Really, it's quite disturbing.
Today, I was asked to bake a few coffee cake mixes from boxes at work for the TV show filming. One of the boxes I was given was Aunt Jemima's Easy Mix Coffee Cake. On the front of the box was a bright yellow sign that said "No Mess Baking."
It came with a flimsy disposable tray that was only about an inch high. The instructions stated to add an egg and 1/2 cup milk into the cake mix. The jaw-dropper was adding them into the cake mix BAG. That's right, I added the liquid ingredients right into the bag, held the top of the bag closed with one hand, and used the other hand to squish all the ingredients together. No bowl, no whisk, no spatula. Let's just say that the egg never really fully integrated into the dry ingredients.
To transfer the batter to the flimsy tray, all I had to do was squeeze it from the bag. Then it was topped with a premade crumb topping, transferred onto a cookie sheet and placed into the oven. The only equipment (besides the oven) I had to use was a measuring cup and a cookie sheet. Oh, did I mention that the box said that you could bake the cake in the microwave?!?
The finished product looked so terrible that if anyone had served it to me, I would've wondered if it came from an Easy-Bake oven.
I'm so disturbed at how dumbed-down American food has become. What bothers me most about this issue isn't that people are always trying to save time or are too lazy to make things from scratch. Rather, the thing that saddens me most is that we lose our connection to food. Things come prepped and covered in plastic, which we then throw straight into the microwave or oven. Our desires for speed and convenience have replaced a lifestyle that celebrates and enjoys food.
Food should involve all of our senses- we should touch it, smell it, and hear it sizzling in a pan before it finally reaches our taste buds. Real cooking takes time- time for your senses to kick in and anticipate what's to come. When you purchase something that just has to be heated up or thrown together, you unfairly deny some of your senses and give yourself no time to enjoy the anticipation.
It's no wonder that convenience food is usually less enjoyable than slow-cooked food. Think about why baking cookies are so fun- you get to mix and touch the dough, lick the spoon, smell the cookies baking, strain your ears to hear for the timer to go off. The anticipation of tasting the warm cookies is almost as good as the eating itself. I dare you to find the same enjoyment by opening a bag of supermarket cookies.
Lest you call me a hypocrite, I will confess that I don't make everything from scratch. But at least I don't make cake in a plastic bag.