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Feb 26, 2013 11:07 AM

Home Cooking is a Revolutionary Act! (???)

Food for thought:


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  1. You're preachin' to the choir, here, kaleo!

    Reading this type of article just floors me. My sons, who are in their 20s, have been cooking since they were preteens. We've always been home cooks and knowledgeable eaters in our family. But I have met kids through a youth garden group that I volunteer in who know nothing about the foods we grow in the garden.

    It's too bad that the folks who need that article will never see it.

    2 Replies
    1. re: jmcarthur8

      +1, jmcarthur8 & kaleokahu - part of the choir here also. Thank you for sharing a good article with why more people should cook at home using quality basic ingredients. Could help more live longer better lives. Agree is sad those who most need the info never see it.

      The 'dinner club' idea is solid - to get people together, share, and communicate. We also need more educational and community gardens. Two U.S. generations now, with most not knowing how to cook or garden. These days a majority of kids do not know good food choices.

      When you ask young people where food comes from they say 'the store' or name a favorite fast food restaurant. Not all parents know enough to help their kids. Non-cooks are now the majority and are beginning to effect voting making it harder for positive food change. We vote with our dollars - and clearly not enough people choose quality good food instead our stores and restaurants sell mostly crap (making the providers of crap rich).

      'Convenient' one-use new plastic containers are everywhere leaching BPA, toluene, and who knows what into our food (container poisons are not listed on labels). Plastic lines paper containers, cans, and have mostly replaced the use of glass. Non-reusable containers with plastic create huge amounts of garbage that does not rot in our lifetime. I remember pickling primarily in old mayo glass quart jars and still have some in use over a decade.

      More and more we can not pronounce the ingredients on common foods - those items I try to avoid or minimize. We are what we eat and if can not pronounce maybe it should not go in our bodies.

      GMO crops are 'convenient' to big farmers helping their bottom line. So what we think is natural too often isn't. For example, GMO soy is the majority and everywhere (and is not listed on food labels). The focus is money and greed.

      Even good foods are not as good as could be at the supermarket. For example, 'store' tomatoes are picked green then 'ripen' in transit (most are modified varieties to be hard and not crush when piled in the back of a truck) and do not taste close to those grown at home. The pesticides on some fruits and vegetables should be more of a concern including tomatoes, but most do not care. Tomato pesticides are oil based and do not wash off with regular water. Bad 'building block' basic ingredients go into making everything else.

      The water we drink, use to grow crops, and raise animals is also is getting worse and worse with no end in sight. Many toxins cause pollution to spread everywhere on the globe. Good water is more and more rare all over the world (and is often a critical ingredient to creating foods).

      Knowing where each ingredient we eat comes from is not so common anymore. Before rewarding food producers with our cash more should ask about: its water, how raised, genetics, life history, feed, packaging, when harvested, etc. But, I represent the minority. It does take effort and is not always the easiest path.

      Is true a grass-roots revolution is needed. Government agencies do not protect citizens from bad food. Unfortunately our governments and legal systems are driven by money not facts. Big corporations and industries simply pay to get their way. Often the only focus at big companies is to maximize their cash flow quarter by quarter.

      If have not already seen it I recommend the movie Food, Inc. (can watch the 'trailer' preview here):

      Related at the OP link are 10 seemingly healthy foods not so healthy:

      More kids who feel food comes from the supermarket should visit farms and U-picks:

      A couple websites attempting to arm teachers:

      1. re: jmcarthur8

        As you said - preaching to the Chowhound Choir. But unfortunately, with so many who are unfamiliar with the actual cooking, the processed foods that are laden with salt, sugar, etc. are now the norm for many. That's the tie that needs to be broken. A hard-fought battle.

      2. While I agree with many of his points, it seems it's mostly an advertisement for his cookbook, which is too bad because it detracts from the validity of the article.

        3 Replies
        1. re: juliejulez

          Agreed about the heavy pitch for the cookbook.

