Whats the deal with the “food from scratch” craze?

Why do we care so much about making foods from scratch? And is it really worth the effort? Food from Scratch nutrition healthy alternatives

As a blogger of a homesteading site I think it’s pretty obvious the answer for me is that it is worth the effort. But that is based on the stage of life I’m in, my resources, and my priorities. It hasn’t always been that way and I think for some people it’s just not their time yet to go through the process of eating from scratch. But they can make healthier choices in other ways and can begin the process of educating themselves.

When I was younger and in college, I didn’t feel that I had the time to make food from scratch.  Frankly, I didn’t have the education either. I remember buying a cookbook once in Monterrey because I loved the food at the restaurant so much I had to have their cookbook. But when I looked through the recipes I consistently didn’t know what some of the ingredients were. I remember feeling like 80% of the book was useless for me!  I was also young and didn’t have the tools they spoke about to make some of the dishes even if I understood the names of the ingredients and where to find them. That was before the internet (yes, there was a time when ALL your knowledge came from books or the mouth of others, not a computer display). It has taken a lot of time and education to get to the point where I understand how to cook without having a recipe to follow or to be able to experiment by altering a recipe. I have Cooks Illustrated to thank for much of my education. Their massive general cookbook was my first real cookbook. I was hooked because they explained their process, the reasons other methods didn’t work, and didn’t shy away from the science of cooking. Much of it as an art, but it’s all based on science.

Tomatoes for spaghetti or other food from scratch
Tomatoes for spaghetti or other food from scratch

Cooking food from scratch is healthier

Now that I am older I try to eat better. That is the main reason I try to make as much as possible from scratch. In my gardening I try to be as organic as possible. Eventually it dawned on me that if adding chemicals to my plants was bad, I really needed to acknowledge that I do the same thing by eating boxed foods with preservatives and God only knows what else, eating fast foods fried in months old trans-fats, and drinking diet soda. What is diet soda? It’s a combination of various chemicals I choose to drink to avoid sugar and thinking it was helping me by not adding calories to my body.  Theres more and more evidence though that sugar substitutes are actually far more harmful than good and may assist in causing tings like diabetes and obesity.  Check out this About Health article titled The Problem with Artificial Sweeteners, written by a MD with some good supporting citations as an example.  I’ve been off soda now for quite a few months and don’t see myself going back. Has it changed my life… I have no clue. And to be honest, I do have maybe 2 sodas a week, usually at restaurants. But I could easily drink a 2 liter bottle of diet soda a day at times… Yow.

I try now to drink water when I eat out… why pay such crazy prices for soda at restaurants anyway? At home, my food from scratch “work-around” to replace diet soda is this:  I drink a mix of about 1/3 orange juice or lemonade (roughly 5-6 oz.) along with ice and San Pellegrino water. Sometimes I’ve added some

Diet soda substitute
Pellegrino soda water with orange juice

coconut water. It gives me the same fizz of soda carbonation that is very satisfying.  Sometimes I add a few drops of vanilla and it tastes like a cream-sickle!  Could I have done this when I was younger? Yes, but it wasn’t very realistic. I didn’t really have the money then for Pellegrino orange juice pellegrinoalthough I did buy diet soda which is similar in price.  Frankly, I really didn’t even know you could drink carbonated water in anything without alcohol. I could have made other choices though. I just didn’t.

I bet, but am unsure, that young people today make health more of a priority and are better educated on healthy living.  I sure hope things have changed. The lure of a cheap meal at McDonalds or a high carb/calorie sandwich that’s cheap from Subway kept me going through much of college. The cold cut combo was my favorite. Looking at their nutritional menu now online I see that’s one of their highest calorie sandwich. And what is a cold cut at Subway? Per their website its

The Cold Cut Combo is stacked with turkey-based meats – ham, salami and bologna.

Wow… turkey based meats. Does this mean a turkey based ham? That’s what it sounds like! And what in bologna anyway? Hum… Why not choose real turkey instead? Its 280 calories instead of 360…. And 80 calories IS a big deal when you are on a 1600-1800 calorie a day diet. I see now also that it’s not just the eating at home or eating from scratch. It’s the choices we make when we are confronted with eating the chemicals or poor quality foods. As I get older the choices do seem easier.

Check out this article from the Huffington Post on National Bologna Day. Yes, it’s a kind of mystery meat but it’s really just sausage. The problem is the secret meats that are added and undisclosed. But perhaps every culture needs its menudo and its better off not asking what’s in it?

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