The conversations about food, especially affordable, nutritious, pleasurable and culturally appropriate food has to consider the following:
Costs – of actual meals for a family at fast food outlets and grocery stores, of individual health care costs from eating junk food, and the cost to the environment from the fast food industry.
Culture – of cooking, eating, and the emotive associations with certain foods, especially fast food and ethnic food.
Politics – of regulations restricting the presence and sale of fast food, of defining healthy food, of fast food corporate financing for diverse institutions and businesses, and of the entire agricultural system.
Pleasure – from emotive associations with food, the changes in the brain’s neurochemicals from junk food consumption, and the design and atmosphere of fast food outlets.
Presence and Convenience – of fast food outlets at rest stops and exit ramps on highways, in low-income neighborhoods, and around schools and in hospitals; compared to the number of healthy food outlets stocking fresh, nutritious and affordable food.
Addressing a majority of these issues, Mark Bittman of NY Times makes a case for getting the joy for cooking into the mainstream. A combination of measures that address all of the above issues, along with strong political will and an emphasis on cooking as pleasure is discussed as powerful strategies to combat unhealthy eating habits.
” … THE fact is that most people can afford real food. Even the nearly 50 million Americans who are enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as food stamps) receive about $5 per person per day, which is far from ideal but enough to survive…
… Taking the long route to putting food on the table may not be easy, but for almost all Americans it remains a choice, and if you can drive to McDonald’s you can drive to Safeway. It’s cooking that’s the real challenge. (The real challenge is not “I’m too busy to cook.” In 2010 the average American, regardless of weekly earnings, watched no less than an hour and a half of television per day. The time is there.)…
…The core problem is that cooking is defined as work, and fast food is both a pleasure and a crutch…”