Fast forward twenty or so years, to the early 1970s. One of those four kids (me) was now in her twenties, and has no idea how to cook. (My mother didn’t have time to teach us such a complicated task. She was too busy teaching us how to wash and dry dishes, dust, run the vacuum and weed the garden so that we kids could alleviate some of her daily labor.)
I also had no money. I had two choices: I could either not eat much but eat food in restaurants. Or I could learn how to cook. I opted for the latter.
Turned out I enjoyed it. I still do. For me, cooking is a creative activity, one that I enjoy at the end of a long day spent slicing and dicing words.
But — I have a CHOICE about when, how often, and how much I cook. My household consists of me and my husband. There aren’t four kids running around.
My husband fixes his own breakfast and lunch, and he’d fix dinner, too, if I wanted him to. (I think I’m a better cook, plus, as I say, I enjoy cooking.)
But I cook when I want to. I have complete control over my time spent in the kitchen. I don’t feel like cooking? I don’t.
As I noted at the outset, historically very few human beings have enjoyed that privilege. Every day, millions of adult Americans scramble to figure out how to get three meals on the table for their families. And I don’t mean they scramble to figure out how to pay for it (although many do).
I mean: they’ve got kids and spouses and need to figure out how to fill their stomachs. If the household’s adults both work and if neither of them enjoys cooking, yes. They’re going to eat in a restaurant, or grab food to go, or microwave processed foods. And they’re delighted that someone else can, as Pollan puts it, do the cooking for them. In their minds, that’s not a problem; it’s a solution to a daily problem.
Next: Time to move past simplistic solutions