I feel like, overall, we've settled into a pretty good rhythm with what we eat. I still buy some things pre-made from the store, like crackers, cereal, some bread, and cheese. But I've also learned to make many things myself, like pasta sauces, yogurt, many kinds of soup, pie crusts, and lots more. I'm almost tempted to make a list of the things I make that "normal" people buy. The past few times I've gone to the store, I hardly even ventured into the aisles, and I feel like people must look in my cart and wonder, "What do they EAT?" because there are rarely any ready-to-eat items there besides fruits and veggies.
Because of our comfort with making rather than buying most foods, when I DO want something that's pre-made, I have an awful time selecting something. Today I (or rather, Ethan) wanted to buy pickles. I forgot them while I was at the market, and that turned out to be more problematic than I could have imagined. I found myself in the condiment aisle at Meijer, staring at hundreds of jars of pickles that I just couldn't buy. Every single jar had objectionable ingredients. Vlasic, Mt. Olive, Claussen, and several "boutique" brands. Dill pickles, Kosher spears, bread and butter, sweet gherkins. Many varieties had corn syrup, and every last jar had artificial colors (yellow and blue) added. I found a few lonely jars of organic pickles hidden in the middle, and finally selected Meijer Organics bread and butter chips. I think there were all of three options for organic: relish, bread and butter chips, and dill spears.
I know it's silly, because they're just pickles, but the whole experience depressed me. Why should it be so hard to go into a store and find a product that you can be relatively certain is safe? Why do pickles, a food that is already preserved by nature of being pickled/fermented, need preservatives? Things like this are the very reason I started learning to make so many of my own foods, and overall I take great pride in making my own. But there are days, like today, where it just makes me sad that I can't go into the store and find real food.
Although I'm still angry, I didn't come home and wallow. I got busy and turned my $6 half-bushel of mixed seconds apples into 8.5 quarts of applesauce. Then, for shits and giggles, I looked online at Walmart and found that a 48 oz jar of Great Value applesauce costs all of $1.97. I haven't bought applesauce in so long, I didn't realize it was so cheap. Of course, it also contains high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, water, cinnamon, and ascorbic acid (to protect color). Approximate cost per ounce is $.04. Santa Cruz organic applesauce, the only applesauce I could find that contained only apples, cost $.16/ounce. Mine, while not organic, contained only apples and cinnamon and cost $.02/ounce + 2 hrs of my time (including processing). The peace of mind from knowing where my food came from and exactly what's in it? Priceless.
Pickles are definitely on my list of new things to learn to make this year...