We all like the allure of pre-prepared goods, particularly when it comes to marinated meat cuts, salad mixes, frozen dinners etc., etc. However we need to weigh up the real cost of this convenience.
Sure, we can argue that we’re simplifying our life by saving the time and effort of slicing, dicing and mashing – but look at it in the longer term. Pre-packaged foods can cost up to three times as much as the same product sold in its original state. Do we really want to spend our hard-earned dollars on something that’s pre-cut and plastic-wrapped? Or do we want the satisfaction of doing it ourselves and putting the saved dollars toward something that will give us longer-term satisfaction?
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Just about anything that is not presented in its natural state could be classed as a convenience product. The problem is, the more a product has been ‘interfered with’ the more it’s going to cost in the long run, and the less healthy it will probably be.
For example, if you grow your own apple tree, you know the history of the apple you’re eating. You grew it, picked it and ate it. If you buy your apples from the store, someone else grew it and sold it, another person transported it, another sorted, washed and packed it and yet another delivered it to the store. Someone then unpacked it and displayed it and finally someone ran it past a scanner and sold it on to you at a profit. I’m betting also that while you were at the store buying the apples, you slipped in a couple of extra purchases that weren't on your shopping list (we all do it). This apple, while it is still in its natural state, has all those added costs.
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Now just imagine how many more steps there are in that process if you buy apple juice, apple cake or canned apple sauce. Added ingredients, colours preservatives and – of course – added cost.
Apply this same thinking to frozen dinners, canned pies, pre-boiled eggs, snip & pour gravy, and individually packaged serves of everything….the mind boggles.
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Every step in the process costs money – plant and machinery, wages, utilities, overheads, marketing, transport and so on, and may even compromise the products freshness. Turning that product into a packaged, preserved convenience product detracts from its natural goodness even more.
We’re all pretty time-poor these days, but are we really better off purchasing processed foods in order to save time or effort, even if it means that we may be compromising on their natural goodness?
For the majority of us the supermarket is our only option, but with a bit of forethought and awareness, we can still enjoy quick, convenient foods that are as natural and healthy as possible.