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Evidence of the Death of Cooking in the US


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I think that first number starts with a "b" too: see, for example, this Reuters article citing a RW Johnson study that cites an eighteen-fold increase from 1970 -- not an eighteenthousand-fold increase.

I stand corrected, but only innocently at fault. I rechecked the article in alive, and it does say 'million' in the first figure. Now, you don't think that Reuters could be at fault??? :raz:

An eighteen-fold increase over 30 years. :unsure:

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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While this article upset me, thinking about it, I realised that my own behaviour is not that different. I'm a full-time PhD student who is also working, and often I am really, really tired. I came from a cooking background, in that my mother put a home-cooked meal on the table every night, and after school I would help her prepare the food (chopping things, blending things, mixing things, etc), and I was even 'babysat' by a restaurant kitchen at one point when my mother went back to work (it was Lebanese, my main job was to arrange the baclava on a tray)... but... nowadays, I mostly end up doing the following things:

1. Making a sandwich

2. Eating cereal or scrambled eggs

3. Eating plain pasta, maybe if I'm really pushing it - making a really quick tomato sauce, or just grating parmesan over it with garlic and butter

4. Ordering food in

5. Very rarely, cooking properly from scratch (a stew or something similar)

So how often do I cook? Rarely ever. And if I were inclined to be eating ready-meals, I probably would. There is not much to differentiate me from the people in the article.

Edited by gingerbeer (log)
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While this article upset me, thinking about it, I realised that my own behaviour is not that different. I'm a full-time PhD student who is also working, and often I am really, really tired. I came from a cooking background, in that my mother put a home-cooked meal on the table every night, and after school I would help her prepare the food (chopping things, blending things, mixing things, etc), and I was even 'babysat' by a restaurant kitchen at one point when my mother went back to work (it was Lebanese, my main job was to arrange the baclava on a tray)... but... nowadays, I mostly end up doing the following things:

1. Making a sandwich

2. Eating cereal or scrambled eggs

3. Eating plain pasta, maybe if I'm really pushing it - making a really quick tomato sauce, or just grating parmesan over it with garlic and butter

4. Ordering food in

5. Very rarely, cooking properly from scratch (a stew or something similar)

So how often do I cook? Rarely ever. And if I were inclined to be eating ready-meals, I probably would. There is not much to differentiate me from the people in the article.

'Easy Recipe Suggestions' on the 'Cooking Forum' might be useful for you to look at. (I don't know how to do links). They are pretty simple, but they are also fast. It's better than cereal and eggs every night. I am not one to talk...I am just basically learning how to cook at this advanced age. :hmmm:

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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I am not unduly worried by this article. It seems to me that there always has and always will be people who are not that interested in food. They don't like to cook. They don't care where stuff comes from. These people go for the easiest route out - restaurants, take-outs, ready meals, pre-prepared ingredients and so on.

Then there are those who enjoy cooking. They always will. Even if sometimes they are so busy that they have to get take-out meals for supper. Even if sometimes they are so tired that they can't face making anything more than pasta and pesto (store-bought!). When they have the time and energy, they will make something from scratch, because they love doing it and they think it tastes better than everything else in the world.

Hey, even my brother, who is damn lazy, loves to cook when he can. He is a student, but he and his housemates enjoy whipping up impressive meals for each other, in between the days they live on beer and 7p sausages! And when he comes home, he loves the fact that he can get home-cooked meals 2-3 times a day (depending on what time he gets up!). Don't worry yourselves too much - there are plenty of people, young and old, who will never give up cooking.

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Hello. Thought I would share my thoughts on this one. Certainly in the UK cooking is on the decline but 27 minutes per person per day seems quite a lot to me. I like to think of myself as a keen amateur cook so I was trying to work out how much time I spend cooking. I usually have toast for breakfast, often shop bought but this morning I had home-made sourdough toast. If you don't count the weeks (months!) spent maturing the starter it took me approximately 1 hour total time yesterday (10 minutes for the refreshment, 20 minutes kneading then 30 minutes oven time), plus two minutes toasting time this morning. I made two loaves which will feed the family of four for a day, so that's 15 minutes each yesterday. Tomorrow I'll buy Warburtons because the children like it. I skipped lunch today and spent the afternoon making two sets of evening meals. First was Cullen Skink, a Scottish soup/chowder made with smoked haddock and potatoes and cream. I often make my own fish stock but today bought ready-made. The rest was made from "scratch" with a mirepoix of shallot, carrot and fennel, sweated with garlic then white wine, stock and water added. Potatoes (home grown) were dug up, peeled and diced. Fish fillets were skinned and diced. Then the whole lot was simmered for one hour before adding cream and seasoning. At the same time I made cod fillets with a gremolata crust, steamed new potatoes (again, home grown), cauliflower cheese and steamed sprouting broccoli. Both meals (for 4) took two hours. Divided between all of the family this works out at 15 minutes each per day for two days. I enjoy cooking but, like most people, struggle to find the time during the week. I buy a sandwich for lunch at work so probably won't cook again for three or four days. I certainly don't make my 27 minutes each day, but must be doing a lot more cooking than some people.

