients.  What matters is the price, and can it be nuked?

Not One More Day!
Not One More Dime! Not One More Life! Not One More Lie!

End the Occupation of Iraq -- Bring the Troops Home Now!

And Take Care of Them When They Get Here!

AmyElliesMom's picture

(post #45303, reply #3 of 130)

I don't know. I've given up bringing homemade cakes to any of my gatherings b/c people just rave and rave about the ones that are from box mixes.

I made a wonderful cake for Ostara/Spring equinox, and no one ate it. I played it off as "oh, bad recipe", but I know it's because it was homemade and not a fluffy, greasy, squishy box mix.

From now on, I'll use box mixes and just have fun with the decorating. And will make a s/f cake for me to eat while there.

It's really disheartening to work so hard on something from scratch then have people like the box mix crap better.

I keep trying to find homemade recipes that will duplicate the box mix texture and flavor, but I haven't been so lucky yet.

I will say the only homemade cake that was well-received was the Sue B sheet cake, but chocolate anything always goes over well, lol!

And the crowd was stilled.  One elderly man, wondering at the sudden silence, turned to the Child and asked him to repeat what he had said.  Wide-eyed, the Child raised his voice and said once again, "Why, the Emperor has no clothes!  He is naked!"
                -- "The Emperor's New Clothes"


Save the Earth! It's the only planet with wine and chocolate.

courgette's picture

(post #45303, reply #4 of 130)

I know that people will eat all those crappy cakes from the store and mixes, but whenever I make a REAL cake, people swoon. They do recognize the difference, and there's never any left over.

And then I get comments something like " This is sooo delicious,but I just don't have the time to cook." Of course I interpret  this as " my time is just so much more valuable than yours. Its good that yoiu have something like baking to amuse yourself."

And then I make note to self: Never invite these people to dinner or let them close enough to even sniff any of my food.

I still make homemade cakes for the school though because my son knows the difference and he won't take anything that is less than what he considers the best.


Amy's picture

(post #45303, reply #5 of 130)

Speaking of sniffing, my mother had a bakery birthday cake in the house and everyone LOVED the smell. I could hardly stand to be near it. It had some weird fake extracty sort of smell to it.

courgette's picture

(post #45303, reply #10 of 130)

I know the smell you mean, and it is very artificial.


deejeh's picture

(post #45303, reply #6 of 130)

I've had the same experience - when given the choice between cake from a mix and one that's homemade, people love the homemade ones.  Even if they didn't though, I'd still not bake a mix cake.  I bake as much because of the joy it brings me as for the pleasure it brings others.  If there are those who can't appreciate the result because their tastebuds are uneducated or brutalized, that's too bad, but it's not going to change my way of making a cake.  Those who prefer the grocery store version are welcome to purchase it.


MadMom's picture

(post #45303, reply #8 of 130)

Ooooh, that would burn me up.  I think the correct response is that we each have 24 hours in our day, and we might choose to spend some of them cooking, or watching TV, or working, or sleeping, or whatever.  You've made your choice, and evidently those people have made their choice.

Not One More Day!
Not One More Dime! Not One More Life! Not One More Lie!

End the Occupation of Iraq -- Bring the Troops Home Now!

And Take Care of Them When They Get Here!

Adele's picture

(post #45303, reply #13 of 130)

People actually get a bit excited when they see me going back out to my car on Monday mornings.  They know it means I've got a treat in the car.  :)  

I'm quite proud to say I've never used a box mix for cakes or brownies, though I have tasted some of the holiday treats others bring in that are made from mixes.  No matter how pretty they look, the taste just doesn't come close to homemade.  I don't care what other people think, I would know and it would bother me that I didn't take an extra 5 minutes to measure for homemade.  


But, but, it's SUPPOSED to taste like that!

But, but, it's SUPPOSED to taste like that!

SallyBR1's picture

(post #45303, reply #14 of 130)

You know what is really sad?

