From Joe Yonan:
How about you? How many evening meals do you cook at home? We do 5 — Sunday through Thursday.
Throughout the book, Pollan reminds us how much cooking matters. The food industry, he writes in one example, was all too happy to step in when women started working outside the home and couples were at risk of arguing over who should get dinner on the table. “In the end, women did succeed in getting men into the kitchen, just not their husbands,” he writes. “No, they’ve ended up instead with the men who run General Mills and Kraft, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.”(One criticism: He largely ignores the role of restaurants, from celebrity-chef-driven places to mom-and-pop joints.)
Pollan shows us the folly of our decision to hire food corporations and other industrial forces as our live-in cooks. The consequences include the gluten intolerance that he suggests might be tied to modern flour cultivation and processing, and the compromised immune systems that might be related to our diet’s relatively recent absence of live-culture foods. What’s the most reliable predictor of a nation’s obesity rate? It’s not income. It’s not the share of women in the labor force. Quite simply, the higher the percentage of a country’s residents who cook, the fewer of them who are obese….
Ultimately, he makes the case that cooking is a political act, one that declares our resistance to the “learned helplessness” that the food industry likes to insist requires an outsourcing of dinner. “To cook for the pleasure of it,” he writes, “to devote a portion of our leisure to it, is to declare our independence from the corporations seeking to organize our every waking moment into yet another occasion for consumption.”