Food for Thought

Off the couch and into the kitchen

In a typically thought provoking piece in the New York Times magazine, ‘Out of the Kitchen, onto the Couch’, Michael Pollan writes: ‘...here’s what I don’t get: How is it that we are so eager to watch other people browning beef cubes on screen but so much less eager to brown them ourselves? For the rise of Julia Child as a figure of cultural consequence – along with Alice Waters and Mario Batali and Martha Stewart and Emeril Lagasse and whoever is crowned the next Food Network star – has, paradoxically, coincided with the rise of fast food, home-meal replacements and the decline and fall of everyday home cooking …

TV show about cooking playing in an empty kitchen

Today the average American spends a mere 27 minutes a day on food preparation (another four minutes cleaning up); that’s less than half the time that we spent cooking and cleaning up when Julia arrived on our television screens. It’s also less than half the time it takes to watch a single episode of “Top Chef” or “Chopped” or “The Next Food Network Star.” What this suggests is that a great many Americans are spending considerably more time watching images of cooking on television than they are cooking themselves – an increasingly archaic activity they will tell you they no longer have the time for.

Cooking’s fate may be to join some of our other weekend exercises in recreational atavism: camping and gardening and hunting and riding on horseback. Something in us apparently likes to be reminded of our distant origins every now and then and to celebrate whatever rough skills for contending with the natural world might survive in us, beneath the thin crust of 21st-century civilization.

But to relegate the activity of cooking to a form of play, something that happens just on weekends or mostly on television, seems much more consequential. The fact is that not cooking may well be deleterious to our health, and there is reason to believe that the outsourcing of food preparation to corporations and 16-year-olds has already taken a toll on our physical and psychological well-being.’ Read the whole article HERE.

Michael Pollan
Michael Pollan