save slow food for retirement?

I’ve blogged a LOT about my forays into the slow food movement.  From giving up most of the meat I had been eating to  joining a CSA and all the adventures that entailed to starting to bake my own bread, the way I eat has changed a lot in the past year.  Apparently, according to a DoubleX writer, I’ve been wasting my time.  Margaret Wheeler Johnson writes, responding to the New York Times’ recent followups to their hugely successful No Knead Bread recipe:

The truth is that unless you are a chef by profession or truly love cooking, spending a minimum of seven hours a week in the kitchen—and that’s just making dinner—is not the best use of an ambitious youngish person’s time. Wouldn’t the energy we expend making the meatloaf our mothers never did, or feeling guilty that we don’t, be better spent connecting with peers, putting in extra hours at work, or pursuing personal projects? If you want an Amy’s loaf, get it from Amy’s. Otherwise buy a sleeve of Nature’s Own, and leave the no-need bread for retirement.

I guess I fit into the “truly love cooking” category, but I sort of resent the idea that just because I’m young means I should be so ambitious that I don’t have time to prepare and eat good, whole, food.  Maybe I also don’t fit into the “ambitious” category, because I got a BA in English and Political Science, but have yet to figure out exactly what I want to be when I grow up. I don’t have some sort of high powered career to be pursuing, and I’m sure as hell not going to voluntarily pull extra hours as an administrative assistant.  Instead, I do enjoy connecting with my peers, and I do enjoy pursuing my own personal projects, both of which can easily be accomplished by preparing an awesome meal and then sharing it with others.

Perhaps it’s just because I’m such a devotee of this Quicker No Knead Bread recipe, but I wonder if Ms. Johnson has ever even tried to make No Knead Bread. If so, she’d realize that it takes next to no time at all. You throw the ingredients in your mixer bowl (which takes about 5 minutes and can be done while you wait for the coffee maker to finish brewing your morning pot of coffee), you let it rise while you’re at your job (high powered and ambitious or no) all day, and then, when you’re home, you throw it in the oven and it bakes while you watch TV.  It probably requires less personal energy than a trip to the grocery store when all is said and done. And you know what? Bread fresh out of the oven is just delicious.  Still warm and slathered in butter? Oh. my.  It’s just not an experience you can get with “a sleeve of Nature’s Own.”

One of the biggest misconceptions about eating home made, local, whole food is that it’s terribly time consuming.  When I tell people about my CSA adventures, they marvel that they wish they had the time.  Well, I have a full time job and I take graduate classes.  I do yoga twice a week.  I spend time with friends every week.  I have a great relationship with my husband.  I sleep at least 8 hours per night.  And I prepare almost all of our food from whole ingredients, including baking one or two loaves of bread each and every week.  I make homemade pudding instead of buying snack cups.  I make my own hummus instead of reaching for a store-bought tub.  I make my own tomato sauce instead of eating something that came in a jar and is filled with corn syrup and preservatives.  And as a result, I know exactly what I’m putting in my body, I’m aware of what it took to get me that food, and I’m happy to eat it, knowing just whose hands have prepared it along the way.  I can do all of this, and I’m not even a retiree.  It’s just not as hard as some folks would make it sound.

Don’t want to put in the time and effort such a food lifestyle requires? Fine. But you don’t have to make it sound like those of us who do are utterly wasting our time.  You could just reach for the Snickers bars advertised on Ms. Johnson’s article– oh wait, now that whole piece makes soooooo much more sense.

Considering who's paying Ms. Johnson to bash homemade food, the whole piece makes a lot more sense now.

Updated to include: Check out this piece from Foreign Policy on how Locavorism could solve the global hunger problem.

4 Replies to “save slow food for retirement?”

  1. It’s also notable that a person is measured in tasks accomplished. One of the more pervasive and damaging ideas in modern society is that a person is a set of tasks accomplishments and talents (potential future accomplishments). Maybe it’s worth taking time to be the kind of person you want to be – like, say, one that makes intention choices even in the small things like food.


  2. The original article reeks of inadequacy on the writer’s part, or at least weariness of having to hear about yet another friend’s new food blog/trip to the greenmarket/stint at the Co-op/etc. which isn’t surprising given where the author lives. I can completely understand how the topic of food can be tiresome to listen to if you’re wholly uninterested in it, but that doesn’t justify bagging on home cooking as a whole, either. As for ambition, cooking dinner every night certainly didn’t derail my husband from getting his PhD in chemical physics; in fact, I’m inclined to believe that it helped him maintain his sanity.

    You keep cooking!


  3. It totally neglects health, too. The food I make (and dinner doesn’t ever take an hour… I can bang out homemade pizza in less than 10 minutes, and last nght’s steak-and-potatoes was 20 minutes) it healthier and cheaper than whatever that crazy woman is eating from a box, bag, or restaurant.

    I love making bread. Heck, I’ve been known to make cheese. To turn your back on foodmaking is to turn your back on the amazing world we live in.


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