When a remark not too different from that comes from your own family members...

one of the stepsons (the one living in LA) came up with a saying more or less like this: "I will never cook anything that would take me longer to cook it than to eat it"

He thougth it was very cute - I had slaved away for a whole Sunday afternoon to get a pretty nice dinner on the table for him, his girlfriend, his brother and GF

(le sigh)



"The beauty of a Sally is how neatly she can be divided"
(CookiMonster, Dec 2005)

Karencooks's picture

(post #45303, reply #104 of 130)

I get the same reactions to my homemade soups/stews. I have some smoked chicken chowder simmering for lunch right now, I smoked the chicken, made stock from the carcass, grew the parsnips/carrots/celeery in my front yard garden and am making chowder with the leftovers from the chicken. You just can't get this from a CAN.

Now, I think I'll go have lunch.

Aberwacky's picture

(post #45303, reply #105 of 130)

I get really annoyed by people who make comments like "I don't have time to do that" or "So-and-so must have too much time on their hands" to do whatever--cook, garden, make crafts, etc.

These are usually the people that plop in front of the television every night or surf the net or play video games, etc.  I've found that people make the time for the things they enjoy, and it seems to me that the ones that make those kinds of comments are really just jealous.

People wonder where DH and I get the time to do what we do--with a 1 1/2 hour commute one way, a new house we're finishing and a 10-month-old, it's true we don't have as much time as we used to. 

However, when we moved we elected to not get cable--an economic choice more than a social one--and it's amazing how much time that used to take up!  We also just LIKE to do the things that we do, so we make time for them. 

As for family time, well, we include Grant and the twins in all our activities--entertainment is what you make of it.  Took awhile, but the boys like to help cook and garden and even help with their little brother.  Grant will grow up doing these activities with us, and hopefully will learn that there are other entertainment options than video games (his big brothers still struggle with that, LOL.)

Okay, rant almost over, LOL. I think comments like that say more about the person making them than the person they're made about. 

I will end by saying that last month my sister-in-law (retired) said she would never have the time to cook like I do. I was fed up with her, and retorted that she could, she just didn't WANT to do it.  She didn't speak to me for a week (G).



I am a domestic goddess!  I deserve three ovens (and two dishwashers)! I am a domestic goddess!  I deserve three ovens (and two dishwashers)! I am a domestic goddess!  I deserve three ovens (and two dishwashers). . .

"Happiness does not depend on outward things, but on the way we see them." 
-Leo Tolstoy
courgette's picture

(post #45303, reply #111 of 130)

I agree with everything you said. My husband used to insist that he liked to cook, but that he just didn't have the time. I got tired of listening to this and pointed out to him that people who like to cook read cookbooks and cooking magazines. They get an overwhelming urge to cook, select a (some) recipe(s), go to the specialty markets, search out rare ingrediants and spend the day or weekend cooking. He has never done this. I told him not to ever say again in front of other people that he likes to cook. Clearly he does not. He is quite capable of cooking if he needs to, but never just does it because he feels like it.

I told him that PEOPLE FIND THE TIME TO DO THE THINGS THEY WANT TO DO. He plays golf 2-3 times a week from April to November, and we just joined another club, mainly for our son because it has a great junior program and is just up the street. However, he will play there with James and has to buy a second set of clubs to be able to do this. Let's see, this is 15-20 hours per week. One could do quite a lot of cooking in that amount of time if one could find it-perhaps if one were not on the golf course!

Wow! You commute 3 hours /day- that is hard. When Pat went back to school we commuted 45 minutes to the city. We swore we would never put ourselves in that position again. Of course, I was working 12 hour shifts in nursing and he was working 36 hours every 3rd day. One time we drove in in a snow storm and everyone in the city called in and said they couldn't get to work. The nursing supervisor was shocked when I showed up! Good thing we were young. Oh, I forgot, you are, so that helps!!!!


MadMom's picture

(post #45303, reply #112 of 130)


Amen!  Sort of reminds me of a friend of ours who once remarked to my DH, after we had both quit our jobs and taken a year off to go sailing in the Caribbean that he would "give anything to be able to do that."  This man was President of Holiday Inns, pulling down heaven only knows how much in salary, owned a few dozen rental properties, and lived in a big house.  My reply was "no, you wouldn't, because you could easily do that if you were willing to give up just a little...not much...of what you have."  He finally admitted that I was right.  Dreams are one thing, fantasies another.

