I recently started reading Michael Pollan’s most recent novel, Cooked. As the title suggests, it discusses the practice of cooking in its various forms and how it may be one of the most important ways to improve our personal health and wellness, as well as the vitality of the American food system.
While I haven’t gotten very far yet, this is a belief I have had for a while and feel pretty strongly about (so I can pretty much guess that I’m gonna love this book!). I try to make cooking a regular part of my life and it is something I truly enjoy doing (though not so much the doing dishes when I’m done part…). When I’m in a rut or physically feeling like “blah”, I go back to my kitchen to whip up some veggie-centered, balanced, nourishing goodness. It gets me back to feeling like myself.
Pollan opens his book with a discussion on what he calls the “Cooking Paradox”. The quote below from the book describes pretty well what he means…
How is it that at the precise historical moment when Americans are abandoning the kitchen, handing over the preparation of most of our meals to the food industry, we began spending so much of our time thinking about food and watching other people cook it on television? The less cooking we were doing in our own lives, it seemed, the more that food and its vicarious preparation transfixed us.
I think Pollan’s words are fascinating and totally on point. As a population, we have definitely moved away from home cooked meals and more towards those prepared by others (restaurant chefs or a laboratory mainly). Yet we are fascinated by food. It is on the cover of magazines, all over TV and the Internet, including Pinterest and social media. Are we nostalgic for older days when food was prepared in the home and shared at the table? Are we craving, deep down, nourishing and wholesome foods that come from the earth and are prepared with love? Maybe it’s a little of both, and probably some other reasons too.
Do you notice this paradox in your own life?
I will call myself out here and say that I have four cookbooks on my counter, two of which I have never used. (I have plenty more on the shelf but let’s not get too crazy here…) And I actually cook! Like most things in life, it is so easy to get used to doing things a certain way. As I’ve written about before, habits can be both good and bad. Adventure and trying new things bring excitement and can stir up forgotten or unknown passions. The same thing applies to food right?
I have been meaning to become more adventurous in my kitchen for a little while now. My same old same old healthy dishes just aren’t cutting it for me anymore. I find that I am not as satisfied with things I prepare. I am cooking for two sometimes these days as well. So I think I am reading this book at the perfect time (funny how things work out that way, huh?). Time to get the binding creased on those cookbooks and roll up my sleeves…
Is cooking something you do in your life? If not, is it something you want to do more of? Ask yourself what may be stopping you. I’m guessing time may be a big factor for many, and I get it. But think of it this way; the food you eat is one of the biggest determining factors in your health, happiness and quality of life. Don’t you think we should devote just a little bit more time to cooking and eating well rather than watching TV, playing video games or surfing the web?
Peace, love and healthy cooking,