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Cutting the Guilt from Our Diets

 I'll admit, I'm a lazy cook, and my knife skills make me a danger to myself and everyone in the neighborhood. I've been using the chopped garlic and roasted garlic in the jar for a while, and I was overjoyed to find out you can now get vegetables pre-chopped, frozen, and ready to use! I know you're going to say that these products are inferior to chopping the veggies yourself, but how much of a quality difference is there?

 Oh now, now, now – don't go putting words in our mouths. (And just because we said one thing one place, don't expect us to be entirely consistent someplace else!)

We find bottled garlic to be a bit harsher than cloves of garlic you chop yourself, that's all. That's one place we don't make a compromise, but we realize that many, many people do. We picked up a jar of chopped onions on a recent visit to Germany, and, boy, we will not do that again. They were overpowering, even after we cooked them separately and added them to a meatloaf that is usually delicious.

At the same time, there are some frozen vegetables on the market that are generally superior to what you can get fresh nine or ten months out of the year. In general, vegetables are frozen at the height of ripeness, and can be of a very good quality. There are frozen vegetables we buy some of the time. There are some frozen vegetables we never buy.

We are of the opinion that it is good to cook at home. It is good to cook from scratch as much as possible, to limit the use of processed foods, to be conscious of where your food – especially meat, poultry, and fish – comes from, to support local farmers, to eat lots of vegetables and fruit – the list goes on and on. But we also think you should not to kill yourself while doing it.

We think some people actually go overboard in cooking every single thing from scratch. And the dear vegans have to spend about 27 hours a day finding all the nutrients they need. You have to balance your time, money, energy, the needs of you and your family/friends/eaters, and your sense of happiness or well-being. There is almost nothing as relentless as feeding ourselves – and those for whom we are responsible – day after day. If we do a pretty good job of it most of the time, we can be proud of ourselves, and we can certainly take shortcuts when necessary or helpful. And we should not feel guilty when we do so.

Our suggestion is to try the frozen foods you have discovered. Use them if you're happy with them. But do be aware of when those vegetables come into season, and try to use them when they're fresh. If you eat a lot of fresh vegetables in the summer, you won't have to give a second thought to buying them frozen the rest of the year.

And your knife skills must be really exceptional for you to be a danger to everyone in the neighborhood! Sometimes just a sharp blade can work wonders….

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