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
You made great points (that sounds like the start of a spam message!!) and I am in total agreement. One way to accomplish your “change the world” goal…incorporating it more in schools. Getting volunteers* into schools to get kids excited about cooking, gardening, supporting local, and so on, would be great! This would be the “non-judgemental approach” you mentioned. I know there are people doing this, and I can only hope that this increases over the years.
* I know that school districts are strapped for cash and even taking away extracurricular activities…so I do not expect home ec to be brought back everywhere. Scouting for volunteers to start clubs after school is a great route. I also say volunteers because as a former teacher, I know that just planning for one subject takes a lot of time. I was lucky enough to teach 1 subject for many years. But the years when I had to lesson plan for more than one subject (pay stays the same), yeesh. It was a lot of work.
I couldn’t agree more with you. As an environmental engineer I found very early that changing the industry of food could be one way of taking care of our planet for our and future generations. It is with great pleasure that I see more people thinking in the same way. Throughout the years I have been making changes in my own diet. And, if living with my parents meant I had to abide by their rules (which where already quite good and in accordance with my beliefs) when I moved out I really was able to implement all the changes I wanted. I’m not vegetarian but I do eat a lot less meat or fish than I used. I use a good variety of whole grains, I always try to find “new” vegetables, I love to experiment new recipes for old flavours. And I’m very lucky to live with someone that shares the same passion. In the past 8 years I have made significant changes in my every-day meals, I’m a mediterranean-diet-lover (since I live in Portugal it couldn’t be different!) and I have to say I feel very good about it.
Plus, my two professional loves (environment and food) are combined to improve each other. And yes, I do believe I can still save the world :)
Yes! I totally agree! What I have realized though, is that even though cooking at home seems completely natural and logical to some people, there are multiple and diverse perceived (or actual) barriers to cooking at home for many others.
In my work, I’m trying to identify theses barriers (whether its time, skill, taste preferences), and offer the information and options so that people can move past them and hopefully get to the point where they see the benefits (and pleasures!) of cooking at home. Not easy, but definitely a worthy fight!
Thanks for this series. It is awesome.
I can already see it in my son – he’s four and he loves vegetables. He’d rather eat a red bell pepper than a piece of cake. It is quite amazing how much you can do by only offering whole, fresh foods at an early age. of course, we don’t know if there is a genetic factor here, but all of his playmates are sugar-crazy. We do not allow hard candies due to the dental problems it promotes, so he is only allowed the chocolate candies in a goodie bag. Our dessert each night is usually grapes or berries or nothing. This way he is not denied the treat, but learns to prefer fresh fruit over refined sugar.
Great post and so true! The times when my family and I are feeling stressed and run down (and when my clothes are too tight) are always when we give in to the temptation to drive through for dinner and stop cooking completely. When we cook at home we have the reserve of energy we need to do great things and that CAN change the world!
Your right, and I believe there are a lot more people that do agree. Lead by example! In my family we have had many food differences which leads to preparing our own. For the first time in so many years young and old are now coming together for holidays to bring food or cook together in the kitchen.
Agree. I grew up on processed food (I’m old enough that it was a “new” thing back then) and vegetables cooked within an inch of their lives. Salad was iceberg lettuce smothered in rich, creamy dressing, never a vingiarette. I never saw real garlic or olive oil until I was an adult.
I am continually amazed at the flavor in roasted vegetables–a little olive oil, a little pepper, and a little oven time and voila! Veggies anybody, even kids, surely would love. Lentils, chickpeas, cannellini bean (with pasta!! Who knew??) are all things we now eat on a regular basis. The fun of making meals centered around what is ripe in the garden never ends and when the crops fail, head to the farmer’s market. I feel better, have more energy, and enjoy the adventure of cooking even more. Keep changing the world! Bon apetit!
Bravo! I agree with everything you said. What gives me hope is that there are a lot healthy food bloggers out there trying to spread the word. It takes time, but it will take root. All of us can play a part!
I love this post! You summed up so many big, important concepts up in one manageable piece. Cheers to that!
I couldn’t agree more with all of this. Wonderfully written and great arguments. I spent a few years in my early career working as a K-12 food and nutrition director and was amazed at how few people know how to cook or eat meals at home. A lot of students I spoke with would say dinner was in the car. But, what was also amazing is that these students wanted to learn to cook. They loved it! They also got a kick out of trying crazy vegetables they had never heard of. Because of my experiences, I do believe that you, me and the many other healthy, scratch cooking, local food blogs can help change the world!
Good words, you guys. I love what you’re doing with your blog, and this post really seems to sum it up beautifully. I’ve really come in to the “whole foods” perspective within the last couple of years, but I know there’s always more room to grow.
I really appreciate Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman’s books (especially Pollan’s “In Defense of Food”)…and I would also highly suggest Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle”. It describes the journey of Kingsolver and her family as they live almost entirely off of what they produced themselves. It really encouraged me to make additional changes in my life, and has planted seeds for future growth.
Keep up the good work. I can feel a real ripple of change happening within our society, and I believe that this is partly thanks to you and your blog (along with a handful of blogs I follow, though I’m sure there are many more :) ). Bon courage!
Yay! Being vegan is the way to go for our bodies, animal welfare, and the environment. Knowing that animals aren’t harmed for my enjoyment is such a release and an extremely peaceful feeling. My husband has Rheumatoid Arthritis and he is doing so well on a vegan diet that we’ll be completely committed for life. I work in a hospital and used to get sick all the time, constantly going to the doctor. Since being vegan for one year, I haven’t been once. Go vegan to save the planet, animals, and yourself :) Just like Samuel L. Jackson! ;)
This post inspired me to start following you : ). Beautiful, and I agree completely. I always feel really good about myself when I’m shopping and cooking responsibly! Now I’m gonna go look through your archives ^.^!
Ditto! Love this (and the rest of your blog). I would add that home cooking is such an easy entry point into better health for our bodies, our communities, and our planet because we do it at least THREE times a day. What other choices do we make that frequently that could have such a big impact?
Yes! Definitely agree with your points. Also, home cooking can conserve your financial resources. It puts you in charge of what you spend. A lot can be learned from depression-era folks about how they fed their families on practically nothing. I’m proud that all three of my 20-something sons can cook for themselves and cook almost all their own meals, even though they are single. My husband and I prepared almost everything from scratch during their childhoods. We can’t change the world, just our little corner. :-)
I always like to prepare food at home. I and my family prefer home made food. Thus I want learn new recipes every week. This post is very helpful and valuable for me as it gives me some valuable tips about how to maintain health and environment. Really we can change the world as well as maintain our good health by avoiding ready made food. Thanks for the wonderful post.
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