Not One More Day!
Not One More Dime! Not One More Life! Not One More Lie!

End the Occupation of Iraq -- Bring the Troops Home Now!

And Take Care of Them When They Get Here!
Aberwacky's picture

(post #45303, reply #113 of 130)

The commute is not as bad as I thought it would be, except of course that gas prices are far beyond what I had budgeted :-(.  It's mostly through lovely hills and rolling countryside, with just a little bit on the interstate, and traffic's not bad.

It's the getting up at 4:30 and not getting home until 7 that gets old.  I don't do well on too-little sleep, and end up falling asleep in the car while DH drives. Fortunately, he's a very young 55.  Of course, that runs in his family--his mother at 88 has more energy than I do at 38.I just changed to a every-other-Friday-off schedule which helps a lot, though. 

I grew up in a golfing family, and know how much time that hobby takes. My dad at 78 (just retired) still plays every day.   That, and now gardening, are his only hobbies though, and he's never pretended otherwise, LOL.

Out of curiosity, how much time does your DH spend piping every week?  I still want to learn to play.



I am a domestic goddess!  I deserve three ovens (and two dishwashers)! I am a domestic goddess!  I deserve three ovens (and two dishwashers)! I am a domestic goddess!  I deserve three ovens (and two dishwashers). . .

"Happiness does not depend on outward things, but on the way we see them." 
-Leo Tolstoy
courgette's picture

(post #45303, reply #114 of 130)

Your schedule exhausts me!

 Pat has a lesson every other Monday with an elderly pipe major for about an hour and a half. Whenever we go anywhere together, I drive and he plays his chanter. Whenever he watches TV, he practices. Of course, he has an electronic one and uses earphones, but for many years I won the award for most tolerant spouse! He has band practice every Wed nite for a couple of hours. He goes through spurts when he gets up early and plays the pipes in the basement for about half an hour every day. So he's pretty consistent with it. He started learning the pipes when he was in third year medical school right after we met.

My Dad is 83 and has never retired. He is a farmer and still tries to run things, although he is slowing down and my brother is slowing taking over. He was recently diagnosed with glaucoma which was a shock to him as he has never been ill. He has no hobbies or interests other than work. Your Dad is lucky he has activities he enjoys.


Fledge's picture

(post #45303, reply #130 of 130)

Boy does this post ring true for people around my family!

What drives me over the bend is...the "You should get a job" comment.


"Let it be, let be....whisper words of wisdom, let it be."

The Beatles

You don't scare me

I have an African Grey

Robin's picture

(post #45303, reply #9 of 130)

I've had that problem too.  Unfortunately, fresh cakes can be finicky and not always turn out great.  But I have to say, pour a chocolate ganache frosting on anything, and you'll get raves.  You can't get that from a can!



AmyElliesMom's picture

(post #45303, reply #15 of 130)

Sadly, this particular cake WAS good (I've done others that weren't). I, however, am not going to keep baking cakes that don't get eaten. It's a waste of my time and money. I can't eat them, so I can't take leftovers home.

I bring food for the joy it brings to others, so I'll make what they like and quit trying to make them like what I make, lol!

My family appreciates my homemade efforts, so that's nice.

And the crowd was stilled.  One elderly man, wondering at the sudden silence, turned to the Child and asked him to repeat what he had said.  Wide-eyed, the Child raised his voice and said once again, "Why, the Emperor has no clothes!  He is naked!"
                -- "The Emperor's New Clothes"


Save the Earth! It's the only planet with wine and chocolate.

Ricks503's picture

(post #45303, reply #12 of 130)

Spagos's chocolate chiffon cake is TDF and is fought over when I make it and bring it to a gathering or potluck.  I is usually the first thing gone and people keep asking me to bring 2 or 3 instead of 1.  Use the search, the recipe is here somewhere.

