Can cooking save us?
Getting back to Jamie Oliver and TED and kids eating vegetables. You watched the video, right? And you freaked out when the kid couldnít identify an eggplant and thought it might be a pear, right?
Itís not that the kid is stupid. Itís not that his parents are stupid. Itís that somehow basic cooking skills slipped away from us, washed away in rip tide of marketing. Mad Men who made us think cooking was hard, or dirty, or menial, or not worth it. People shopping at Wal-Mart where there is never ever a season, how could they know better?
Jamieís got heart and heís tackling this one town at time, and sending out messages to the world to wake up, but weíre talking about needing to reverse oceanic tides before there is any difference in the way people eat.
First, take a look at supermarkets. Everybody loves Trader Joes, we finally get a Trader Joes in Manhattan, and I go to see what the fuss is about. And I still donít get it; there is nothing but prepared food. High end, but itís still prepared, processed food. Whole Paychecks (aka Whole Foods), take a walk around, the fruits & vegetables are arranged like precious art at precious prices, and even so, most of the store is prepared and processed foods.
We leave the States for a few months, and when we come back, Iím shocked! I want to know what happened to butter?? There is 5 times more shelf space devoted to ďIím not butter spreadsĒ then there is to butter. Yogurt for kids now needs to be sold in garish colors with a quarter pound of candy on top, and more sugar inside. Everything comes with dried, processed, reconstituted blueberries that are sure to anti all of my oxidants, even though Iím fairly sure it might be better to eat fresh blueberries. On one hand, it defies the laws of nature and common sense; on the other hand processed food makers and marketers are making a bundle.
Itís not going to be an easy battle to buck the ad men, they adapt. Kraft Foods bought up organic companies, not because of philosophy, but because of market share strategy. Iím not anti-capitalist, but I am a Cynic and believe that if Kraft saw a trend toward Soylent Green they would buy that up without a qualm.
There is a supermarket chain that is advertising how a family that eats at home will save moneyÖand what do they show Mom buying? Prepared foods that cost substantially more than the raw ingredients.
Or my new favorite nominee for ďYou Gotta Be KiddingĒ ad of the week: The Anti-Soda Tax Ad. A nice, local grocer explains how his customers bring calculators to the store so they can keep track of every penny they spend; see because they need every penny to buy soda so they can save up for their diabetes treatment.
OK, enough bitching. If you are here, reading this, Iím very, very happy, but weíre all in the same choir singing to each other. Ideas anyone?
I for one am willing to donate my time and skills to getting people to cook. You have a venue, and Iím around Iíll come and teach for free. Email me: Judith [at] aromacucina.com.
If anyone else feels the same, letís organize a web presence and do what we can to get people back into the kitchen. This is a call to arms, bang your pots and pans and make some noise.
Welcome to the blogs Judith, I am sure you will find a way to do something really great!
Great ideas, looking forward to seeing you in the forums.