No, the title of this post is not not the title of my soon-to-be-published cookbook. I haven’t written a cookbook and I’m unsure if I would ever write one. The title of this post, this collection of words, is derived from titles of top 10 cookbooks. Enter almost any bookstore and witness the wall of green-images-on-white-backdrop covered cookbooks, all promising you -with a smile- a better body and a happier life.
Mind you, I’m not against healthy eating, what I am against is lack of perspective, of the marketing ploy that lies behind these publications, and most of all, their sameness. Take a child into a bookstore to look at cookbooks these days, and what they will learn is what not to eat. Go back in time twenty years or so, take a child into that same bookstore and what they would have learned is how to create a meal to share with others.
Definition of food
What happened to the history rich, culture-exploring, story telling cookbooks? Books with real power and soul. These days originality seems to be a quality of the past. Eliminating a different ingredient or nutrient isn’t a fresh angle, no matter how fresh and green your book cover looks. When I told people that my newfound niche in writing was food, they assumed that I meant writing about food from a dietary point of view. In fact, I keep having a hard time explaining what it is I (want to) do because the word food is now so tightly knit with the word diet that people seem unable to distinguish one from the other. Did we forget that food nourishes not only body, but mind as well? That food is an important component in the creation and remembering of memories?
It seems to me that we stopped listening to our bodies, even though it seems our body is the main thing on our mind. Instead, we keep looking for answers to problems that for the most part don’t even exist. And while gaining knowledge is never a bad thing, you do need to be able to distinguish helpful information from harmful information. Which brings me to one important piece of knowledge we to lack almost collectively: ethics. With the internet came a way of publishings that is accessible to everyone who has access to a computer and the internet. As we see with news, anyone can share anything they deem newsworthy at anytime. But who are their sources, what is their background? Do they have the knowledge, historic perspective and or scientific proof to back up their claims? We should ask ourselves the same questions when it comes to food writing and dietary advise, yet we almost never do.
Embrace instead of eliminate
Food writing today and the sugar-free-low-fat-feel-good-killer-body-power-food movement are not solely responsible for our society’s shifting view on nutrition. Our fast paced lives leave little room for cooking, we need to eat and we need to eat quickly, on the go if necessary. It almost seems eating has become a chore we mindlessly accomplish three times a day. We seem to have forgotten what food can bring to the table other than nutrients: pleasure, memories, stories, togetherness and the sight, scent and enjoyment of cooking. What if we give the same amount of attention to the ways in which food can enrich our bodies, lives, cultures and history, as we do to the ways in which food can harm us? What if we practise this age old concept of eating with moderation and instead of eliminating, we embrace?