DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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19 March 2012

Dumbed down by cake mix

I had to go to Caloundra last week and while I was there I went into Woolworths to buy yeast. Seems simple enough, doesn't it? But I hadn't been into Woolworths for a long time and wasn't sure how their aisles were set up. I walked into the centre of the store and started looking at the signs on the aisles that indicate what is there. I knew they wouldn't have "yeast" up there so I looked for a staple that I knew would be next to it - "Flour". I went up and down and couldn't find flour.  What's going on here! Woolworths has no flour? That doesn't make sense. Then I caught sight of what looked like the baking aisle, I looked up at the sign and the first product on there was "Cake Mix". I kept reading, there was no flour listed.

NO FLOUR!

Cake mix was their header product. Flour is on the shelves but they don't mention it on the shop aisle signs. Have we gone that far down the gurgler?

According to Mediatonic, Woolworths has a 77% market penetration rate in Australia. So 77% of shoppers are being told that cake mix is more important than flour. That is so depressing.

When I came home I decided to do a bit of slueth work online to see if the same craziness was going on there. Yes. It is. They start with cake mixes - pages of them. The first one listed is Donna Hay Biscuit Mix Macaroon @ $8.59 a box! Am I the only one who thinks that's crazy? The cake mixes go on for about five pages, then there are pre-made frostings, nuts, dried fruit etc and on page 18, flour - plain old flour, is mentioned. You can buy 1 kg/2.2lbs of organic plain flour for $3.64. That's enough to make at least a hundred macaroons.


Why am I going on about this? Why is it important? Well, every cake mix you buy will have preservatives in it. They need them so they can sit on the shelves for so long. Flour doesn't need preservatives because it's just flour- ground up grain, usually wheat. But check out a pack of cake mix and see all the artificial flavourings there - if you buy this mix and cook with it, you'll probably add milk and eggs but everything else is already in there - or at least there is additive that will mimic the natural ingredients you would use like butter, vanilla, bananas, orange zest, sultanas or cocoa. 

But the real reason this almost made me weep last week is that we're being dumbed down. They're selling us convenience over health. We are losing our traditional skills for the sake of convenience - the skills that every generation in your family kept going, added to and passed along. Promoting cake mix instead of the ingredients you would buy to make bread, cakes, biscuits and muffins, is telling us that cake mix is better than flour. I suppose the truth of it is that for the supermarkets, mixes are better because they cost more and therefore their profit margin is higher. It doesn't matter that they rob us of our cooking skills, or they're not as healthy as what you make at home from scratch, it doesn't matter that you'll be ingesting all sorts of additives that you probably can't pronounce, the holy grail here is the profit margin. Let's all bow down to the mighty dollar.  Pffffffft

Don't let them do that to you. Don't let them do it to us! We have the power here. Our dollars keep these places open and profitable. Look at your shop signs and if yours says cake mix and it doesn't mention flour, complain. Please complain. This is important. Every supermarket would have an email address. Send an email to the manager telling him/her of your concerns, and tell him/her you expect a reply. We want flour back where it belongs. We want cake mix back there too - as a standby for those busy times, not the leader in the baking aisle.

I see a few things that make me wonder why, but this just made me angry. There are a lot of us working hard to reskill our communities and teach our families. Heading a baking sign with cake mix and leaving flour off it completely might not seem like a big deal but if we don't complain about it, we're saying it's oay. Well, it's not okay. Flour is the base ingredient for almost everything you bake. Common sense tells me that flour should lead the baking ingredients in any shop and if a supermarket doesn't agree with that then they're putting their profit margin ahead of my well being and health. And if that is the case and they won't change their sign, I won't shop there anymore.

Please check out your supermarket and tell me what's happening there. Hopefully this is a minor glitch and the rest of the world is still leading people to the flour.

81 comments:

  1. Maybe it's different in other parts of the country, but where live in America you will still see flour and sugar on the sign. I have never seen cake mix on a store sign. I do see why you're concerned, though. It's frustrating for all the reasons you mentioned. We don't want the stores to stop selling flour because no one is buying it. Can you imagine? Sadly, I can.

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  2. I never ever use cake mix. Which is sad, because sometimes I see awful recipes, and then they call for cake mix, and I will not make them. Baking from scratch is such an easy job (today, with the BF's family, we made a peach cake and three different styles of pizza), I would never hand over the extra money for a mix.

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  3. Great post!! Thanks for writing what I have been thinking and wondering about for a long time already.
    Cheers!

    Jeanneke.

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  4. Most of the stores here (Indiana, US) usually have the title of baking supplies. That said, there are FAR more choices of baking mixes to mix all sorts of things than there are choices of flour.

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  5. Interesting - I'm in Woolworths each week or so and I'm guessing I've been slowly indoctrinated over time. I dare say the signage would be the same here as I do know that often when I want a basic ingredient, I have to think first about what convenience food it would be placed with in order to find it!

