To make or not to make a homemade pie? That is a classic dessert dilemma. Do you take the easy way out and buy a fairly decent frozen pie, or do you risk making your own, resulting in a potentially burnt and lumpy version?

While there is something special about that homemade option, every cook knows that it takes a lot of your own time and energy.

Here in the U.S., we are increasingly relying on a different kind of energy to produce our food: fossil-fueled machines that bring us pre-made pie dough, bagged lettuce, and those chicken strips with perfect grill marks. But that convenience comes with a growing energy cost.

LISTEN: “Our Processed Food Future”

Before we get into the meat of food processing, I wanted to find out how hard it really is to make your own apple pie. I drove down to Fort Collins, Colo., to visit with Chef Kathy Guler, owner of Foodies Culinary Academy. It is no surprise that she is strongly against the shortcut mentioned above.

“You can buy a frozen pie, and if you never made a pie, you might not even know that there is a dramatic difference between fresh ingredients and the labor, the love that goes into it,” Guler says.

And with that, we dove right into making a Mile High Apple Pie, starting with the crust.

After blending butter, sugar, flour and water, Kathy encouraged me to have a “big strong upper body,” when rolling the dough. At first, I made something vaguely falcon-shaped, but with her help I eventually rolled my dough into a pie-shaped circle.

After about an hour of chilling, peeling, chopping, stirring, and some precarious moves with the delicate dough, we baked a fragrant, buttery, totally gorgeous, Mile High Apple Pie.

So why isn’t everyone making their desserts from scratch?

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This story comes from our partners at Inside Energy, a reporting project covering energy issues from North Dakota, Colorado and Wyoming.