Don’t you think there is some element of irony in the fact that in my efforts to exclude processed food from my diet, I’ve fallen hard for processing food?

I recall a conversation this past week with someone about the enjoyment I get from food processes. No I’m not talking about adding sulphites to my food, I am instead referring to processes such as podding peas or threading summer beans for dry hanging.


These food processes and tasks force me to sit down, to focus and get lost in monotony. There is a constant list of ‘to do’ here at the old farm house. But every now and then these food processes appear, they demand attention and I find myself sitting down, squeezing peas from pods or slicing mushrooms to hang and dry. I wouldn’t dare suggest that it’s always fun, at times it’s downright frustrating. But this way of living, well she’s the boss and when she tells me to sit down, I sit.


I do what needs to be done because the alternative simply no longer appeals to me. I prefer to embed myself in tasks which result in my food being preserved and stored for future use. The goal that drives me is a reduction my reliance on someone else processing my food. The result is I’m eating real food and there is a satisfaction of being responsible for my food that’s difficult to describe. It isn’t measurable in money or stuff, but simply a feeling of purpose.

Today I set up my work station. I put on Waylon Jenning’s album ‘I’ve Always Been Crazy’ on the player. Fill a basket of beans, warm a pot of boiling water and fill a bowl of ice cold water. I pod the beans, blanch them, then finally I bath them in the cold water. They’re now ready to freeze and won’t loose much of their freshness with this technique.


While I’m waiting for the beans to blanch, I whizz last summers now dried chilli to top up the chilli powder jars. Having those jars filled gives me a sense of wealth. In fact, having food in my larder from these food processes is as reassuring as a well balanced savings account.

I think these food processes have been integral part of my saving. It’s the process of working with the food that I’ve worked for to create that’s the key. I planted these broad beans from the seeds I saved from the previous years crop.

I’m whizz dried chilli that once grew in my poly tunnel. I slice wild mushrooms I searched the bush for, or process corn kernels from a bumper crop, or I stuff chorizo with pork I butchered. Every one of these food processes is a reward for me. It’s a reminder of my efforts.

It was never explained to me in the brochure. Instead it’s been a gem I’ve discovered by embracing this way of living. It’s comforted that year in, year out the same food processes return and present themselves in my world. I welcome them back like a long lost friend.


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  • November 20, 2014 - 8:05 am

    Ed Lewis - Ronan, I read your blog and just love it.

    “Processing” food is a respect for food, it’s taking it to the next level in terms of taste and longevity. You are unlocking the hidden potential of food that comes with simple techniques of freezing, drying and pickling.

    There is such a disconnect these days with how food should look and taste. We put up with “processed” food, because we simply do not know what the alternative is or even what it looks like.

    We are just on the start of our journey with food. You are definitely further down the road than we are. But even a Coles (yeh still do it!) and Freo Farmers Marketeer such as myself can make food last longer. I was always throwing away chillis, or bunches of rosemary, or bananas, well pretty much everything! Now I overbuy chillis when they are on special, or I am not scared of those raw olives at the farmers market in April, or know I can skin the bananas, freeze them, then whizz them up into smoothies (no need for ice!), or buy the boxes of over ripe tomatoes cos I know I can make gallons of killer pasta sauce!

    Yours in vacuum packs,

  • November 20, 2014 - 2:59 pm

    Bradley Cowan - Your words and lifestyle are so inspiring, but there’s something about your pictures that really makes me want to be a better person. Thanks for sharing! And please, keep up the good work.ReplyCancel

  • November 20, 2014 - 8:54 pm

    Jessie - Last years chillies sat on the bush whilst I figured what to do with them (yeah I know, grow what you eat) then I remembered they were cayenne chillies and we use cayenne powder in tiny amounts all through the year. Whizz whizz whizz and done.

    I too love the simple joy of processing our own food. I will happily sit and watch a film whilst I beat up and stuff salted cabbage into jars or pod out broad beans. I am eagerly awaiting tomato processing and need to find something to trial run my pressure canner on before the peak season arrives. I got up at 3:30am last winter to hand juice oranges for bottled orange juice and my greatest joy was picking all the wild apples around town and turning them into 1.2L vacola bottles of juice which we are still enjoying now (32L for the cost of time and the electricity to bottle). For someone who really dislikes cooking, I do love preserving. :) ReplyCancel

  • November 20, 2014 - 10:58 pm

    Rich - Reading your posts inspires me to go one step more away from the rush to a more hands-on, in-the-moment life. I don’t make many blog comments but wanted to let you know that your work, your pushing against the easy, pre-packaged life is making a difference. Keeping up with the pioneers.ReplyCancel

