Recently I have been watching a four part documentary on Netflix called Cooked based on the book by food author, Michael Pollan. It’s a fascinating look not just at the chemistry and history of cooked food but also the place cooking and food holds in society. Anyone who knows me, especially my crew mates on board Sea Dragon, knows that I’m not a fan of cooking. I’m an unimaginative cook, an uninspired one and I have a general disinterest in food apart from the immediate need to fuel my body and stay alive.
Like anyone I can appreciate a tasty well cooked meal but a cheese sandwich will do just as well. So like many people who are disinclined to cook whether its due to a lack of ability, time, or interest I often turn to pre-prepared and convenience foods to stave off the hunger pains.
The second episode of Cooked explores just that, the fact that Americans and many people throughout the world are cooking less and depending on pre-prepared and processed food. This is a holdover from World War 2 when food producers introduced and heavily promoted processed foods that had been developed to feed the troops. As I thought about this, especially in relation to my own cooking habits or lack thereof I realized that this dependence on processed food directly corresponds to our dependence on plastic.
As a society we have moved away from whole foods, away from foods that come in their own skins, shells, and husks to easy and quick foods that need to be packaged in plastic to keep them fresh and ready to eat at a moment’s notice.
One thing that I get asked all the time is how we can reduce our plastic impact. My answer is often the same: reduce your own plastic use. Bring your refillable water bottle. Bring your cloth shopping bags. Carry reusable straws and utensils. All the things we hear over and over again. But now here’s a new one: Cook more.
One piece of advice the episode gave was to eat whatever you like so long as you make it yourself. The point being that you’ll end up eating much more nutritious foods using good whole ingredients as well as gaining experience and confidence in the kitchen. But what you’ll probably also end up doing is relying less on those packaged processed foods and buying more of those foods packaged in their own skins, shells, and husks.
One thing I’ve often noticed is that reducing our plastic impact often means taking time. It often means pausing in our hectic lives to drink our coffee from the mug at the coffee shop rather than taking it to go. It means taking the time to cook a meal or prepare a lunch that can be taken with us. In doing these things we might not only be helping the environment, but we might ultimately be helping ourselves to live more fully and mindfully in the moment.
Tegan Mortiner – Marine Biologist, Ascension 2015 Crew, Aspiring Chef.
For more ocean talk from Tegan head over to her website… www.oceantalk.org
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