Growing up, it was my heart’s deep desire to change the world. I would sit around pondering ways that I might make a difference, like fighting evil or slavery or poverty. I figured when I became an adult, it would become easy to implement all my schemes.
Perhaps you’ve been there, and now realize how impossibly difficult it is to make a tiny dent in any of the world’s vast problems (ugh). But for all you starry-eyed idealists like me, here’s a ridiculous idea: simply cooking at home can change the world.
At the risk sounding overdramatic or cliche, hear me out:
First, let’s clarify: when I say cooking at home, I mean cooking whole, natural, and unprocessed foods. As I mentioned last week, studies are continuing to show that a diet of “real”, non-processed foods, heavy on the plant matter and light on the junk foods, refined sugars, and flours, is revolutionary for your health. Many sources assert this can prevent diseases that are ravaging America, like diabetes and heart disease.
What’s more, there’s evidence that a whole foods diet can help you lose weight, boost your immune system and energy level, and all sorts of other factors. In short, it can make you feel like 1 million bucks. We know firsthand; since we’ve started eating whole foods, we feel a distinct difference in our health and rarely get sick.
Think about if everyone started eating with this in mind. We’d go to the doctor less, our countries’ health care bills would go down, and our governments would have more money.
When you start cooking with whole foods, the way you look at the world may change. You’ve probably heard about the value of eating local food, since less resources are expended for transportation, and the produce has more nutrients since it hasn’t had to travel as far. (Some may argue, but this is a prevailing thought).
With your interest in local foods, you might visit a farmer’s market and meet the person who grew your food, making a personal connection that starts to shape the way you think about your community and local business. You might start supporting these local growers, changing the economy of the place you live.
You also might start thinking about those in your community who don’t have access to the food that you do, people who need resources or transportation to eat in a way that nourishes their bodies. You might even become an advocate or support programs that enable better access to these types of foods.
You might even start thinking more about the impact of your food on the earth, since that’s where the food comes from in the first place. Is the food you’re buying being grown in sustainable ways, so that you and generations to come can continue to eat this way?
And this doesn’t just apply to vegetables: what about meat? There have been various exposes about factory farming meat and how it is destructive to the environment and harmful to animals. You might become passionate about eating local meat, or reducing the amount of meat in your diet, or being thoughtful about selecting sustainable meats and fish when you can. This care also drives food producers to start changing their business practices to support the products you desire (think no more pink slime).
Changing the World?
By caring about your personal health, community, and the environment, you’ve turned into an empowered citizen, conscious of the way your actions affect others, the beauty of community, and the importance of sustainable practices for the environment we all share. Now, who says you can’t change the world?
We’d love to know your thoughts about this one, since it’s the heart and soul behind why we started this blog. We’d also love to hear any dissenting opinions, or know if you’d like us to provide sources on any of the research we’ve referred to above. Above all, know that this doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a process that takes continual learning and sacrifice to understand what you believe and what works for you. We’re strong believers that cooking and eating a natural diet looks different for everyone, and there’s room for eaters of all sorts. Our philosophy was strongly influenced by people like Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman, who exposed these ideas and then gently urged readers to do what they could to make a change. It was through this non-judgemental approach that we started to take baby steps towards where we’ve come today. (Our favorite books on the matter are Food Matters and Food Rules, if you’re interested.)
Healthy & Whole Series
What We Eat
On Food and Guilt
On Food and Judgement
From Inspiration to Recipe
On Food and Money
All Things in Moderation
Emotionally Healthy Eating
About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.