Eating well and working less

Great “A Food Manifesto for the Future” from Mark Bittman containing some concrete suggestions to improve the food supply and with it, the health, of Americans. But I really liked comment #2: I can’t imagine how Americans can possibly eat well until they are working less hours. I’ve been meaning to write about this for ages and am so glad to see someone else raise this issue. In all the discussion of obesity and diabetes, no one seems to mention how much time it takes to cook good food, and how hard that is when both parents are working and commuting long distances. I easily spend ninety minutes a day cooking for my family. Nearly every day. I’m lucky to have the time to do it.

That said I did read recently that Americans watch an average of thirty-four hours of TV a week. If that’s true then clearly there’s some wiggle room in the day for proper cooking, right?

8 thoughts on “Eating well and working less

  1. I work 50 to 60 hours a week and almost all my meals I cook myself. All it takes is planning and some discipline. It doesn’t require anything else.

  2. I work and I plan – I totally agree with Tim. I spend some time on Sunday and plan what we will eat, then I shop so I have everything, then I cook each night. BUT my husband and I also made some decisions about where we live to shorten the commute (smaller house close in to our downtown area). We also don’t watch a lot of TV, so that helps a lot.

  3. Thank you for this post, Meg! This is a topic I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, especially after having some time off over the holidays and realizing how good the extra hours away from work felt. I agree with Tim and Susan that people can cook wholesome meals while working 50+ hours per week, but does life really need to be lived that way? I will tell you that I do it, and I’m exhausted, even with a partner who shares in the cooking and other chores. Does that mean that I’m inefficient? Undisciplined? Maybe. Either way, I’m currently in the process of figuring out how I can find a job that requires less time. I’m lucky enough to be in a field where I can take lower pay and still make ends meet, though, which is not the case for everybody.

  4. Of course TV and cooking are not mutually exclusive activities. I enjoy both and often combine cooking a meal with catching up with some shows.

  5. I think having children just compounds the time-crunch people feel and, of course, with kids the NEED to eat more healthy, and teach good eating habits, also becomes more important. Separately, I wanted to mention that, even when I have planned accordingly and can cook, sometimes the clean-up is the daunting part. We’ve found ourselves ordering out now and then just to avoid the dirty pots and pans necessarily generated by cooking. Not that we’re giving up, but having a culture that supported it all would be really helpful.

  6. I live in France and am amazed that they work 8 AM-7 or 8 PM and HIGHLY value their nutrition and health. They often take a 2 hour lunch break, it is true, but the restaurants serve healthy delicious food, there are local markets, etc. I don’t see cutting the work day back encouraging cooking meals. Other cultures have longer working hours than ours; it is about what your priorities are.

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