Back in May I came across an article on Boing Boing Titled “You Don’t Have a Moral Obligation to Cook“:

I have found myself frustrated with Michael Pollan lately. In the course of promoting his new book about cooking, he’s taken to spouting some opinions that I’ll frankly call claptrap. He’s mocked women who felt trapped by the kitchen drudgery that they got stuck with simply because they owned a vagina. He’s implied that it’s easy (if you’re not lazy) for everyone to make every meal an ideologically sound slow-food meal. In general, he’s disparaged the very idea that some people don’t like to cook.

And I say that as somebody who loves to cook. The key, though, is that cooking every meal is not something I alone am solely responsible for, no matter how I’m feeling or what day it is. It’s not something that takes up a large portion of my life. And it is something that I just happen to find relaxing and fun. If any of those facts weren’t true, my thoughts on cooking might be very different. And it’s silly to expect otherwise.

I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that I have found myself, from time to time, being a cooking snob. I don’t take it to the extremes that some of my coworkers do – berating those who go to the cafeteria (or fast food) every day to eat, but I have found myself being disgusted with people who are constantly eating out. The reality is that lots of people have to eat out – both parents work and there isn’t time to cook. (My parents eat out more than they used to now that they are both business owners) Or they don’t know how or a million other reasons. But the reality is that you don’t need a reason. People can just hate cooking. I enjoy cooking because I love creation. I love putting time into something and getting a reaction out of someone. It’s why I blog, why I do photography, etc But not everyone enjoys it – even a little.

I think that our shaming of those who don’t cook comes from our current obsession with obesity in the USA. We’re constantly told that people who are obese are at higher right for disease and that it will cost us more money as a society. Hospitals will charge us more (because statistically the fattest among us are the least able to pay for ER visit) and insurance premiums go up and so on and so forth. So we find ourselves mad at people who are (usually) fully-functional adults – capable of deciding for themselves whether they want to be fat or thin. Of course, that is a landmine of its own – perhaps they have diseases, hormonal issues, mental issues, or genetics keeping them from losing weight and yet they have our constant judging. If only so-and-so would just cook for himself instead of going to McDonald’s every day.

What this article makes me ultimately realize is that we shouldn’t be shaming those who don’t cook – we should be shaming restaurants for giving us such crappy food. Yes, I know they are businesses and they will do whatever it takes to make the most money – that means serving us what we crave – sugar, fat, salt, and fried food. Perhaps we should be demanding some sort of social contract – you, corporation who is apparently also a person (Thanks, Romney), have a responsibility to us. Or maybe we just need to change the free market incentives. Shift the cost of this obesity from taxpayers as citizens to food corporations and make them fiscally responsible for keeping us healthy. I know that’s next to impossible (even ignoring the money in politics it’d be hard to structure it so as not to create perverse incentives), but we have to do SOMETHING. Just because Danielle and I busted out butts to cook 80% of the week when we were both working doesn’t make it morally right or mean everyone should do it. People need to be able to eat in a healthy manner even if they can’t or DON’T WANT TO cook.

Also, to everyone who knows me in person (and possibly blog readers where that Venn Diagram doesn’t overlap) I’d like to apologize in advance – even having written this post I’m sure from time to time I’ll fall back on my old ways. After all, just like the breast feeding debate, cooking IS OFTEN the best thing you can do for your health. But that doesn’t give me the right to preach to others. Let me know what you think in the comments – I’ll be especially interested in those of my dietician sister-in-law if she cares to provide some comments.

2 responses to “Cooking”

  1. I personally dislike cooking. I do it as often as I can (aka weekends) – but pretty much purely because I’m forced to eat out 5 days a week traveling and it gets expensive to eat out all the time in SF. But I would much rather have someone else cook for me.

    To me though, shaming those for not cooking is the same as shaming those who don’t work out, or those that don’t follow specific diets. It’s not easy; it’s often not fun and it takes time/commitment. But not doing any one thing doesn’t make you unhealthy. And especially with obesity and weight gain – you should see it creeping up on you and you would be making the choice not to do something (which is a choice I am ok shaming).

    • It’s funny – whenever people who always eat out are mentioned – they always talk about poor people. No one thinks about people like you who have a lot of travel and, therefore, a lot of forced eating out.