Last weekend I was at the Jewel food store and I was waiting in a long line with all the other working people who had the 2 day weekend to get all their shopping and household chores finished and I couldn’t help but notice what other people were buying. I get picked on a fair amount among friends and relatives for not knowing how to cook. I can boil and egg, make fried eggs, scrambled eggs, an omlette, pancakes, french toast and bake cookies but that’s about it. If it’s not for breakfast or with an egg I probably can’t cook it. Especially if it involves meat and no grill. I am the kind of person who thinks that putting a frozen lasagna in the oven for a hour is both cooking and stressful because I am not really sure how to operate my oven. (although I bought this place 6 years ago)
What I was suprised to find was that it looks like I am not the only one who occupies this category of shopper. And I wonder if I am this way because I want to be, and I find things that are no-cook to support my needs? Or if I was driven this direction by the prepared foods movement that all the food manufacturing companies have invented and deposited in my grocery store? The age old chicken or egg question?
As I looked around at the people’s carts in line around me I saw a lot of similar things to what I had in my cart. Bread and sandwich makings, salad vegetables, frozen vegetables, frozen lean cuisine, yogurt, fruit like apples, grapes and peaches. Sports drinks, mostly by people who look like they haven’t played a sport in at least 10 years, packaged snacks, granola bars, chips, dips, soda, milk and cereal. None of which require any cooking at all.
Where was the Martha Stewart clone with the flour, eggs, paprika, spices, sugar, rare vegetables, fresh meat and freshly grown herbs? Isn’t that what they put in the grocery store commericals and print ads??
So, we still have that image of a grocery store as a place to buy raw ingredients but we don’t actually buy them. Why don’t they advertise grocery stores as no-cook grocery stores? That would be a niche for people like me. Nothing for me that isn’t coming out of a cardboard box please. Oh right, those stores are called convienient stores.
I wonder if it is our societal laziness and procrastination that leads us to this place where we consume foods manufactured with ingredients from China (which has no FDA regulations) and consume additives that we can’t pronounce while trusting the agribusiness and food manufacturing companies the whole time. We really have no idea what the effect will be on the lifespan of our generation who was raised on Chef Boyardee rather than Chef Mom the cook. Will average expected lifespans shorten? Will we all shrivel into a lump of red number 5?
I am not sure, but if I can be a Martha Stewart fan and not know how to cook a chicken to save my life it is possible that at some point the grocery stores won’t carry the ingredients anymore and only pre-prepared foods. I think sometimes that living more organic and less processed would be good for me and for our country as a whole, but alas, I have no idea how to do that and working 50 hrs a week doesn’t really allow for a cooking class. So I guess I am not going to find out…