Cherisse heard Michael Pollan speak at Brown University a couple years ago. During his talk he pulled out a Twinkie, which he said he’d carried around for years. It was still soft, and so presumably still “edible.” One of the points he continually makes is that we should eat real food, containing ingredients your grandmother might have found in her kitchen (not a product, like a Twinkie, composed of many unpronounceable—and unrecognizable—ingredients).
Another interesting food guru is Mark Bittman, whose cookbook Food Matters we refer to on a regular basis. Recently in the New York Times, Mark Bittman wrote a piece called “Pollan Cooks!” from an interview with Michael Pollan about his newest book, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation. Pollan talks about how we got away from cooking meals at home, and why it is crucial to our health, and even our way of life, to incorporate meal preparation back into our daily routine. http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/17/pollan-cooks/?smid=pl-share
Cherisse and I cook almost all of our meals, rarely eating prepared or packaged foods. This started when I had to eliminate onions and garlic from my diet—take a look, they show up in almost every ingredient list of prepared foods.
Michael Pollan says in the interview that when you cook at home you use better quality ingredients. Eventually we started buying much of our food from the farmers’ market. Just a few of the myriad benefits include: superior taste, peak freshness (which has a direct correlation with taste), sustainable production methods (no pesticides, crop diversity, etc.), small carbon footprint, and supporting our local economy. In summer, when produce is plentiful, prices are low. (In winter, growing or storing food becomes costlier, and we see the prices increase as the months go by. However, we appreciate that our local growers can provide us with an expanding variety of fresh food in the dead of winter, when supermarkets sell food flown in from Chile.)
I feel that everything in life is a balancing act. We grow flowering plants and vegetables that get pollinated by our bees—the bees need the pollen and nectar, and the plants need the bees in order to flourish. Because we don’t use any chemical sprays, our beneficial insects survive, and the birds and bats keep all insects in check. We support our local growers and producers, and they in turn offer a wider array of good food for us to choose from.
Michael Pollan talks about an even broader balancing act. “If we decide to outsource all our cooking to corporations, we’re going to have industrial agriculture. And the growth of local, sustainable and organic food, and farmers’ markets, is going to top out if people don’t cook. Because big buys from big, and I have little faith that corporations will ever support the kind of agriculture we want to see. That’s why the most important front in the fight to reform the food system today is in your kitchen.”
On a more basic level, cooking at home is gratifying. In our busy lives we all still make time for what is important to us. We still spend money on the things we really want. Good food should be a top priority.