Does Anyone Remember How to Cook?

This ponder reflects the closest I’ll ever come to any sort of resolution. With it I’m offering a suggestion; when visiting the grocery store – never venture into the aisles. Only shop the edges of your market, go home and cook a meal. By skirting the walls you find the building blocks for a great meal. It’s all there – fruit and vegetables, dairy, meat, even meat substitutes for those so inclined. Give in to the lure of the aisles you enter the realm of packaged convenience, a place ruled by slick marketing and ridiculously over-packaged “time savers”.

Our single serving, ready to serve world is becoming so widely accepted – I believe people think they’re cooking when they combine a chicken breast with pre-peeled potatoes, frozen vegetables, and packaged sauce.

Maybe I’m getting old, or perhaps my rural upbringing left a lasting imprint of fresh baked bread, home made jam, and canning peaches. Microwave ovens were science fiction, I didn’t have one in my house until after I was married. I remember when instant potatoes hit the shelves; we imagined ourselves to be astronauts – it escaped reason why else you would have to eat them. In our wildest dreams we couldn’t have grasped where Betty Crocker and Tang drink crystals would take us.

Obesity rates increase each year, and childhood obesity is epidemic.Food allergies are out of control – working in the hospitality industry I’ve watched nothing less than a phenomena develop. Twenty years ago there was an occasional peanut allergy. today ever other person is gluten or lactose intolerant. Vitamin and food supplement industries have exploded as we try to get back the nutrition processed out of our food.

Never mind the dozen or so pubic hairs estimated each of us consume in a year or the allowable rodent “dirt” in our peanut butter and cereal – that’s the least of our worries. Venture into the aisles and enter a chemistry lab. It takes up to 50 chemicals to imitate the flavor of a strawberry. Processed cheese can elude to it’s namesake with 51% cheese, the rest is chemical soup. If not for added chemicals, the 10 teaspoons of sugar in every can of Coke would make us immediately vomit. Appearance, taste and shelf life satisfy the bottom line – nutritional buzz words lull us into submission as chemists spin their magic. Try to justify resources squandered on over packaging and  impact unavoidable waste has on the environment –  give up on that fruitless exercise and ask yourself why you would eat a chemical found in anti freeze used to keep pre-packaged salad crisp for weeks.

We’re fat and unhealthy because we eat like lab rats. Bodies are shutting down; rejecting and reacting to chemicals that have no business in so called food. Ponder the edges of your grocery store the next time you shop, it won’t solve all the problems but it’s a good place to start.

24 thoughts on “Does Anyone Remember How to Cook?

  1. Ha Ha… I read the first paragraph and realized the truth you speak! Wow, this should make shopping easy and quick!

  2. I agree mostly with your admonition to shop only the outsides of the grocery. MY problem with that is flour…. wheat, rye, wholewheat, graham, what have you.

    … and spices. I have seen groceries that have herbs in the outer aisles, but alas in the RV we do not have enough room to grow all our own herbs. Though I have been contemplating for the last several days how we might improve on that.

    …I could make my own pasta — but I would miss the pasta aisle. The list of ingredients can be quite short for the right pastas…..

    I’ve been the cook in the family these going-on-45-years that we’ve been married and while I have often tried to stick to the 30 minute meal philosophy that has been with outer aisle ingredients. We do a lot of sautéing, a lot of steaming, a lot of home made vegetarian pizza. I should do more braising but I’m too lazy and my wife hates the clean up after searing with the appropriate amount of grease. :-\

    I remember reading some years ago that the 1900 grocery contained at most some 300 items. And in the 1970’s (when I read the item) there were on average some 20,000 items in inventory. I’m sure that’s higher now.

    I suspect my pantry (it’s small) has fewer than 150 (from soup to nutz).

    That said — I think your crusade is doomed to failure. 🙂

    A retired Photographer looks at life
    Life Unscripted

    • Believe me when I say I’m not a whole food zealot. Never have and never could be a vegetarian – I love bacon too much. I like potato chips as much as the next person and toss a frozen pizza in the oven when my kids have friends over.
      My ponder was a reflection of the alarming trends obesiety and food allergies.
      Of course we have to step foot in the aisles, as you pointed out flour, spices and numerous staples populate their shelves. My “crusade” as you call it is indeed hopeless. My only hope is that people at least think for a moment before snapping up pre-peeled potatoes or individual servings of cooked rice. Chemical additives prevent those potatoes from turning brown and preservatives maintain the shelf life of the cooked rice.Don’t even get me started on imitation flavors or over packaged convenience items. I come close to loosing my mind when I spot individual plastic packs of coffee destined for expensive “must have” coffee makers popping up in every home and office across the country – it”s beyond conscience to contribute that much plastic for a single cup of coffee.
      I’m starting to ramble 🙂

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