Stove, oven, microwave, restaurant–the product is food, the difference is time. Modern man in the US is eating fast. Science and industry have provided us a way to eat without thinking at all. The tradeoff is that now we are further removed from our food than ever in history–we don’t know where it comes from, we don’t know what is in it–and now finally we are having to think about what our food is doing to us.
It would be wrong to say that what we are eating is killing us, we are all going to die some day anyway, but it would not be wrong to say that what we are eating is making us miserable.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Acid Reflux, anxiety, depression, heck maybe soon even Alzheimer’s, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, joint pain–every one of these maladies is undoubtedly related to the kind of foods we eat, to the chemicals in the foods, to the lack of care and attention we pay to preparing it.
For a look at how the food industry and the food marketing industry has changed our lives by saving us time and simultaneously reducing our quality of life there is a new four part documentary about to be released on Netflix, “Cooked”–
Alex Gibney, documentary film maker known for the Scientology piece entitled “Going Clear”, has teamed up with one of my favorite food and food science authors Michael Pollan to explore what we are losing by forgetting how to cook.
There is something reverential about taking the living creatures and plants that are giving us life by giving their own and honoring that sacrifice by careful preparation and thoughtful eating. I am as lazy and thoughtless as the next man, but I do try to do my very best work when I am preparing meats for the family and friends to eat. When I hear grace being said at a meal I very usually think of the death that had to occur that I might live. I actually do try to honor the donor of my food.
The act of cooking, for me, is an act of love. I love the things that I am working with and I love the people that I am feeding. Cooking can be a duty, and it can be a meditation. Sometimes I feel like a symphony director, sometimes I feel like a juggler, but I always feel gratitude.
When I let a corporation cook for me I lose all of that. It would be impossible to feel gratitude for the plants and animals if all I ever did was move it from the freezer to the microwave to my mouth. Not only do I have no idea what is in it, it is just too separate from me and my life to pause and reflect on what I am actually doing. If your eating consists of this kind of food, frozen or instant “just add water and heat” kinds of cooking then you perhaps don’t know what you are missing out on. You will remember cooking though. Search your memory for the time that you helped your grandma or grandpa, mom or dad, to make something out of raw parts. Those are very special memories, and they are the soil on which you can begin to build your own relationship with food.
Watch the documentary, wish your life was like that, then make it so, America. Your stress levels will drop. Your health will improve. Eat real food, eat food you made yourself and feel pride of craftsmanship. Do it once and make some memories for your own kids.