It was my sister who introduced me to #jerf, and I love a good #hashtag. Jerf is an acronym for “just eat real food” which is 21st century social media speak for not eating processed foods.
Now, before I set myself up for a hiding, I’ll admit to being a big fan of the “alternative fact” on my Instagram feed. Yes, I hold my hand up and admit that I’m the person who photographs my dinner, filters the hell out of it and smugly shares it with my adoring followers. All my meals are wholesome, balanced and frankly delicious.
I don’t share the curry that was 2 tins of chickpeas chucked in with a jar of tikka sauce, the something-and-chips freezer tea or the 2 pasties and a bag of crisps lunch. Because those posts wouldn’t get half as many likes.
Recently I overheard a conversation where a fit, healthy guy described how he does most of his cooking from scratch. It got me to wondering when that became a thing?
Now I’m not a hundred years old, but when I was a child, apart from the odd Fray Bentos and Smash, my mum did all the cooking from scratch. We were dragged around the open market on a Saturday morning to lug carrier bags of fruit and veg from the butchers and greengrocers and our only reward was a fatty black pudding. Eee those wert days! The only supermarket in Burnley was a Safeway that was smaller than a medium sized Tesco Express and I can’t recall ever setting foot in the place.
Now just like I’m no domestic goddess, I’m not claiming my mum was either, but she does cook and she raised 2 daughters who cook too. We don’t spend our evenings feeding our sourdough starter or making our own marmalade and chutneys, (though between us we’ve all had a go,) but we can be found knocking up a pan of soup, a pie or basically a decent meal for our families.
My childhood was scarred by culinary experimentation. I will never recover fully from Chicken In A Wok, (that was a full chicken that had been sweating in said wok for hours with mushy vegetables and a lid on.) Sundays were marked by the dreaded Cream of Celery Soup. And my mum started using coriander back in 1984 when it was just too weird. In turn my student gastro classic was Egg Noodles, Butter and Baked Beans, which was actually even more delicious than it sounds. By being brought up on real food by a woman who, (when not faffing about with her Jewish/African/Traditional Lancashire cookbook,) is a pretty good cook; we learnt that we like to eat. If you like to eat it’s pretty straight forward learning to cook.
So yes, life is busy and some days it’s easier to grab a jar of Dolmio than start slow-roasting some vine tomatoes but let’s face it; real food cooked from scratch always tastes better. (Unless it’s baked beans or Heinz tomato soup but they are the ONLY exceptions.)
My nan once carried a pigs head home from Bury market in a carrier bag on a coach trip. I don’t plan on doing that. Nor do I plan on ever buying a family sized ready meal lasagne. In the interest of balance, not being a muppet and filling my body with God knows what and just because you cant beat it; I’ll be sticking to #jerf. Most of the time.