Scrolling through Treehugger today, I was reminded of one of the many tasks on my blog to-do list: Spread the word about making your own popcorn!
A few months ago at work this became my favorite mid-afternoon-slump snack when some bulk kernels and paper bags surfaced in the kitchen (I think a coworker was trying to avoid the caloric-rich microwavable stuff). We should all be avoiding it, and not just for our own health. You've probably heard by now that the "butter" is well, quite artificial--its real name is diacetyl, and that workers who handle the stuff are developing a kind of lung disease. Definitely not something I want to be contributing to, or ingesting. Besides, the real stuff tastes so much better. It's easy: Get some bulk kernels at your favorite health food store (another point for ye 'ol bulk bins), and put them in a small paper bag. You pop it for about the same amount of time you would do a pre-bought bag, but stay close to listen for the pops slowing down. Treehugger suggests adding a slab of butter at the beginning, but I prefer to melt the butter separately and pour it over once I've transferred the popped corn to a bowl. That way you can save the bag for the next popping, and there's something delightfully gluttonous about pouring melted butter over, well, anything. An alternative, as one smarty-pants commenter noted on Treehugger, you can avoid the paper bag by heating some oil in a pan and cooking your kernels that way. I've yet to try it the slower way, but I do have vague memories of my dad popping corn over the stove, and I'm sure it doesn't really take that much longer. Add some salt and it's a totally delicious snack (and low-cal if you forgo the melted butter). Not only are you avoiding a nasty "butter-like" chemical that I can't even pronounce, but anytime I replace food from a factory with something I "make" myself, things feel a bit more right in the world.
Here's an incredibly sad Washington Post article about a worker with "popcorn workers' lung". The stuff still isn't regulated.
And here's Treehugger's take on DIY popcorn.