‘If I had a super power I’d grant everybody the time to cook….’
People talk a lot about how healthy eating can be just as cheap as eating processed food. This is true; dried beans and root vegetables and even some seasonal fruit like apples, are usually very cheap. You can even buy chicken legs and thighs for little money and dried herbs last forever. The problem is these foods take time to cook; McDonalds Extra Value Meals they are not.
I view cooking as pretty therapeutic and am happy to devote a lot of time to it. But for the past year I have been studying part time. Previous to that I always worked public sector jobs where working hours were respected. Sure, I worked overtime if the need arose but it was nothing like my husband who works in advertising. Louis cooks at weekends sometimes, but all our lunches and dinners during the week have always been made by me. I know some people argue we spend X hours per day watching TV, we could just cook during them. However that ignores timing; my husband watches plenty of TV but he starts at 9pm. I don’t think he should have to wait til 9pm to even begin the cooking process.
As for cooking in advance, that’s a great strategy … but it only gets you so far. We have a large fridge and freezer at home and there are only two of us; however once I start storing all our lunches and dinners for the week, as well as milk and condiments etc it soon adds up. Plus most of it has to be frozen to keep properly and our freezer is ALWAYS full. Simply put, we need to buy some ingredients throughout the week.
The truth is people across the spectrum work long hours in jobs that are far away; this is particularly true for people in lower paid jobs who often work unusual hours and in non-office environments. If I didn’t have the liberty to browse inspiring food and nutrition blogs during my lunch break, to leave at 5.30pm most days and to work somewhere (relatively) close to my house, I doubt my eating would be anywhere near as healthy. Even if I still could find the time to cook, there are also all those other millions of things that experts in other professions think I should spend my time doing (read more! educate yourself with a course! exercise! meditate!). The fact of the matter is the way the world currently works means ready food is virtually essential for the sanity of many people; whether that ready food is cheap Mc Donalds or sashimi take out.
When I worked in health education my key job was to convince more people eat healthily. For me, eating healthily basically translates as cooking at home more. It translates as eating less processed food and pretty much eliminating fast food. We all know that, right? However, like most people whose job is to facilitate some larger scale change in society, I found the problem to be so much bigger than it initially seemed. I went in gung ho, prepared to tell everyone how fun and delicious cooking at home is. I still say that, and I still urge people to spend their spare time doing something known to be supportive to their health .. whether that’s cooking, running or just catching up with good friends. However, until we live in a world where the working structure is more attuned to good health, I’ve had to adapt my health message. For now it’s just
‘Cook from scratch and eat healthily … as often as you can‘.
If you had a health superpower what would you choose?
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