Time and money are the biggest perceived obstacles to eating well. In most cases, neither is a true obstacle. Americans spend eight hours a day in front of a screen. On average, we each spend two hours a day on the Internet—something that didn’t even exist 20 years ago! But we can’t find the time to plan, shop, and cook for our families? True, it might cost a little more to buy fresh meat, fish, and produce than to eat processed junk and fast food. But it also doesn’t have to. In fact, studies have shown that eating real food is not more expensive than eating processed food. You don’t have to buy grass-fed steak (although that’s ideal). You can eat well for less. To put it in perspective, Europeans spend about 20 percent of their income on food, Americans only 9 percent. We have to value our food and health. What we don’t spend on the front end we pay for on the back end at the drugstore and the doctor’s office.
What’s missing is the education—the basic skills, knowledge, and confidence—to purchase and cook real foods. When you don’t know how to cook a vegetable, how can you feed yourself or your family? My experience has taught me that it is not a lack of desire to get well that holds people hostage to the food industry and the marketers. Without the confidence that comes from knowing how to prepare quality foods, people are left vulnerable to the aggressive marketing tactics of the food industry, which is all too eager to sell us highly addictive, poor-quality, man-made food-like products that fatten us as well as their bottom line. Major packaged food companies are like drug dealers pushing their addictive products.
We have to cook our way out of our addiction to bad food. Shopping, cooking, and eating are political acts with far-reaching benefits to our health, the earth, the economy, and beyond. Michael Pollan, in his book Cooked, says, “The decline of everyday home cooking doesn’t only damage the health of our bodies and our land but also our families, our communities and our sense of how our eating connects us to the world.”
Cooking is fun, freeing, and essential to achieving health and happiness. Unfortunately, we have handed the act of cooking, this unique task that makes us human, over to the food industry. We have become food consumers, not food producers or preparers, and in so doing, we have lost our connection to our world and to ourselves.
I aim to help rebuild that connection for you.
Excerpted from FOOD Copyright © 2017 by Mark Hyman, MD.
Used with permission of Little, Brown and Company, New York. All rights reserved.