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Preparing meals for health

Posted 8/31/2009 8:21pm by Shiloh Avery.
Jason showing off tonight's roasted pepper, tomato and goat cheese calzone
Jason shows off tonight's roasted pepper, tomato and goat cheese calzone
Chile relleno
Chile relleno!!!
homemade tamales
Homemade tamales wrapped in corn husks!

My mother quit cooking right after I left home and she went back to work.  They took to eating out a lot, or microwaving frozen meals.  I always thought that was a bit unusual.  (I went to school in the south, all my friends’ moms cooked big ole’ southern meals every time I visited).  But after reading Michael Pollen’s August 2nd article in the New York Times Magazine, I realize my folks were just part of a growing trend of people not cooking.  The article is titled “Out of the kitchen and onto the couch: how American cooking became a spectator sport, and what we lost along the way.” 

A while back, I wrote about eating seasonally for health. Well, Michael Pollen has given me a new one: prepare your own food for health. Pollen’s research shows time spent preparing food is directly linked to physical health: “The more time a nation devotes to food preparation at home, the lower its rate of obesity.  In fact, the amount of time spent cooking predicts obesity rates more reliably than female participation in the labor force or income.”  Wow.  He goes on to tell us that the average PER DAY amount of time American’s spend on meal preparation is 27 minutes.  27 minutes a day?!!! 

Upon learning that we don’t own a TV, people often ask us what we do in our free time.  I never understood the question.  I countered with, “how do you find time to watch TV?”  But I get it now.  That’s what we do in our “free time”: we cook.  Okay, okay, I know I’ve already told you all that Jason does most of the cooking, but I do help.  Honest!  I am like the prep cook.  So even though he’s in charge, it’s still something we do together.  It’s a sort of bonding process and it is important to us.  Maggie used to marvel how we’d work such crazy long hours, come in at dark and still prepare a nourishing meal.  I think she’s used to late evening meals now.  But my point is that even though our “in season” lifestyle doesn’t technically allow it, we still take the time to prepare a meal.  It is nourishing to more than just the gastro-intestinal.  It is nourishing to our souls.  There’s just something about preparing and eating a meal together (even at 10 o’clock at night!) that fulfills some deep primal instinct.  Okay, maybe not primal, but you get the point.  Eating well involves this process we call cooking and it saddens me that so many people are missing out on that.  Remember the cookbook called “The Joy of Cooking”?  Doesn’t that just say it all?  I don’t know when the last edition was printed, but mine is a 70s era copy.  I envision all those cookbooks languishing on thrift store shelves.  That’s just it: we’ve lost the joy somewhere along the road to frozen meals and booming take out dives.

homemade pizza

Even pizza can be ridiculously beautiful and delicious homemade!




If there’s anything you’d like me to hold for you here at the farm (for pick up Tuesdays or Fridays from 5pm-7pm), at the Wednesday Hickory Farmers’ Market (noon to 5:30), or the Saturday Boone farmers’ market (early am to noon), please let me know my phone or email!  Thanks!


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