Monday, June 1, 2009

Cookbooks Without Cooks

In these tough times the nation turns its lonely eyes to cooking shows. Anyone who has ever wielded a chef's knife publishes a cookbook and gets at least a half hour on the Food Network, and suburbanites drive miles to wander through farmers' markets in order to purchase some artisan bread and call themselves locavores. The interest in local food and local growers is wonderful, as is the interest in cooking and eating well. The problem is, even as interest in these things proliferates, the number of people who actually cook continues to shrink.

While showing off the White House garden, Michelle Obama admits that she's happy to have someone cook for her, that she doesn't like to cook. The press reflects on the refreshing honesty of this statement, but what about the mixed message being sent? Access to fresh, healthy, local ingredients means nothing if you're incapable or unwilling to, you know, prepare those ingredients. You can buy all the produce in the world at farm stands, but if you don't then cook, or at least wash and dress the produce, all you've done is waste money and resources.

My local chain grocery stores have added "grown local" sections for those wanting to purchase the bounty of local farms rather than the bounty of South America. In every case, that section of the store is a mere speck compared to the prepared food aisles. In some ways, the grocery stores are really take-out joints. Sure, one can still purchase cheese and eggs and vegetables, but more popular is the salad bar, the pizza counter, the sandwich counter, the seafood counter where the fish has already been seasoned and comes with heating directions. Why buy a pound of pasta when there's a pasta bar two feet away? When did it become too difficult to make our own salad, to cut cheese into cubes ourselves? Why are we buying premade peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? When did a sandwich become too difficult for us to make ourselves?

Cooking food yourself saves money and is always better for you. Food you prepare yourself isn't full of preservatives, fat, sodium. But we are lazy. We watch cooking shows but don't know how to turn on our stoves. We go to the farmers' market and buy cookies. It's time to get off the couch and prepare our own food.

1 comment:

tunsie said...

I have been fortunate 2 be around good cooks all my life.myfather said u need 2 be successful,then u will find a good woman that knows how 2 cook.I almost fell in with a woman that knows NOTHING NOTHING about cooking.but my good friend says 2 me, tunsie she doesn't know how 2 cook anything,what r u going 2 do go out for 3 meals a day EVERYDAY.Just recently someone saw this women in the tv dinner section of the supermarket.I LOVE YOU EL I KNOW YOU GOT MY BACK.TUNSIE 3 TIMES BABY.