A couple of questions I’ve fielded numerous times are: why do the Amish use prepackaged foods in their recipes? Don’t they care about their health and that of their families? Is it authentic for a culture as old fashioned as the Amish to cut corners by using prepackaged foods?
I’ve talked to several Old Order Amish friends about these things, and below is brief synopsis of those conversations.
As far as the health aspect of the Amish lifestyle, Amish women tend to and harvest from huge gardens from spring through fall. Amish families often raise and kill for food their own cows, turkeys, chickens, and pigs. Those animals are raised without hormones being injected and usually without the need to administer antibiotics, so that gives the Amish another advantage over the average diet of non-Amish meat eaters.
Many Amish women feel that since they feed their family from the garden and from their own livestock and since they don’t consume fast food or restaurant food very often, the commercially canned foods or prepackaged items used in recipes aren’t going to harm them.
But Amish women are known to be excellent cooks, so why are they willing to compromise a dish they’re preparing by using prepackaged ingredients?
In great part the answer can be found in the busyness of their days. The women prepare three meals a day and clean up without the aid of electricity or a dishwasher. When I’m staying with a friend, we easily need to wash dishes six to eight times per day.
Eating out is truly a rarity. I know for my Amish friends who don’t live in town, they may only get to eat out once or twice a year, so going the “easier route” when cooking is often their only reprieve when it comes to feeding their families.
Amish women have large families, usually seven to ten children. After a young woman gets the hang of tending to her own home, she is expected to either help with the family business or have some side business to help earn money.
They have church in their homes a couple of times a year, and they must help all their immediate family members when its time to have church in their home. It takes a full week to prepare for a church service because they must clean the home and prepare for the men to remove furniture from the home so the benches can be moved in. They also have to help feed a hundred to two hundred people after the service is over. On Monday the benches will be loaded back into the wagon and the usual furniture will be put back in place.
Added to those larger aspects of the work routine, they deal with the little day-to-day issues. For example, the process of getting a horse hitched to a rig to go somewhere is often a lengthy and tiring process.
They use wringer washers for clothes and then hang the clothes out to dry. Later they gather them from the line, needing to iron a percentage of those clothes—and they’ll do so using an old-fashion flat iron. They make their own clothes, and keeping the women, teens, and young girls in clean, well tended to prayer Kapps is quite a feat.
Whew! I get tired just thinking about all they do to tend to their large families. Many non-Amish women are equally busy. We have gardens and can and/or jobs outside the home, but most of us have ways we cut a few corners to meet the needs of the day. Using prepackaged foods is one way the Amish can cut a few corners.
So if you see an Amish recipe, it will often have prepackaged foods listed in the ingredients, and when they make a cake for their family, they are likely to use a boxed cake mix some of the time. When they want whipped cream, they are likely to purchase it from the store rather than make their own. As one Amish friend said–remember, the Amish are very practical people, and buying butter or yogurt rather than making it is usually more practical than making it.
Years ago I asked: does the bishop mind? And the answer was: once something is approved (for example it’s okay for them to purchase food at a grocery store) most bishops or other church leaders aim to not micromanage what is and isn’t bought.
When you first learned that the Amish use prepackaged foods in their recipes, did that surprise you?
For a chance to win an autographed book of your choice and this wall hanging, please leave a reply below.
To see a list of books, click here: http://www.cindywoodsmall.com/books/. The stitching on the framed artwork reads: Give God the pieces and He will patch them together.
Only comments left on my website will be entered into the giveaway.
The deadline for this giveaway is Tuesday, June 10, at noon Eastern Time. The winner will be chosen using Random.org and will be contacted privately, as well as announced on next week’s post. Please allow 4 to 6 weeks for delivery.
As always, please remember that all of my giveaways are limited to US residents only. Please visit my giveaway rules and FAQ page for a complete explanation of the terms and conditions of this giveaway.
Helpful info for first-time commenters:
- The commenter form asks for your name, feel free to only give your first name since that information will show up on my website.
- The second field in the commenter form asks for your e-mail address. It will NOT show up on my website, and is only used for the purpose of reaching you if you’re a winner. Please be sure to type in the correct e-mail address so we can contact you if you win.
- The third field states: Got a website? This is simply a question. You may leave that field blank. I would remove that field if I could because it adds more confusion than help, but this is a WordPress comment form, and I can’t hone it to my liking. <smile>
- For your protection against web crawlers gathering e-mail addresses for the purpose of spamming, please do not put your e-mail address into the body of your comment. Only write it in the field provided. That way only I can see it.
- When you leave a comment, you may see a pop-up screen that says your comment has gone to “moderation.” That means it is in a holding place until either my daughter-in-law or I can approve it. That keeps spammers from being able to post a comment. If you comment while we’re away from our computers, we may not get to it until the next day.