Just 60 years ago, preparing food was a time-consuming process that for some — mainly the suburban housewife — could occupy much of the day. Though we had long since progressed from hunter-gathering and industrialization had created a class of consumers rather than producers of food, keeping the family fed remained a job that involved everyone in the household.

No wonder, then, that after World War II, consumers in Europe and the United States embraced every newfangled kitchen innovation — from refrigerators to electric food mixers — as a symbol of progress.

It wasn't until the 1950s, though, that producers really began going all the way. The market was flooded with ready-made soups, sauces and starches, and preserved and preprepared meats. Many American children raised in the '50s, after the potato flake was developed, went for years before seeing a whole raw potato. Today, it has come to the point that 70 percent of the U.S. potato crop is processed before it gets to consumers' homes.