“You could argue that cooking is the activity that most defines us as humans. Dolphins have a language; crows can create tools, but only humans can cook. By cooking, we transform the mundane into something sacred. And then we share it with others. Food is the most shareable currency we have. You probably don’t pass out money to your friends, but you can pass the paella. But first you have to know how to make it.” –Jim Sollisch, “Cooking is Freedom,” NYT Opinionator, Sept 4, 2013
I administer a grant in the city of Everett, MA. Energize Everett is a Mass in Motion funded initiative to improve access to healthy food and physical activity. I work with city departments, non-profits and community coalitions but creating access to healthy food is a complicated business. Just giving people access to healthy food doesn’t mean they’ll buy/eat it, especially if they don’t know how to cook, or if the food available isn’t part of their traditional diet or culture.
Changing eating patterns and feeding people is as much about education as it is about access. Many people need to learn to cook, find a reason to cook, and/or rediscover the pleasures of cooking. And healthy food is really not that much more expensive than fast/junk food, and when you factor in the physical and economic toll of chronic disease (diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease etc.) there’s not much value in that $1.99 Happy Meal.
Good food + simple cooking = good health. Could it really be that easy? It’s not very sexy. If you want sexy, buy stilettos, if you want good health, cook.