I had the pleasure of seeing acclaimed author Michael Pollan (Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food) speak last weekend at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture. Blue Hill Stone Barns co-owner and chef, Dan Barber, moderated the talk, which focused on how our changing agricultural landscape shapes what we’ll be eating in the future. Topics included Pollans’ thoughts on pesticides, healthcare reform, farmers’ markets, our current administration, the organic industry, genetically modified foods and whether or not government should be involved with what we eat. While topics could be construed as heady and controversial, the playful banter and laidback attitudes of both Barber and Pollan made the talk a perfectly fun and casual way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Well, at least to a food geek like me….
One thought-provoking topic was how to get people back in the kitchen, cooking, and preparing their own food. Here are a few of Pollans ideas and suggestions for how we can make cooking together, thus eating better, a popular social activity again:
- Make it part of your children’s upbringing and have them in the kitchen helping you. Encourage them to cook, help wash and prep vegetables, and have a say in what’s being prepared. His son has always been encouraged to cook, often given the choice between doing the dishes and cooking….I’ll let you guess which one he consistently chooses.
- Cook with your partner. Plan out a division of labor that works for the both of you. For example, one does all the chopping while the other cooks; one cooks and the other cleans; one sautés as the other roasts…you get the idea. The key point: spend time together in the kitchen.
- Throw an interactive dinner party. Instead of the host cooking everything ahead of time, have guests come over early and take part in the preparation of the meal. As Pollan points out, this usually turns out to be the most fun part of the party.
- Community cooking. Have a group of individuals get together and make a batch of meals to split up between them. For instance, one makes a lasagna, the other a roasted chicken with vegetables, the other a big pot of soup; at the end of the night you divide the meals and go home with the next few nights worth of dinner.
- Increase kitchen and culinary literacy. Encourage cooking classes, education and knowledge. But if you’re reading this right now then you’ve probably already figured that one out.
Stay tuned for other interesting points and topics from the discussion.
* The iPhone apologizes for the grainy quality of this picture.