In today’s New York Times, the king of the food literati, Michael Pollan, presents, “Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch,” a tale of how (and a bit of why) Americans barely cook these days and what it could mean for our future. The best part of the piece, for us anyway, was the guy who got right to the point.
According to Harry Balzer, a leading food industry analyst, the real reason we have a national eating problem is “Because we’re basically cheap and lazy.” He adds, “Besides, the skills are already lost. Who is going to teach the next generation to cook?” This guy tells it like it is.
Face it. It’s not for the lack of funds, or even the lack of time, that most people eat those boxed frozen meals or food that comes packed in bags with packets of condiments thrown in. It’s just easier.
Not that there aren’t those who have other excuses. Even in the era of food documentaries and food pundits, it still surprises us that so many intelligent, creative and diligent people explain that it’s perfectly ok if they remain clueless about how to cook. Money and time remain solid fall back excuses even though facts show the alternatives cost more both ways. Some people actually seem to think it’s a bit eccentric and even amusing and endearing to be kitchen idiots. It isn’t that these folks don’t like food – they may even fancy themselves foodies, connoisseurs of what’s delectable… only if someone else cracks the eggs or peels the potatoes, of course.Turns out, “cheap and lazy” is only easier in the short run. Sooner or later, we face the hard parts: Health problems (personal and public). Lack of energy (our own and external sources). Food dependency (loss of know-how and resources) and
Personal disconnection (loss of family and community rituals). WTF? To us, it seems way easier just to buck up and take some responsibility.
Whether we accept it or not, we will reap our food karma, individually and as a society. It is wasteful and unfortunate that so many of us eat but never cook, since it creates a growing disconnection between our bodies, minds and spirits, an obliviousness so deep that we might well enjoy eating cow feed, as long as it had enough sugar and fat in it. But, forget us for a second (if possible). It is irresponsible and shameful for us to effectively cultivate cooking illiteracy in our children.
Not all of us need to plow through Julia Child‘s recipes at every meal, but let’s not forget that if we never experience self-sustenance (that means cooking for ourselves from ingredients, not packets), we will be left empty, starving for connection.
Note: Check out our Sustenance Satisfaction Index (SSI), a handy way to measure how happy you feel when you eat a delicious meal you’ve made yourself.