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...


Arika said...

I experience similar feelings frequently when shopping- especially when I'm at at larger chain. I struggle with the choice of what is the best of the options, and lots of times all of the options are not that good.

I often find myself stuck in the jelly aisle particularly, when I am out of homemade jelly. Almost every choice has high fructose corn syrup, or some weird sugar substitute!

Once you know how things are made, it makes you really shake your head at the additives that are put into "common" items that people used to make at home with ease.

Di said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels this way... Although I'm sure we're doing the right things with food, I can't help but feel like some kind of freak when I'm standing there in the store, paralyzed because the options (all 6 zillion of them) aren't what I want.

Kate H. said...

I've got a really good recipe for refrigerator sweet pickles. It's quick and dead easy. I'll try to remember to write it down for you.

Kate H. said...

Here's the recipe I promised. I got it from a woman named Pam, but she called it


10 to 12 good-sized cucumbers
4 cups white vinegar (5% acidity minimum)
4 cups white sugar
1/6 cup pickling salt (abt. 2-2/3 T or 8 t)
1 T ground tumeric
1 T whole celery seed
1 T whole mustard seed

Slice cucumbers into a large (1 gal.) container and pack down tight. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over cukes. Cover and let stand in refrigerator for four days before eating. Stir or shake once or twice a day. Keep refrigerated.

I generally make smaller batches in smaller jars as cukes ripen in my garden, but this is the recipe as I received it. I also tend to shake up the pickles-in-progess more frequently than prescribed--might help and doesn't hurt!

Kate H. said...

Whoops, that's "pickles-in-pRogress"!

Di said...

Thanks!! I'll give it a try!