Cheers.

Alasdair.

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Alasdair, do you include reheating time in your calculations?

At our house weekday breakfast takes 7 min to prepare.

More on weekends, because we can make the fun stuff then.

Dinner easily over 20 minutes. Some of that is not hands on,

but one is not entirely free to leave the area and do other things either.

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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Hmm. Not sure about reheating. On one level you could but if the rules are too lax then it becomes difficult to define food "preparation". What's the difference between waiting for the microwave to reheat a ready-meal and waiting in line at Burger King?

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What about active cooking time? For example, if you're making an omelette, or pasta, you're right there at the stove the whole time. So it's a full thirty minutes of work. But let's say you're making stew - well, it might be about 15 minutes of actual prep time, but another two or three hours of cooking time where the cook is not actively engaged. Does that count?

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There are some tragic figures and anecdotes cited in this topic; it seems some people are striving for heirloom tomatoes and the rest are reaching for Campbell's Tomato Soup (that's not a criticism of the soup, I'm just illustrating the two apparent definitions of 'cooking'). While quantifying how much each person does or doesn't spend cooking, perhaps we should think of it differently. Alasdair was/is presumably happy to spend his time cooking to provide sustenance for his family, like most of the rest of us on here I would say. We'd all be happy to spend more time, if it were available and would produce a better result/a meal we couldn't otherwise prepare. I think the difference is that most people who are spending just minutes a day 'cooking' or at least preparing food would like that time to be even shorter.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm not sure if it's a result of geography but my experience is totally different to what was described in the article. I live on a small island and there isn't much in the way of entertainment here. So the dinner party, the Sunday lunch and the beach barbecue constitute the majority of our social life. Most everyone I know cooks and, with very few exceptions, most of them seem to like cooking. We have no chain restaurants but there's certainly fast food and pizza. And our supermarkets carry plenty of pre-packaged junk. But I don't know anyone who eats it anything more than occasionally.

I come from a family of food lovers and cooks, and my 3 siblings and I all married food lovers and/or good cooks. In turn, my 11-year-old daughter is now learning to cook and can prepare simple meals by herself. She actually cooked a meal for the whole family when we were last in the States. And all of her friends know how to cook at least a few dishes, which they like to show off on sleepover nights. So it's not just our family that cooks at home and is teaching the kids to cook.

Also, I honestly don't pay too much attention what the "statistics" say. Usually those coming up with them have something at stake. In the case of the fast food numbers given in a previous post...the amount spent on fast food in 2001 was about 66% higher than the amount spent in 1970. But the population of the US had also grown by about 40% during that time. The article doesn't mention whether the figures had been adjusted for inflation. But if they haven't, it would seem that spending per capita on fast food might actually have declined. I admit I am really, really bad at math and would love for someone who isn't to check the numbers. I'd also be interested in seeing some numbers on the amount spent on fresh fruits and vegetables for those periods. That has to have risen substantially.

So, maybe the reports of the demise of real food and cooking are a bit premature? I hope so anyway.

Abigail Blake

Sugar Apple: Posts from the Caribbean

http://www.abigailblake.com/sugarapple

"Sometimes spaghetti likes to be alone." Big Night

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Welcome, Sugar Apple!

Sadly, even with US population growing 40% and inflation, an 18-fold increase in fast food spending is massive. People eat more fast food now than ever before; there are stacks of statistics to support this per capita, by GNP, you name it. So, methinks that the British Virgin Islands aren't typical in the way that, say, Providence RI would be.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I certainly agree with that sentiment personally! I just think that the sorts of crazy people who cook their own food (and post in eG Forums) are growing fewer and farther between, and the numbers suggest the same.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Chris, I sometimes feel that the number of people who cook their own foods is actually increasing! I am currently trying to sell my Indian cookery book, and practically every friend, workmate, friend of my Dad, etc. that I show it to says "Ooh, I love cooking, let's have a look." Not only are they cooking, but they want to try making things that they have never made before, or even heard of! Cooking is definitely alive and well in my local area. You only have to look at, for instance, my local Indian grocer. It's always busy, always people buying lots of raw ingredients. They want home-cooked meals, not something from a packet or a can.

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