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  6. Gee, I'm dying to get to the supermarket now to have a look. You are so right - flour is an absolute necessity in this house! Fancy it not rating a mention. I also hate the fact that all those other products waste so much packaging. We buy 10kg of organic, unbleached flour in a paper bag which can then be composted, unlike those horrible, shiny boxes! I'll be back to let you know what our supermarket lists when I go to town next.

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  7. you can make up your own cake mixes here is a recipe delicious chocolate cake. I double the recipe and make up several bags of this mix at a time. It’s as simple as measuring the dry ingredients — 3 cups of flour, 2 cups of sugar, 8 tablespoons of cocoa, 2 teaspoons of baking soda, and 2 teaspoons of salt — into plastic bags. To make the cake mix into cake, add 2 cups of cold water, 2 teaspoons of vanilla, 2 tablespoons of vinegar, 3/4 cup of oil, and stir just enough so the wet and dry ingredients are completely mixed(from http://www.choosingvoluntarysimplicity.com/making-your-own-cake-mix/) look up cake mix recipes you will fin heaps

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  8. Hi Rhonda,

    What a wonderful post. I haven't bought cake mix since the 80's. Its strange, I have never ever had the desire to buy it - it tastes so much better to bake from scratch and its better for you as well.

    I laughed when I did have a squiz at the Donna Hay cake mixes and the price they sell for. What a joke! For the same price as two of her cake mixes you can buy one of her cookbooks which are much better.

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  9. I'm trying to remember the supermarkets I visit and I can't remember any "aisle signs". It's somehow done differently here, I think - they just point to "special prices", which means the signs change over time (every week or so). But I'd definitely be angry as well! It's so misleading. You may end up thinking they do not have flour! Which actually means they lose a customer...

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  10. I have never bought a cake mix and I don't think my daughter has either, always make cakes from scratch.
    I will definitely be checking the signs this week.
    I hate recipes that say to use a mix - I never make them either.
    Good post Rhonda, you have got everyone thinking and looking!

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  11. Sing it, sister!

    I didn't know wether to laugh or cry when my sweet little twelve year old neighbor dropped in and asked me what I was doing mixing flour and baking soda... I explained I was making muffins. She told me her mum just used the packet mix from Aldi, and that I should try it, it's so easy!

    I was stoked she things her mum is the bees knees, (that's so lovely) but kind of sad she thought packet mix was the bees knees too. But that's ok, after I finish her weekly trumpet lessons, I cook with her too. I'm giving her an Ed-u-ma-kation!

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  12. I have exactly the same thoughts when I last went into Woolies. That was melbourne cup day last year.It also gave me a fright.
    For less than $10 per week spent at Aldi I get all my flour Plain and Self Raising , hard butter , varying sugars, dried fruits.
    This together with a once every 3 month trip into IGA ( cost about $20) gives us the ingredients for our home made bread and smokos twice a day .
    Plain cooking like scones, pikelets , anzacs, chocolate slice, chinese chews.
    So I would not even get 2 packets of Donnas Hayes cake mix for that cost.

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  13. I hadn't noticed any signage for cake mix on the isle boards, but I'll look out for it.

    I know I have a dreadful time looking for staples as a general rule. They keep getting moved about the store, so you have to wander the isles looking for it (and they probably hope you'll be distracted by all the other 'products') .. then I have to ask staff where something is. Eg: polenta and plain popcorn, even plain cocoa powder! Grr ... I don't like marketing.

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  14. Hi Rhonda

    Here in New Zealand we only have three major supermarkets, Countdown that is owned by Progressive Enterprises and Pak nSave and New World, Pak n save is owned and operated by foodstuffs and New World is owner operated with the buildings being owned by Foodstuffs. I shop at all of them on varying occasions and they baking aisles are labeled as baking needs or flour/sugar. I also shop at Bin Inn a bulk store, but I am thinking while typing this that when you enter our local store the first thing you come to is bulk pre made mixes such as biscuits, muffins, cakes, bread etc. Atleast the flour is right next to it and not relegated to back of the store.

    Regards
    Suellen

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  15. I'll have to have a look today and let you know. I haven't bought flour from the supermarket for ages as I order 5kg bags of NSW organic flour and oats from a local supplier, along with bulk baking powder, dried fruit, and nuts.

    Sickens me when I do go to Woolies to find a heap of packaged products that are cheaply made. I'm trying to find fairtrade Easter eggs right now and haven't had any luck.

    Cath in Sydney

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  16. I also have a beef with Woolworths-they have stopped selling Lux flakes!! I spent about 10 mins looking before I asked a staff member who looked it up in the computer for me. It may be gone for re branding or it may be permanent - she couldn't tell me.

