Notes on Food Culture: Food is Beautiful

Pumpkin, arugula, acorn squash, peppers

Actual real food used to prepare dinner.

OFTEN WHEN I’M COOKING, I PAUSE TO ENJOY the way the ingredients look together. Whether a main course, a side dish, a salad, or a dessert, the way the various food items look and smell together can have an overpowering impact. I just have to stop, look, and enjoy.

Food is beautiful.

WHEN WE PREPARE FOOD FROM REAL INGREDIENTS, there is a lusciousness of the senses that is absent in boxed, processed foods. Pulling out a box of cake mix, or a pouch of side dish, or a frozen bag of dinner just doesn’t evoke the same reaction and preparing something from ingredients.

Imagine walking into a well-designed grocery store produce department: the colors and smells hit you like a ton of bricks. The bins of different colored apples next to each other, the rows of lettuce, all slightly different shades of green, the vibrant red, greens, and yellows of peppers – all of these surround you. But move to the inner aisles of processed food products you are hit instead with raucous packaging all competing for your attention.

Food is beautiful.

I DON’T KNOW ANYONE WHO DOESN’T USE A PACKAGED SHORTCUT now and then. But when packaged food becomes the norm not only does our health suffer (from excess fats, sugars, additives, and sodium), but our food culture suffers.

We want to pass on to our children information about how to eat: serving sizes, cooking skills, table manners, and traditional family foods. Kids can’t get that if all they see is boxes and bags of processed packaged foods.

Do we want to raise a generation of children that think chicken comes in strips, waffles come from the freezer, pasta sauce comes from jars, and cake comes from boxes? Shout with me a resounding “NO”.

Let’s show children where food comes from, imbue them with respect for food and the work it takes to raise, grow, and prepare it.

Food is beautiful.

COOKING FROM REAL INGREDIENTS – AT LEAST SOME OF THE TIME – shows kids where food comes from, how to prepare it, and how to take the time to make a meal.

Even if your children don’t always help prepare the meal, they will see you working with fruits, vegetables, eggs, flours, yeast: things that make up real food. They will see real foods in your house – heads of lettuce, squashes, tomatoes, herbs – and they will know that those things make up the food they eat.

Even the small act of cutting basil from a plant on the windowsill and adding it to the pasta sauce has an impact.

When a meal takes time to prepare, when children and other family member help prepare it, the enjoyment of the meal increases. The camaraderie of the kitchen spreads to the table. The satisfaction of a job well done is contagious. A strong food culture can build strong children, both in body and mind.

Food is beautiful and preparing beautiful food creates beautiful, strong, healthy families.

2 comments for “Notes on Food Culture: Food is Beautiful

  1. October 20, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    I’m in college now and I’m very frustrated by how many people in my generation don’t know or care how to cook.
    My boyfriend and best friend both never cook anything from scratch (i hate staying with them, packaged food makes me hungrier).
    I’m so glad that my mom cooked me real meals every night and taught me to eat healthy. packaged food just isn’t as good as the real thing.

  2. cat
    October 20, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    Amelia, eating healthy at college can be so difficult! Kudos to you for your efforts to do it. Many people don’t realize that cooking doesn’t have to be hard or complicated. Maybe some of your healthy eating will rub off on your friends.

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