The entire discussion is great, but here’s a particularly interesting excerpt:
TP: The advice to “eat food, not much, mostly plants” is deceptively simple—how do you apply that in a society that’s become addicted to convenience food?
MP: I think that there’s some brainwashing going on with this idea that we don’t have time to cook anymore. We have made cooking seem much more complicated than it is, and part of that comes from watching cooking shows on television—we’ve turned cooking into a spectator sport. We’re terrified to play tackle football too when we watch how it’s played on TV—we’d get killed. But cooking’s a whole lot easier than it appears on Iron Chef.
We cook every night here. My wife and I both work, and we can get a very nice dinner on the table in a half hour. It would not take any less time for us to drive to a fast-food outlet and order, sit down, and bus our table.
[But] when you create this image of people as being hurried, and harried, and of course you need TV dinners, that kind of sinks in. They kind of flatter us by telling us we’re too busy and that we have such rushed lives, but in the end we find time for what matters. In just the last 10 years we’ve found, what, two or three hours a day to deal with the internet? It’s a matter of priority, it’s not really about ability. Some people are very intimidated about cooking and I think that’s a shame, and I think we have to help people get over that by teaching them how to cook, teaching kids how to cook in school.
TP: How did you learn to cook?
MP: I learned to some extent from my mother, who was a really good cook, just hanging out in the kitchen watching her do it. I [had] a classic suburban childhood on Long Island.
My mom cooked dinner four or five nights a week, and always your classic—there was some kind of protein, and two vegetables, and dessert, the whole bit. And it was a really important part of our family life. When I was living alone in my 20s, when I got my first apartment, I cooked partly because I couldn’t afford to go out—you know, it’s kind of a myth that it’s more expensive to cook. So I’ve always been kind of interested in it. There are times where you fall out of the habit and you get seduced by alternatives and it seems harder than it really is. But you know, as I started shopping at farmers’ markets and joined a CSA—that pushes you back to the kitchen. That’s one of the unintended consequences of buying food that way: you can’t find anything microwaveable at the farmers’ market, so you begin cooking again.
TP: Then you really get into local food, it’s suddenly about community, coming together—at the farmers’ market, meeting a farmer at the CSA, cooking with your friends and family. Seems like there’s a hunger for these things in a post-modern society that’s built on suburbia, and the car, and atomization.
MP: You know, people have looked to food for all these values for thousands of years — food was a way to come together, it was a way to express your identity, it was a way to engage with nature—food has always had this power.
And I think we’ve had a kind of temporary forgetting of that, and this idea that food is just fuel, food is about health or illness, these very simplistic, reductive ideas have kind of thinned out the whole experience. But there’s a desire to thicken it again, and lo and behold food is providing all these satisfactions that people were missing.
Along the same line, yesterday I read a stat from a piece by Bill McKibben: people have 10 times more conversations at farmers’ markets than they do at supermarkets. This is definitely the case in my experiences. I’ve gotten history lessons and recipe suggestions while shopping at the Edmond Farmers’ Market.