    Jenny

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  17. Jenny, IGA still have Lux Flakes if if doesn't come back to your shop.

    Cath, by chance, I read about Fair Trade Easter eggs yesterday. http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/restaurants-and-bars/sweet-taste-of-success-20110418-1dl9q.html

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  18. So true, Rhonda, I've noticed the cake mix sign too. There are so many cake mixes (and much less choice of flour) on the shelves as well as ready-mixes for soups, sauces and such, that are so easily made at home from scratch. Dumbing down indeed.

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  19. I'm fairly sure our Woolies and Coles have their isles labelled as Baking needs and cake mix is listed below it. I'll have to check it though as I may have been indoctrinated into the "quick fix" language also. The yeast is near the flours and there are 280g containers of it as well as the little satchets. When I had all the kids at home I bought 500g packs of yeast at the health food store as it was more economical and I always store it in the freezer so it stays fresh quite a long time.
    Cheers,
    Robyn

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  20. Our local Foodworks uses the heading, baking need, for the isle where the flour etc is.

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  21. I have noticed the same thing. The headings on the isles are very confusing these days, hardly ever directing you to basic ingredients. I think it is a tactic to have you wander around the store more so you pick up other items and spend more. I've heard that to a company one complaint is equal to 500 people disagreeing so the more that address the issue the better. You are speaking up for 499 that won't bother.

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  22. Eldest daughter decided the other day to buy a packet cake mix as she thought it was cheaper than buying an already made cake!!!! Never mind that we don't eat "supermarket" cakes as we much prefer the home made ones. By the time she worked out the cost of ingredients she had to add (3 eggs, 250 g buttter and cream) along with the cost of the packet mix she could have made 4 home made cakes for the same amount of money and they would have been much nicer. It was a valuable lesson for a uni student who is very careful with her money (she has to be) but occasionally has these flashes of "the bought must be so much better/cheaper/quicker than home made". I have been assured that she won't make that mistake again....vbg. Come to think of it in our Safeways/Woolworths I'm sure that flour isn't mentioned either - it's just baking goods. At least in Aldi the flour comes five aisles before the packet mixes. Thanks as always for such a timely post.

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  23. I am going to check my Coles next time, I head down that isle for sugars, choc chips, flour , yeast and patty pans...thats about it...Im no domestic saint though, for kids birthday cakes..if I am making a huge one to cut into a special shape, I will buy a Betty Crocker mix...but never the icing...
    I personally cant stand the taste of packet cake mixes...I make an exception for this chocolate cake one for birthdays because it is sort of okay and it is quick.

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  24. Just goes to show I don't use cake mixes, hehe. I thought the sign referred to all the dry goodies required to make a cake. `I think electric mixers have a sinister part to play here. We learn at school that our creaming mix is not up to scratch, ie our muscles aren't good enough. So we buy electgric beaters, Kenwoods and thermomiers, bread making machines, etc. Then we make the lightest of cakes that cause our poorer neighbours to turn green with envy whist the real truth is we have done nothing but allow the machine to make the cake. To combat that, people who cannot afford the gadgets buy bigger and better brands or even just cheapo ones because they know there is not a lot beating involved and their cakes will live up to the reputation of the Jonses - until you taste them anyway. In other words, most people have lost the strength and will to put the effort into hand making food and require easy food. Cherrie

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  25. This year I have decided that I am not going to shop from Woolies or Coles, no matter what, and am sticking to local smaller supermarkets. I just cant stand their blatant monopolisation. Our local supermarket has flour listed, and its the first thing on the list. Seperately, is it too late to order a copy of your book? Im in Adelaide.

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  26. I was thinking along similar lines when I tried to buy wholemeal flour from Aldi.

    They don't have it. But there lots of convenience foods on the shelves, cakes, biscuits etc.

    Looks to me like they are trying to make it harder to make your own cakes, bread and biscuits from scratch.

    will I need to grow my own wheat and grind it myself in the near future :-)

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  27. I think my local Woolies aisle is labelled baking needs and the whole left side is boxes of mix. The only time I ever buy a cake mix is on holiday when self catering and you can't be buying tons of ingredients and don't have scales etc. I wish they had a bigger variety of flour. I can buy the 10kg white bread flour but if I want to add some whole wheat flour to that to make wholemeal bread you can only buy it in tiny little expensive packets.
    Sue

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  28. People always look at me funny when I buy flour. I always buy at least 40-50 lbs. at a time. I love to bake and my husband and boys love everything I make for them. Store bought stuff is crap.

