How the Food Industry Hijacked Our Kitchens — And Our Health
These days, spending time in the kitchen often takes low priority.
That’s unfortunate, since the kitchen provides a place to build community and connections, strengthen bonds with family and friends, teach life-giving skills to our children, and nourish our bodies and souls.
But most people spend more time perusing social media than they do in their kitchen.
And the food industry loves this. In 1970, food consumed outside of the home accounted for just 26 percent of Americans' total food budget. But by 2002, that number had skyrocketed to 46 percent — and it's most likely even higher today.
We’ve bought into the excuses: cooking real food costs too much, is too hard, and takes too long. So instead, we load up on inexpensive convenience foods.
But that convenience is killing us. The pharmaceutical industry and food companies win, while we lose our health, our self-esteem, the quality time in the kitchen shared with family and friends, and our quality of life.
Today, we have a generation of Americans who don’t know how to cook.
Our kids don’t know where their food comes from or even that it grows on a farm. Food “grows” in boxes, plastic bags, and cans. And reading labels won’t help in identifying the source of most foods: the ingredients are mostly factory-made science projects with a remote and unrecognizable lineage to real food.
As the food giants have hijacked our kitchens with all manners of super-convenient concoctions, the consequences are showing up around our waistlines.
In America today, 69 percent of people are overweight. And researchers predict that if current trends continue, one in three Americans could have Type 2 diabetes by 2050.
Future generations will suffer most: In less than a decade, the rate of pre-diabetes or diabetes in teenagers has risen from 9 percent to 23 percent. Stop and consider that: Almost one in four kids have pre-diabetes or Type 2 diabetes.
As I mentioned earlier, transforming the food industry might seem a daunting undertaking. Yet each of us has the power — and obligation, I would add — to take action.
Taking Back Our Kitchens, Taking Back Our Health
Cooking real food is a revolutionary act, and one that we need to reclaim.
Every time we make a homemade meal with our family rather than order in or eat out, we become more empowered. Small choices throughout the day can topple the monolithic food industry. So every time you visit a grocery store, vote with your wallet.
Studies show that Americans spend the least amount of money of any nation on food — less than 7% of annual income. That’s too bad, since food is the best investment in your health.
And real food doesn't have to be expensive. Choosing simple ingredients, cooking from scratch, shopping at discount club stores, and collecting produce from community supported agriculture associations (CSAs), community gardens, or co-ops save money and build both health and community.
We need deep-seated change. We need to subsidize real food instead of the walls of processed fat, sugar, flour, and trans fats that line our grocery and convenience stores. We need to end food marketing to children. We need to make schools safe zones for kids with only those products and activities that support healthy minds and bodies.
All of these are lofty, worthwhile goals. But never forget that real change begins at home.
One by one, kitchen by kitchen, community by community, you can take back your health. I hope you see what a self-empowering idea that can become.
As you learn more about the potentially detrimental health consequences of eating out, are you cooking at home more often? Did you make any sacrifices (time or otherwise) to eat at home more often? Share your story below or on my Facebook fan page.