The average American spends 27 minutes a day on food preparation and another 4 minutes cleaning up. How anyone can clean up in four minutes is a complete mystery to me. The twenty seven minutes of cooking is the focus of NYT article ‘Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch‘ by Michael Pollan. (sorry you have to register to see the NYT article, but it’s free to register)
Americans today spend less than half the time we spent cooking back in 1963, when Julia Child’s cooking show began. Less than half. And while cooking was become less popular, cooking shows are curiously more popular than ever. Many Americans spend an hour watching “Iron Chef,” a show where restaurant chefs compete and cook amazing meals, but then spend just 27 minutes cooking for themselves.
Like Chance the Gardener in the movie Being There, Americans seem to be saying “I like to watch TV.” Cooking has become a spectator sport. But why?
Could time be the culprit? Today we spend longer hours at work.
Since 1967, we’ve added 167 hours — the equivalent of a month’s full-time labor — to the total amount of time we spend at work each year, and in households where both parents work, the figure is more like 400 hours.
Could money be the issue? As income levels rise, the amount of money spent on take out and restaurant food climbs.
And finally, processed and packaged foods have become ubiquitous. Food scientists have gotten really good at simulating real food and marketing folks are masterful at selling products. Why cook when you can buy something ready to eat?
However, no matter how many hours we work, how much money we make, or what new processed foods come to market, we can still make the choice to cook for ourselves.
I don’t love to cook, but I cook because home cooked food…
- Tastes better
- Costs less
- Is healthier
- Has less environmental impact (less packaging)
Do you like to cook, like to watch, or both?
The popularity of Julie & Julia has catapulted Julia Child’s Mastering The Art of French Cooking, Volume One onto the New York Times bestsellers list. Maybe cooking, or at least the idea of cooking is making a comeback?