Trial of the Century will return on Wednesday, January 3rd. Have a happy New Year’s!
I am not the type to make New Year’s resolutions—my self-abasement for the year generally takes place during Lent—but if you are the type to do so, I urge you to consider this one: cook more at home using fresh, whole ingredients. In fact, cook almost entirely at home. I can think of no better way to help ensure a healthy lifestyle than this.
I wrote earlier this month about the garbage that permeates our modern food system. Cooking at home and without processed foods is the surest way to help you avoid the garbage. If you cook in your own kitchen using whole foods you can almost entirely eschew the sodium acid pyrophosphate, the calcium caseinate, the modified corn starch, calcium sulfate, the whatever else is in the junk they peddle us on a daily basis—you don’t need it, and you’re better off without it.
Joel Salatin likes to point out that, more than any time in human history, cooking is easy. I myself stopped mincing garlic by hand a while ago—an immersion blender plugged into a handheld food processor takes care of that messy job in no time flat. Crockpots work magic. The kids these days are using these things called “Instant Pots” that are like crockpots on steroids. A mandoline can cut in half the time it takes to make scalloped potatoes. There is virtually no kitchen job that can’t be and hasn’t been made easier and quicker through the miracle of clever gadgetry.
All of which is to say that the chief objections to home cooking—“It’s too hard,” “It takes too much time,” etc—have in effect been rendered moot at precisely the time that they might have made sense. Never before in human history have we been able to choose whether to cook; it was, for thousands of years, a thing of necessity, not choice. Now it is not—but the element of drudgery that marked it for so many generations has also disappeared, and with it its principle handicap.
Cooking—and with it planning, shopping, prepping and cleaning—is a unique domestic virtue: Cheryl Mendelson calls the kitchen “the center of a dwelling,” and it is indeed that, the place, ideally, from which the inhabitants of a home are quite literally renewed, every day. Investing oneself and one’s family in one’s kitchen is investing in the health, vitality and pleasure of one’s household; good food, made from good ingredients, cooked well, is no less important than it once was, and about five hundred times easier than it’s ever been. Commit yourself, this year and in the years to come, to discovering that.