Monday, July 4, 2011

Cooking at Home

To help fulfill my goal from last week of reading more food blogs (and my ongoing goal of prioritizing family--my Mama is coming to town today for the week!), I figured I'd spend the week re-posting great posts/articles from other blogs or news sources from around the web. 

And since I started this blog, way back when, with a reference to Mark Bittman, I feel a duty to pass on good things he has to say, even though many of you probably see his articles in the NYT even without my mediation.

This week he wrote a quick article, "Make Food Choices Simple: Cook," about how much easier it is to eat in healthy, ethical, inexpensive ways when cooking at home rather than eating out.  An excerpt:

"When I cook, though, everything seems to go right. I shop an average of every two weeks in a supermarket, and make a couple of trips a week to smaller stores. I’m aware that my choices are mostly imperfect, but I rarely conclude that I should make a burger and fries for dinner or provide a pound per person of prison-raised pork served with fruit from 10,000 miles away, followed by a cake full of sugar and artificial ingredients. Yet, for the most part, that describes restaurant food."

I don't think Bittman is an exceptional writer, but I do think he does a great job of selecting really pertinent topics and capturing just enough of the essential aspects of those topics to draw people in and expose his readers to ideas they may not have previously considered.

What do you all think? Eating out versus staying in? What do we get out of restaurants that makes us keep going back?

1 comment:

  1. This is an issue I struggle a fair deal with in Korea. In my private shopping life, I relish finding (and sharing!) ways to buy and consumer only organic, local, whole, healthy foods. But it seems to me that the feasibility of this style of eating declines with group size. Being more eco-minded than most of my friends, if I want to treat everyone to something earth-friendly, the burden of providing it falls o me - far more responsibility than I can take on on an day, particularly without some advanced planning. This may amount to stating the obvious, but restaurants are much better equipped to serve large groups of people on a moment's notice.

    I haven't read Bittman's piece, but the quotation above seems a little one-sided. After all, not all restaurants are created equal. Even in Korea, I'm able to find places that specialize in vegan cuisine, or local, or even organic. I actually feel a sort of duty both to patronize these places and encourage others to do so.

    I was just reading a Wendell Berry essay on tobacco ("The Problem of Tobacco"), during one part of which he argues that if anti-tobaccoists have their way, price support programs for independent tobacco farmers in the US will be cut; the result will not be some smoke-free utopia, but rather a US that imports more tobacco, from further away, from farms that employ questionable production practices. Likewise, if we (I suppose I'm referring to environmentalists here) stop supporting restaurants, and in particular the sort of restaurants we are inclined to visit, there's no reason to expect a healthy food system to spring up in their place. Instead, the plague of large, unsinkable chain and fast food restaurants will be more likely to spread. Restaurants seem to me to be something of a fundamental human enterprise; at the very least they've been around far longer than many of the other institutions we deal with daily. They're not going anywhere. So, while cooking more and eating out less is probably a good choice for most people, for a number of reasons, surely equally significant is the choice of what kind of restaurant to patronize - there are plenty that provide something much better than the nightmare plate that Bittman refers to.

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