We live in a world of convenience, and this is nowhere more evident than the grocery store, I think. One can easily procure a variety of breads, tinned soup and stock, and even precut vegetables. While those options are great for when they're needed, such as when a working parent hasn't the time for the prep work, I do think we've lost something with all the convenience.
I know, that may sound silly. How have we lost something when our technology has allowed us to have all these products of convenience? I'll admit that I didn't even know I'd lost anything until I was an adult. My first glimpse of what I'd lost was when we were visiting my husband's family. One of his parents made some great soup - from scratch! I truly had no idea how to make soup! Now, of course, that seems incredible, for soup isn't exactly difficult. In fact, I made some for lunch recently. Before that encounter, I was content with tinned soup, but after that, I just wanted to learn to make soup. My mother-in-law sent me a recipe for French onion soup, and away I went, happy in rediscovering the joys of homemade soup.
Over the years, I've started making my own bread, jam, stock, puff pastry, pasta, etc. I will note that I always made cakes from scratch, and did grow up helping my mother make sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls, but I hadn't made sandwich bread, baguettes, stock, etc. Now, I much prefer making them from scratch, not just because they taste better and don't have all the preservatives and salt that most foods seem to have, but also because I think knowing how to do these things is important. OK, so I use a bread maker for the sandwich bread and jam, but I do the rest by hand. I can do the others by hand, but don't always make the time.
Why is this knowledge important? For one, I think we gain a better understanding of and relationship with our food when we make it ourselves. We grow to understand the processes and nuances and flavours. I vaguely remember my grandmother standing over the stove making grape jam, so I at least had a rough idea of the process when i decided to make plum jam (even if i did end up cheating).
I think it's healthier, for we can omit the high fructose corn syrup and scale down the salt and omit ingredients that we simply don't like. Most important: it tastes better and is more fun! My children enjoy helping in the kitchen, and I usually enjoy having them help. And when I taste homemade lasagne (with homemade pasta and sauce) along with homemade garlic bread, there's nothing better. There's nothing wrong with the convenience products, but I do think we lose something when we use them exclusively.