“To cook for the pleasure of it, 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. It is to reject the debilitating notion that, at least while we’re at home, production is work best done by someone else, and the only legitimate form of leisure is consumption. This dependence marketers call “freedom.” Cooked, pg. 22.
I mentioned a few days ago that I was listening to Michael Pollan’s new book, Cooked. Like all of Pollan’s books, Cooked is insightful, thought-provoking, and funny.
Pollan is looking at his body of work as a whole when he approached this book, trying to determine what the SINGLE most important thing we can do to “solve” the range of problems we face today: factory farming, consumerism, consumption, poor health, and disjointed families, to name just a few.
And his answer? Cooking.
Yep, a simple solution for a host of problems. So I’ve been testing out this idea this week, cooking breakfast, lunch, and dinner for my family with a different kind of thought and care than usual–treating the act like a political movement as well as a means of satisfying hunger.
In fact, I had a bit of a spat one night with my husband over it all, though he has no idea about the root cause of the argument. I had just finished a section of Pollan’s book where he was talking about the importance of the participation of all members of the family in the kitchen, regardless of gender. My husband has no interest in cooking or all the other related components–planning, sourcing food, or cleaning up afterward. It isn’t about gender roles for him but rather just a general disinterest. I find this a bit much considering he likes to eat. Most of the time I accept this. But Pollan had me a bit riled, and I kinda lost it after dinner when it came time to do the dishes.
I’m pretty sure that’s not what Pollan had in mind when he wrote that section on how important it is that every family member be engaged in the cooking process but a good book will do that–get you thinking and wanting to take action.
Why is it that cooking is so wrapped up in gender roles? Paid cooking, like in a restaurant, has traditionally been a man’s providence while unpaid cooking, the daily act of feeding one’s family, is squarely viewed, even today, as woman’s work.
Yes, I know that some of these gender lines are starting to droop but not as much as some folks would like to say. Pollan argues that people have managed to co-exist with this issue by farming out cooking to corporations. And that’s what we do. If I don’t want to cook, we go out to eat. But that solution hasn’t satisfied me. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the husband taking me out–I do. But there’s something about cooking for another person that expresses a care and love that nothing else can match.
And I think Pollan would agree. Cooking isn’t just about feeding ourselves and while it can be a political act, it is also, most importantly, an expression of love: for ourselves, our families, and our community.
Pollan’s website of resources associated with the book.