I watched the episode titled “water.” The episode started and ended with how water changed the food game. It allowed people to combine flavors on a molecular level instead of just putting them together. In between however they focused on how the people in America are turning away from the kitchen. The talked about how since western culture is starting to realize the dangers of processed foods, the corporations selling these foods are turning to other countries; they highlighted India. Basically the message was, if we want to turn away from processed foods it starts in the kitchen with the next generation.
There was a statistic in the episode that said the average American only spends 27 minutes on food preparation daily. That is down from an average of 60 minutes in the 1960’s. That stat really shook me. I don’t find it surprising but I just never thought about it before. When my mom was a child my grandmother would spend hours in the kitchen making vegetable soup from raw ingredients, pies by hand, and fresh green beans. That is what she grew up eating every night. When I think back to my childhood I see something vastly different. I grew up with 3 siblings in a single parent household. My childhood meals consisted of crockpot meals and quickly thrown together chicken strips. We relied heavily on canned goods because they were cheap and didn’t require as much time.
My mother would leave the house at 7am to get us all to school on time, work from 8am to 6:30pm, come home to serve dinner, get us to bed, and then repeat it all the next day. I understand why she did what she did but the stark contrast in cooking between her childhood and mine is mind-boggling. My family turned away from the long hours in the kitchen and with it, their cooking knowledge decreased as well. My grandmother reached the point in her life where spending those grueling hours in the kitchen was too difficult for her so now the “homemade” meal nights are few and far between.
I myself am trying to get in the groove of a healthier lifestyle but to be honest its difficult. I am a full time student with a full time job. As soon as I wake up in the morning I am either going to class and then work or just work. I work from 2pm to 11pm Monday through Friday. I get a 1-hour break to eat dinner. 1 hour, that’s it. It is physically impossible for me to drive home, prepare a meal, eat it, and be back to work all within 1 hour. I cannot do it. I find myself turning to the same methods my mother used when I was growing up. I eat a lot of crockpot meals or just simple sandwiches.
The reason our culture has turned away from the kitchen is because we have been left with no option. In order to live a comfortable middle class life it requires both people in a home to be working. When both people are working full time how is it we can devote hours in a kitchen? Sure we can meal prep and we do but it takes the fun out of food. The flavor is bland and unsatisfying in meal prepped foods. As a culture we have to turn and be more involved in the kitchen in order to see any change in the next generation.