Thank you to all of you who commented yesterday! It's definitely great to know that so many of you have made the switch to a more natural diet and are happy about that choice. I know for us it will be a slow process. First of all, I am not going to completely waste large amounts of food; I just plan on not replacing them when they run out. Second, I need to find more recipes to make with fresher foods, like rice, to avoid using a premixed seasoning packet. Third, I want to try and figure out what is feasible to make on my own, like salad dressing, or bread or crackers. (Anyone ever make their own crackers?) Over the winter I'd like to read about canning and preserving. It's actually something I've wanted to try but haven't even attempted it. For now I'm trying to make some quick and easy switches.
The butter product was the first and quickest to be replaced after the diacetyl article. I've been using Smart Balance Organic for awhile. Touted as having beneficial properties for your heart and being better than butter, it seemed like a good option, and the organic version actually melted and tasted like butter. But then I looked at the label, and I wasn't overly happy with what I saw, and since we couldn't figure out if the "natural flavor" in the Smart Balance was diacetyl, we decided it had to go. In its place, Kate's butter, which is actually about half the price of the Smart Balance, and comes in salted and unsalted. I got both, and the ingredient list is a lot better.
Honestly, for the amount of butter we use, I'm not too worried about it being terribly bad for us. I most often cook with olive oil, but it's nice to have butter to put on bread or a little pat on veggies, and I keep sticks in the freezer for baking.
Another one to go: fake maple syrup. I have both real and fake in the fridge: real was a gift, fake was my own thrifty purchase. But after checking out the back, I think I'll be ok with paying $10 a bottle for the real stuff (and again, for as much as we use it).
Overall I just don't think you can go wrong with trying to get something as close to natural as possible. Maybe not having preservatives will encourage us to eat our fresh foods so they don't go bad. Snacks are going to be the hardest thing for me because I love a good prepackaged snack. I'm sure that I'll be able to find some good healthier alternatives, though. For the popcorn lovers who were hugely disappointed with the whole buttered-popcorn problem, there is this fabulous alternative:
We usually pop our own for a treat, but for an easy snack on the go, this tastes so good, and look at that awesome ingredient list. Find it at skinnypop.com.
Snacks are going to be my biggest downfall. What healthy snacks do you go for, packaged or fresh? What other easy product swaps can I make? And seriously, has anyone ever made crackers?