Cook Dinner, Save the World

If you weren’t already convinced that cooking dinner might just save you and your family, here’s an even better argument: Dinner might just save the world. From Michael Pollan’s Cooked:

To cook or not to cook thus becomes a consequential question. Though I realize that is putting the matter a bit too bluntly. Cooking means different things at different times to different people; seldom is it an all-or-nothing proposition. Yet even to cook a few more nights a week than you already to, or to devote a Sunday to make a few meals for the week, or perhaps to try every now and again to make something you only ever expected to buy — even these modest acts will constitute a kind of vote. A vote for what exactly? Well, in a world where so few of us are obliged to cook at all anymore, to choose to do so is to lodge a protest against specialization — against the total rationalization of life. Against the infiltration of commercial interests into every last cranny of our lives. To cook for the pleasure of it, devote a portion of our leisure to it, is to declare our independence from the corporations seeking to organize our every waking moment into yet another occasion for consumption. (Come to think of it, our nonwaking moments as well: Ambien anyone?) It is to reject the debilitation notion that, at least while we’re at home, production is work done by someone else, and the only legitimate form of leisure is consumption. This dependence marketers call “freedom.”

Thought you’d like that.

Related: Michael Pollan and Michael Moss go shopping.

Also: I’m at Anderson’s Books in Larchmont, NY tomorrow, May 4 (2:00-4:00) signing copies of Dinner: A Love Story for Mother’s Day. Stop by if you are in the neighborhood.

Lastly: You have just about one more week to fill out the DALS questionnaire and become eligible to win some cool prizes. Thank you to those of you who already have! Love what I’m reading so far.

Have a good weekend.

Photo above: Best family dinner scene in the history of movies, from Annie Hall.

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13 Comments

Lisa

What a quote… and so, so true. Lately I’ve been feeling that too, that “declaration of our independence from the corporations seeking to organize our every waking moment into yet another occasion for consumption…” Starting with food.

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Ellen @ CheapCooking

Great quote. Makes me want to read the book so thanks for sharing. I’ve just picked up a copy of your book and am really enjoying it, although I’m almost to the empty-nest stage myself. Brings back a lot of memories though. I have already marked a few of your recipes to try.

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Jessica

Great quote. I’m in the middle of the book right now. P.S. I love DALS so much because whether it’s a recipe or a quote or a story, it always makes me smile or think or laugh. What a gift. Thank you!

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Hannah

I am so digging his book right now. I feel like it puts so much of what I have been thinking lately all together. Also, it is a flip-side of the DALS experience – while you guys aren’t as explicitly political about it, and really all politics aside – there is no doubt that you are on the don’t-just-consume, produce-things-too train when you are making dinner every night (or, you know, every night except Friday sushi night. Enjoy.) I guess the point of my comment is – thanks for sharing the wide array of things you do with all of us. I love this book from MP, and I love you guys too.

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Samantha

I’m stirred into writing a comment after having read your blog for ages. I LOVE your blog – I love how non judgmental you are and how you put forward practical and thoughtful advice about the endless task of feeding your family. However, I have come to loathe the narcissist sanctimony of the Michael Pollen/Mark Bittmans (et al) of this world. I think I finally lost it when Mark Bittman suggested, in his column in the NYTs, that we all avoid dairy because he had just found out that he is lactose intolerant.

I come from a family of home cooks that stretches back over four generations. I have always, since I was a child, absolutely love to cook; it has a meditative quality for me (in contrast, I hate to clean, my husband does that). However, I don’t see my cooking as a political act, it’s just a means to feed my beloved family. I am not better than a woman who doesn’t express her “freedom” by cooking, but rather permits a corporation to do it for her.

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Emily

Hi Jenny,
Moss and Pollen have great public voices for healthy eating and for exposing the folly of the food industry, but that NYT article does not help educate people (the comments afterwards are screaming!)… Kudos to you for practicing what they preach and for helping others cook and eat well! Thank you, as always, thank you! Emily

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Donna

Just saw Michael Pollan this past week…reading “Cooked” and loving it. Terrific quote. Thanks for your awesome blog that makes cooking “do able”.

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Liz

I’m going to chime in with Samantha. That quote and the recent NYTimes article of Pollan and I forget who, shopping…they kind of make me gag (Samantha had the words)

I am all for scratch cooking, for feeding myself and anyone around my table with whole, fresh food as local as I can get it but I also agree with Samantha that it is not a “political act” but a joy of a choice I make myself based partly on the fact that I enjoy cooking. (Please know I am NOT referring to your blog or what you share on your blog)

I am thrilled that my and other’s choices to do this has had an affect on more options being available from my Farmer’s market to my grocery. And it is blogs like yours – that share the ups and downs of doing this for a family – that help people see options and then decide for themselves.

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Zelda

@Liz: Interesting. I’ve not read the NYT article, and, like you, I cook to please my palate. When the skills of choosing good, healthful ingredients and using those ingredients to make a tasty meal are increasingly lost, undervalued, undermined, then doesn’t it become a political act to champion ‘shopping and cooking’, to educate people on how to do it well on a budget, as Jamie Oliver has done in the UK with his ‘Food Revolution’?

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Liz

@Zelda

My comment referred to my own viewpoint and my own choices.

I don’t hold the viewpoint that “the skills…” are “lost, undervalued or undermined”.

I hold the view that I made choices based on convenience. It seemed like a good idea to me at the time. Those choices (as do all shopping choices) helped drive the market availabilty as well as what the “big corps” supplied. That I allowed the options of convenience to influence me is my personal responsibility.

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Zelda

What about the issues of clear food labeling (calls for which the big corps have resisted time and again here in the UK); the advertising of junk food during children’s TV; healthy school meals provision, cookery classes for the poor; the siting of fast food outlets near schools? Our ability to shop and cook well is more political than we’d like to admit.

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