Does it strike anyone else as wrong that half of the things filling the space in our grocery stores are filled to the brim with enriched flour, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated fats, and loads of preservatives? I know, I know, these things are convenient. Who has time to slave away over a stove and be a gourmet cook? Who has time when we could be shopping, facebooking, or watching Oprah tell us to buy Bob Green’s BestLife products? (Thanks Bob, because I didn’t know whole grain cereal was better for me than Froot Loops) Along with the lack of time, let’s not forget the lack of know-how.
I’ll admit to a lack of knowledge and experience when it comes to cooking. When I was a teenager and my mom would call me after school to ask me to start the potatoes for supper I had to ask for step by step instructions. Of course it was as easy as peel, cut, throw in a pot, add water, put on stove and turn stove on. Of course I had done it a few times before, but cooking was not high on my list of priorities so I forgot the simple steps once the task was over. I was of a younger, wiser :P generation who wouldn’t need these skills because I would save time and buy ready-to-eat entrees for supper when I was in charge of groceries. I love my mom’s cooking, but I didn’t know how to do it and wouldn’t take the time to learn.
“Kim can you put the roast in the oven?”
“Okay, in what? What temperature? How long?”
No, honestly I wasn’t so ignorant that I thought I’d never need to cook. I guess I must have thought that when I reached some magical age, I would just have the skills. Well I didn’t just wake up one day and have the culinary mastermind of Jamie Oliver. It was more of a gradual awakening, found after a steady diet of too many frozen pizzas, casseroles with condensed soup as a sauce (hello, mushroom soup gravy again?!) and Ichiban noodles. What am I doing to myself? What am I putting in my body? Sodium, sugar, preservatives, hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, and the list goes on. I’m convinced this is not what food is supposed to be.
We eat three meals every day. We will do this for the rest of our lives. Why are we content to load our bodies – the only body you will ever be given! – with garbage? Why are we so quick to spend ridiculous amounts of money on the best cars, electronics, or whatever else your heart desires, but buy the most garbage food we can find in the name of convenience?
Hear me, I like things to be convenient. I don’t go out of my way to make a simple thing complicated. But food is exciting! There is a world of unexplored combinations out there to be explored. God has made so many incredible things for us to eat…. fresh and in season tomatoes, strawberries, sugar snap peas. How about a flavourful organic chicken, who was allowed to live in the open air and run around on the legs it was given? How about pasta with fresh tomato sauce and basil. Oh yum, I should go make some supper right now. Eating fresh food, cooking from scratch is really not inconvenient, especially when you consider your health. Just think about how inconvenient it would be to suffer a heart attack because you ate too many Big Macs.
And so I propose a shift in our thinking. How about giving up supposed convenience and embracing food that has flavour, nutrition, and integrity? Give up the frozen pasta that might as well have “Sawdust flavour” printed on the package and try some freshly cooked pasta, tomatoes, basil, garlic and red wine vinegar? How about trading in your Value Meal, complete with more than the recommended daily intake of sodium and saturated fat, for something made with real meat, whole grains, and fresh veg? How about thinking about how the earth (and your body) is affected by those pesticides; the animals (and your body) affected by growth hormones and antibiotics; the quality of life the people who grow your imported bananas (you didn’t really think those golden Chiquitas came from BC where the farmer was paid a fair wage, did you?)
It doesn’t take a genius to cook food. We’ve been lead to believe, by the companies selling us all the convenience foods, that it is harder than it actually is. Unlike baking, cooking is not a science. You can throw random things in a pan, experiment and have fun. Some will be successful, some will fail, but you tried, and you’re getting better. And if you trade in your convenience foods, you’re getting healthier too!