Each week, we buy unsweetened almond milk at the grocery store. Recently, I read a new cookbook (highly recommended) that includes a recipe for nut milk. So I tried making it. The process was:

  • soak almonds in water
  • throw them in a blender with more water
  • strain them through cheesecloth

That’s it. Voila, almond milk.

I mixed the almond pulp with other nuts, added some water, rolled it flat and toasted the slab in the oven. Voila, bonus crackers.

This experience made me wonder: what other “products” am I buying that I don’t need in “product” form? I buy mostly produce, yet I throw away so much packaging. We all do. Convenience is something I am (sometimes) willing to pay for, but lately I’ve noticed that I’m looking for new products when shopping. Like a kid in a candy store. Something appealing that fits my lifestyle. Something that makes me feel happy. I pay 10xs more for a product, plus the energy wasted in manufacturing, because the words on the wrapper were enticing.

Cauliflower rice, for example, turned out to be cauliflower spun in a food processor. Add a couple eggs, some Parmesan, shape it into circles and you have new-fangled cauliflower bread. Add some oregano and you’ve got pizza dough.

Why do I love products and seek them out in a store full of actual food?

When I was a kid, I craved Lik-M-Aid fun dip, strawberry shortcake bars, omg Suzy Qs and in a pinch, butter rum life savers. Baby Ruths and $100,000 Bars. Spaghettios with little meatballs and Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco treat (made by PepsiCo.) I don’t eat any of those things anymore but still feel nostalgic when I think of a Burger King chicken sandwich.

Food wasn’t food, per se. Food was a product made by a brand. I didn’t think of those items as products, as an artificial creation, like smoking a Marlboro. They were food that made me happy. Which is ironic, because I have celiac disease and other food allergies. Those products made me very ill, for decades. And consuming Coke and Big Macs are making many, many other people ill today.

Does driving to MacDonalds actually take less time than cooking a hamburger? If not, why do we think of it as “fast”?

More and more, I’m discovering that what comes out of the earth is enough. We need sustainable farming. We need to feed the billion undernourished people. We probably don’t need another breakfast cereal or cola war. Do we?