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A farewell to cooking??

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In his prologue to The End of Food, Paul Roberts writes that “there will be something seriously wrong when no one is a producer, when no one is a cook, and when the closest that anyone gets to making a meal is at a restaurant salad bar.” He points to evidence that people cook less than they used to—even in France, a quarter of all meals are now consumed outside the home. He says that in America the average family shares a meal fewer than five times a week. But that does not mean that we are on a steady descent into food outsourcing, in terms of eating out or eating only processed food. On the other hand, the concerns he raises are certainly legitimate ones. Busy lives (partly due to long commutes and the need to chauffeur children and the elderly, issues which would be resolved in liveable cities; also due to TV and other screen time) mean less time available for shopping, preparing, and cooking food. The more processed food we eat, the more we may lose our ability to appreciate the special flavours of fresh, healthy food. This can become a negative spiral in which we do not object to the growing tastelessness of fruit and vegetables grown for appearance and easy shipping rather than for nutritional value and flavour; as those foods taste worse, it is even easier to substitute processed foods. But we can also rebel in quiet and not-so-quiet ways, by joining Community Supported Agriculture programs, by shopping at Farmers’ Markets and small local produce shops, and by making the time to cook ourselves healthy, tasty meals that we enjoy with our families. Better to disprove a prediction than to get depressed about it!!