Two words best describe our generation: casual and fast – in our wear, abbreviated 140-character conversations, and food too. Prone to frequent fast-casual restaurants to gobble down food, the old ritual of sitting down with family and friends to enjoy a nutritious and healthy meal, cooked with love and care, has all but faded.
Offering comfortable seating, congenial atmosphere, good food and beverages motivate diners to linger longer and exchange conversations at fast-casuals. They slot in between our effervescent lifestyle and health needs creating a ‘third-space’ away from home or work.
They sooth our growing desire to avoid cooking on a daily basis and rather go to another fast-casual restaurant, especially one with a health halo, than to meal plan, source natural, responsibly-grown ingredients, and prepare them before thinking of sitting down to eat, although we are blessed with every imaginable cooking aid in the kitchen.
Cooking turned from a hassle to a breeze probably after World War II when arms and ammunition factories retrofitted to mass produce kitchen appliances such as toasters, freezers and food processors.
Out of laziness, despite the presence of pre-packaged produce, ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat meals, we still cannot find a couple of hours to set aside for cooking and eating but crave for junk food to which we are unknowingly addicted.
Humans have an irresistible desire for salt, sugar, and fat. These provided the energy humans needed to be the dominant species on Earth, and junk food is full of it. But we are getting too much of it and overindulgence has turned our stomachs into a junkyard. It's endorphin-releasing magic, specifically designed, appeals our brains and associates it with pleasure. Studies demonstrate a calorie-rich donut or a greasy cheeseburger looks especially appealing for a quick hit of energy when our brains are tired.
Consequently, food manufacturers are more concerned with making an appealing product that keeps you hungry for more, than with selling something nutritious and healthy. Food scientists and restaurateurs are constantly innovating to find perfect blend of flavor, nutrition, and profitability. We are, so, in an imbalanced taste-nutrition dilemma. These chains now make our buying, cooking and eating decisions – no one has to cook anymore. Junk food is also marketed to appeal to people of all ages luring us into fast-food culture at an early age.
We still have time to turn back. Rather than taking refuge in “I just cannot cook”, let us begin to make an effort to practice cooking and benefit from healthy-for-body, liberating-for-mind home-cooked meals.