Did you know that the potatoes used to make McDonald’s fries receive such a high dose of aphid-killer that the farmers won’t step a foot on their land for five days after spraying? That’s bad enough, but did you know that the potatoes, themselves, must outgas for six weeks before being made into the iconic, fast-food staple? I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t sound like something good to put in one’s body.
I learned the snippet above from Michael Pollan’s RSA talk called, “How Cooking Can Change Your Life.” Pollan wrote The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and his newest book is called Cooked, which he says is the story of his own journey in learning to cook and realizing the benefits of doing so.
The You Tube video of his talk is only 20 minutes long, but for those who don’t have the time to watch the whole thing, I’ve distilled it into some interesting bullet points.
- The food industry has brainwashed us into thinking that cooking is drudgery, that only losers have enough time to cook, and that the only people qualified to cook are chefs in restaurants (or in the food industry).
- When surveyed, homemakers after World War II said that of all their household duties, cooking was what they liked best. It was a creative outlet.
- In the 1960s and 1970s, when women went to work in large numbers, the division of labor in the home needed to change, and the food industry was eager to help ($$$).
- KFC erected large billboards all over the country that depicted a bucket of chicken and two words: “Women’s Liberation.”
- Not cooking became “progressive.”
- Corporations layer vast amounts of fat, salt, and sugar to increase the addictiveness of their food. They call this “crave-ability” or “snack-ability.” [Feeling manipulated?]
- Research shows that poor women who cook are healthier than wealthy women who do not.
- As rates of home cooking decline, obesity rises.
- Food additives are chemicals that make food look like it’s fresher.
- These chemicals disrupt the body’s natural microbiome balance. [This can result in ailments such as candida and food cravings.]
- Special-occasion foods have become every day foods.
- You know how long it takes to make French fries at home.
- If they’re easily available, many people will eat them more often.
- Harry Balzer, of the NPD Group: “Eat anything you want. Just cook it yourself.”
We, as individuals, are generally no match for corporate boardrooms and Wall Street. That’s what’s feeding America, you know. In addition, a lot of social attitudes today are guided by big business, but that is another blog post.
We are not a match for sly minds who have science and studies behind them to appeal to our hearts and minds. The only thing we can do is read and listen as much as possible on our own. Those who don’t are doomed.
Okay people. We’ve let corporations get the better of us. Let’s take back our kitchens.
In the four years since we’ve adopted a plant-based diet in our household, our grocery bill has gone up, but our restaurant expenditures gone down, and our health has improved. I love the feeling of eating a meal I prepared and knowing everything that is in it is good for me. It is such a great feeling to know that everything in a meal is nourishing my body and not clogging my arteries, messing with my flora, or inciting my cells to reproduce out of control. I don’t have to sit there in shame afterward and think, “Why did I do that?”
The great thing about cooking in a plant-based diet, is that things don’t have to take forever to cook. A meal can be easily assembled after a long day at work. The family can take part in its preparation and clean up. I’ve learned that with some basic staples in the house and a weekly trip to the grocery store to buy perishables, I can cook interesting, nutritious meals, and enjoy my time in the kitchen. And unlike meals based on meat, the ones I prepare don’t need to cook for a long time to tenderize or decontaminate animal flesh.
I don’t advise doing anything by cold-turkey methods (except smoking), but why not try one night per week to prepare a meat-free meal from scratch (not from a box)? Or increase your homemade meals by one per week. You’ll feel better about yourself. You’ll be healthier. You’ll be slimmer. You’ll be better-looking. Okay, now I’m getting carried away.
For lots of info on healthy eating, including recipes, I like to visit Christina Cooks. Christian Perillo knows her stuff, and she makes cooking look fun.
Come on, everybody. Don’t let the food industry make money at the expense of your health. Think for yourself. You’ll be glad you did.
Ann Silverthorn is a writer who won’t be classified. One day she’s writing about her Cairn Terrier rescues, Nutmeg and Nora, and the next, she’s posting about a business topic or a research subject. Imagine the two of you are meeting for coffee, and she wants to share something new, interesting, or funny.