    Louise

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  29. How timely is this Rhonda. I have just been checking the news online and the main article I read was about how 25% of cancers are preventable through improving diet and exercise. And then another article about people's perceptions of having a food allergy, the quote saying "I feel so much better when I cook from scratch", hmm maybe it's the lack of nasty chemicals than the milk she thinks she's allergic to!. And I just wonder how long it will be before children don't know that cakes are made from flour..... Hooligan hound, Sydney

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  30. The problem is, people think that stuff is food. In the US, cake and brownie mix is only about $2 and often on sale for $1 each and there are about 100g more per package than in Australia. That's another good reason for buying 'from scratch'. Most of the packaged foods here cost twice as much but are only about 2/3 the size or volume of what I'm used to. It's not just a health issue, it's a budget one as well. I don't mind buying 'junk' food now and then, but the price should reflect that it is junk.

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  31. Not to mention that cake mix tastes terrible and nothing like real cake lol.

    I'm very much into cooking from scratch - real foods, no artifical rubbish. Homemade bikkies are light years tastier than store-bought. As a different POV though, my MIL talks about the 'bad old days' when you had to cook everything from scratch and she finds prepackaged foods a blessing - can't understand why I would cook from scratch and she buys DH stuff like store-bought biscuits 'because he doesn't get treats at home' lol. I love her to bits, and she does these things out of love, I just have a different idea of what food and treats are. It's interesting to hear the other perspective.

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  32. Hi Rhonda, I love your new blog picture BTW. I don't get the whole cake mix thing either. Starting from scratch is just as easy, you know what is going into the cake or biscuits and it is so much cheaper. My daughters and sons love to cook because we have always cooked from scratch which is the was my mother taught me. I hope as a country we never loose those skills.

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  33. Thank you, Joyfulhomemaker for the link to Choosing Voluntary Simplicity and the cake mix recipe. You are a champion!

    Joolz

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  34. I think a lot depends on where you live, my local Woolies here in Tasmania has flour signage up and definitely DO still sell Lux flakes and borax.

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  35. I noticed this too! It has led to quite a bit of frustration for me too when I've gone into different stores. Of course it should be on the sign! Obviously it is seen as a "growth" market whereas flour is just flour. A bit like butter vs margarine where it's hard to find the butter amongst all that chemically laden spread.
    Sadly cooking from scratch is seen as too hard by many. I once taught a twenty-something friend to make a cake from scratch. She had grown up with the packet way and didn't realize how easy it was to make from a few simple ingredients.
    We are indeed being dumbed down by big business.

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  36. I work in a New World supermarket in New Zealand, we still have flour on the isle sign. We have plenty of packet cake mixes, but they are on a high shelf and the flour is mostly on the middle shelves, it is definitely more popular than the mixes.

    I wonder if the reason the cake mix is on the isle sign is because they are paid or sponsored by a company to do it?
    At New World some of the end of isle displays are provided by a company and only ever have displays of product from that company, bluebird potato chips for example.

    Pippa

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  37. Wow. I'll have to have good look Rhonda, I go in there with my list and my head down and don't come up for air until I'm out of there. I do most of the shopping in Franklins and get some bits and pieces every so often at WW. I'll check 'em out.

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  38. Hi Rhonda, I agree with your comments on the ingredients of cake mix, its not something that I use and I imagine most people that regularly bake do so from scratch. I actually have almost the opposite reaction though when going through woolies or coles down the baking aisle - the fact that they put the flour, sugar and staples down the back and the processed boxed items down the front is simple, they have a harder time selling it so they put it down the front where it is more visible. It in fact makes me laugh that they have to "try" so hard to sell this stuff. They know everyone buys flour and so they put it at the back so you walk past these other items, same reason they always put the milk fridges at the back in the hope of enticing you to purchase something else whilst walking to items they know most people buy. Also as someone who regularly shops in these supermarkets, I often spend time selecting what I need from the staples, bypassing other people staring and choosing these items. In all honesty, I don't think I've ever noticed anyone picking up any cake mix nor do I know anyone that uses them.
    Oh and PS. I'm a creature of habit and walk the aisles in my own routine, I always start the baking aisle the other way so the flour is at the front! ;)

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  39. I don't know what our isle sign says but I'll be checking it tomorrow. I refuse to buy packet mixes, they taste wrong, fake. I've certainly noticed over the years that the flour shelving has shrunk and contains mostly pre mixes for bread makers and that the cake mix side has exploded. It's all rather depressing. We're losing so much in the name of convenience.

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  40. here here !! i am so sick of the supermarket duopoly and the way they nudge off brands that aren't there own. everyweek I noticed something gone and replaced by something full on "convience" and tons of excess packaging. and it starting to seem you can only buy "convenient" 1kg packs/bags, nothing bigger so you have to come back for more ! :)
    Lauren

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  41. we're also being dumbed down literally by the poisonous toxins in our food, especially with fluoride here in the states.

