Guest Blogger: Lydia Wisz, from Food Wisz-dom
Upon reading this article, it did prompt me to think about how our culture, economy, environment and our food has changed over the decades.
It is astounding to me that the following statistic is true: “Processed food (as opposed to whole ingredients that must be cooked) accounts for 80 percent of food sold in the United States, in terms of profit. The USDA says we eat 31 percent more packaged food than fresh food, in terms of volume.” How we’ve changed! Ken Albala does a wonderful job in detailing the compelling reasons why it is so important to re-learn those skills — the skill of cooking — for various reasons.
For one, he discusses how there has been an abundant interest in food over the past couple of decades with cookbooks and cooking shows, but has that intimidated people from cooking? Has cooking been cast off as a chore or too difficult to do or too time-consuming? Somewhere down the line, with the industrialization of food and economic changes in our society among other things, cooking seems to have become a “lost art”. And…as he points out, most people seem to have no problem having meals prepared for them — not only in restaurants, but prepared frozen meals found in grocery stores. In fact, “the USDA says we eat 31 percent more packaged food than fresh food, in terms of volume.” That is just crazy!
Is it that no one cares to know how such processed foods are prepared? Or are consumers too trusting that they will be protected by the government with regard to their food consumption? There are so many options out there too — one need not go through a drive-through to get a quick meal, now you can just go to your local grocery store and pick up a “heat-and-serve” item. Does anyone know how to cook these days or has it become unfashionable?
Another good observation that Mr. Alba makes in this well-written article is that many cooking techniques have become obsolete — compare that to the number of hours of television watching that goes on and yes, one can see that there is not enough time in the day. Many times as those avid food watchers of those cooking shows believe, “I can never cook that way” or “that would take me so long to do” is simply not true — it just takes practice and the willingness to want to cook a good meal.
In the words of the late and famous Julia Child, “You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients.”