Transitioning To Real Food

Spices (food, spice, Morocco)

Image via Wikipedia

When I talk to people or write about sustainability, sometimes I forget that not everybody eats the way our family does. I forget those days in the distant past when much of our food came from a box. I think back to Hamburger Helper. It’s pasta, meat, and spices! How hard can it be? Cook meat, cook noodles, add spices. No box required.

It’s elementary to me now, but if I try really hard I can vaguely remember when it didn’t seem so simple.

Actually, I remember the transition to real food being exceptionally complicated.

Today, the majority of our family’s meals are made from scratch. We use real ingredients. Period.

Our diets change with the seasons. We buy as much as possible from local sources and whenever possible, organic, free-range, and chemical-free.

To us, it’s not complicated. The amount of time we spend in the kitchen preparing meals is roughly equivalent to the amount of time others spend watching television. Or less.

It’s simpler (and far healthier) to grind flour, for example, to make bread, pancakes, crepes, biscuits, tortillas, pizza crust, or noodles, than it is to pay for all that goes along with processed foods.

Imagine the life cycle of a box meal: There’s the cost of producing the food (including farm labor and whatever-icides sprayed on the food,) transporting it to the processing facility (all the many ingredients seperately,) the labor and processing processes (usually including chemical processing or at a minimum, chemical preservatives,) the packaging, and finally, the cost of transporting it to market. Did I leave anything out? Probably.

Anyway, it’s nice to imagine eating only locally-grown, organic, chemical-free food. It’s quite another thing to actually do it.

At first it’s not easy and definitely not simple.  Just the process of educating yourself about the vast array of healthy options seems overwhelming. With the sheer volume of information to sift through, it’s hard to know where to even start.

It took us a couple of years to make the transition. It’s like anything else in life; you get out of it what you put into it.

More to come…

Leave a comment


  1. 😀 This made me laugh. The same thing happens to me. I tend to forget that it’s not “normal” to eat healthy. It is nice to read your story, it is a nice journey to move towards real food.

    Sometimes I hear “it’s just impossible to cook from scratch” and I simply do not understand what these people mean… it is a sad reality. You are showing that it’s not true, that’s great. I hope a lot of people get to read this.

    • Thank you. I appreciate your comment.

      It’s definitely not “normal,” but I think more and more people are tending toward more sustainable diets. The messages are getting through. In any case I get a lot of positive feedback. People say “I’d love to do that,” which is a step in the right direction.

  2. There are days when I really miss Twinkies and Dunkin Donuts. However what I love most about “slow food” is the hanging out time with people while we make it and then eat it. The conversations wouldn’t be nearly as fun if we were eating hamburger helper.

    • Finally a reply… But you could make fun of your friends and family members as they try to pronounce the ingredients on the hamburger helper box. 🙂


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