It boggles the mind how we’ve come full circle: we started out a society that made its own cheese by hand. We shopped at the butcher’s shop for meat. The bakery for bread. Then came the Industrial Revolution and everything started becoming mechanized. We congratulated ourselves for learning how to box food and keep it on the shelf for a decade.

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Now everyone’s excited about — and paying more for the privilege of buying — sustainable and local food. We celebrate chefs who grow their own vegetables.

How did we strip away what was once our method of survival and force ourselves to pay more for food that doesn’t have corn syrup or preservatives in it?

Still Old School in Europe

What pains me the most about travel is knowing that I have to leave the amazing food culture I experience elsewhere in the world. In Europe, juice makers can’t call it “juice” unless it has a certain percent of actual juice. As in, from a fruit. Here, juice is a loose term (ever had juice cocktail?). There’s no corn syrup inundating everything from bread to yogurt. There’s no sticker shock for organic produce because that’s just how produce is. Why would you poison your food, they wonder?

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Whenever I return from Europe, I swear to myself that I’ll start living more like a European and buy food at specialty shops, and only the best. Yet American life always consumes me (interesting choice of words) and I’m back to my old ways, stockpiling cereal bars like they’re going out of business.

Why can’t it be easier — and cheaper — to get back to our roots?