Friday, January 2, 2009

Day 277- Nutrition Bite

The Cost of Eating Well

My girlfriend and I are able to feed ourselves healthy for about $6 each day. We are not able to eat entirely organic or local food. However, our food is mostly unprocessed whole grains and vegetables. We are able to eat on a small budget for one reason: time in the kitchen. We easily spend two hours in the kitchen every weekday and more on weekends. That sort of time is required for us to make our own yogurt, bread and dinners that are later our lunches at work.

My co-workers easily spend more like $15 a day on a much less healthy diet. The key ingredient they are missing is time. Lunches are purchased and other meals are made up primarily of highly processed snacks and drinks.
Could they feed themselves healthier at prices more similar to what I spend? Unfortunately, I think probably not. I think not because they do not cook. I am unsure whether or not they can not cook or will not cook. But in the end they do not cook and have little interest in doing so. I believe that one of the greatest challenges facing the effort to improve nutrition and indeed the entire food system is a general unwillingness among people to cook. A further sadness for me is that my coworkers lack any interest in cooking. They have commented, "I only eat because I have to. Some people get excited about food, but I can't; I have other things to do.”

I fear that more and more this pattern will not be uncommon. People will not know how to cook or want to learn. I generation ago people feared the loss of knowledge on how to grow food. Today we are living with the consequences of this loss. What do we face in a future where people do not even know how to cook?

For me this broader cultural issue of food is perhaps one of the most important in changing the food system. We know how (of course we can always learn more) to grow food in ecologically beneficial ways, and we are able (sometimes just barely) to make a living from sustainable farming through direct marketing. In short the technical questions of producing good food and earning a living are answered. However, to affect broad change everyone must be a participant in a food culture that assumes vibrant food, knowledge of cooking, and joy in eating as basic ingredients. Currently not everyone is interested. Facts and figures won't help. What will help is to share good food and a passion for its creation with others.

Happy New Year!

William

Sugar Preacher's Experience
I read this quote on the comfood listserve. The e-mail generated discussion about our food system. I love to cook and eat inexpensively similar to William. However, fast foodss and processed foods are becoming the norm. People don't have time or the desire to cook. They would rather wait in the drive-thru for 1/2 hour and another 1/2 hour driving to McDonalds. Is fast food really fast? Time is a factor either way. I guess that our value system has changed over time!!

1 comment:

SJ said...

You may not realize it, but you are part of the slow food movement. Yes, there's a movement. You can google it. It involves making and enjoying your food rather than shoving down whatever processed crap sets before you. It's part of my new year's resolution.