          The message is absolutely correct: cooking real food (and supporting cooking with real food) is an effective approach to solving a lot of related problems at once.

          Corporate processed food is poisoning consumers, virtually enslaving workers, and depleting the environment. Withdrawing support is a fundamental tactic, one that many people could adopt.

          But getting people to opt out of the Food Inc system is best done by encouraging small steps and stressing the benefits. "Make over your [fridge, pantry, kitchen]" ? Sure, but there's no need to do it all at once.

          If anyone's going to read just one book about these choices, I'd recommend Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food.

          1. re: ellabee

            Meh, not such a crime to try and sell a cookbook...I live in a town where eating out at restaurants is like an athletic competition, no lie...and very internist about hugged me when he read that I love to cook and grow some of my own foods too. Michael Klaper M.D. has a good youtube and he says restaurant foods are pretty much ethnic-flavored salt, sugar and fat. I would mostly agree with him.

            1. re: Val

              It's not only the sales pitch I'm responding to, it's the "makeover" / crash diet approach. I'm focused on the people for whom the opposite of home cooking is not eating out at restaurants but eating processed, convenience foods at home (as well as take-out), and fast food when out.

              In my experience, people in those households are more likely to make the change to real cooking with real food successfully if they go a step or two at a time.

              I'm in favor of anyone doing what they can to encourage real-food home cooking. The 'supper club' idea is solid, and encourages me to believe the book might be full of good suggestions (in a way that its title does not).

        2. I'm not sure how to respond to the article but I know people that look for a house or an apartment with the smallest possible kitchen because they don't use it....and proudly tell you so.

          14 Replies
          1. re: Hank Hanover

            I've rejected houses I've seen when my reaction was "kitchen? where's the kitchen" because it was so clearly an afterthought.

            I've cooked dinner for my family - and we've eaten together - since always and I'm always amazed at the in incredulousness of friends who are shocked that I do that. It has made such a big difference for us as a family. We bring in carry-out, but only as an occasional treat.

            If that's revolutionary, viva la revolution!

            1. re: chicgail

              I was shocked when I found out that every family *didn't* sit down to dinner together!
              I think my kids were young teens when I read an article telling families to have a "family dinner night" once a week. What the heck!!??

              1. re: jmcarthur8

                Even as old as I am, the other kids in junior high school (circa 1964) were amazed that my family sat at the dinner table, together and ate and then the dishes were cleared and we talked about... our days....politics...what was happening in the came up. It is one of my most cherished memories.

              2. re: chicgail

                I'm single, and usually cook 3-5 meals a week. Friends who know I do this are often incredulous and say "I'd never go through all that just for myself!" My response is "If not for yourself, who for? I'm totally worth cooking for!" That gets them thinking.

                1. re: LindaWhit

                  LindaWhit, your comeback is awesome! YES you are worth it. Will put to use.

                  A big open eat-in kitchen for gatherings and creating is a huge factor when I pick a place. Feel 'island' kitchen's rock. Storage to buy on sale then store until use is also a necessity. A garden plot with good sun / water is a must. Somewhere a semi-cool place to store homemade canned goods for year-round consumption (home made pickled items are awesome). A dedicated place in a non-heated garage works in cooler country such as the Pacific Northwest but not so well in the south like Florida where garages get so hot.

                  More these days do not seem to care about big kitchens, food storage, or canning. The people who's fridges have nothing in it (maybe a few beverages next to left over fast food that will never be touched). Those with no basic ingredients only highly processed food in the cupboards / pantry. Limited condiments if any. And seasonings they bought years ago without the basics long ago used.

                  A majority of places built these days do not have room for a garden - so sad. Especially in the city close to 'necessities'. Which goes back to the majority voting with their dollars. Not only do non-foodies drive markets for producers to make bad food. The non-cook majority now has builders constructing mostly 'bad homes' limiting our selections. Which drives prices up on the more-rare-than-should-be most-desirable foodie-places to live.

