September 26, 2015

Cut The Crap - Cook At Home

As home cooking has fallen into disfavour in recent decades, many people don't know how to cook.

I like to cook all my meals from scratch using wholesome vegetarian ingredients. Evidence is amassing that tells us this is the way to go for optimal health. Recently the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation said as much when it recommended we "cut the crap" and get back to home cooked meals.

Besides "avoid all highly processed foods", they had the following recommendations. 

  • Cook from scratch at home as much as possible with whole ingredients.
  • Teach children and young people how to cook, including through home economics classes in school.
  • Pay attention to portion sizes.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet with a variety of natural and whole foods.
  • Eat fewer highly processed foods such as sugary drinks, sweets, salty snacks and processed meats with many ingredients, additives and preservatives.

Not so long ago these were simple common sense, but in a time when we are spending more of our food budget outside of the home and eating industrialized food, they are seen as radical ideas.

What happened to home cooked? I have one possible explanation. One of my neighbours remembers being embarrassed at bringing sandwiches made from home baked bread to school.

Wonderbread, which was new to the market at the time, was the more modern and fashionable choice in the 1950s school lunch room. It was "notoriously deficient in vitamin and mineral content" and had to be fortified according to government regulations introduced to combat disease.

Advertising that often appealed to children made it seem like home cooked food was inferior. Today cooking at home is only for celebrity chefs on TV and people that can't afford processed food and restaurant meals.

Wrong. I think we are ready for a fresh, home made, no crap food revolution. We are finally coming to understand that good food is our true medicine.  And the best medicine is made from your own two hands in your own kitchen with tasty, healthy ingredients.

Yum.

16 comments:

  1. Hi Gregg,

    I realised how out of step I am with the masses when a vegetarian chef and author was suggesting that families make an effort to eat one meal a week together at the table - are things really that bad??

    I think the marketers have convinced people that convenience is a god. I have always cooked at home and taken a thermos or packed lunch to work every day because I wanted delicious, healthy food. As I said to a friend the other day, I think 'convenience' is at the root of a lot of our environmental troubles - it's more convenient to get takeaway, not to have to wash up after yourself, not to have to wait for a bus or god forbid, use your own legs to get somewhere. (And I am guilty here of sometimes jumping in the car when I could walk)

    My friend and I then discussed the 'inconvenience' of having to soften our homemade coconut oil deodorant and toothpaste by the fire during the Winter, and the fact that the toothpaste can't go down the sink because of the potential to block drains. It is a bit inconvenient when you are rushing to get to work, but not as inconvenient as say, a natural disaster, or getting sick because we've consumed too much crap and done too little exercise.

    As I write my belly is very full of delicious, homemade Greek vegetable stew....ahhhhh!

    Madeleine.x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like living inconveniently on purpose. I think that it makes me more mindful. I agree that convenience is often the cause of some really bad unintended consequences. Opening a can of vegetable stew might be more convenient, but compare the taste to your homemade and you quickly see the cost of convenience.

      The canned variety is more expensive, less tasty, and not healthful. Tonight Linda and I enjoyed homemade chilli and corn bread. Ahhhhh...

      Delete
  2. I couldn't agree more. Celiac disease led us back into home cooking some years back, and we all agree that it is probably the best thing that ever happened to us. We both come from homes where home cooking was the only way, we got led astray by the prosessed food campaign, now we are getting back on track and far better for it. Pam i Norway

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think we all got off track. Being able to cook should be considered a basic life skill. It can be a very enjoyable pursuit. Good to hear you are getting back to basics, and that your health is reflecting that decision.

      Delete
  3. The convenience of fast food is definitely one of the big lies. Cooking at home and eating leftovers is so much faster. Then add in all the other bad effects to your arteries, waistline, pocketbook, and the environment. I have been able to eat out of my garden lately. That really adds to the convenience!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Linda and I have crunched the numbers and the results agree with everything you said. A garden is true convenience - wholesome food right outside your kitchen door.