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  42. Hi Rhonda,
    I've noticed this trend of shrinking "basic" supply availability and the enormous growth of "the lazy person's baking mixes" I grew up in a home where my mum baked a supply of biscuits and cakes almost every weekend. One of my fondest memories is of being just tall enough for my eyes to see over the top of the table where my mum was stamping out bikkies with a sawa. I have happily inherited her ancient and wonderful mix master and sawa. I wanted my son to have the same sorts of memories of helping me bake from scratch and the unequaled taste of (REAL) home-made biscuits and cakes. So, although I can't possibly do it every weekend, I do try to bake about once a month.
    Back to the availability of basic ingredients: I've often been frustrated by the disappearing ingredients in our supermarkets. Even if the shop stocks them they are harder to locate on the shelves.
    We have a personal friend who is a member of a family business who have been supplying these basic baking ingredients since long before I was born. They are one of the few manufacturers still around. But... In order to stay in business, they have been forced to expand into pre-made sauces and such because of the dwindling demand for their baking products. Even more disturbing, they have been having to face the almost mafia style bullying by the supermarkets to supply pre-mix cakes at a price that they can’t possibly sustain as a manufacturer. The supermarkets demand the mixes at a pittance of a price then mark it up to the hellishly ridiculous prices they retail them for. As an example: That $8 pre-mix cake may have all of 38cents worth of basic ingredients. It seems that the supermarkets giants are using their muscle and actively doing everything in their power to get rid of basic ingredients line and their manufacturers. This is far more disturbing than them simply omitting basic ingredients from the aisle signs.
    We MUST, in our buying cause a growth in the DEMAND for basic baking ingredients. Supermarkets will respond to demand from consumers. We should boycott the purchase of pre-mixes all together before the supermarket get their way and basic ingredients disappear completely, leaving us without the choice.

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  43. Here ours says baking ingredients, so I suppose that is a bit better. If only busy people would realize that there are lots of recipes that are tasty and good for you that don't take any longer than opening up a cake mix.

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  44. I have a mill and buy organic wheat grain in bulk from a wholefood store which is cheaper than buying organic flour at Woolworths. I still use some refined flour for certain recipes but the freshly milled flour in our bread made a big difference to the health of our family.
    I watched an episode of BHG last evening and there was a recipe for an easy sponge cake. All the ingredients went into the Kitchen Aid mixer and there were no directions for making it by hand the old fashioned way! I'm not totally opposed to labour saving appliances and as I do a lot of baking I would probably make good use of a Kitchen Aid if I could afford the $700 they retail for here. I own a Mixmaster myself (cost me $10 brand new still in box from a garage sale) and I find it invaluable for whipping up egg whites but most of the time I prefer to pull out the mixing bowl and wooden spoon. I have noticed that most of the television chefs are using mixers and other appliances because they are sponsored by commercial companies. I wonder if people don't bother to attempt the recipe when they see it being made in the KitchenAid?

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  45. I'm an avid bread, ice cream and occasional biscuit maker. My oven is a little too unpredictable for cakes, so I only rarely bake a cake, cup cakes usually.

    At our local Coles it's Flour, Sugar and Bread mix on the sign. They have a couple of shelves devoted to baking bread from yeast and bags of bread flour, to German grain mixes, I don't even know where the cake mixes are anymore. Our Woolies is a completely different beast, the aisle's are labelled so badly I wouldn't know where the flour is let alone cake mix.

    It is mainly the almighty dollar but I think it's also knowing what is likely to be bought in that particular area, essentially the demographic. Obviously where I live we like to make our own bread. If it sells they keep stocking it.

    With a boy who is sensitive to certain additives I've never baked a packet mix with him, despite requests for blue(!) cakes and cupcakes when he's spotted them. The closest I come is getting big premixed bags of bread flour and even then I check the ingredients before buying.

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  46. I am seldom in the stores and when I do I know the store layout and just go to the few isles I need to be in. That said I haven't looked at the above signs for probably a long time. I will now! :) I have noted which stores though carry a good selection of basic baking supplies and which carry few. Thank you for noting this missing sign and bringing it to our attention. Stores research which things will make them the most profit. This is a sad state that cake mix was voted to be the marker. I will be in my store within the month and I will look for sure! Sarah

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  47. I usually shop at my smalltown Foodworks, where the isle contents aren't listed. Will be in Woolworths this week and will check the baking isle header. If flour is omitted, I shall certainly complain to management! It sure is the power and worship of the mighty dollar!

    I bought a cake mix once, in the late 1970's. It was so awful that I have made from scratch ever since, using a mixing bowl and spoon. Saves on electricity and washing up.

    Kelli, we have fluoride forced on us in this country too. The "powers that be" don't want us to sit up and ask questions.

    Rhonda, I have your beautiful book now, what a credit to you, my friend. Also got one for my daughter for her birthday next week.

    Lyn in Northern New South Wales.

