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Convenience Foods Confession

June 18, 2013

So much for the plan. This season I had to give up the CSA since we were moving away. My intention had been to start doing some more shopping at farmers markets or to start subscribing to Field Goods or some other kind of weekly local produce delivery program.

It was a good plan.

But I’m a creature of habit. This blog is a perfect proof text. I write it every day. That’s why it endures. If I started to skip a day here and there, before you know it I’d stop writing altogether. The AOA pieces work the same way. They get written every other week and are leapfrogged with the stories I write for the Chefs Consortium. Let me tell you, squeezing additional work between those two deadlines is tricky.

Tricky, but not impossible. There have been a few side projects I’ve written and one that I’m working on now. Should they ever come to fruition, I’ll be sure to let you know.

I digress.

So here I am, too busy traveling on the weekends to go to the farmers market, too stuck in a rut to overcome the barrier of ordering local produce online, and too occupied managing details of the pre-move chores to focus on cooking the kinds of dinners I made last June. That means I’m relying on convenience foods more than usual. Now I share my shame.

Granted, my convenience foods aren’t exactly like other people’s convenience foods. But some of them are remarkably similar.

For example, the kids have been eating a shit ton of franks and beans. Thank you, Trader Joe’s. I try not to think about it too much, and I can take some degree of solace in the fact that the franks are the Applegate Farms organic grass-fed nitrate-free versions. And the beans are also the organic private label version from TJs.

But without a doubt these are still industrialized food products. The can of beans is likely lined with BPA. And there is no way to really pretend a hot dog is a wholesome foodstuff. At least they eat it with HFCS free ketchup.

And the kids love it. Except for when they eat too much and are up all night complaining of their deep thirst from all the salt. In my defense, it was Mrs. Fussy who made the children a second can of beans. I hold the line at just one. But it’s so easy to make. Dinner is ready in minutes, and that’s using the stove top, since we don’t have a microwave.

The other convenience food also involves industrial farming and cans.

I made beans and greens over pasta last week. Except instead of using real local greens, I used pre-cut triple washed organic greens from some plastic box with a cute logo. The beans were simply canned cannellini. It felt like I was cheating on my family by just opening packages and putting them in the pot.

Usually it’s my own slowly simmered beans and farm fresh greens that I’ve meticulously washed. But man, was this easy. In my defense, I still did chop up a couple cloves of garlic and some anchovy. And instead of using canned chicken broth, we used some of the concentrated stock cubes from the freezer.

But I’m slipping.

The habit of cooking everything from scratch every day is fading away. And you know what happens when I start breaking my good habits. Bad things, man. Bad things.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. June 18, 2013 11:42 am

    Not to pile on more guilt…you know most Applegate products aren’t nitrate free, right? I’m going to say ‘most’ instead of all because I don’t want to go through the ingredients for all their products. I’m not an expert, but my understanding of ‘uncured’ meats is that they are cured, but use a combination of salt and celery powder or celery juice – celery has a lot of nitrates.

    • June 18, 2013 1:30 pm

      Good catch. I sometimes get caught up in the sing-song language of packaging. But you are totally right and I’ve fixed the post above. For what it’s worth, I would rather get my nitrates from celery juice than from other sources. But it’s totally misleading for the package to suggest that the hot dogs have no nitrates. And it’s my bad for adding credence to that claim.

  2. June 18, 2013 12:36 pm

    Those Applegate Franks suck. I have said it before, and I will say it again. Ingredients aside, (and all that “UnCured” nonsense) purely judged as “hot dogs”, they suck.

  3. June 18, 2013 11:00 pm

    I love smoked meats and have found a few of the “uncured” celery treated variety that are pretty good. But what a lot of bother. Can you tell us why the natural nitrates in the celery cure are better than the curing salts used in standard products?

  4. Chantelle permalink
    June 18, 2013 11:11 pm

    I don’t know when you are leaving but you can start and stop Field Goods at anytime and it is great.

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