The altruistic case for home-cooking
Five years ago, Michael Pollan made an impassioned case for home-cooking, in a best-selling book titled “Cooked: A Natural History of Transformations”. By then, the scholar had long made a name for himself advocating for eating less processed foods which, as the news confirms on a near-daily basis, exposes our bodies to a slew of unhealthy ingredients. With Cooked, Pollan added a sociological component to his advocacy - the idea that cooking helps us connect with the material world - and even a political one - that cooking is a form of resistance against the homogenizing industrial forces of this world.
With this post, we modestly hope to add an altruistic reason for people to spend more time in their kitchens: Cooking helps protect the foundation of our food systems, namely farmers. A recent USDA study, reported here by the Washington Post, concluded that out of every dollar spent on food in the US, only 7.8 cents goes to farmers. To emphasize how little that is, if it were a pie that the actors of the food chain were sharing, the slice below is what the farmers would be handed*.
More worryingly, this figure has been on a downward slope for years, largely because of the continuous rise of prepared and convenience foods. Put simply, the more you choose ready-made food options as a consumer, the more you add value to the food processing activities in the food chain. Conversely, a hypothetical return of consumers to home-cooking would shift the balance in the opposite direction, valorizing farming activities.
In summary, if you woke up this morning with a feeling of universal love and generosity in your heart, remember a simple thing you could do is to dust off your pans and head to the produce store or, better still, the farmer’s market. It’s good for you. It’s good for our farmers!
* In case you’re wondering which piece of the pie goes to Bernoulli Finance and our peer consultants, we’ve marked it with our logo :)
* Illustration by Dannae Alvarez