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  48. Hello Rhonda, supermarket topic but to do with the docket received at the end of purcheses. I find the following totally unacceptable, but is it just me. I did some shopping in the Woolies supermarket in our town last week. When I got home I was concerned about the cost of an item so thought I best check the docket. Guess what, no list of prices charged down the right hand side. On the left hand side the name of item, cost per let's say 100grams but no extension of price. Same with some veg that I bought. eg tomatoes 2.99kg but no extension of the price to denote the weight I bought and the end cost. Just a total at the end of the bill. Are we expected to go thru each item and line and do our own extension to make sure that we are beeing charged the correct price or leave it all to Mr. Woolies? Made me feel very cross - surely there is nothing to hide.
    What do you think?

    Anne J

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  49. Two stores, I believe say "Baking Needs". I can't recall any signs in a third.

    But, when I'm in Little Rock, I stop at Vitamins Plus, a store within Drug Emporium. They have a great selection of basics, though not in bulk sizes. VP used to occupy a tiny corner in the back, and now they cover the whole right third of DE - possibly an example of us voting with our dollars?

    I'd still like to find a good bulk source for buying the things I use a lot.

    brenda from ar

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  50. Hi Rhonda,

    Slightly different issue but related I think. Having moved up to Darwin in January and used up the last of my supplies of borax from Queensland - I have spent the last week extensively hunting for more. Only this morning to be told that Bunnings (at least at the two stores here in Darwin) have discontinued it, our independent home hardware doesn't stock it and I have been unable to find it at WW and Coles. Since each time I have gone into Bunnings for the two months (4 times) it has been sold out, I can't imagine I am the only one buying it. I think consumer choice is really being sacrificed and your flour is but one example.

    I resorted to buying a packet of laundry powder at some rediculous price and resolved to come home and hunt for a borax free laundry powder recipe. A pity because I have used your recipe for 3 years so happily:)

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  51. Willywagtail is right about hand mixing. Everyone asks me where my mixer is and wouldn't I like one. I use a fork or a spoon to mix or beat, just like Grandma did. I don't even own a whisk.

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  52. If you are on facebook, you can make comments/complaints about the supermarkets on their facebook page/wall. often when other people see your comment they too will be aware of the issue :)

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  53. Rhonda, great post. I don't buy cake mix, cause I would have to go out of my way to get it. I don't really 'plan' our cakes or slices for the week, I just look in the pantry and go from there. I always have flours, and sugars, milk and egg, then its just a matter of what dried fruits are in the pantry or if a couple of bananas need using up, failing all that, go the good old choc chips, or lemon icing to jazz up something plain. Oh and melted marshmallows on the good old milk arrowroot bikkie is perfect for the kids afternoon tea treat with a glass of milk.

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  54. Great post,

    When I am discussing food with family and friends and they tell me how they can't bake I tell them most of my recipes are easier, faster and 100 times for satisfying that a cake mix.

    I really to detest cakes mixes and ensure thaall my kids can make delicious cakes, slices and biscuits from scratch (they are 5, 7 and 8) is

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  55. I was amused to see scone mix the other day. Scone mix!! Scones only have three ingredients; flour, a fat of some sort and a liquid. You had to add water to what did the box contain? Flour and powdered butter?

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  56. Here - our supermarket aisle says 'home baking' that's where the eggs, flour, sugar and 'dry goods' are, also foil, greaseproof paper etc. Dried yeast is here too, but fresh yeast in in the chiller section near the butter. Our supermarkets have fish counters, meat counters and hot baked goods. We don't have many ready mixes for cakes as they are expensive so you might as well buy cake! Here, home baking is going through a resurgence with programmes such as 'The great British bake off" hosted by Mary Berry and we have so many cookery programmes all about home cooking, not trying to be cheffy but home cooked. I've noticed when I buy cake I can taste raising agents, salt and many other things that don't need to be there - love froogs

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  57. Hi Rhonda, just watching you on telly. You and Hanno look great. After all these years to hear and see you it seams strange. Good luck with your book.

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  58. aarrhhhh imagine my surprise while watching telly tonight and you and hanno appeared on my screen,how cool,well done

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  59. I can't remember the last time i bought cake mix. I have all the dry ingredients i need in large tupperware containers in my cupboard so all i need is some ripe bananas for my favourite banana bread or some pumpkin for my pumpkin scones. It's very quick and easy and i get alot more satisfaction when someone compliments my baking, i'd be embarassed if i had to admit it came from a packet mix!
    I'll have to check my local Woolies tomorrow to see how it is signposted. I work for Woolworths Limited (not in supermarkets) and i hate to admit but from personal experience, customer complaints regarding this sort of thing falls on deaf ears. It is up to head office how the store is run & set up and at store level we have no influence whatsoever. It would have to take many thousands of complaints so if you can get everyone on board- great!
    I saw you on Today Tonight tonight, it was great to see you spreading the "Simple Living" message to all of Australia.