1 - measure the board twice, 2 - cut it once, 3 - measure the space where it is supposed to go        4 - get a new board and go back to step 1



" There'll be no living with her now" - Captain Jack Sparrow

dlish's picture

(post #45303, reply #18 of 130)

You know, that's funny. I thought that only happened to me. I'll take a dessert somewhere and the "Sandra Lee" desserts are alway the first to go. I usually get compliments on my desserts, when people "dare" to try them. I think people's palets have become accustomed to artificial tastes, though. I have a few friends who laugh when I wrinkle my nose and say, "Ewww. This tastes like chemicles!" Luckily, I have some other friends who know what real food tastes like too!

Wolvie's picture

(post #45303, reply #59 of 130)

I agree with you on folks be accustomed to super sweet - look what they've done to corn. ;-)

 No mans error becomes his own Law; nor obliges him to persist in it

THOMAS HOBBES, Leviathan, part 2, p. 237 (1950).


Robin's picture

(post #45303, reply #7 of 130)

The last time I made something for church it was the mint brownies from FC.  One of the women asked me "What kind are these?"  I said they were mint.  She asked again and then I realized she was waiting for me to say Duncan Hines or something like that.  I told her they were home made and I got a look like, "wow, people actually do that!"

Other people at church know I make everything from scratch and really appreciate it, especially the elderly ones.  They remember when they used to bake like that and now they either can't because of ailments or they have no one to bake for.  I give lots of doggie bags to them!



elizaram's picture

(post #45303, reply #11 of 130)

I couldn't agree with you more. I've recently started supplementing the family finances by baking for friends once a week. Some of them buy extra goodies and share them around at work, and some of the comments get relayed back to me. People wonder how I get my cookies to have such a great texture, or what "secret ingredient" I use to make them taste so delicious. No secret at all - I use real butter, real vanilla, and so on. And people have never tasted anything like it. It's sad. I've had a lot of people tell me that I need to get a commercial kitchen and start doing this full time, but I have doubts whether such a venture would succeed. People can tell the difference between my breads and cookies and the supermarket type, and they like mine better, but I am skeptical they would be willing to pay enough for them to cover the costs of making them.

I think there are a lot of factors contributing to this sad state of affairs. One is probably fallout from the American infatuation with technology in the 40's and 50's. Chemically engineered, disposable, processed anything was the fashion (this was the same era when doctors discouraged new moms from breastfeeding their babies, in favor of the new "scientifically designed" formulas). Another is clever marketing by food processors, who over half a century have convinced us that cooking from scratch is hard work and far too complicated, and that their box mixes or pre-made crap are the only solution. So most people have grown up eating cake-mix cakes, brownie-mix brownies, biscuits from a tube, cream of crap casseroles, and so on. It's the "comfort food" factor - people like the taste of the food they ate in childhood.

And probably a big influence is the confusing realm of nutrition science. The headlines are always telling us that this or that is bad for us (sometimes directly contradicting each other depending on which special interest paid for the study). Butter is bad for you - eat margarine and shortening. Eggs are bad for you, eat egg substitutes. Whoops, margarine is bad for you after all, eat "heart healthy spreads" instead... My MIL has fallen for all this stuff. Her pantry is full of "butter-like" substances, "no sugar added" jams (full of HFCS), "fat free" cookies and crackers (loaded with chemical additives), and so on. She feels quite virtuous, thinking she is being very healthy, but she is eating crap - and missing out on the taste of real food.

I saw a study a while back which had investigated an Amish community in the US, and found that they had amazingly low rates of both obesity and heart disease compared to the rest of the country. The researchers involved expressed surprise at the results, since these people's diet was full of "unhealthy" things like butter, lard, and real cream. I had to laugh. It's no mystery to me - the Amish eat real food grown with their own hands, don't get hung up on the content or quantity of what they eat, and work very hard. Why should we be shocked that this results in good health?

Food-forward parents like mine served dinners of homemade falafel, Mediterranean fish stew or stir-fried beef with broccoli. To me, dishes like spaghetti and meatballs, mashed potatoes with gravy and macaroni and cheese seemed exotic and unattainable. --Julia Moskin (NYT)

When I was young, all my friends were imaginary. Now that I'm older, all my friends are virtual.

