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Since When Is Cooking at Home 'Elitist'?

5 years ago
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Speaking of wise eating, Michelle, Sunday's New York Times magazine was full of advice on this issue, and the response in the blogosphere was not all friendly. In fact, it tended toward either extreme, kind of the way our American eating habits (binge/starve; fast food/slow food; cook everything/cook nothing) are portrayed.

People seemed to either swoon over every single word that was printed, or to reject its preachy tone and continuous nudging toward home cooking as an answer to our bad eating habits and copious health ills.

I didn't find the issue to be especially provocative, though there was a good bit of food for thought, including a piece on the growing trend of food pantries to collect and serve fresh produce; the persistent problem of malnutrition in India in spite of the country's growing prosperity; and one person's account of his zigzagging journey toward vegetarianism. Michael Pollan shared some wisdom he has collected from readers on their own rules for eating healthfully; and Alex Witchel wrote a (rather fawning) profile of British chef and onetime Food Network star Jamie Oliver's latest project-getting the folks in America's "unhealthiest" county to start cooking and eating better (and of course televising these efforts).

I appreciate Mr. Oliver's sincere concern (according to the profile he has done a lot to help improve school lunches for Britain's children, some of it with his own money) but I'm not sure another reality TV show about watching other people lose weight is the answer.

But I also don't get this little backlash against home cooking that seems to be occurring. One blogger, put off by the Times' "hectoring" on the subject, asserts that home cooking is not a realistic solution to our health problems. He categorizes cooking as a "hobby" pursued by a certain demographic of food enthusiasts and suggests that Pollan and Oliver and others like them would better serve the public if they came up with "a mass-market food product that was better than Taco Bell." (It already exists; it's called rotisserie chicken.)

For much of the world, cooking remains a necessity, and the fact that it is viewed here as a pursuit for the well-heeled is an indication of how skewed our perspective has become. Is putting a home-cooked meal on the table for one's family or one's spouse or one's self really an elitist pursuit?

You know who has a good perspective on this? First Lady Michelle Obama, who Politics Daily's Lynn Sweet reports recently ticked off a list of things people can do toward becoming healthier: Among them: switching from soda to water; adding a fruit or vegetable to the dinner plate; reading food labels; and cooking meals at home once or twice a week.

How elitist is that?

Filed Under: Woman Up, Culture

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