The Rise of Cooking Shows, the Fall of Cooking (and Happiness)

I almost ignored this bit-too-long piece on the rise of the TV cooking show and the simultaneous fall of the home cooked meal (via @borrodell).

That decline has several causes: women working outside the home; food companies persuading Americans to let them do the cooking; and advances in technology that made it easier for them to do so. Cooking is no longer obligatory, and for many people, women especially, that has been a blessing. But perhaps a mixed blessing, to judge by the culture’s continuing, if not deepening, fascination with the subject. It has been easier for us to give up cooking than it has been to give up talking about it — and watching it.

But combined with this short article discussing the joys a cooking show brought to one family, and the myriad benefits it brought to their children, I felt they were perfect complements.

A funny thing happened on the way through the cooking show obsession. What we were seeing on the screen began trickling into our kitchen. The kids suddenly perked up during our weekly visits to the local farmers’ market, insisting on checking out exotic fruits and vegetables and, even better, buying, preparing, and eating them. […]

What are they learning? How do I count the ways? Fine motor skills from chopping garlic. Multi-tasking from sautéing vegetables in olive oil. (Case in point is their startling realization that you can’t just leave a saucepan unattended; this skill requires the need to overcome any tendencies for ADD.) They’ve honed their organization and math skills, practiced quick thinking, and stretched to develop some original ideas. […] And, best of all, my kids are actually eating and enjoying copious vegetables and a variety of other healthful and exotic foods.

The latter article also notes that a strong negative correlation has been found between the amount of television watched and happiness. This does not surprise me.