I try not to pull any punches on people about how I eat. Most of my meals are homecooked; most of the food I eat is minimally processed before I buy it. Some days I think that the way I feed myself is entirely too much work. Other days I can’t wait to step up to the counter and begin chopping another onion for the soup.
Lately I feel like I’ve been cooking a lot because I’m dating someone who is equally enthusiastic about eating homecooked meals. We both recognize the value in doing this: moneywise, we get more bang for our buck if we cook at home. Healthwise, nobody around town is packing as much produce into dinner as I do, at least nobody outside of a home kitchen. I feel like I’m getting a bit faster and more organized about this cooking thing. Dinners feel like they are flowing more easily, and the clean-up doesn’t feel quite as overwhelming. Also, sometimes I give Paul the grocery list, and he shows up at my door with things like goat cheese, asparagus, and tarragon, and it just about melts my heart. To all the people out there who think that nice guys don’t get the girl, I say, “Think again.” In my world, the nice guy procures groceries and then sits down to eat dinner with me.
Cooking isn’t just something I do; it is part of who I am. So it’s with great interest that I learned Michael Pollan has a new book out now, Cooked. I enjoy Michael Pollan’s work, though I do wonder if he really said that not eating meat is an insult to your mother. (As of this writing, I have not been able to find a more primary source to verify that he said that. And the oprah.com site is loading so slowly tonight that I’m too annoyed to keep looking.) Even if Pollan can be a bit dismissive of vegetarianism as a solution to factory-farmed meat*, I like the way he has engaged the issues of food, health, and sustainability in deeply thoughtful ways. And these days, he’s got a buzz going for the art and science of cooking. I thought I’d share a tiny excerpt from his interview with EatingWell:
Question: Why is home cooking so important?
Michael Pollan: Cooking is key to changing our health and the environment. People who cook for themselves eat healthier diets. You could cook Twinkies, but it’s really hard to do and you’re not likely to do it more than once in a lifetime. You’re not going to reform the way we farm and process food unless you cook. Local food isn’t going to get big if people aren’t cooking. If you let corporations cook for you, they’re going to buy food from the biggest monocultures.
(Bold added by me for emphasis.)
If you’d like, you can read the whole interview here.
* To be honest, my vegetarianism was a direct response to learning too much about factory farming and slaughterhouses. I believe the main reason Pollan toes the line on vegetarianism is that he wants to eat meat. Period. His primary motivation is not ethics; it’s pleasure. I had no reason to continue eating meat because frankly, I just don’t like meat that much. And let’s face it: it’s not like college students have an easy time sourcing meat from the idyllic small farms that inspire Pollan to wax poetic. My vegetarianism was born in a time and place when not eating animals was easier than toeing Pollan’s line. And now, eleven years later, eating meat strikes me as bizarre and cruel, even though I know people do it every day.