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  60. We live in South Africa, off hand I can't say what is on the signs in the supermarkets but plain (bleached) flour and brown bread and sometimes wholewheat flower are on the shelves. For organic, preservative free, flours though one has to go to an organic market or order it from a supplier.

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  61. Great post Rhonda...I'll have to check our local store out too.....another one that gripes me is the pre-measured doses of things....What! are we too stupid to be able to measure out our own products now.....I seen cubes of mashed fruit for smoothies - 2 cubes per milkshake....and also pre-measured cubes of washing liquid are everywhere too. Do 'they' think they are saving the consumer time...or are they saying we are too stupid to do it ourselves? It makes me mad.

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  62. Couldn't find how to email you. I watched you on a Current Affair! Congratulations on all your success. I love reading your blog. I've been reading it from beginning to end.

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  63. Hi Rhonda, my 19 year old daughter sent me this link and was very sad to think she might be in the minority. I don't know how we are to turn this situation around.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2114842/Death-Domestic-Goddess-Traditional-baking-sewing-homemaking-skills-dying-new-mothers-busy-learn.html

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  64. I find it very sad that even here in Greece, in the midst of this terrible economic crisis, there seems to be more space in supermarkets given over to cake & bread mixes. As my Greek is of a very basic level, I tend to read packets of things extremely carefully, and I've been surprised at how many mixes there are. Greek women are, by & large, wonderful cooks and know how to make fantastic bread, cakes etc, so I'd love to know who is buying this stuff. Not me, for sure (unless by accident)!

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  65. I have even noticed that Whole Foods has changed in the past 5 years. They used to have a huge bulk produce section and now the shelves there are filled with prepackaged, cut up fruit and veggies for convenience. I certainly do understand the need for convenience for families who work and go to school for long hours, but was surprised that these convenience foods have taken up so much of the store space. At least they are healthy foods!

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  66. A great post Rhonda...i have been finding it harder and harder to find baking products easily in Coles and Woolies!
    I was also quite angry that my teen had to purchase a cake mix
    (which we don't buy for the reasons you listed!)for her food technology subject at school...they made bread from scratch last week and this was supposed to be teaching them about the difference with mass produced 'convienience' products....but i don't think it was taught at all well!
    At least she noted the difference in smell and taste to our usual home baked cake...some consolation at least! I couldn't believe the range of mixes when i took her to choose one!
    Thanks for a thought provoking post as usual!

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  67. Flour and baking supplies are still the featured items on the baking aisle--next to the cake and brownie mixes! I have grown to hate cake mixes! They taste so artificial and have a weird, spongy texture. I remember when they first came on the scene in the early sixties. My mom was one to jump on the wagon of new convenience foods because they were "timesavers"--less measuring and mess in the kitchen. Actually, my mom loved to cook--wonderful soups, casseroles, roasts and vegetables. But when they came available, she bought canned soups, Minute Rice,Jiffy Cornbread, Duncan Hines cake mix--but my favorite memories are of her homemade cocoon cookes, pralines, pound cake (is there anything more divine than a plain pound cake? I NEVER buy cake mixes anymore--I make my own which I learned via www.chickensintheroad.com. There are also recipes for your own "homemade" mixes for Hamburger Helper varieties which are very delicious and I know exactly what are in them! Also, is there anything better than EASY homemade buttercream frosting? Why would anyone settle for the artificial tasting canned frosting?

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  68. Rhonda - the same thing holds true for baking gluten free. There are LOTS (and more appearing daily) of gluten free baking mixes with everything already in the mix. I teach GF baking and cooking classes and one of the primary things I teach is the importance of slowing down and preparing your food with love and patience. And that means having the time (or giving yourself) to make your gluten free baked goods from scratch. I tell my students that in an odd way, the need to eat GF will be a gift to them, if they allow it:).

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  69. I once pointed out to a twenty something co-worker how ridiculous it is to buy cornbread mix...you are paying for the fact that someone has pre-measured the amount of flour, cornmeal, salt and baking powder into a little packet for you, when for pennies you could have those ingredients on hand all the time, and use them as needed. Her reply? "I didn't even know you could make cornbread without a mix!" Kelly

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  70. In addition to the yucky ingredients and crazy expense I've found convenience mixes to have far more packaging (little plastic bag(s) inside of a box) than just flour. That's one more reason to skip the mixes.

    Growing up as convenience mix cook I just always figured that it was too difficult to make things from scratch. I mean, why else would there be so many convenience options for every single thing? Now I see I was tricked. Its not hard to make things from scratch and it is so much cheaper.

    I will check the signs next time I'm at the market and I will express my displeasure if needed. Good post, Rhonda.

