Michael Pollan has just put out a new book called “Cooked, a natural history of transformation”. I love the catchphrase on the cover as it sums up craziness of the food world we live in. ” In a culture of food reality shows, in countries which are crammed with fresh ingredients from every corner of the earth, we none the less wade even deeper into a swamp of processed foods. The more we watch food on television, the less food we actually prepare and cook”
Ring true? Cooking has become a spectator sport that encourages eating rather than the honing of our personal food skills. We cook less but eat more as a myriad of tantalising
foods tempt us at every turn. Supermarkets, particularly in the UK and USA have moved away from selling ingredients and instead have become giant take away stores. Ingredients are relatively expensive and hard to find while attractive and conveniently presented ready to go options dominate the food aisles. With competitive pricing it is no wonder people flop on the couch with a ready to go meal rather than having to spend valuable TV time in the kitchen preparing and cooking food!
Sadly the loss of cooking skills means loss on so many fronts
- loss of control over our nutritional well-being – the food giants have shareholder profit, not our health as their bottom line. As an example, Sainsburys, a leading supermarket chain in the UK has a 500g plain low fat yoghurt that it describes on the nutrition information panel as having 4 serves. Next to it on the shelf is the same sized plain “Greek-style yoghurt” that is more expensive. When you look at the fat and kilojoule content per serve of this identical sized pottle it looks about the same as for the low fat yoghurt. It is only when you see that they have reduced the serve size (5 serves per pot compared to 4) that you realize how they are deliberately trying to deceive you. They are cunningly encouraging you to buy a more expensive and less healthy product by making you feel it is just as good for you as the low fat version. Trust them to care about our health??? No way!!!
– loss of understanding about ingredients, where they come from and how they interact with each other. Many children today are so disconnected from real food that they cannot name simple vegetables and have no concept of that meat comes from animals reared for our consumption. Meat comes from the supermarket doesn’t it?
- loss of the social interaction that goes with shopping, preparing and eating food as a family or social unit.
- an increase in obesity and obesity related health problems
- generations of children doomed to ill health because their parents do not have the skills to look after their nutritional needs
Governments and all levels of society need to do what it takes to ensure cooking schools are preserved – otherwise they will pay the cost of spiralling diabetes and other obesity related illnesses.