                  1. re: LindaWhit

                    Exactly. When I was talking to a friend about how my SO was going to be travelling on weekdays for work, she said "Oh that's awesome, you won't have to cook anymore!". I told her that while I might modify my cooking and not cook EVERY night, I love to cook and still would do it as often as I could. She looked puzzled.

                    1. re: juliejulez

                      From the King and I: "It is puzzlement!" :-)

                      1. re: juliejulez

                        I still cook when the BF is away -- all the stuff I love and he can't stand to eat!

                      2. re: LindaWhit

                        I meet empty nesters like DH and me, who don't cook anymore because its "just the two of us".
                        That is absolutely ridiculous!
                        The two of US love a good meal at home every night!

                        1. re: jmcarthur8

                          I never understand the couples who stop cooking once the kids leave home. Since we've become empty nesters, we actually eat more home-cooked, sit-down meals. Our evening meal time is no longer contingent on sports practices, school meetings, or finishing up dinner so our son could do homework. As a result, we get home when we do, cook dinner, and sit down to a real meal at about 1 hour later, typically around 8 pm. We actually eat far fewer orders of delivery pizza, convenience food, and meals on the run than when our son was home.

                          And, just to be clear, it's not like we did not eat real, home-cooked sitdown dinners as a family when our son was home. But, once he was active in sports, those dinners were probably only about 4-5 times/ week, whereas now we average home-cooked dinners about 6 times/week (with the other dinner typically either sit-down at a restaurant that serves real food or as guests at a friend's dinner party).

                          1. re: masha

                            I can understand why couples would do such a thing, though I would not in their situation. For some people, cooking will always be a chore and there is no way to transform it into an activity that is a source of joy. I'm never going to enjoy gardening (or pretty much any outdoor recreation). I would keep a garden if I needed to for financial reasons, but if I could afford not to, then I wouldn't. I suspect some couples stop cooking at home because they can afford to eat out more often.

                      3. re: chicgail

                        I cook practically everything, and live alone (well, with my cat, and I do cook plain chicken to be eaten by both of us). With rare exceptions, I don't bake my bread, because I can get a variety of good, nutritious breads nearby (Montréal, near Jean-Talon Market) but really eat very little prepared foods. I'm hoping our co-op will finally agree on putting in a vegetable patch; for the moment I only grow herbs and a token tomato plant on my balconies.

                        I do most often work at home, which helps, but even if working at a conference, if lunch isn't included, I usually take a meal salad and/or sandwich.

                        I certainly enjoy eating out with friends, but that is a treat, not a daily thing.

                      4. re: Hank Hanover

                        For some of them, it's conspicuous consumption. Cooking (and cleaning up afterwards) is seen as manual labor and manual labor is for the lowly. Not using your kitchen suggests that you can afford to pay other people to cook your food for you.

                      5. This is an inane article, and full of false assumptions. It's a bunch of drivel disguised as a holier-than-thou PSA.

                        There is absolutely no guarantee that cooking "real food" (whatever that terms means) necessarily means healthy, or better.

                        Paula Deen cooks "from scratch" (to quote the article), and her food is probably less healthy than, say, a microwave dinner made by Healthy Choice or another of that ilk.

                        Or if I made mashed potatoes with butter, heavy cream, and paired it with grilled cheese sandwich grilled in bacon fat (but used organic bread from a bakery down the street and artisan cheese produced at a local dairy), it is certainly no "healthier" than an equivalent convenience, blue box meal. Heck, I would argue that at that point a Kraft Mac & Cheese is probably less heart-attack prone and less in need of a Zantac-Zocor cocktail chaser.

                        And sitting down and having dinner together does not have to be at home. Doing the same thing at a restaurant, in many ways, is actually more conducive to healthy family bonding time.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          Plus, when the family eats at a restaurant, nobody has to do dishes! Win-win to me.

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            If one did the Paula Deen Butter/Bacon-style of cookery, I would have to agree. And I know that an occasional family restaurant night is pleasant.

                            But your response makes me wonder if you have ever experienced your family of origin or your created family knowing that that there would be a healthy, comforting family meal facing them at home at the end of the day.

