Does Cooking Your Own Food Help Keep You Healthy?    April 22 2013

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Diane
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Does Cooking Your Own Food Help Keep You Healthy?

In his New York Times article “Pollan Cooks!”, author Mark Bittman talks about Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food, and his new line of thought on the obesity epidemic and its emergence.  Pollan believes that not only do you have to eat real food, but you also have to cook it, yourself, in your home.

Bittman writes, “The recipes, while not exactly afterthoughts, are less important than his insistence that cooking itself is transformative. Almost as soon as we sit down in my living room, Pollan says: “Cooking is probably the most important thing you can do to improve your diet. What matters most is not any particular nutrient, or even any particular food: it’s the act of cooking itself. People who cook eat a healthier diet without giving it a thought. It’s the collapse of home cooking that led directly to the obesity epidemic.”

Pollan Cooks! – See the article here.

For many folks at the shop, eating better or switching to a Paleo styled diet meant exactly that – cooking!  The fear and apprehension of giving up sugar, dairy, grains, and legumes was nothing in comparison to the hefty task that came with it – cooking your own food.  But one by one you have all made the transition and we would have to agree that cooking does play a huge role in eating well, but we never actually thought about it that way.  Pollan points out that the simple act of cooking cuts out making junk, people use higher quality ingredients, and they don’t have access to unlimited quantities of foods readily available when eating out.

So, does cooking your own food help you stay healthier?  Post to comments. 

  • Joel Gorder

    Great article. Pollan is mostly right. But he’s wrong about specialization and cooking. You still can have a division of labor in the kitchen. It DOES make sense to outsource. However, we will have to be more creative than most Americans are willing to be. Conceivably, communities could coalesce around the concept of home cooking (totally didn’t intend on that alliteration) without having to dedicate the time to shopping and preparing food for themselves – groups could hire a cook, or even cooks. A dedicated cook cooking for multiple people would be efficient, save time and money, and prevent waste (Americans throw away ~40% of their food a year). This could be achieved one of many ways. E.g. a co-op that families buy a meal plan through, live-in cooks (I will concede that this idea works best for single folks), or, for the really progressive, small apartment or town-house complexes with a central kitchen and dedicated cook staff (albeit separate dining spaces, because screw everyone else!). These concepts have the benefit of efficiency and economy of scale, and if Pollan is right, and we can’t sustain fossil-fuel-fueled industrial agriculture for much longer, it just might be in our future.
    Cheers,
    Joel :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/shane.upchurch Shane Upchurch

    Makes sense. You start seeing where your food comes from and how it got to your plate and suddenly you’re not so aroused by McDonalds “meat-paste” chicken nuggets or hamburgers that are 70% all-beef (what is that other 30%?!). Plus, baking sweets seems like such a huge task to me that I have no desire to whip-up a sugary sweet dessert every night, but I’ll take a piece of fruit with some coconut whipped cream.

    Tried this last night and it was awesome! It calls for feta cheese, and I did add that to mine, but I’m sure you could leave it out and it’d still be awesome:

    http://www.chefkevingillespie.com/recipes/asparagus-salad/

  • http://www.crossfitroots.com Nicole Christensen

    This holds true for me in many ways. While on the road on the weekends I am completely aware of the lower overall quality of food I eat. Even if I plan in advance, get the Chipotle salad, and the airport spinach salad, it’s still not how I would make it at home and I’m sure there’s hidden preservatives and ingredients in there that I would never choose to eat. It’s better than a bunless burger and fries, yes. Which brings me to my next observation. While one can pledge to be great on the road in regard to food, even the Whole Foods prepared food aisle, as well as the airport restaurants, can provide such a tempting environment of the foods available that it requires an extra layer of dedication to stay the course in these environments. It’s the vacation syndrome of eating. If I was cooking at home Sat/Sun as I do through the week, I’d have fewer mess ups overall for sure.

  • Nicole S

    This is a really interesting article. I wasn’t expecting the gender equality message at the end but it’s certainly reasonable that the push for faster, ready-made meals was related to a higher number of dual-income households. If kids in those households didn’t learn basic cooking and nutrition skills it’s not surprising so many people eat prepared foods and think that’s OK. My mom went to the grocery store with a detailed shopping list every week and to this day I am compelled to plan meals out for the week before going to the store. I wonder if we’ll have a natural return to cooking as men start to take on a more equal share of household chores. For all the couples we know with kids where both parents work (i.e., those that you’d think would have the least amount of time to cook), homemade meals are a given and the man does the majority of the cooking.

  • Hank

    Loved the article. And happy to know that (at least per Pollan) I’ve got my family on the right track : )

    Btw, want to know a ridiculously easy and delicious way to cook greens (e.g. kale, collards), brussels sprouts, & cabbage? Chop up bacon in the bottom of a pot & cook on medium heat. Once browned, throw your chopped veggies or greens on top. Stir well to evenly coat with bacon grease. Cook to desired. Salt & pepper. perfect. (my doctor cringes when I tell her all the things I cook in bacon grease, then out of the other side of her mouth, tells me how good my blood work looks. love it.)

  • http://twitter.com/gaard Sam Gaard

    I’d call this progress.

  • http://www.facebook.com/shane.upchurch Shane Upchurch

    Nice work on the wod and logging your results Sam!

  • TYD

    This reminds me of a bit from an interview I read several years ago with an executive from a major processed-food company (who remained anonymous in the article). He was convinced that ANYBODY could reach and maintain a healthy weight, while eating ANYTHING they want, if they cook EVERYTHING themselves from basic ingredients.

  • Sarah Silver

    I travel a lot for work and am always struck by how hard it is to find simple, actual food when I’m on the road – even at super nice restaurants (everything is slathered in butter or lard). It is so exciting to get home and cook something in my own kitchen, with my own hands, with ingredients I recognize. I have become a big fan of “WellFed” – a totally paleo cookbook that has yet to disappoint.

  • Katie

    Yes, I agree with the article. I am a recovering New Yorker, while living in the city we typically worked a lot and barley used the kitchen. Now that I am out of that lifestyle and thanks to roots, started the Paleo Zone Challenge as a last minute decision, I see the light! I had no idea how this challenge was going to effect me. I have not eaten out in 16 days and for sure have seen a rise in the quality of food I eat and the food I serve to my family. It’s been a startling and significant trial filled with unforeseen and unimaginable implications ! Thank you for the fuel challenge!