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Do you hear that? That's the sound of me applauding WILDLY! You go girl! (excuse the slip into excitable slang, but this post is GOOOOD) :0)


I have to say too, that I'm incredibly jealous that I cannot write like this. I commented at Ruhlman's blog and rambled on and on, knowing what I WANTED to say, just not sure how. Thanks for showing me :) :)


Well put! Being an oldest child it was easy for me to identify with Pollan's scolding (shameful blush), but you're right. It's not an effective way to encourage people back into the kitchen, especially when Pollen throws in that "too cheap and lazy" gem. Ouch.

I wish he had done a better job of addressing the thornier reasons why we don't cook as much anymore: we work longer hours and cooking healthful food can seem more expensive.

I think it's so much more effective to say "cooking is simpler, easier than you think and you'll enjoy the results." So yeah, mixed greens and scrambled eggs for dinner? That's cooking. A sandwich? If it's got fresh fruits or vegetables in it, pat yourself on the back.


Great assessment!

What bugged me the most was the assertions from the NPD researcher--his claims felt dated, based on trends that were certainly happening, but have experienced a significant shift in a relatively short period of time. Cookbook sales went up 9% in 2008; Saveur dramatically increased its subscriber base during a time when everyone is calling for the death of print. People are enrolling in culinary school and local cooking classes, and new food blogs are popping up on a regular basis. So what if we all really like making sandwiches--there's so much you can potentially learn as you try new things, such as sauteeing mushrooms in sherry, or roasting peppers, or even trying new cheeses.

Balzer's view is naturally skewed by watching so many new convenience foods pop up in the course of the 20 years he's been tracking the industry, but it shows an intellectual laziness that, given the attention this article has received, does a disservice to all researchers who are paying attention to things like new media (and, you know, recent research!) in our quest for insights. Between Pollan's finger-scolding and Balzer's dated view, the NYM piece feels like a giant middle finger to all of us who are trying to be encouraging and inspiring to our readers, but it makes what we do that much more important.


In some ways, I felt that Pollan was bringing to light some very accurate observations. I like the way he presented Julia Child, that she was not the "anti-feminist" icon, rather, she sought joy in the creation of food and cooking and reveled in the art itself, and showed many woment they could do the same and be proud.
But at the same time, I consider my opening of a can of tomatoes, or using prepared mayonnaise, part of my cooking process. There are compromises every working woman must make. So yes, making a sandwich at home counts! It's still better than KFC, healthier for you, for sure.
But I agree with you about the scolding tone of his article. At first read, I see his point. But you're correct...he leaves you hopeless for a cure for the issue. I know a lot of us as food bloggers hope to inspire those that don't know how to cook, or are limited in their skills, to step outside of their box and try something new. Perhaps we can instill the change for the better? I know if I've improved one person's life, then I'm feeling pretty darn accomplished!


So funny how different people got a different "read" of Pollan's article. For me, I didn't feel scolded or shamed. I feel as motivated as ever to cook good food every night (whether that's something simple or something more). My feeling about the "crusty" researcher in the article was that he (obviously) had an agenda, truth be damned. He wants people to give up on cooking. He wants you to believe that the future is grim. But we know it's not. As long as we can continue motivating our readers, friends and family that it's not too hard (that's it's pleasurable even) to cook, then we're winning. The fact that Pollan got this guy to admit to the power of cooking in the last paragraph is key: food industry researchers know real cooks are out here leading a trend back to real food, but they're using all their PR muscle to (try to) convince people otherwise.


I hated his article. There was no place for me or my fellow cooks in his world view. Because we work, must be therefore be "cheap and lazy" and reliant on cans, afraid of the kitchen or disinterested? I thought the article was cynical, jaded, dyspeptic and mean-spirited. It relied too much on the POV one one corporate consultant, and not at all on the thousands of real women who cook whole foods every day and enjoy doing so. I generally support Mr. Pollan's thought-provoking writings, but not on this one.

Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction

Thanks so much for mentioning my blog. I agree with you 100%... I have gotten much help and inspiration from the food blogging community.

Jennifer Perillo

I'm glad to see so many people out there going against Balzar's statistics. Maybe the silver-lining to our economic situation is that more people will be joining our ranks in the kitchen.

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