  • November 21, 2014 - 12:54 am

    KC - I find the processing part of the fun of it all. Like mediation really. Lovely picture of those chilis!ReplyCancel

  • November 22, 2014 - 10:25 am

    judy - Our son is almost 2 and will happily sit on the back step únzipping’ broad bean pods … Tonight he had the first of the zucchinis and eggs for tea, which we had collected this morning … It makes me feel like we might actually be doing ok at this parenting thing after all, although when I tell him that honey comes from bees he looks at me like I’m bat shit crazy !ReplyCancel

  • November 23, 2014 - 4:40 am

    Louise - Hi Rohan – I would really love to contribute to your Nursery Project but do not use Paypal. Is there any other means to make a payment with you?ReplyCancel

I love a good metaphor. And I reckon the one in this story is a pearler.

I’ve lived two adult lives.

Life #1. I ate processed food. I was unhealthy as a result.

Life #2. I ate real food. My health improved.

This past week my dear schmoopy poopy honey bunch cuddle pie ran another segment in her series of ‘Lunch Lady Vs The World’. The idea is to compare two versions of a dish, the packaged processed version and the real food version.

This week she challenged a packet carrot cake mix.

This segment states the full ingredient lists of both meals, which often has my mouth dragging on the floor in disbelief. There is also a stop watch which records the exact time both meals take to make, and there is a breakdown of the process involved to make both versions of the food.


The purpose of this segment is to present two versions of food, and allow the reader to decide which version is applicable for their life. Maybe there’s also an element of hope, hope that the information may inspire someone to cook real food from scratch.

The carrot cake segment was a challenge for me personally. It reminded me of my old way of living, cue metaphor. The carrot packet mix had 2% carrot in it. Yes you read correctly, I said 2% carrot!

It’s just plain disturbing that an item of ‘food’ called Carrot Cake can actually be promoted to us even though it only contains 2% carrot. The carrot cake tale IS the metaphor for our current food system.


Now lets not get caught up in the carrot cake mix itself. Let’s look at other food examples. Like ham products. Some ham is actually made not just from pork meat, but reconstructed parts from other animals with ‘ham flavouring’ added to it. No, that’s not a joke. A guy from the pork factory near us shared this info with us the other day. Or the good old chicken nugget. Google that one for an real stomach churning eye opener.

The point I’m trying to make is that a lot of what my generation has grown up to think is food, isn’t actually food. It’s some weird concoction of mixed ingredients and additives that’s not doing our health any favours and is hard on our environment.

I get plenty of comments and emails telling me to shut up and stop preaching, but the 2% carrot cake is what drives me to continue. This is clearly not right. How can I not stop saying this. It concerns me. It’s not right that we are fed these products, the cost to us is too high. And I say that proudly because I’ve lived through it.

I have about 2 weeks of tablets remaining of blood pressure medication that I’ve been taking for about 6 years. My blood pressure was off the charts as a result of my diet and lifestyle choices. It’s been quite a journey to fix myself. Earlier this year my doctor was shocked to see how much my blood pressure had dropped (I had been avoiding him for a few years). He halved my dosage and asked me to return in a few months (I avoided him again, it’s been six months). He said there is a very high chance he will be taking me off the medication. He said what ever you’ve been doing, it’s working.

After I finish writing this post I’m calling the doctor to make an appointment. My hope is that my blood pressure has normalised and I can finally stop being medicated for my lifestyle induced hyper tension.

Over the years writing on Whole Larder Love I’ve shared my food and ‘good life’ journey. It’s only now that I feel like I’ve reached a milestone of improving my quality of life. No longer do I eat the 2% carrot cake style food, I eat real food. And the results speak for themselves.

I want people to now see how much of a positive difference eating real food and living the good life can make to a life. And it’s not necessarily about moving to the country and living off the land. It’s about making better choices where ever we live, be it city, coast or country.

Thank God for that 2% carrot cake mix to remind me of my past. I wish for more people to see the light, to taste and enjoy the benefits of eating the real carrot cake.

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  • November 18, 2014 - 2:53 am

    fraseroldmillroad - Mate! This is a positive post, a real pearler.ReplyCancel

  • November 18, 2014 - 3:16 am

    sherinik - Funny that people take the time to write comments to tell you to ‘stop preaching’ – it’s nice that they take the time to give you the benefit of their experience.