Wolvie's picture

(post #45303, reply #58 of 130)

all too true - great post!

 No mans error becomes his own Law; nor obliges him to persist in it

THOMAS HOBBES, Leviathan, part 2, p. 237 (1950).


ouzo's picture

(post #45303, reply #16 of 130)

For the last five years, for 18 blissful weeks starting in June, I get produce from a CSA (community supported agriculture). This farm has been operated by two women for 20 years. They provide a huge variety of produce, stuff I’d seen at the store and never bought. They also provide a weekly newsletter and recipe suggestions.

The organic farm raised son of one of the women went off to school in New York City two years ago. Last summer, home from school for the summer, he wrote some of the newsletters. His biggest disappointment with school is the food. He said that the food at school is awful – poor quality and nearly tasteless. When ever he has brought up the bad food, he been met with uncomprehending stares from his fellow students. They think the food is just fine. They weren’t raised to know any different.

So whether it’s baking or just making a salad, there are a lot of people out there taking a lot of short cuts and passing this food lore on to their children. Life’s too short for bad food. If I’m tired after work, I’d rather eat a grilled cheese sandwich or scrambled eggs than a commercially prepared frozen meal. DH will always go for the oatmeal (which he buys in 50#bags :-)

Edited 4/21/2006 12:33 pm by ouzo

  No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted - Aesop, The Lion & the mouse

Jillsifer's picture

(post #45303, reply #17 of 130)

people forget what real food tastes like

And rear an entire generation of children who've never known--that's another heartbreaker. My son is the ONLY kid in his class who brings actual fruit--not "fruit snax" or God knows what other faux-fruitlike substances--in his lunch.

Once I volunteered to bring finger sandwiches for a class party. The room Mother asked for peanut butter & jelly (no allergies in the class), then told me VERY explicitly that I shouldn't use my homemade nut butter or my homemade jam because too many of the kids (her twins included) NEEDED "soft" food like Jif/Skippy and that emasculated, flavorless cr*p that passes for grape jelly. On Wonder Bread (it's a WONDER it's even called bread!). 

The whole thing ended in a draw; I donated money so she could buy whatever she pleased. My son miraculously "got sick" that day, I took a day off and we stayed home baking bread and eating it together with homemade mixed-nut butter and homemade nectarine jam.



Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.

-- Washington Irving

samchang's picture

(post #45303, reply #19 of 130)

On Wonder Bread (it's a WONDER it's even called bread!). 

And I thought they were air conditioner filters!

Good for your family, though: let the culinary heathens poison themselves with the ingestion of petrochemicals.

a1wang's picture

(post #45303, reply #20 of 130)

Homebaked goods are often a bit denser than the mass-produced stuff--Maybe that is why people think they prefer the chemical concoctions passed off as baked goods by the large chains. I also have had my pride and feelings hurt when everyone lunges for the plasticized cupcakes that appear perfect and not the homemade ones with a daub of buttercream on top. And people think that chemical aftertaste is normal! But it is sad when even something as easy as frosting becomes warped into that stuff you spoon out of a can!

Have you ever noticed how people who consume the most so-called healthy alternative, chemical substitute foods also look the most unhealthy? I think my time is well-spent trying to prepare goodtasting and real foods for my family and friends!

Has anyone read the omnivore dilemma? Take home messsage--buy local! One thing that also bothers me is the high cost of organic, unprocessed foods. Talk about the growing gap between classes. How are poor people supposed to afford to eat healthy? I shop at Whole foods but they have turned "organic" into a for-profit marketing concept!

HavaRocks's picture

(post #45303, reply #21 of 130)

Yeah, I get super weird looks when people look at my lunch (leftovers from dinner, or a sandwich with homemade bread). They all say it looks so good and I always try to explain that I barely spend any time cooking and that it's really not that difficult. Oh well.

I'll savor my left over chicken parmesean and my homemade wheat. Someone has to buy the Wonder Bread.