How cooking can change your life
June 11, 2014 by Jamie Page
“Eat anything you want: just cook it yourself”
Michael Pollan’s talk1 at the RSA last year on the importance of food preparation, diet and health. A thought provoking video that highlights the side of food and diet that is often missed: cooking! Disclaimer: Please don't eat our barefoot shoes!
The value of cooking
Cooking immerses humans in a dense web of social and ecological relationships: with plants and animals, the soil, farmers, our history and culture. Cooking nourishes and delights and, above all, connects us.
Outsourcing the processing of our food, according to Pollan has had disastrous effects on our health, our family life, and even on our agriculture. The link between diet and health is evidently linked.
You are what you eat
There has been an alarming increase in the prevalence of obesity in recent years. The dangers of obesity and other health issues are becoming clearer. A recent study by the BMJ showed the increase in the prevalence rate of prediabetes from 11.6% to 35.3% from 2003 to 20112. By 2011, 50.6% of the population who were overweight (body mass index (BMI)>25) and ≥40 years of age had prediabetes.
Cheap and nasty?
Pollan highlights the reasons why letting corporations prepare your food for you might not be so good for you. He discusses the drawbacks to the monoculture that large-scale homogenous ingredients inevitably cause. Not only the production (farming) but also the process of using relatively cheap ingredients (salt, sugar and fat) and preparing them in a way that makes human crave them.
Home cooking is in decline and obesity is increasing
There’s clearly a more complex relationship between cooking and obesity but Pollan suggests a link between the decline in home cooking and the increase in obesity. Illustrating the problem with not being involved in the preparation of food.
In his talk Pollan describes the history of processed foods from the relatively humble beginnings of mass food production during and after the Second World War to the complex ultra-processing we are used to today. Not only did the cooking methods develop so did the marketing.
Not cooking was framed as forward thinking and offering a solution to not only a nutrition need but also a domestic one too; the early fast food was an attractive taste and way of life that has only become more and more popular.
Now widespread and easily accessible Pollan reiterates the dangers of relying on corporations cooking your food and the importance of cooking for yourself.
What’s the one diet that will work?
Concluding with a quote from Harry Balzer, Chief Industry Analyst and Vice President of the NPD group:
“Eat anything you want: just cook it yourself.”
Pollan comments: that there’s a real wisdom in that it can solve a multitude of problems, and causes some too, but it solves the big one.
This talk and the rest of Pollan’s body of work elegantly raises awareness for the importance of correct food processing on health. Here at VIVOBAREFOOT we mainly talk about health from an exercise and activity point of view. Our philosophy on healthy, skilful movement, our education resources, and the footwear we produce hopefully enables you to utilise all the natural locomotive technology to move correctly.
We treat diet and food with the same evolutionary filter. We recognise that both exercise and diet are paramount to healthy living.
1st, Nicole Abalde. 2nd, Snap,Snap
1. Michael Pollan, Royal Society of Arts VIDEO: How Cooking Can Change Your Life, 30th May 2013; 13:00 http://bit.ly/cooking-health
2. Mainous III AG, Tanner RJ, Baker R, et al. Prevalence of prediabetes in England from 2003 to 2011: population-based, crosssectional study. BMJ Open 2014;4:e005002. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2014-005002