                            In our house it was always as normal and ordinary a part of the day as brushing their teeth and getting dressed for school.

                            It's what my children always knew and what they do at their own homes. Both of them are the cook-of-the-family of their own families now. Both of them present their kids with veggies and lean meats and fruits and grains.

                            1. re: chicgail

                              But your response makes me wonder if you have ever experienced your family of origin or your created family knowing that that there would be a healthy, comforting family meal facing them at home at the end of the day.

                              I have indeed.

                              My point wasn't that a family sit-down meal (either at home or in a restaurant) is something not to be treasured or cherished (because it is both); rather my point was that a family sit-down meal is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition to eating healthy -- a conclusion that the article adamantly promotes as if it is gospel.

                              In fact, in making that conclusion, it insults all those families who have parents that simply cannot make a homecooked meal day-in and day-out because y'know, they sort of have to work -- and work maybe extremely long hours? The author is essentially forever damning those families (and parents) to a life of unhealthy subsistence simply because they are not making home cooked meals from scratch. Idiocy.

                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                I sort of had to work every day and for much of that time I was a single mom. It's just that that homecooked meal with my family was senior to whether or not I was tired.

                                No one is "damned" in my remarks but a restaurant meal - even a fast food restaurant meal - was too expensive - and the wrong food and the wrong environment - to be a regular part of my family's life.

                                LIke many families the choice was I cooked or we would grab something questionable that just filled up empty tummies. For us the choice was almost always home-cooked. It wasn't easy. As much as possible, but not always, from scratch. (jarred pasta sauce and tacos from a box were solutions I could accept - never Hamburger Helper, however) but it was cooked in our kitchen before we ate it and it the right choice for us. I wouldn't have missed it.

                                Oh, and I guess it worked. My son is a trained professional chef.

                                Today I think home cooking is an even more revolutionary act. Food, Inc., makes it harder to find and choose food that is not laden with antibiotics and hormones and additives. Kudos to those of us who push back.

                                1. re: chicgail

                                  Home cooking may be a "revolutionary act" -- but that doesn't necessarily make it better or more healthy.

                            2. re: ipsedixit

                              "And sitting down and having dinner together does not have to be at home. Doing the same thing at a restaurant, in many ways, is actually more conducive to healthy family bonding time."

                              This is very true. Some of my best meal time memories with my family growing up are from when we ate at Carl's Jr. That was our "treat" meal on my mom's payday. We didn't eat as a family a lot because my dad was self employed and worked long hours, my mom worked in a hospital and worked odd hours sometimes, and as we got older my brother played football and I had tons of extra curricular activities. But on every other Friday (not during football season), Dad would come home early and we would all go together to eat at Carl's Jr.

                            3. Oy. No need for his cookbook, though the thought is decent.

                              One of the most caring, revolutionary persons I ever met was a Catholic priest who had been thrown out of the priesthood for protesting the Vietnam war, and who then threw himself into community service on his own, for years, as he wasn't going to stop serving, just because he didn't have a collar. He did such good important work that finally, the church came to him and basically said "Um, could you come back?"

                              One of the things that he did at the community center that he established? He taught families to cook. If they could cook, they would not spend extra money for fast food, they would not eat unhealthy food as their only food and they would have the power of choice. He taught kids, adults, whoever wanted to learn.

                              It is a life changing skill.

                              If you have tons of money, you can have a personal chef, maybe you don't need it. But if you are just a normal human, that skill can change your life on so many levels.

                              Oh and yes, I had dinner with my parents and sister at least 5 nights a week, from birth, until I moved out. But home cooking or frozen, the most important thing was that we were there together.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: happybaker

                                Yes, we have nuns at a community centre nearby who do exactly the same. It is also great to get children and teenagers involved. And single men on various kinds of benefits or pensions, or downsized into crummy jobs, who never learned to cook for themselves and were basically living on crap, as they could no longer afford decent restaurant food.