“You might be a bad mother if…” This weeks answer: Your kid always knows which items are yours at the bake sale due to the bright orange Sale! sticker on the package. Similar to redneck jokes, but a lot less funny (us moms, so sensitive!), people have been invoking the Bad Mama stereotype for all kinds of things, like when Jennifer Steinhauer in the New York Times calmly informed us that donating purchased foodstuffs to a school bake sale is not only “cheating” but might be the downfall of society. She is, of course, nuts. And I say that with all the affection of one crazy person to another.
First, a confession. I haven’t donated anything baked or homemade to a school bake sale in years. I also haven’t bought wrapping paper, let my kids sell chocolate door-to-door or hawked raffle tickets to my coworkers. I abhor a fundraiser so whenever one comes up, I write out a check to the PTO for each of my kids and, like the mommy mafia, buy their silence. They get their money and I don’t have to man the dunk-the-teacher booth. Win-win.
Yet even if I did feel so inclined, I am not allowed to bring in anything home made to the school. I can’t bake cupcakes for my son’s birthday nor popcorn balls for the teacher appreciation night and definitely none of my favorite redneck dessert (crackers smeared with peanut butter and dipped in almond bark – unbelievably delish!) for the bake sale. Everything must come plastic-wrapped with the ingredients clearly stated on the label. I’d take it personally but I’m pretty sure they’re just worried about allergies and e. Coli.
Alas school is not the only venue that hosts food fundraisers these days. Everyone from my boys’ scout troop to local sports teams to church groups to even my gym (!) has been asking me for a food donation lately. And heaven help you if you’ve ever witnessed or been a part of a food blogger bake sale. Sadly none of them are as easily bought off as the PTO. (Also, I’m a sucker for peer pressure.)
Obviously the first question is whether I will bake or buy. (Answer: I always go with buy unless it’s not an option) But now, especially since I just moved right next door to health conscious Boulder, it seems like not only is everyone baking their own brownies (there’s a pot legalization joke in here somewhere but I’m too tired to find it) but that they’re all gluten-free stevia-sweetened chia-enhanced concoctions. Pressure cooking, not just for canning anymore! So now the question is not just will I choose to bake or buy but will I choose to bake or buy something HEALTHY. This is compounded by the terrifying truism that “healthy” means something different to nearly every single person I talk to. The only people who agree totally with me are my own children and heck, that’s because I make them.
Then there’s also the issue of taste. While some people can make a sugar-free cupcake that tastes as good as the real deal, I sure can’t. And I’m not willing to pay 50$/dozen for ones that do, either. At home I don’t necessarily care if my healthy crap-on-a-plate tastes amazing. I like it. My husband likes it. That’s all that matters. But when I’m donating food for the specific purpose of selling it for the highest amount possible, it seems like I really ought to take taste into consideration.
Case in point: At my son’s cub scout bake sale where homemade donations were accepted, at the end of the night do you know which items made the most money for our kerchief-clad cuties? A deluxe cheesecake platter from Costco ($100!), a tiered apple cake from a local bakery ($50!) and a Target cookie mountain ($50!). My friend’s homemade mint brownies went for $5. The honey-seed-oat bars? $1.50. Honestly I’m not surprised. Very few people these days are good enough cooks to rival the pros. (Does Costco put crack in their pies? Because they even beat out most restaurants in my opinion.) Money talks. And in this case I think it might be saying to go the unhealthiest route possible by buying and then donating the most processed, least healthy treat available. But it’s all for a good cause… right?
So, since I have another fundraiser coming up and you guys were so amazingly helpful when I asked for your go-to barbecue/potluck recipes, I thought I’d ask you again! Do you participate in food fundraisers? Do you buy or bake? And either way, what’s your go-to donation or recipe?? (THANK YOU. I love you!)