Far from Food

The refrain in the US is that nobody cooks anymore. Life is about TV dinners and fast food picked on the run. Jamie Oliver’s talk at TED details the descent into unhealthy eating habits, all from the race to provide inexpensive food. Everything is packaged, processed and preserved. Mark Bittman, believes real food is unthinkable now. So, how did it go, in just about 50 years from a family meal, cooked and enjoyed at leisure around a table to stuffing faces in front of the TV or the computer with no real appreciation or understanding of food? The documentary, Food Inc is a behind the scenes look at the food factories that feed the world and it’s not a pretty sight.

Preparing fresh food is going out of fashion. Couples who work are cooking once or twice a week, typically on the weekend and stacking the fridge. Then, after getting home, it’s reheat and eat. If a food gives no real pleasure, it’s simply a chore to be completed, much like brushing teeth and washing clothes. How can you have a conversation with the family when there are distractions of work, social networking, and calls taken late into the night? Typical situations of the family getting together to prepare a meal are getting rarer because, well, everyone’s busy

It’s uncanny that there are now 24-hour channels on TV showing the preparation of all kinds of food in glorious detail. Shows focused only on baking, on Chinese food, even reality shows like Hell’s Kitchen and Masterchef celebrate the nuances and the intricacies of preparing food. And Masterchef Australia has taken it one step further by having a season devoted entirely to kids cooking. Food has moved from being a family affair to a spectator sport and that’s a real tragedy. If we lose out on the sensory appeal of food, we’re just letting go of a pleasure that can be derived with just a little effort, three times a day.