Is there all there is to what we are made to believe?

I have been ordering my cakes from a friend who lives in my apartment complex. As she had been there in the baking industry she recalled some horrifying things that go on in the name of making pretty looking cakes. For one, it seems the hygiene is totally of questionable standards and secondly the list of chemicals they add to the cakes in the name of preservatives, colours and flavours is just downright unethical to say the least. More so, are the cakes flaunted as eggless cakes! The substitutes they use are nothing but chemicals…

A casual chat with her one day while picking up my order made me see what a genuinely concerned mother and home baker she was. She got into baking her own cakes knowing what goes into the store-bought/bakery bought cakes. I could see her concern when she told me how she gets so upset looking at a parent buying and feeding a piece of cake to their child in restaurants.

She shared an article written by a home baker who elaborated on why homemade cakes cost more than store bought mass-produced cakes and I think it would be good to share it here. I don’t know who the author of this article is but it is worth reading.

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HOW MUCH IS A CAKE???

As a cake decorator this is the most commonly asked question “HOW MUCH?! Professionally made bespoke cakes do cost more than supermarket cakes. Let me explain why.

Based on a simple 8″ sponge cake…When you take away the cost for ingredients, icing, cake board and box I don’t have much change from Rs. 500. Then the price of electicity for the oven is another few pounds, then there’s the preparation, baking and cooling times (approx 3 hours) which is when more prep such as covering the cake board is done and frostings and some of the detail/decorations are made. Once colouring the icing, covering the cake and the decorations are completed you’re adding another 2 – 4 hours on top making it a total of between 5 – 7 hours. If this 8” celebration cake… beautifully decorated from years of experience and training costs Rs.800

Being self-employed doesn’t always pay… but the customer does pay for someone who doesn’t get sick pay or holiday pay… because they have a passion for creating wonderful one-off designs that have been made and personalised just for their client. You don’t get that from a supermarket!

That all said, some people don’t really go for cakes with wow factor and are not too fussed about how it tastes and want a cheaper cake, but cheaper mass produced cakes come at a cost… As the saying goes “YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR!”… sub-standard cake that is about 2” high, pumped full of artificial colourings, flavourings and preservatives. On the plus side they do get a cake that has a long shelf life… but then who keeps cake?!

Just take a look at the supermarket cake ingredients vs homemade cakes ingredients!!

Do you even know what half of it is???

HOMEMADE CAKE INGREDIENTS

Cake and Buttercream contains: Flour, Butter, Sugar, Eggs , Milk (fresh whole milk), Natural Vanilla Extract, Baking powder.

SUPERMARKET CAKE INGREDIENTS

Cake contains: Flour, Egg (from caged hens), Vegetable Oil, Humectant, Glucose Syrup, Dried Skimmed Milk, Raising Agents (Disodium Diphosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate), Emulsifiers (Mono- and Di-Glycerides of Fatty Acids, Sodium Stearoyl-2-Lactylate, Sucrose Esters of Fatty Acids) ,Colours (Beetroot Red, Titanium Dioxide, Beta-Carotene, Iron Oxide, Plain Caramel, Paprika Extract), Acidity Regulator (Citric Acid), Salt, Preservative (Potassium Sorbate), Stabilisers (Xanthan Gum, Tragacanth), Plant Extracts (Spirulina Concentrate, Safflower Concentrate), Dried Egg White ,Maltodextrin, Inverted Sugar, Flavouring.

Soft Icing (you can’t really call it “buttercream”) contains: Sugar, Vegetable oli, Glucose Syrup, Maize Starch, Butter, Water, Humectant, Glycerine. Preservative (Potassium Sorbate), Stabiliser (Tragacanth)  Raspberry Jam contains: Glucose Syrup, Sucrose Syrup, Acidity Regulators (Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate), Gelling Agent (Pectin), Preservative (Potassium Sorbate), Firming Agent (Calcium Chloride)

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So that’s the gist of the article there.

Okay. All right so now we know. But what’s next? What’s the solution to all this? The problem is not that we don’t know about this. The problem is that we all know about it but don’t know what to do about it. We just don’t have an alternative…

Today everyone tells you what’s the problem but no one gives any solutions, because there seems to be none. And we resign to the fact that there is none.

I think it’s high time we stop following the dictates of consumerism; blindly buying what the commercials ask us to buy and believing in whatever the companies want us to believe.

This friend of mine I spoke about got so popular with our apartment community that people insisted that she start her own bakery and extend her services to many others outside our community.

But no, she didn’t want to do that. She could have had a lucrative business, but she refused to go commercial. The reason she gave me was if she went commercial she would definitely have to compromise on things like using preservatives to increase the shelf life of her cakes and somehow get pushed into the rat race of consumer driven market. And her conscience wouldn’t allow her to do that.

That’s the moment I thought…thank god for people like her. And that’s the moment I got my answer too.

THIS is what we need. We need more people like her, more people who refuse to get lured away by just money.

So here’s a little something we all can do. Find our own little tribe of people who grow food organically, cook with conscience, make consumables that they would want their own children to consume. Find such people in your own little communities and support them with your patronage.

Let’s help build communities that run on trust, a community that is nurturing and binds us all. The more we help create this self- sustaining trust-worthy micro-communities, we can slowly cut the dependency on the giant food industries who are playing havoc with our health.

What good it all that money we make when all the money in the world can’t buy you good, clean unadulterated food?

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