    (Pity they don’t take the time to read your experience, or perhaps even a little more to think about it?)ReplyCancel

  • November 18, 2014 - 3:18 am

    Alacoque - And making cakes from scratch is so much fun! And scientific! My almost-three-year-old just adores baking (I bake bread every day) and she learns so much from where ingredients come from (e.g. eggs and chickens) to measurements and counting (e.g. cups, tablespoons, grams etc). The packet mixes are just marketing. They really don’t save you a worthwhile amount of time. Anyone who looks at the ingredient list on one of these packets surely can’t follow through and buy, make, and eat it?! Surely?!ReplyCancel

  • November 18, 2014 - 3:31 am

    G Morgan - I have tried to convince people for years that if they can’t pronounce all of the ingredients in a pre-packaged mix, they shouldn’t eat it. I hear snorts and crickets.
    Another appalling thing I see on grocers shelves is the difference in nutritional ‘needs’ and percentages when they are given in English and Spanish, especially Vitamin A.ReplyCancel

  • November 18, 2014 - 5:11 am

    Briar - Love your work Rohan, don’t let the haters get to you – the message you share is important, and good, and true!ReplyCancel

  • November 18, 2014 - 8:56 am

    Sherri - Great post. You wrote, “I get plenty of comments and emails telling me to shut up and stop preaching,”. Please don’t stop. There are plenty of people who don’t know this information. For those of us who have a bit of knowledge the reminders help us to change our habits. And we all know how hard it is to change habits. I have been reading this week about the process of desiccation prior to harvesting wheat. People just don’t know this kind of stuff.ReplyCancel

  • November 18, 2014 - 9:28 pm

    lemmiwinks - Don’t ever stop preaching! Even if it’s mostly to the choir ;-) ReplyCancel

  • November 18, 2014 - 9:49 pm

    Chris - Before I left the workforce, my last stint was as a baker and cake decorator. I knew the difference between opening a commercail packet of cake mix (and icing for that matter) and making a cake from scratch. I think unbleached flour still isn’t the healthiest, even if I make a from-scratch cake with it.

    Most people are best learning gluten free baking (without the gums which are sometimes used) because it uses a lot of eggs for the binding agent, and you’re not eating gluten which inflames our digestive system. This isn’t just the case for celiacs, but for most people. If you did a trial of going gluten free for a month, you’d know what it was doing to you, if you tried eating it again.

    As a baker most of my professional carer, I thought gluten free was a bunch of bollocks – until I tried it. I like my baked goods even better now, because I’m not eating them as much and that’s what gluten free does. I’ve also cut back on dairy and some legumes, just because I don’t feel as good when I eat them.

    All of this to say, definitely avoid the packet stuff for health benefits, but do keep an open mind to other dietry changes a little later. There are enormous health gains to be had. Like people may pull faces at the thought of giving up packet mixes, I know others will pull faces at giving up gluten flours too.

    As we age though, the health benefits of what we put into our mouths, is invaluable. Notice how the baby boomers were the first children to develop in astronomical numbers, yet develop such chronic illness as they age. Enter convenience food, and convenience lifestyles – they catch up with us in th end.

    Pay now or pay later, but eventually people have to do the work to help themselves. Good on you for beating the medical system and finding your own cure. :) ReplyCancel

  • November 21, 2014 - 1:00 am

    KC - My life was changed by a box of brownies. For once I looked at the ingredients list and said, why am I spending money for this? I can make these myself can’t I? I never looked back. Honestly it was like bomb had dropped when I made brownies from scratch the first time. I went from not knowing anything about my food or caring to growing my own knowing the people who grow my meat personally and meeting the animals that I would be eating. I know I’m preaching to the choir but this post hit home. :) ReplyCancel

  • November 23, 2014 - 11:00 pm

    Jo - I’m so glad you’re putting it out there. I’m so glad you ignore the people trying to shut you up and put you down. For every naysayer, there are a heap of people fist pumping and shouting “Yes! Yes!”. And I guarantee there are a few who are thinking “maybe this bugger is onto something”. And congratulations on getting off the meds!ReplyCancel

  • November 26, 2014 - 6:24 am

    John - AwesomeReplyCancel

We fell very fortunate that Joel agreed to set aside some time for us to record his little message of support. Joel is someone that we really admire, value and respect. His values are in line with nature and creating a better world. The positive impact he has made for our world is phenomenal. So when he agreed to film a clip for us we where over the moon. Please share this link and help the momentum of the project continue. We still have a long way to go.

Thank you to Meg who travelled to Joel’s farm to record this clip.

Sorry about the editing and wind noise. We may know how to grow food, but audio visual is definitely not or forte. I’ll never get an oscar for ‘Best Editor using iMovie’.

Pledge your support here.

JOELS MESSAGE from The Nursery Project on Vimeo.

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