      Delete
  4. Hear hear! In our local health food shop the other day it read on the blackboard " Don't ask why healthy food is so expensive, ask why fast food is so cheap'. I liked that!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You end up paying for your food choices one way or another.

      Delete
  5. Yeah, if you want to change something in a culture, target the kids. It works. Make it look uncool to eat home cooked from scratch real food while simultaneously make it look ultra cool to eat Wonderbread and those insanely unhealthy boxed cereals and they grow up to be adults who think they are cool because they don't cook. Makes my head spin to see how effective that coercion is.

    I love cooking from scratch and eating real food. Occasionally I have a guest for a meal. Always they rave about the food. They ask me for the recipe and I tell them I use fresh and organic food as I share the recipe. I add, if they use processed ingredients, it will taste different. Can't tell you how many people have reported, they can't make it like I do! Which is a compliment but the reason is I find out that they used processed foods. Like garlic powder instead of cutting up fresh garlic. It just isn't the same.

    I've had to make some changes in my diet lately due to some health concerns. I'm mostly off dairy and gluten. I wasn't hard to make the change once I saw symptoms and what might be contributing to it. Great empathy for you Pam with a celiac in the family! It is a particular challenge for you. I feel much better and some problems are resolving. It is very much worth the effort. But have to say, Gregg and Linda's homemade bread always looks good! I am learning to bake gluten free, I've found a really good GF baker who readily shares her recipes on her blog. It's working out very well.

    Preparing and eating wholesome food feels nurturing to me. I enjoy cleaning up the kitchen too! I know weird, huh!?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The processed food industry has spent billions of dollars over the years to convince us their crap is cool. Along the way they have robbed millions of the pleasures of cooking (and cleaning) that you mention.

      Sometimes I am hesitant to start cooking, but once I do start it is all good from then on. And then when I get to sit down to healthful food prepared in the way that I like it feels like the best restaurant in the world.

      Delete
  6. I love what you read in the health food shop, Winterfell!! Oh my gosh that is GOOD! I will be using that line, a lot! People sometimes say things that make me feel bad about spending more for healthy food. Love that quote!! Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Terri,
      a health practitioner once had a client say she couldn't afford to eat organic food so he asked, but can you afford to be sick? Sickness, especially in these times where governments are cutting back 'free' healthcare, can be very expensive indeed.

      Madeleine

      Delete
    2. True Madeleine. I can't afford not to eat healthy. I make my cat's food from scratch as well. All of their food. I use all organic, no hormones or antibiotics and humanely raised. Cats are carnivores, so their diet has to be meat centered. The cats and I drink water I buy and haul from a close by store that has a machine that takes all the junk out. My bottles are reused for hundreds of re-fillings. Amazed at how many less problems my cats and I have because our foundation is home-cooked wholesome food, at least the best reasonably available. I micromanage finances to do this but good nutrition is nearly my highest priority. Saves so much suffering. We still have some health problems and challenges to manage, but it would be worse without good nutrition.

      Delete
    3. Hi Terri,

      wonderful to hear your cat gets good food too! Re the water, I would not drink any water that's stored in plastic - I'm thinking of your health concerns here. I'm currently studying to be a macrobiotic practitioner, and one thing my tutor says is 'what is the person doing day in day out that may be affecting their health?' Water is absolutely something you do day in day out, so perhaps exploring that a bit more could move you closer to good health. I use a clay bench top water filter here in Australia, but in the future would like a whole house water filter so that I'm also not showering in chlorine.

      Good luck!

      Madeleine

      Delete
  7. Dear Gregg,

    please keep up this wonderful blog. This post resonates with me, home cooked food just tastes better.
    Consumerism is such a lie, I see so many people blissfully trapped by it.

    Support from Singapore!
    -Ben

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It seems that much of modern life is a lie. Being blissfully trapped is hard to break out of since you don't want to acknowledge anything that might help you escape. But conversion experiences do happen, and people can change.

      Thanks for your support, Ben. Good to hear from Singapore.

      Delete

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