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  71. In October of last year I made a trip to the city nearest us, and noticed the exact same thing. I blogged about it! I just couldn't believe how small the section of actual baking products was. On an even sadder note, today when I was teaching an introductory lesson in economics to my 7th graders, we traced the beginnings of their favorite food...pizza. One did not even know what flour was! One thought flour came from flowers, and most did not realize that flour was the main ingredient in bread. How very, very sad.

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  72. Just want grocery shopping at my local coles. The aisle that has flour, just says baking goods. This is very straight forward as it covers everything; Sugar, flours, brad flours, eggs, spices, baking paper etc etc!

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  73. No wonder there are so many comments on this one...it is so important!!!!!!! A couple of years ago our school wanted to do a recipe book , getting recipes from families to compile a book. I bought the book only to discover that most recipes said things like 'Pour a bottle of maggi sauce on this....' or ingredient list like '1 packet of white wings packet mix....etc...'
    It was the most useless recipe book i ever bought but was more frightening because it meant that mainstream families were feeding their kids with this everyday and thought of the information as 'recipes'.

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  74. Hi Rhonda, I have just not long bought a new bench top mixer and it has a setting for 'cake mixes'. I couldn't believe it when I saw it!

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  75. Hi again, I've just been to our local Coles and the aisle with baking products is labelled 'cooking oil, spices, pasta'! There was no mention of anything to do with baking - not EVEN cake mixes. I walked to the far end of the ailse to check the sign there, and it was the same. Very interesting and I'm glad you brought it to our attention.

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  76. I too find it very sad that so many people believe in their heart of hearts that making a cake is beyond them or "too much bother". Really, there is little difference between making a packet mix or baking from scratch - just a few more ingredients that most of us should have in our pantries anyway. If my 10 year old daughter can handle it, I'm sure the average adult should have no problem!

    I would hate to live in a world where it's difficult to find flour, that most basic of ingredients, on our supermarket shelves.

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  77. I live in Mullumbimby - a small town regarded by many as one of the last hippy strongholds on the NSW north coast - which recently "gained" a Woolworths supermarket despite much opposition from locals. Given the town's population consists of many people seeking to live a healthy, sustainable lifestyle I was curious to see if the signage would match that in Caloundra.
    When I had the opportunity to go there yesterday I asked a young staff member which aisle the flour was in, as it wasn't listed on the signs. He had a quick look up to the signs then picked up a laminated product list hanging from a chain and proceeded to tell me it was in aisle 5.
    I was shocked it wasn't listed on the signs, so surprised in fact that I took a photo. The sign reads:
    Kitchenware
    Canned meals
    Herbs & spices
    Pasta & sauces
    Dried fruit and nuts
    What the??? Canned Meals, but no Flour?
    Heading down the aisle I was looking to the little marker signs sticking out from the top of the shelves to find where the flour was. Guess what, NO marker sign for flour! Again, I took a photo. It turns out flour sits on the shelves alongside marker signs for Sugar, Cake Mixes and Canned Meals.
    So, either I have the wrong idea about the town's demographic or Woolworths is more in touch with higher profit margins and how to increase them.
    Thanks for your post, Rhonda, it has provoked a strong response and certainly got me thinking about how we're being manipulated in subtle (and not so subtle) ways. I will be writing a letter to our local WW manager.
    Best,
    sharon

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  78. Sharon, I know Mullumbimby. We had the same fight against woolworths in Maleny. They've been there for about 4 fours now. Let me know how you get on with your letter.

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  79. I guess we're lucky at our neighborhood fruit market here. I live in a big US city, in a neighborhood with lots of people from all over the world. There are no signs for flour because there are no signs at this market but there are maybe 3 kinds of biscuit,6 cake and 20 types of flour including tapioca, garbanzo,oat , barley, sorghum 6 kinds of corn, rice as well as several varieties of wheat in addition to loads of fresh fruit and veg. Being allergic to wheat, it's part of why I shop there. 10 blocks away there is a big chain that looks exactly like what you described and it's sad and they charge almost 2x as much. I guess what I'm saying is that if you are urban and therefore have more choices on this sort of thing, look closely at all the options and pick what's best for you.

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  80. Hi Rhonda, I must say that I do love your blog! I am a Caloundra local and shop in the (actual) Caloundra Woolworths (the one at Currimundi is also listed as being in Caloundra, as is the Woolworths at Pelican Waters). Most Woolies stores that I know of, and certainly the Woolies in Caloundra have a white laminated sheet with a store guide, hanging from a shelf about chest height, at the end of each aisle. It has a lot of items listed although no doubt, not everything. Coles is actually the same. Most times you would look for the aisle titled Cooking needs but all supermarkets are laid out differently and do not always list the items in each aisle on those ceiling height signs, very accurately.

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  81. a friend just showed me the article in the paper about laundry liquid and i have found you another great blog about getting back to what matters the good stuff (flour) not (cake mix) love this post and so agree bring back the basic simle things please

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