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Why are more of us cooking our own food, baking our own bread and brewing our own beer?

home breadHmm. We are told in a Telegraph article that “increasing numbers of families are mincing their own meat, baking bread and making their own chocolates as shoppers lose faith in the food industry.” It is alleged that the horsemeat scandal and the obesity crisis has sparked a boom in home cooking. The ‘evidence’ is that Lakeland kitchenware reported increased sales of mincing machines after horsemeat was found in minced beef or lamb. They also report a 300% rise in bread-making machines and a 220% jump in chocolate making kits, etc. Meanwhile Mintel’s market research reports increased sales of baking ingredients. So what does this amount to? For a time, following stories of incorrect food labelling, more people started mincing their own meat. How many more, and for how long? Following the successful BBC-TV series, “The Great British Bake Off,” more people took up baking. There’s an increase in home brewing, too, judging by the sale of kits.

Does this amount to a loss of faith in the food industry? Or maybe it’s the case that a temporary alarm caused a few people to be more careful, and a TV programme gave people the idea of developing new skills? Hey, I’m all for home cooking and do quite a lot of it myself. Writing a food blog for 5 years led me to become more ambitious. I enjoy doing it, and it’s usually tastier than stuff you can buy. As for home brewing, cherchez la tax. Duties on alcohol have made drinking out expensive, and the indoor smoking ban means that your friends who enjoy a cigarette or a cigar with their pint cannot join you. So you brew it at home and enjoy a cheaper glass among friends, with the added satisfaction that you made it yourself. I used to brew beer when I was an improverished student, and became reasonably good at it. At one stage I home brewed country wines from fruit and sugar, and in one case rose petals. They were nowhere near as good as the stuff made by established vintners, but it was cheap and I didn’t care. Are we looking at a little economizing in tight financial times, or a seismic shift in our habits caused by a “loss of faith in the food industry?” Your call.


2 Responses

  1. If there is ever a minimum alcohol price there will be a seismic shift. I’m not sure politicians have thought about this. Even emptier pubs and millions getting trollied on cheap homemade alcohol isn’t what the Public Health Industry had in mind. As for bread, I’ve made my own for about five years. It’s half the price and not much effort is required. That’s why it’s catching on.

  2. Dr Pirie,

    I smiled when I read your comments about home brewing. Many years ago a friend and I brewed a concoction called treacle beer. The ingredients consisted of black treacle, golden syrup plus a substantial quantity of sugar and the usual hops / yeast. It brewed like a veritable witches cauldron but the brew refused to stop fermenting and the yeast head finally started to collapse after a month (it should have taken 14 days). We nearly filled a dustbin with skimmed off yeast each day. What had gone wrong ? The amount of water turned out to be part of the answer….about half the required amount. What did it taste like ? Difficult to describe BUT it almost lifted your hat off. Half a pint and you were not fit to ride a bike, any more and verticals started to lean. We took a few bottles to a party and got accused of trying to obliterate everyone and we weren’t far short of achieving this. The net result of our endeavours was the name they gave to our efforts……Dracula’s Rinse Water.

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