I wanted to put together my thoughts on what I mean by “real food.” If I’m going to be pushing for it in the schools, and advocating it to families, then I should have an easy-to-understand definition. And for this, I actually prefer to paraphrase something Jamie Oliver said:
“If you read the list of ingredients, and it sounds like your grandma’s kitchen, then serve it. If it sounds like it came from a lab, throw it out.”
At first glance, this may sound a touch simplistic, and a little dangerous even, since it’s not unknown for grandmas to work their magic with Wondra Flour or Gravy Master, and both of these are products of the processed food age, but what Oliver was saying was, if you look at the back, and you can find all of the whole ingredients in Grandma’s pantry, then use it, otherwise, it’s not fit to serve. And both Wondra Flour and Gravy Master are not fit to serve. Gravy Master is made with, in part, hydrolyzed soy protein and corn protein. Grandma doesn’t have or make a batch of hydrolyzed soy protein, unless she’s busy boiling tofu in sulfuric acid, and then treating it with caustic soda. (Maybe Grandma works in a lab?)
So, the rule really is, if it doesn’t sound like something you could make at home without enlisting a lot of chemicals, you probably shouldn’t use it.
And for the record, I’m not sure where that leaves lutefisk. Debate still rages as to whether it should be classified a food at all.