I cook


I cook and I love to cook from scratch

My mother taught me to cook and I taught my two sons to cook. 

I much prefer a home cooked meal over takeaway. I make my own pizzas rather than buying as mine as so much more tastier and I know what is on them!

I rarely use pre-cooked meal from the supermarket, too salting, too sweet, too processed. 




Americans now spend 27 minutes per day preparing food and another 4 minutes cleaning up. In 1965,  Americans spent 54 minutes preparing food and 8 minutes cleaning up. But lets go back even further. 

During the early 1800s, cooking dominated the time and energy of the average housewife. A woman’s life was scheduled around cooking and meals. Preparing meals was not just a matter of starting a fire for cooking. Spices, such as nutmeg and cinnamon, and seasonings, like salt and pepper, had to be ground up with mortars and pestles. Milk had to be brought in from the family dairy cow and cream and butter made from it. After someone brought in the milk, it usually sat out for about an hour. The cream rose to the top, separating from the milk. Women placed this cream into a butter churn and beat it until it hardened, first into whipped cream and eventually into butter! Every family member contributed to the production and preparation of meals. Men and boys spent most of their time outdoors. Chores included working crops in the fields, feeding larger livestock, and hunting. Diets included wild game, such as deer and turkeys. Women and girls worked mainly in the kitchen and fed smaller livestock. (source)


The definition of "cooking" today is very different to cooking done by our grandmothers. Grandma never opened a jar of pasta sauce and added it to pasta — many many families do this every evening and say they have "cooked".

Heating up a frozen pizza bought from the supermarket is defined as "cooking". 

Very few people these days cook from scratch and the skill of "cooking from scratch" is fast becoming extinct.

To make the lives of "busy families" easier—manufactures now provide us with cheese that has been grated, cubed, sliced;, pumpkin comes in cans; garlic that is pre-cut; pumpkin and potatoes that are ready to pop in the oven. You can now buy apples and oranges cut into segments to make it easier for busy mums. We no longer require knife skills, especially for mums who own a Thermomix—it does the chopping for you. All these things take us further and further away from REAL cooking and the reduction of our skills in basic food preparation. 

Thanks to the supermarket and the production of "fast-foods", cooking is no longer obligatory and as a result we have a generation of children who have no idea how to prepare food, how to buy real food, where food comes from and why eating healthy is so important. As a consequences we are seeing an epidemic of obesity, a rise in Type 2 diabetes in children (that never existed before 1980) and other health issues and an increase in women having difficulties falling pregnant due to their diets. In countries that once had good diets—Japan, China and India, all are now seeing a dramatic increase in western fast foods that is creating overweight children and all the issues we have in the west. 

Where did it start?

After World War Two, food manufacturers, who during the war had provided meals to the soldiers, wanted to continue to make processed food as it was a very easy way of making LOADS of money. There really wasn't much of a demand in fact there was no demand— so they created the demand. And it had nothing to do with women working or the feminists eager to escape the drudge of the kitchen — marketers targeted the "busy" stay-at-home-mum — that's right, mums who were at home and had plenty of have time to cook!!

They convinced (after some struggle) women that they were far too "BUSY"  doing other things, that they no longer had the time to cook from scratch. The TV dinner was born, so too, the freeze-dried foods, dehydrated potatoes, powdered orange juice, instant coffee . . . .

And the rest is history. 

You may be surprised, but the feminist movement never fought for women to not cook, in fact women like Simone de Beavoir argued that cooking was a "revelation and a way of creation"—a special gift. It wasn't the feminists that drew women from the kitchen, in the USA, it was the falling wages of American families that led women into the workforce and reduce their time cooking. However, in saying this, Kentucky Fried Chicken got on the Women Lib bandwagon and started to promote fast food as a way of liberation women from the kitchen—an issue they didn't realise they had. Once again, marketers manipulated women to their way of thinking. 

We may not have realised we needed grated cheese because we can grate our own — however, marketers told us we needed it, it appeared in the supermarket, it was heavily advertised and we bought it. This is what has been happening since the 1950s. Marketers and manufacturers have told us what we needed and we have fallen head first into their game. 

"It took years of such clever, dedicated marketing to wear down the resistances of many women to the farming-out of food preparation to corporations. They first had to be persuaded that opening a can or cooking from a mix really was cooking." (from "Cooked" by Michael Pollan)

When the powdered cake mix first appeared in the supermarkets, women were not interested. Marketers figured out that women like to have some ownership over their "cooking", so they removed the egg from the powdered mix, allowing women to add their own egg. Women took ownership and the packet cake has been a success ever since.  Many women can no longer cook a cake from a  recipe book.

"The rapid penetration of microwave ovens—which went from being a fixture in 8% of American households in 1978 to 90% today—opened up a vast new field of home meal replacements by slashing the time it takes to cook". (from "Cooked" by Michael Pollan)

Sadly we have paid a heavy price for what the manufactures have done to us and our families. It has affected our health, our finances, our basic cooking knowledge and we have robbed our children of a future of healthy eating because we have not taught them  how to cook. It might have saved us time in the short-term, but in the long term we will suffer as a consequence. 

Researchers have found that the more time in food preparation at home, the lower the rate of obesity. In fact, according to Michael Pollan in his book "Cooked", the rate of obesity is strongly connected with time spent in the kitchen preparing real food — it isn't rocket science. 

Processed foods and fast-food are killing us —literally. 

"During the last few decades, we have somehow managed to find nearly two more hours in our busy lives to devote to the computer each day. In a day that still has exactly twenty-four hours in it, where in the world did we find all that time?"

(from "Cooked" by Michael Pollan) 

We also have plenty of time to watch TV, have coffee with friends, to check out Facebook and going out for meals. 

But we don't have time to cook! 



Comments

  1. Thankyou for a very candid and thought provoking post. For the most part I agree. Whilst I sometimes use convenience foods as part of my family meal preparations I mostly cook from scratch. Having a family of seven makes it an economical necessity and my husband who comes from Africa always prefers a home cooked meal. It gives me much satisfaction seeing my family eating and enjoying nutritious family fare. I didn't particularly have many cooking skills when I was first married but luckily like most things it's easy enough to teach yourself. Your family menu doesn't have to be a culinary masterpiece, rather the rythms of the monthly menu cycle mixed with honest comforting meals is what most people remember about their childhood. I also have grown to accept that everyone has their own style of cooking. Ones family grows to appreciate your taste of food over others. When some kind hearted women brought me home made meals after giving birth to my firstborn, my husband tasted the prepared spaghetti bolognaise and declared "this doesn't taste like your bolognaise" And whilst it was perfectly good and acceptable food it gave me joy that my husband preferred my food over others.

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    1. I don't cook anything fancy - just good old fashion meals with whatever veg is in season. The meals aren't expensive to make and they are quite simple but I do like to experiment with new recipes but my husband is very cautious about trying new things so I don't go wild!! I agree about each of us have our own way of cooking which makes our dishes taste different to another persons!! As long as we are cooking and not relying on processed foods then we are already ahead of the game :))

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  2. Love this post. Home cooking is so important for family and raising children to appreciate real food and learn how to cook at home is an investment well worth the time and effort. I put the hard work in during the early years of my children's lives and now that they are 10-11 years old we are all reaping the benefits. They love the responsibility of cooking and baking on their own and we enjoy the foods they create! It is a skill they will use right through their lives and many people will appreciate their experience and abilities! :)

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    1. Home cooking doesn't just give us yummy meals - its skills learned, togetherness, working as a team and gives children invaluable skills later in life - I can't imagine what modern kids are going to eat when they leave home :) At least my children (and yours) will eat well!

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